Joshua 5:13-15 – How Do We Treat God? As a Buddy or as the Creator of the Universe?

Posted: June 4, 2017 in 06-Joshua
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Joshua 5:13-15

Joshua Meets the Commander of the Lord’s Angels


Today, the message is simple. No fancy illustration to weave. Usually, I give a glimpse into my life and its history. An illustration from my life as a set up for the passage we are about to read each day. At first, it will make you wonder what it has to do with the passage we are about to read and then after reading the passage, I will tie it altogether with a truth from God. That is what good pastors do in their sermons. Take a truth of God and express it a way that people can relate to. When they can relate to a truth of God in a personal way then they can put it into practice in their lives. It’s my formula and I thank God for letting me see the connections between my life and His Word – the way that I am completely flawed but perfectly forgiven.


However, for this passage, I had writer’s block yesterday morning when I tried to write about this passage. My wife suggested that I set it down and come back to it. The message that came through loud and clear yesterday as I was doing my Saturday things (this week it was washing both cars) was that there is no illustration for this from your life. There is nothing that can instruct us on the power, majesty, and glory of being in the presence of the Lord. I just kept thinking about what that would be like. Moses got to be in the presence of the Lord. Joshua is now in the presence of the Lord. What would that be like? It would be indescribably awe-inspiring would it not? However, most of the time, we treat God like He is one of us. Like a pal. Like the guy next door. That was the thing. How do I treat God? How do I treat the Creator of all things? So let’s read through the passage, Joshua 5:13-15, and think about that concept as we do:


13 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?”


14 “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?”


15 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.


Because of the Hebrew words used, when it translates in English “near Jericho” it loses some of its meaning. Literally it means that he was standing right next to the walls of Jericho. It had to have been at night. That would be the only way he could have snuck up to the wall without being detected. While he is there by the wall, the Commander of the Lord’s Hosts, Jesus Christ himself, appears to him. Most normal people would have high-tailed it out of there and would have had less than white underwear after being startled. Joshua, though, being a man’s man, an action hero of sorts, and a man with full faith in God just goes right up to the man appearing before Him. He does not realize that it is an appearance of God in the flesh before him so he seems a little cocky at first. When the theophany of God speaks, though, Joshua quickly loses his bravado. As a sign of respect, Joshua goes facedown, prostrate before the Lord. Although Joshua was the leader of Israel, he understood that he was still subordinate to the Absolute Leader, God. Awe and respect are the proper responses due to our holy God.


The first way that Joshua shows respect and honor to God was surrender. Although he was initially arrogant in a way as “he went up to Him”, he quickly realized that he was in the presence of God, something far superior to Him and he surrender to him. To lay prostrate before someone was to surrender to them back in the day. Joshua realized that he was not ten feet tall and bulletproof. He realizes that he is in the presence of God and surrenders to Him. No longer was proud and arrogant. He was humbled before the power and presence of God. He might have thought he was something for going right up to the wall of Jericho without being detected but in the presence of the Lord he felt weak and in the presence of greatness far superior to His own. He recognized his servile position before the Lord and surrendered to Him. We often try to bargain with Jesus as if He is an equal or a friend. Jesus if you do this or if you do that, I will do this in return. Jesus is not our equal. He is God in the flesh. He is the master of the universe. He is the commander of heaven’s armies. We are but a wisp of wind compared to Him. We must surrender to Him who is mighty.


The second thing that we notice here is that he follows. What message does my Lord have for his servant. Joshua realizes that God is His rightful leader and is willing to do whatever His Lord asks of him. He is not the leader of three million people here. He is the servant of the Lord. So we have Joshua prostrate on the ground and asking what message the Lord has for His servant. He is willing to do whatever the Lord commands. The old song, Trust and Obey, comes to mind when I think of this scene. Joshua is willing to do whatever the Lord commands. He knows that God does not need him for anything. God could knock the walls of Jericho down by Himself if He wanted to. But He comes to Joshua and will use Joshua to demonstrate faith in God and the might of the Lord through His people so that the world will know Him through those people. Are you willing and able to do what God says? Are you laying prostrate before the Lord to asking what message He has for you? Are you willing to do what He says? Do you trust God enough to obey Him even if what He asks is for you to walk around your Jericho seven times without firing a weapon or doing things your way. Can we follow God even when what He asks is something odd or different or difficult? Or do we stand up from our prostrate position and try to negotiate with God, the Master of the Universe.


The third thing that we notice here is that Joshua is asked to take His sandals off because he is on holy ground, the ground on which God stands. He does so without question. He worships. Surrender. Follow. And now worship. Joshua realizes that He is in the presence of God and that he must worship. Now, we have him lying prostrate on the ground, asking what God wants him to do, and now with his sandals off. He is as subjugated as you can be. He is as worshipful as he can be. When we go to church these days, I am not sure that we understand how humbled we should really be. We are worshiping the Lord. We are worshiping the Creator of the Universe. We are worshiping the God who knows our every thought. We are worshiping the God who knows all things. We are worshiping the God that spoke, get that – spoke, the universe into being. We are worshiping the God who transcends all time and all space. We are temporal beings in the presence of an eternal God. We are worshiping the God that wants us to worship Him and love Him and be in relationship with Him. We are worshiping the God who wanted us to be in a holy relationship with Him so much that He sent His Son to restore our relationship with Him through His death for our sinful nature. Worship we should. We should worship God with reverence and awe. We should worship Him as the mightiest of all things not as our equal and our buddy. We must lay before Him in awe and wonder that He would speak to us.


In this short passage, Joshua shows how we are to be before the Lord. God does not need us but he allows us to be a part of what he is doing. He chooses to work through us. It is a mystery as to why. Maybe it’s because the Lord wants the world to worship Him not as robots but as free-willed humans. He chooses to demonstrate to the world who He is through us and through our faith in Him. He does still do miracles but He allows us to participate in them. Yes, He loves us. He is a God of love and wants us to worship Him by our own choice. He works through us. But let us not forget that He is God. He is not someone we bargain with. He is not someone who we treat like our buddy. He is our leader. We are subject to Him. We are not equal to Him. We must surrender our will to His. We must follow His lead. We must worship Him. He is God. We are not. He is superior. We are inferior. He is God. We are His subjects. He is King. We are prostrate before Him. He leads. We follow. He is the receiver of worship. We are the givers of worship.



Amen and Amen.

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