When my kids were younger they would come to my wife and I and ask questions like, “can I go outside and play or play on the the gamecube for an hour?” Another one is “can I have a candy or an ice scream?” Many times when they came to ask my wife and I we would sometimes just say no and it would leave them with a puzzled and befuddled face.
I can imagine Joshua may have had the same face as my kids when God told him no. Check it out,
Joshua 5:13-15 (ESV)
13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?”
15 And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Joshua is by Jericho, probably strategizing and thinking of a battle plan, suddenly a man shows up with a drawn sword. Joshua asks the obvious question, are you for us or against us? That is the question I would ask and if your honest, it is the question you would ask. Many times in life our concerns are just not God’s concerns, our agendas are not God’s agendas and our timetable is not God’s timetable.
God’s answer to Joshua is great, I just chuckle every time I read this story. Joshua is standing there having spit out the most obvious question and the Lord says NO. I can imagine Joshua’s puzzled face and conflicting thoughts. No, what do you mean no?
A Lesson In Sovereignty
Who knows what Joshua was thinking while he was standing by Jericho. Israel recently renewed the covenant with this new generation of Israelites and they experienced their first passover in the promised land. Which must have been a joyous occasion after forty years of camping in the wilderness. They are within inches of attaining God’s promise but it will take a step of faith to go into battle.
Maybe Joshua is looking at Jericho and seeing the massive walls and wondering how will we defeat Jericho? Maybe he sees an opportunity for an ally? Maybe he is beginning to experience doubt in the face of an insurmountable challenge?
Whatever Joshua is feeling, it is at this point the Lord decides to appear and answer Joshua’s question with a big fat no. But it is what comes after the no that is important, “but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.”
Joshua was receiving a lesson in the Lord’s sovereignty. At this point in Joshua’s life, he didn’t need to know whose side the Lord was on, Joshua needed to know the Lord. Joshua didn’t to know the Lord’s plans, although they will be revealed, he needed to know the Lord is the Sovereign Ruler of all. Joshua needed to know the Blesser not just know and receive the blessings.
The Proper Response to Sovereignty
Joshua displays for us a proper response to God’s Sovereignty. First Joshua displays a fear of the Lord. When Joshua realizes what is going on he immediately face plants before the Lord. He bows in fear and awe before a holy and sovereign God, like Moses, Isaiah, Peter and many others.
Then it drives Joshua to worship the Sovereign Lord. When our eyes begin to see the greatness of who God is, all we can do is be amazed and wowed into worship of our God. We begin to realize we were created to glorify God and we begin to see things in a proper perspective. Which leads Joshua to ask the right question.
“What does my lord say to his servant?” The Lord brought Joshua to a place of submission and surrender. Joshua became more concerned about the Commander’s command, than whose side the Commander was on. I may be reaching but Joshua became more concerned on what the Lord required of him than what the Lord can do for him.
Joshua is driven to fear the Lord, worship the Lord, submit to the Lord but it also leads Joshua into action for the Lord. The Lord’s response requires action from Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” The chapter closes with, “and Joshua did so.” Fear, worship and submission to the Lord will lead to obedience to God’s sovereign plans. When we become enveloped with being a part of God’s story, for his glory, then building a platform for our glory becomes skubalon, a big pile of stinking garbage.
Until Next Time
Solo Deo Gloria