“The commander of the Lord’s army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did as he was told.” (Joshua 5:15 NLT)
Joshua was the man God chose to lead the children of Israel into their promised land after the death of Moses. There were two predominant themes that the Lord used in Joshua’s life to prepare him for his new role: “Be strong and courageous!” and “Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
His leadership began with the miraculous parting of the Jordan river, enabling the Israelites to walk into the promised land across a dry riverbed. A pretty good start. Everyone’s “pumped” as they begin the conquest of their new homeland.
Then the plot thickens a bit because the first city they come to is Jericho. Jericho is a walled city with massive gates, and most of the “army of Israel” has never been in battle, let alone faced a walled city. Add to that the presence of a man with a sword in his hand standing in Joshua’s path.
The man describes himself as “the commander of the Lord’s army.” Hmm. That’s the name the Lord uses for Himself in other parts of Scripture. So, Joshua rightly falls face down in reverence and declares his allegiance. Then He asks: “What do you want your servant to do?”
That’s the perfect place to be when we reach the end of ourselves – at the feet of Jesus, declaring our allegiance to Him and asking for His instructions.
Sometimes we’re tempted, even as Jesus followers, to believe when we get to the end of ourselves – in terms of resources, energy, understanding, strength, courage, even faith – that there’s no hope. No place to turn for help. Yet, that’s exactly the position God desires us to reach; otherwise, we’ll tend to take credit when things work out. It’s most often at the end of our strength that Jesus is able to shine most brightly through our weakness.
The Apostle Paul asked the Lord on three occasions to heal a chronic physical issue with which he suffered, but each time the Lord said: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) There are times God will work in a person’s strength, like with David or Samson of the Old Testament. But it’s much too easy for us to take credit ourselves for what God is doing, unless we understand just how weak and powerless we are.
Joshua was a warrior at heart, but he was humble. He’s a perfect example of meekness – power that is harnessed and kept under control. He recognized the Lord and took his rightful place at His feet. It’s ironic in some ways that Joshua was the leader of millions yet recognized his need of God’s rule and leadership in His life. The most effective leader understands where he fits in the chain of command.
There was no way, humanly speaking, that Israel’s army could have taken Jericho without God’s intervention. And the miracle began long before the walls of Jericho fell. God’s plan was for Joshua and his fighting men to march around the city once a day for six days, being led by seven priests walking ahead of the Ark, each of them carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day they were to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. Then as the priests gave one long blast on the rams’ horns, all the soldiers were to shout as loud as they could, and that’s when the walls would collapse, and they could just run right into the town.
The best place to be when times are hard, we’re frightened, we don’t know which way to turn, or what to do, is to fall face down in reverence and honor of the Lord of heaven’s army. He’s a master strategist and knows exactly what you need to do. But remember, it may not look like anything you could have imagined, but, if followed, will lead to a victory you would never experience without Him.
Blessings, Ed 😊