Scripture Reading: Joshua 5:13-7:26 / Luke 22:39-62 / Psalm 50:16-23
A Sunday School teacher was discussing the 10 commandments with her 5 and 6 year olds. After explaining the commandment to “honor thy father and mother”, she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” Without missing a beat, a little boy answered, “Thou shalt not kill.” An insightful and profound answer…the simplicity of a child!
Joshua, unlike the little boy, didn’t have an answer for the dilemma that faced him. He went to Jericho to survey their defenses, strategize, meditate and devise a plan of attack. Of all the walled cities in Palestine, Jericho was one of the most invincible. The spies described it as a city with large walls up to the sky. The Jericho wall may have been as high as 30 feet high and 20 feet thick.
Joshua did not have siege weapons, battering rams, catapults or moving towers. His weapons were slings, arrows, spears and swords…no match against impregnable walls. Jericho could not be ignored or avoided because it was the doorway to the Promised Land. Joshua had to face his fears and in the process he faced his answer. “Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” (Joshua 5:13,14)
Joshua recognized this was no ordinary man but it was the Lord Himself. This was a Theophany – a direct, visual manifestation of the presence of Jesus Christ. Like Abraham when he was under the oak tree, Jacob at Peniel or Moses at the burning bush…Joshua knew he was in the presence of God. The great challenge of Jericho was forgotten in God’s presence. The presence of God overshadowed Joshua’s fear. Joshua was not alone…God was there whether Joshua saw Him or not!
Not only did Joshua realize he was not alone; he discovered he was not in charge. The Lord didn’t come to take sides…He was the side! It was God’s battle and the Israelites were to follow Him. This was God’s battle but required Joshua’s faith. This would not be about Joshua’s strength or military might but about Joshua’s God. God had a plan and a purpose…Joshua’s part was to believe and obey.
The Lord was not equipped with catapults or siege weapons but a sword. It was a weapon not measured by worldly standards but was supernaturally accompanied by an angelic army and the hosts of heaven. In reverence and awe, Joshua fell on his face asking for divine direction. God’s orders for Joshua…take off your sandals. Before God can do a work for us, He needs to do a work in us. Joshua needed to acknowledge the holiness of the moment before God would unveil the supernatural battle plan. Marching around a city and shouting the walls down sounds foolish and somewhat childish. We just need to obey and believe. After all…He is in charge!