“Then Joshua said to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.'” (Joshua 3:5)
To consecrate means to devote to God, to set apart for God’s purposes, to be holy. Joshua is saying, “God is about to do something amazing, miraculous, unexplainable in our midst. What He is about to do demands us to be wholly devoted to Him.” God’s holiness, the holiness of the ark, and the holiness of the event itself obligated His people to be holy. God was asking His people to undertake a literal act of consecration which was probably similar to that described in Exodus 19, prior to the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. It involved washing their clothes, and most likely even their bodies (even though this is not mentioned in the text). But this cleansing of clothes and body also symbolized a spiritual cleansing, a washing of the heart in preparation for God’s divine use. This is the kind of cleansing that Timothy says produces a vessel for honorable use. “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21) I have so often attempted to undertake something for the Lord without taking the proper amount of time beforehand to put in the hard work of confession, forgiveness, repentance, and seeking the Lord’s face through Scripture and prayer. Each time I have tried to bypass this step, it has gone badly. Sometimes very badly.
In Joshua 3, God brought His people safely across the Jordan River when it was at flood stage – at the time of the year when the water level is at its highest – so that everyone would know that He always does big things through those who are devoted to Him. What wonders does God want to bring to pass in your life and mine? D.L. Moody once said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man or woman totally devoted to Him.”