Chain of CommandThis encounter is a critical moment in Joshua's personal development. He's standing alone, looking at Jericho. Maybe he's playing a dozen military strategies through his head. Maybe he's paralysed with fear. Maybe he's quietly humming a psalm of trust.
But in this moment God appears to him. It is an interesting encounter because it involves a physical appearance and it doesn't seem to be an angel. Joshua sees a man with a drawn sword who identifies himself as the "commander of the armies of the Lord" and Joshua falls down and worships and the man tells him that he is on holy ground. (An angel would never allow himself to be worshipped.)
This leaves us with two possibilities. The first is that God is appearing in human form and the second is that this is a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ who, in the book of Revelation, is depicted as leading the army of the Lord in the final battle (Rev19:11-16).
This is a critical moment.
Joshua asks "Are you for us or our enemies?"
Jesus' answer shows us that Joshua's thinking is wrong.
It is not God who is with us, but us who are with God.
This fits in beautifully with view of Mission that David Bosch brought to the world's attention in the 1980's: It not us who take God to the peoples in the far corners of the earth, but we go to the far corners of the earth to discover what God is already doing.
We don't "take God to the world", God takes us to the world.
So often we're asking God to bless our plans.
Like Joshua, we have to learn the chain of command.
We're not in a position to ask Him to join us.
We must join Him.
It's about surrender...
|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. (Joshua5:13-15)