Men of Faith #4: Joshua Man of Submission
Text: Joshua 5:13-6:15
On some air bases the Air Force is on one side of the field and civilian aircraft use the other side of the field, with the control tower in the middle. One day on just such a field the tower received a call from an aircraft asking, "What time is it?"
The tower responded, "Who is calling?"
The aircraft replied, "What difference does it make?"
The tower replied "It makes a lot of difference. If it is an American Airlines Flight, it is 3 o'clock. If it is an Air Force flight, it is 1500 hours. If it is a Navy aircraft, it is 6 bells. If it is an Army aircraft, the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 3. If it is a Marine Corps aircraft, it's Thursday afternoon. If it's National Guard, it's still a couple of hours until quitting time."
The air traffic director in the tower knew that who you are talking to makes all the difference. As we continue our series on Men of Faith, in our passage today Joshua is going to learn who he is talking to when he goes out of the camp to survey and plan the upcoming battle for the city of Jericho, one of the oldest and best defended cities in all of Canaan.
We can imagine the scene as Joshua, at the beginning of chapter 5, having reaffirmed the covenant by having all the uncircumcised males that had come out of Egypt or been born in the wilderness circumcised and the army needing time to recuperate, so Joshua the leader of the Israel takes a day to plan. He goes outside the camp, perhaps on a hill and looks upon Jericho, some say it was the oldest city in all the earth. Archeologist Kathleen Kenyon in the 1950s found a city that dated back to 9250 BC. With stone walls and ramparts the armies of Israel had no real way to take the city. Perhaps to think this through, perhaps to pray Joshua goes outside the camp and look at Jericho, but then instead of finding a battle plan he finds the Captain of the Lord’s host.
Joshua 5:13-6:5 13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
Joshua 6:1-5 1 Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. 2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. 3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. 5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
Joshua is confronted by an armed man just a short distance away from the enemy city he would soon be fighting. The man stands before Joshua with a drawn sword, the Bible says against him, this means the armed man was standing in challenge to Joshua and Joshua approaches and asks the question, Are you for us or for our enemies? The man instead of answer tells Joshua he is asking the wrong question. He says, “No, but as Captain of the Host of the LORD am I now come. The word LORD you will notice is in capital letters in your KJV showing that the word this man used was the personal name of God, the name that Moses had heard at the burning bush, the name that meant I AM. The man who stands before Joshua says I am the Captain of the army of Jehovah.
When Joshua hears this, he falls on his face in worship and tells his captain, “What is your command to me?” The Captain tells him to remove his shoe for the place you stand is holy and Joshua does as the Captain tells him.
Who exactly is this captain and why does Joshua show him such honor? What do we know about him from these two verses?
We know that he is the Captain of the Army of God. We know that Joshua falls before him and that the Captain does not tell him not to do so. We know that Joshua is told to remove his shoes for the ground he stand upon is holy.
When we look in out Bible we find that only one person fits the events described here. In revelation we read that Jesus mounted on a white horse will one day lead the host of heaven to destroy the army of the Anti-Christ with the sword of his Word. We know that the Captain received worship from Joshua and that only God is worthy of worship and that when John in Revelation fell at the feet of an angel he was told, “See that thou do it not.” Finally, the greatest element of knowing who this truly is lays in the first command given to Joshua, “Take off your shoe for the place you stand is holy.” This is the exact command that was given to Moses as he stood before the burning bush and was commissioned by God to go and free His people from Egypt. It should not be hard for us then to realize that this is not just and angel, not just a supernatural warrior, not just a special messenger from God but that this is Jesus, the Son of God, very God of very God, God in the flesh. Here he appears to Joshua in a pre-incarnate theophany as the Captain of the Army of Jehovah.
Joshua then listens as his Captain, his Savior, his God tells him how Jericho is going to be taken.
I see a tremendous lesson, an application for our own lives that we must comprehend if we are to find victory in the battles of our life. Just like Joshua before we can have victory we must truly know who Jesus is and we must bow ourselves before Him and listen as He gives us the victory.
