Joshua 3:1 - 3 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenantof the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.
The key word here is "follow it". Something that the Israelites were not fond of doing 40 years earlier. Sure, they followed Moses out of Egypt but as soon as they got to the Red Sea all they were thinking about was going back. In fact, they thought about it alot! Until . . .
... they had to wander out in the desert for 40 years. Why?
The people who left Egypt were slaves. They had a slave mentality and they couldn't do anything else but be slaves. They were free - they had God's full trust and backing. They had everything that they needed. But they thought and acted like slaves. Slaves cannot follow anyone, unless they are beaten into submission. Their taskmasters in Egypt had convinced them that they were stupid, worthless and mindless drones. That they only thing that they could or would respond to is abuse. They couldn't follow Moses, they couldn't follow God - they were not going to follow anyone else except their cruel master in Egypt.
So they had to die. Not one person (Except Joshua and Caleb) stepped foot in the Promise Land. So what changed?
40 years of transition. Their thinking, their understanding of God, their ability to follow leadership - everything changed. So when the officers tell the people get ready to go, we are crossing the Jordan, the people followed. Not as mindless zombies, but understanding that they had God's full trust and backing. That they had everything that they needed. So what can you learn from this passage?
#1 God leads. Joshua didn't walk in front. The Ark was in front which meant God was leading His people. They were willing to follow God.
#2 Joshua and the leadership followed the Ark. Now it doesn't specifically say that, but I think that's what happened. (After all, who would be giving direction to the people on the other side of the Jordan?)
#3 The people follow God and their leadership. As big moves go. This was a smooth one. No complaining. No griping. No whining. Everyone worked together as a team to get the nation of million across. They walked into their destiny and it was good.