When Joshua was commissioned to lead the people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land, he and the people were in unchartered territory. There were enemies before them on the other side of Jordan, and a desert behind, which barred their retreat. How were they to KNOW the way, and this with certainty?
It was at this time, as the people were gathered together for three days before crossing Jordan, that Joshua sent officers throughout the camp to say to the people: “When you see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, THEN ye shall remove from our place and go after it.” (Joshua 3:3) The Ark of the Covenant is the material declaration of God concerning His sovereignty and power, and that brought to bear in His commitment to Israel to guide, provide, and bless Israel. It was, in physical form, the declaration of the unfailing God who sees and knows all, that He IS faithful, and He will do what He has said. Now, it was very important that the people (a multitude) not approach too close to the Ark that it could not be clearly perceived and followed. As long as the people BELIEVED in the faithfulness of God, and this by keeping their eyes on the Ark, they would KNOW the way. (“….that ye may KNOW the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way before.” Joshua 3:4)
There is another aspect of KNOWING the way that we discover in the life and experience of Joseph. We know the story of how, after being a captive for thirteen years in Egypt, in one day, he is elevated to the position of Prime Minister. But the question that needs to be asked is “How is it that an ungodly Pharoah would, in his first encounter with a thirty year old Hebrew who had been in prison, entrust to him his whole kingdom?” A significant part of the answer is found in Joseph’s first response to Pharoah concerning his dreams: “God shall give Pharaoh an answer of PEACE.” (Gen. 41:16) Now, why would he say this? Most certainly because Joseph had come to know the God of Peace, and had learned that when he did not have the PEACE of God, then God was not in the matter.
Paul begins his letter to the Colossians by unveiling to believers the Person of Jesus Christ, His divinity, majesty, power, and sovereignty, but also in His perfect, eternal work. He in essence, he brings before us the “Ark of the Covenant,” the commitment of God towards His people, based on His nature and character, which is immutable. But then, later in the epistle, he says this: “…let the peace of God RULE in your hearts.” The peace of God is a powerful thing, for it is the “umpire” of decision-making, when it comes to knowing the way. If there is no peace from the God of peace, then there should be no engagement along a particular path. God is absolutely faithful to guide us, for “…faithful is He who calls you who also will do it.” He is also faithful to give us His peace, to confirm to us the way, so that we will KNOW.
One last thought on the peace of God. Jesus makes the distinction between the peace that the world gives, and that which comes from God. The peace of God is more than a blessed calm, though an integral part. It is also a blessed assurance, that remains. The world’s peace is based on circumstance, and feelings. The peace of God goes deep, giving to us the quiet conviction of His will and way. If we are trusting God wholly, by the Spirit, we will find Him wholly true, faithful, ….and be guided in and by His peace.