1-4 Joshua was up early and on his way from Shittim with all the People of Israel with him. He arrived at the Jordan and camped before crossing over. After three days, leaders went through the camp and gave out orders to the people: "When you see the Covenant-Chest of God, your God, carried by the Levitical priests, start moving. Follow it. Make sure you keep a proper distance between you and it, about half a mile—be sure now to keep your distance!—and you'll see clearly the route to take. You've never been on this road before."
Israel is about to take Jericho - a huge city fortified with walls and a large army. This was a city surrounded by palm trees, rich soil, and natural springs. As a result, the land was coveted for its resources. It is a good place for Israel to begin their invasion of Canaan - giving them water, food, and position for the next stages of their attacks.
As the invasion begins, Joshua commissioned the leaders to give the instructions to the people. Spies had already been sent out into the region - entering Jericho without much notice. They stayed with Rahab, the harlot - learning about the city and its surrounding area. The army of Israel had "insider information" on the ins and outs of this city - not to mention an "inside source" to support them on their attack, if necessary.
The leaders bring some very important information to the people - instructions that will keep them well, provide for their security, and act as a guide for their every step. It is simple: Keep God before you! The rationale for this: You have never been this way before! You may have expected some great revelation from God if you were about to go into some new land, laden with giants, surrounded by fortified cities. I imagine most of us would want the "inside scoop" on just how God was going to "pull things off" before we'd even want to take our first step!
Spies had been sent - reports had come back. They knew the gravity of the battle ahead. I imagine they were likely a little intimidated by the size of the walls - if not by the fact that these cities had "trained" armies. These Israelites were not a trained army - they were "green" when it came to warfare. That would make me feel pretty "inept" in that situation!
We cannot forget the report they brought back - the people are all trembling in their boots because of US! In fact, the cities of Canaan had already heard of the reputation of the God of Israel. They knew of the reports of the Sea being parted, swallowing countless numbers of Egyptian soldiers, and their safety being maintained in their exodus from Egypt. They had learned that they did not even have to "bear arms" to accomplish this great exodus! God's reputation was well-established already!
That is important for us to remember when facing the next major challenge of our walk (whatever that may be). God asks one thing of us - keep him squarely before us! Why? Because we have never been this way before. When taking new ground in God's kingdom, we need to remember the "placement" of God - if he is squarely in the middle of our thoughts, our hopes, and our movements, we can count on his reputation making the path clear for us.