The Fall of Jericho
13 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?”
14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
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 so.
This is my favorite passage in the whole Bible, so forgive me if I go on, and on, and on…
To understand this passage, we have to understand Joshua. Joshua was truly the MAN at this point, having been one of the only faithful Israelites for generations and through every season. And now, he (NOT Moses) is leading the nation of Israel through the Promised Land! Based on these successes, you can then understand that he was probably a man who was quite confident in his past and his victories, especially when it comes to military matters.
And so when he comes to Jericho, he is a man of purpose, a man of vision who knows what he wants: to conquer Jericho! He is so intent on this that when he meets an angel of the Lord (in the OT, an angel of the Lord is basically God himself), he challenges the angel, asking if the angel is on his side or his enemies! But the angel gives the most devastating response possible:
“Neither, but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”
And at this, Joshua falls on his face in reverence. He does this because he makes a huge realization: that God is not on his side – Joshua is on God’s side. Joshua thought HE was in charge, that he was going to take Jericho, and wanted to know if God would support him and saddle up behind him. But Joshua realizes that it is GOD who leads, GOD who is in control, and it is Joshua who follows God’s plans and purposes and helps however he can, not the other way around!
But before we look down on Joshua, we have to realize we do the exact same thing – we tell God, “God, this is what I want – give it to me! Bless me! Saddle up behind my plans and intentions!” Or if we are slightly more modest about it, we give him a choice, “God, med school or law school – you help me choose!”
No, instead it’s more appropriate to pray and think and live with a different mentality:
“God, whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it.”
“God, what are you already doing in my life and in this world? How can I participate in that?”
“……(quietly listening to God)”
This is only appropriate because God is GOD. But moreover, there is deep wisdom in living in this kind of humility, which we will see in coming chapters.
1. What part of your life are you most proud of? What part of your life do you feel most confident/comfortable about, where you know what you are doing?
2. Is there a part of your life where you are firmly in control, and God is in the backseat, and you only ask his occasional advice and aid? Do the victories of your past (from the first question) play any role in this?
3. We will see this in more detail in the coming chapter, but why do you think this type of mentality is so dangerous?
4. Spend a quick moment in prayer, praying in the ways outlined above – is there a sense or impression that you get from God in response to this, some way in which you can follow what God is already doing?