Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 7 Apr 18:
1. Joshua 5:13, 14 — “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.’ Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, ‘What message does my Lord[d] have for his servant?”
– “Neither” (“No” in some translations) is not what you would have expected the commander of the army of the LORD to say just prior to Joshua’s attack on Jericho. Why was the commander there, and why did he say what he said? Perhaps, in part, he was there to remind Joshua and the Jews that this great moment was not about them and what they wanted in life, but rather about God’s purposes and His glory. The victory belongs to God as does all the glory. We all have a tendency to be self-centered and to judge circumstances and other people with an egocentric perspective. We also have a predisposition to interpret God’s words and God’s activity myopically, always asking, “What does this mean for me and my life?” We like to place ourselves at the center of the universe, and interpret the ‘goodness’ or ‘godliness’ of a particular situation based upon how it impacts our lives. It is hard for us to accept that God’s goodness may require that which we desire least, that which seems most “evil” to us. Relationships, including our relationship with God, can become transactional, loving the gifts more than the giver. Our good deeds can come from a desire to be rewarded rather than a desire to serve the LORD out of love. Our prayers can become, “Lord give me what I want,” rather than, “Thy will be done…. Hollowed be thy Name.” Why did God deliver Jericho into Joshua’s hands? “… that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Ex 9:16) Our command is to love God with all that we are and to glorify Him on earth, though this might cost us all that we have on this earth. As someone once said, the person who has everything on earth plus Jesus has nothing more than the person who has Jesus – nothing else matters. “I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. (Psalm 40:10) Joshua had two major decision points before Him – How would he act going into battle, and how would he act coming out of battle? What would he do in crisis, and what would he do in victory? The Commander of the Army of the LORD put the crisis and the victory into right perspective – there was nothing to fear, and their was nothing about which to boast but God. How would you act if God gave you success beyond your wildest imagination? Would God get all the honor and glory?
2. Joshua 5:14, 15 – “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?’ 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.” I currently believe this is a “Christophany,” an appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament ((distinct from a theophany – other forms of the presence of God on earth). Why? While angels are God’s messengers, this is no ordinary angel, but the Commander of the Lord’s Army, and what is significant here is that Joshua is not rebuked for worshipping Him. Angels never allow someone to worship them, and angel worship is specifically forbidden in the Bible. (Rev 22:8, 9; Romans 1:25; Matthew 4:8-10) There are arguably other Christophanies in the Old Testament, distinct from visits by angelic messengers. Today, Jesus speaks to us through the Holy Spirit within us, using the word of God as His primary instrument.
3. Joshua 6:3 — “You shall march around the city….” God’s ways are not our ways. He will have you accomplish impossible tasks in impossible ways to reveal Himself to the world rather than your talents. Again, it is never about us. It is always about Him. Our mission on earth is to glorify Him not to glorify ourselves. Check yourself every time you use the personal pronouns of “I” and “me” to ensure you are not drifting into the role of kingship rather than ambassadorship.
4. Proverbs 7:6-7 — “For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice,
and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths.” God wants you to learn from the mistakes of others. As the Founding Fathers said, God’s truth is “self-evident.” It is not hard to see the consequences of rebellion against the Lordship of Jesus if you have eyes to see.
5. Proverbs 7:10 — “And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.” How you dress reveals much about your character. Your clothing is a public display that always makes a statement, whether intentional or not. In everything you do, do it for God’s glory, including getting dressed to meet the world as God’s messenger.
6. Psalm 40:3– “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” A real relationship with God changes your perspective on everything and changes your attitude. A changed life gets everyone’s attention and brings glory to God.
7. Psalm 40:6-8 — “In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” God doesn’t want your empty sacrifices; He wants your loyalty, love, and obedience. Become a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1)
8. Psalm 40:9, 10 — “I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness. from the great congregation.” God expects you to proclaim His salvation to everyone. How many times a day to you proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ to those with whom you come in contact? How many conversion experiences have you witnessed this week?
9. Psalm 40:16 — “May those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’” It is an amazing and incredibly powerful thing when God saves a person and the Holy Spirit transforms them. That person is “a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God gives them a new heart – “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).” Having received the unmerited gift of grace from God through faith in Jesus Christ, that person is truly humbled, gracious, and joyful to the point of being uncontrollably merry (Psalm 40:16, 17). Bought with the price of the blood of Jesus, that person is no longer a slave to sin but rather a servant of Christ putting off the “works of the flesh” (see Galatians 5:19-21 below) and displaying the “fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23 below). That person is not just “religious;” that person walks with the Lord in continual, natural worship and obedience, delighting in God’s word which is written on their hearts (Psalm 40:6-8; also see 2 Corinthians 3:3 below). The saved simply cannot shut up about their love relationship with Almighty God who they can now call “Abba”, “Daddy” – “I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation (Psalm 40:9, 10).” Though this person faces the same life challenges as others, their confidence in their God, their persistent joy, their strength and courage, and God’s provision in their life stands out like a beacon in the darkness. The power of God in that person’s life will be so remarkably evident and real that “many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:3).” How is the awesome power of Almighty God revealed in your life?
– Galatians 5:19-21 — Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
– Galatians 5:22-23 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
– 2 Corinthians 3:3 — And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
– 1 Peter 2:9 — But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
– Matthew 5:14 — You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
10. Psalm 40:16– “May those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is the LORD!’” How much you proclaim God’s salvation reveals how much you really love Him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 April: Today, endeavor not to see things from your own perspective but rather from God’s perspective. Don’t judge things as “good” or “bad” based upon how they make you feel or from your very limited ability to understand the whole picture. Remember Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” If you are faithfully serving in the “army of the Lord [or Marines]” (Joshua 5:14), it is ALL good.