The Commander of the Army of the Lord
Joshua 5:13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” 14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” 15 Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
This is one my favorite passages in all of the Bible. A little context, Joshua had just replaced Moses to lead the Israelites into the promised land. They were encamped outside of Jericho, the very first city they were about to take in the land promised to them by God. After all the years of slavery in Egypt being led out by the Lord, and years in the wilderness, they were now about to embark in the land we now call Israel.
Joshua being a bit anxious went out to think about the day to come. Would they prevail or was he leading all of them to their deaths, probably thoughts “is this God for real” as well. As soon as doubt crept in, the Lord showed up, specifically a Man, which could be no other than the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. His title to Joshua was “The Commander of the Lord’s Army”.
The Commander had His sword drawn which means He was ready for battle. Joshua being a bit frightened I presume, posed a question to Him. “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” The response was “No!” Which probably set Joshua back a bit. He did not realize He was speaking to God Himself. But when Joshua heard Him then say “I am the Commander of the Lord’s army, and now I have come”, he knew for certain who this Commander was, the Lord God Almighty.
So then Joshua asked a better question, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” And the Lord commanded Joshua to take off his sandals, just as He did to Moses at the burning bush, leaving absolutely no doubt who this Commander was.
The point I will make is that God is the term giver. His answer was “No!” to Joshua because Joshua tried to invoke His terms, to make the Lord His servant. We can draw from this in our own requests. Are you God’s servant or are you trying to make God your servant? He does not bow to man, we bow to Him.
He is not our spiritual ATM machine, or your genie at your beckon call. He gives out His terms, we are the servants of Him. Too often we hear from a preacher “God loves you unconditionally and desires to give you ALL the things you desire, so ask Him”. God’s love is unconditional, but He is not our servant. He doesn’t partner with sin, He is always a million steps of us so He doesn’t succumb to demands outside of His will and to your fallen will. So the answer is “No!” more times than not.
The important part of the passage I draw your intention to, is what Joshua finally said “What does my Lord say to His servant?”. This is what we must always ask, and the answers are always in His revealed word, Scripture, of which He is the Author. Are you searching for answers elsewhere? They are not in invented tradition, they come directly from God.
The same holds true for the modern sentiment in many churches which demand that God saves a sinner right here and right now. That religious pomp and circumstance must be the terms God submits to or else He cannot be served. They do this by infant baptism, altar calls, a boasting preacher claiming how many he saved today, subversion and manipulation of sinners demanding that we are somehow the converters and dictating to God the how, they why, and the time of His salvation. Only then to discover a myriad of confused false converts in the church who were told they were saved, but show no life in them. His answer is NO! He is the the Lord, He will not bow to our demands, we bow to His.
Remember this when you pray next time. Are you dishing out the terms to God, the answer is going to be NO! Rather submit yourself to Him in holy reverence. The meaning I get when He says “take off your sandals” is a command of “submit yourself, remove yourself from worldly thinking and trust in Me alone” and “who are you compared to Me”.
When the Commander comes in your presence, ask the right question. “What will my Lord say to His servant?”.