Joshua 3:5 Y’hoshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, because tomorrow The LORD is going to work wonders among you.
As G-d is leading the people of Israel into the Land of Israel to give it to them as their eternal possession, he has them stop. We have seen this before. When He brought them through the Sea of Reeds to Mount Sinai, G-d commanded Moshe to have the people stop and consecrate themselves for three days. Husbands and wives were even made to pause their intimacy during this time. It was a time of separation and concentration before the Giving of the Torah. Here in Joshua 3, a time period of consecration is repeated. The verse says that the reason for the consecration is that G-d is about to work wonders among Israel. If they had not consecrated themselves, would He have not been able to stop up the Jordan? If they had not consecrated themselves at Sinai, would the Tablets have not come down? Why does G-d need Man to do anything?
I can think of a few answers. G-d wants Man to partner with Him to make things real, to make things happen here. Look back to Eden, Adam and Chavah were commanded to work the Earth. They were in a godly garden and yet they were instructed to mix their own work with the natural world. G-d is a creator and so is Man, made in the image of G-d. I wonder if the time of consecration before this showing of might has to do with G-d’s refusal to inhabit a place of impurity. G-d can do anything He wants, but He chooses the time and the place. Yom Kippur, which just passed, is a time of cleansing and renewing so that G-d will continue to dwell with Man. The way the Torah describes it, G-d demands that the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, be prepared and cleansed so that He will choose to continue dwelling there to work in the lives of the people of Israel.
Yes G-d loves us and wants us to be happy, but we need to make room for him in our lives. We need to pause and reflect and cleanse ourselves so that G-d can draw near. Then, we can watch as He shows us His might.