About 10 years ago I felt God urging me to begin teaching in the women’s ministry of our church. With my love for writing, studying and developing the content of the lesson I would share was the easy part. But stepping in front of a class to teach it? Now that was a whole different (and intimidating) story! See, I love words and writing is comfortable for me. But at that time, leading a class was unknown and scary territory. Before that first class, I wondered how I would stack up against their previous teachers and what I would do to effectively lead a group of ladies.
I imagine my feelings of apprehension were not unlike those Joshua had as he prepared to lead Israel. (though mine on an obviously on much smaller scale!) He was tasked by God to be the follow-up guy for Moses, the bringer of the Law of God and the greatest leader in Israel’s history. And… he had been commanded to fulfill the one assignment his predecessor was unable to complete. It was Joshua’s job to lead Israel into the Promised Land.
No doubt he had wisdom, experience, and a strong resume from his years as Moses’ right hand man, but his previous role was likely comfortable, or at least familiar. This new assignment would task him in unknown ways. What would he do? How would he handle this huge new mission? He needed more than skill…
What he needed was an encounter with God.
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 face down 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. ~ Joshua 5:13-15
As we grow and move forward in our relationship with the Lord, He will often place us into unfamiliar arenas that require us to depend on the Lord in new and untried ways. But before we launch out to accomplish these God-sized tasks, we need to begin the way Joshua did.
“Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” ~ vs 13-14
At first glance, Joshua may not have recognized the “Man” who stood before him as being “the Lord”, but it only took a few words for him to understand exactly Who He was talking to. The devil is a master of fraud, confusion and distraction. But Jesus gave us clear instructions on how we can identify those who are from God from those who intend only to deceive. He said “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matt. 7:17-18,18) The powerful impact of knowing scripture is that you will be able to clearly discern who speaks truth and who doesn’t, who is of God, and who is not.
“And Joshua fell on his face and worshiped Him.” ~ vs. 14
God created human beings with an innate capacity and desire to worship. It doesn’t matter whether you’re religious or not, the fact is that you WILL worship something or someone. As the object of your desire takes center stage, you begin to focus on it. And whether you realize it or not, you begin to gravitate toward it. We’ve all seen this principle happen in a our daily lives. If you’ve ever traveled down the highway and seen a car with an interesting bumper sticker on your right or left. As you narrow your focus to try to read it, it isn’t long until you’re unconsciously veering into their lane. The same thing happens spiritually. The more we focus on God the more we move toward Him and ultimately, become like Him in our character and conduct. We need to purposefully “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Heb 12:2) and let Him be the sole object of our affection.
SEEK GOD’S WILL
“..and said to Him, What does my Lord say to His servant?” ~ vs. 14
Probably the most common questions Christians have are those that have something to do with finding God’s will for their lives. While finding it may seem complicated and mysterious, knowing it always starts with knowing God Himself. Once we enter into and begin cultivating a growing and vibrant relationship with Him, we rest on a solid foundation of trust which ultimately encourages and enables us to step out and do His will. Remember that He has all the answers, solutions, and details figured out in advance and is ready to work in and through you the moment you say “yes.”
This was a simple command that mirrored God’s command to Moses at the burning bush, and was intended to validate Joshua’s commission as the chosen leader of Israel. Obviously, taking off a pair of sandals was not a big test of Joshua’s faith (That came later as when he was given a curious set of instructions for conquering Jericho. Read Joshua 6) Often we are insistent in proclaiming our willingness to do anything for the Lord, thinking that some grandiose or difficult task is coming. While that may someday be what the Lord has in mind for you, don’t overlook the importance of obedience to simple, mundane tasks that don’t seem to be important from our perspective. Please don’t gloss over these supposedly small things. They are often the very training ground that readies us for pivotal tasks in our future.