Joshua 5:13 – 15 (NLT)
The Lord’s Commander Confronts Joshua
13 When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”
14 “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.”
At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?”
15 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.
I was reading Joshua 5 last night, and when I came to this passage I nearly felt as if I had been hit over the head. Joshua and the Israelites have just crossed the Jordan River (Moses-at-the-Red-Sea fashion) on their way to Jericho when – out of nowhere! – a man is standing in front of Joshua with a sword. At first sight, I would have reacted as Joshua had, probably drawing my own sword. Yet, would I have fallen to the ground when the man told me who he was? No. I can say assuredly that I would have questioned this man. I would have asked for proof, preferably in the form of a signed affidavit from God Himself. I certainly would not have told this strange man that I was a servant under his command. And who does he think he is, anyway, calling himself the Lord’s commander?
I like to think that I am a very practical and logical person, and I insist on having facts and proofs set before me before I believe anything. I’m not going to lie – sometimes this makes believing in God a daily struggle. I usually have no problem obeying my parents, trusted professors, or even the government because they have established their authority over me in many ways and on many occasions. When it comes to other people, though, I have a difficult time adjusting to their authority and trusting their judgment. Clearly, in the position of Joshua, I’d have found myself in a great deal of trouble. Even as I was reading this passage, I only wanted to know why this person had presented himself to Joshua, and my question was never answered. As I was thinking about it, though, I could see that all God wanted was Joshua’s unerring respect and obedience. God was about to send Joshua on an insane mission to take over Jericho, and He needed to know that Joshua would do exactly as he was told.
How many times have I questioned God’s authority in my life? When I get to my own Jericho, will I ask God why He insists on making me dizzy and tired walking around the walls? Will I humble myself to His greatness? Right now, I don’t know, but I do know that if I keep working to Him first in my life EVERY SINGLE DAY that it will be easier to keep Him first when I meet my Jericho.
How do you submit to God’s power and authority? Do you, too, struggle with the need for proof and reasons?