He stood before me, blocking my view of the city we were to take. I did not know from which direction he’d come, he’d appeared so suddenly. His sword was drawn. The way he held himself spoke of power and authority. He was formidable in every aspect. His very presence might have made me doubt whether I could lead my men forward. But I did not doubt. Perhaps I was given the charge of taking this land for that reason: I’ve never doubted the success of my orders from the top…(Read more)
Joshua’s encounter with God became my springboard for writing the four Stories of the Valiant. Those three verses in Joshua are packed full of meaning. Joshua doesn’t know who the man is at first; but seeing he is armed as one who goes out to fight, Joshua confronts him. The reader can see from Joshua’s words that he’s not willing to assume anything, but isn’t going to retreat from the command he’s been given—to go in, drive out the Canaanites, and inhabit the land.
That’s faith. Faith is real and living. When it is planted, the believer must act upon it, changing his/her thinking to conform to what the believer knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is the truth.
In Joshua’s case, he wasn’t expected to understand who he was speaking to. He didn’t know that the One standing before him in the form of a military leader was his Lord. But he did know what God had told him to do and was going forward with that. That’s what God wanted of him. Joshua didn’t need all the pieces to obey. He didn’t need to know everything about God’s plan for removing the Canaanites to confront the man he thought was standing in his way.
What is so incredible to me about this verse is that God, the Creator, allowed Joshua, the creation, to approach and question His position. Who of us has any right to do that? Yet, God has always allowed each of us to ask, “Are you for or against me?” And the answer has always been far above us, for who are we to have a side to defend? And God explains over and over to His children, “I am on my side.” Joshua understood and knew that he, Joshua, was on God’s side, too!
God, the Father, sent Jesus, God the Son, into spiritual battle for our souls. It was fought in a physical way when Jesus took on the lower form of man to be tempted in all points as we are. The war hung in the balance as Jesus perished on the cross. Death was defeated when Jesus, the perfect, sinless sacrifice, could not be bound by eternal death—because He is God, deity, “the brightness of the glory of God and the express image of his person.” He rose from the grave! The sin He carried with Him to the grave could not condemn Him to spiritual death because He did not commit any sin. That was the victory. He removed the sin, the sin that would condemn us to an existence separated from the presence of the Source of all Goodness.
Joshua’s story shows what it is to seek always to be on God’s side, to give up the things that keep us from His presence, and to learn to do what pleases Him. Just like He did for Joshua, God welcomes us into His Presence to bow in worship and ask for counsel from Him to take on the life battles we face. To be allied with Jesus Christ, the King of God’s Eternal Kingdom, is to be assured of that victory and to expect the fulfillment of the promise of spending eternity in the presence of God. It is a relief and thrill to know that putting on Christ means never being on one’s own side in the battles that rage both in the heart and in the world.
And that’s what I came away with when I read about Joshua and his meeting with the Commander of the LORD’s army. Three little verses brought thoughts to mind that gave me a better glimpse of God’s love.