And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;…
The context of this command, which gives such prominence to the wonders which God will do, is a happy correction of a very common notion respecting consecration, as though it were some great giving to God by us, some surrender or sacrifice of what we previously held; in fact, a sort of favour conferred upon Him, whereas it is only the readiness to receive from Him. Consecration is not a meritorious work of our own, but a willingness to let the Lord work His wonders upon us. It simply means a ready recipiency. Yet even this recipiency may involve surrender in a subordinate way, as it evidently did in the case of the Israelites. They could not possibly receive Canaan without giving up the wilderness. That command, therefore, "sanctify yourselves," was a call to heart-searching. It pressed home to all their thoughts this recognition, "We are the Lord's." It could not long remain a matter of doubt with any whether they stood ready for God to lead them over Jordan or not. The command given them was completely overshadowed by the promise that followed, and yet it was the promise itself that tested and tried the very intents of their hearts. It continues to be a part of the manifold wisdom of God to furnish such tests, even in providing our richest blessings. He who becomes a man must put away his childish things. The lingering child-nature struggles and shrinks from the sacrifice, but the spirit of the strong man uprising spares not the old treasures as he reaches on to the new. God cannot fill our hands with His great and good gifts till we drop the baubles they have held. And so in every onward step, calling us to some surrender, to some sacrifice, He clears away the superficial wrappings of our nature to learn what soundness exists beneath.
(S. F. Smiley.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;