Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 4 April 20:
Joshua 5:13-15 – “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ 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.
Preparing to attack the mighty city of Jericho, Joshua encounters a man standing with his sword drawn (noticeably not sheathed). I don’t think this was an angel but rather Jesus Himself, a theophany. Why? This is one of two times in the Bible when a servant of God is commanded to take off His shoes while on holy ground — Moses at the Burning Bush, and now Joshua before the Man. Throughout the remainder of the Bible, angels tell people not to worship them.
The Man identifies Himself as “The Commander of the Lord’s Army” – the outcome of the impending battle does not rest in the hands of men. (see also 2 Chronicles 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Psalm 146:3; Proverbs 21:31; and Revelation 19) Joshua asks, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” The Commander of the Lord’s Army simply replies, “No.” Joshua was missing the point. The battle ahead was not intended to fulfill the desires of people but rather God’s will and ultimate plan of redemption.
Joshua’s encounter with the Man gives us an important lesson about our conflicts with others – It is never about us or them, rather always about Him. We have been appointed as ambassadors for Christ, entrusted with His message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5) We are never to be ambassadors for self or anything else. We are not called to win arguments, but rather to win souls – “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30) When we prioritize the “issue” over the Gospel, we take the focus off of Jesus, and we scatter rather than gather – “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)
Also, we are not called to win the day on our own power, it is God’s power that prevails. “For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4) “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Through the power and authority of Jesus Christ, we have been appointed to proclaim the Gospel boldly, but it is the power of the Holy Spirit which convicts souls and saves. God uses the faithful, not necessarily the talented. You need simply to be faithful, and trust God with the results.
Joshua 6:2-5 – “And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus, shall you do for six days…. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”
God tears down the walls, but we must be obediently persistent, refusing to give up, in order to share in the victory. Imagine the perspective of the Israelites at Jericho: They march around the city on day one with no apparent results; they march around the city on day two; again, no apparent results, and this continues for days. Imagine if, after the sixth time marching around the city on the seventh day, they just quit in hopelessness. They wouldn’t have experienced God’s miraculous victory in their lives. It takes faith to keep marching in obedience when results aren’t evident, but without faith, it is impossible to please God. Maybe you have been praying for years for a lost friend or family member – keep praying. You don’t know what God might do on the sixth march on the seventh day.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Finally, we must not lose perspective that we are fighting a spiritual battle, and spiritual victories often look like physical or temporal losses. We must die to live, be weak to be strong, and ready to lose to win –
– 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 — But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 — But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
– 1 Corinthians 15:57 — but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
– 2 Corinthians 2:14 — But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
– Romans 8:18 — For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 Apr 20: Today, don’t lose perspective of your position as an ambassador to Christ. In every encounter with others, focus on representing Christ, not yourself, and relying on His power and authority, not yours. Trust Him with the results of every situation.