Have you met the Commander of the LORD’s Army?
Last week we took hold of the truth of the Word that God is our victor. The battles that we face are not our battles, they belong to God.
If you are still not completely convinced that you do not own these battles you encounter, this week's message will give you a very clear picture in a true-life story. Your battles (problems, troubles, and struggles) are for God to conquer, NOT you. Sure, you have a part, but probably not what you imagine. Stress and worry are in no way orders from your victor God. Submission to your Creator is your only role.
Submission means to give over the battle to the true owner of the battle. If it makes it easier to see God in the battle, then look at it as God overcoming evil. The battle is over evil and sin, you will never conquer this by yourself as a flesh and blood human.
Ephesians 6:10 NLT
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Let's look at a Biblical historical story that gives us a comprehensible image of God owning the battle. This is going to be fun and so exciting!
In Joshua chapter 5, the Israelites led by Joshua have crossed the Jordan (that God dried up for them) and are now preparing to attack Jericho as instructed by God. The time has come for the promised land to be taken. This requires battle. Jericho will be the first to fall in taking the land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Exodus 3:17 NLT
I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.
PAUSE - you may think that you know what is coming next in this wide known story of Jericho’s fall. Don’t jump past this section quite so quickly please. It is likely you will be surprised to discover an unfamiliar part. I did. I was astonished that I never noticed it in the past. Thanks to an interesting commentary, I stumbled upon this observation by J. Hampton Keathley, III, pastor and theologian.
Joshua has become the leader of Israel after the death of Moses, appointed by God.
Recall this verse from last week?
Deuteronomy 31:7-8 NLT
Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, “Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them.
You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Deuteronomy 34:9 NLT
Now Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him, doing just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
At the end of Joshua chapter 5, Joshua is near Jericho most likely contemplating a battle plan. He is not at the Israel camp at Gilgal with the people. Instead, he is almost certainly looking at the enemy with a fortified city of tall walls. God prepared the Israelites for what they will face in taking the promised land. He described what it will look like to them, and who would destroy them.
See Deuteronomy chapter 9.
Deuteronomy 9:1-3 NLT
Listen, O Israel! Today you are about to cross the Jordan River to take over the land belonging to nations much greater and more powerful than you. They live in cities with walls that reach to the sky!
The people are strong and tall—descendants of the famous Anakite giants. You’ve heard the saying, ‘Who can stand up to the Anakites?’
But recognize today that the Lord your God is the one who will cross over ahead of you like a devouring fire to destroy them. He will subdue them so that you will quickly conquer them and drive them out, just as the Lord has promised.
Jericho was a fortified city with some walls up to 25 feet high and 20 feet thick. Soldiers were known to guard the city from atop the walls to see for miles. Joshua stood near Jericho seeing what appeared in his eyes as “walls that reach to the sky.” Although the spies assured Joshua that the city was fearful of the God of Israel who dried the Jordan, there is still a huge challenge to conquer a fortified city.
As he stood there with Jericho so close, he looked up to see a man standing with a sword drawn. Joshua immediately inquired if this man was with them or the Canaanites. The man announced that he was the commander of the army of the LORD. Joshua fell to the ground on his face in submission realizing this encounter is from the LORD. He asked, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the LORD’s army then commanded that Joshua take off his sandals because he was on holy ground.
Joshua 5:13-15 NIV
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 have for his servant?”
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.
Why did Joshua need to take off his sandals? Why was this place holy?
When he was told that he is looking at the commander of the army of the Lord, this leader of the Israelites had no doubts that this was from God directly. Once the commander instructed him to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground, Joshua knew it was an encounter with God. Holiness comes in the form of the presence of God. Removing one’s shoes is an act of reverence to God. In Exodus 3:5, God also told Moses to remove his shoes because he was on holy ground after speaking from a burning bush.
In the next few verses arriving at Joshua 6:1, it is completely confirmed when we read that the LORD spoke to Joshua giving him exact instructions for battle. Wow! God is speaking to Joshua directly with the battle plan. Now who does this battle against Jericho belong to in these verses and previous verses? Joshua? The Israelites?
Then the Lord said to Joshua,
“I have delivered Jericho into your hands.”
Joshua 6:1-5 NIV
Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.
Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
The battle was not Joshua’s battle. It was not the Israelites’ battle. The battle was the Lord’s battle.
THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS.
THE BATTLE IS HIS.
The commander of the Lord’s army has arrived for Joshua.
The commander of the LORD’s army has arrived for you.
Submit to his authority.
that God will give you confidence and certainty that He alone will conquer, succeed, triumph and prevail in the battles. Ask your Helper, the Holy Spirit, to help you release the struggles you face to God, submitting to Him in all ways.
(easy yet powerful technique in the Word)
The Lord will personally go ahead of you.
He will be with you;
he will neither fail you nor abandon you.
from Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT
How to MEDITATE:
Take one verse, a portion of a verse or a declaration based on the verse and read it slowly, purposely and prayerfully. Ask your Father God to give you revelation as you meditate. Take each word slowly and consider it’s meaning for you from God. Ponder it, taste it, pray it, drink it, eat it, love it, praise it and just enjoy it. That’s the beauty of meditation.
The LORD goes ahead of me.
The LORD goes ahead of me and my family.
GOD, you personally go ahead of me.
GOD goes ahead of me and is with me.
(If you are new to meditation, I suggest you start with one short sentence for a few days. Write it on some cards to place in your home, car, work… as a nice reminder. This activity will keep you in the Word even with a busy or hectic schedule.)
Love you all,