The 3 R's of Submission
- Do we really know God "face to face?"
Only a personal knowledge of God will create the patience, the trust and the love needed to wait on God's victory. You will not be able to obey or trust one who you do not know. Faith, God’s word says, comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. You better know when you hear Him who speaks to you from the Word of God.
- After our relationship comes our reverence, our worship of God. Where do you find yourself in the stages of worshipping God?
God, as Joshua did when he was confronted by Captain with the drawn sword? And believe me if you are really seeing Jesus then Jesus will always stand to confront you. It might be to confront your unbelief, or to confront your stubbornness, or even your pain and sorrow but Jesus always stand waiting for us to give up something to Him.
, especially at times of challenge in our life. Like Daniel, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Peter or any of the great heroes of scripture, God speaks to us in the times of our greatest challenges but we must be willing to hear.
before Him. No other action can be contemplated nor given once we know God’s voice, once we hear His command we must submit. We must bow our will, our plans, our future and give ourselves to him. Like Joshua we must say, “What saith My Lord to His servant?”
the Holiness of God. After Joshua had submitting himself, then Jesus said, “the place you stand is holy.” If you would truly know the power of the holiness of God then you must give yourself wholly to God.
- If meeting with God does not set you on a course of action, does not change us and move us in a different direction, does not drive us to repentance, then have we really met with God at all?
Until we see him, hear him, bow before him and experience Him in his holiness we will find the full victory of God in our lives.
Isn’t that what God himself says in Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
I don’t want to be like the Hebrews the base of Mt. Zion who refused to come close enough to the mountain to even hear the Word of God but stood at a distance hearing the thunder and lightning but filled with fear instead of longing to worship and meet with their God. No, I want to be like Moses who ascended the heights and begged of God Almighty, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory.” I then want to hear Him say to me as he did to Moses,
Transition: that rock is Jesus Christ and through Him I can behold the glory of God. Joshua experienced Jesus as the Captain of the Army of Jehovah and in the experience he was able to wait for God to bring the victory.
10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. 11 So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp. 12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.
Jesus had given very specific instruction to Joshua and he relayed them to the Hebrews, Six days exactly of marching and trumpets. There was to be no shouting until the seventh day and on the seventh day they were to truly shout. For on the seventh day and only on the seventh would the walls fall if they had done as they were commanded. To change the time frame, to chang e the order of the march, to change when to shout or how many times to march around the city, would have meant failure, ridicule and shame.
The army of Israel had to learn to wait on God if they were to have victory over the enemies of God in the promised land.
I once knew a missionary who never went on deputation. He went to Bible college. He told us he was called, but he never went to the Lord’s churches sharing that call and burden. He would tell me. “I’m waiting on God for the right time.” That kind of waiting on God is not what we see happening in Joshua chapter 6. If we are not careful we can be those Christians who spend their entire existence sitting on their comfortable pews, in their comfortable churches, supported by their comfortable jobs because they’re “waiting on God.” That’s not waiting on God that is stalling instead of serving God.
Listen, waiting on God never means inactivity. Waiting on God means active involvement in doing that which God has commanded us to do. God’s Word is filled with actions that we should be doing in his service. When we wait on the Lord . We fight until we see the victory God has promised and will provide.
They that wait upon the lord will renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary they shall walk and not faint.
I know some of you are saying “Yes, but it’s hard to fly with the eagles when you surrounded by turkeys.” (No don’t look around.) Well this morning God says “Get your eyes off the turkeys and put them on Me!
You want to know the secret of waiting on God? The secret or the ability to wait upon the Lord is found when we realize that through Him the victory is already ours. It is not something we are going achieve in our own power but something we will see through the eyes of faith accomplished by the power of God.
Illustration: Knowing the Victory is Ours
There was a Glasgow professor named MacDonald who, along with a Scottish chaplain, had bailed out of an airplane behind German lines. They were put in a prison camp. A high wire fence separated the Americans from the British, and the Germans made it next to impossible for the two sides to communicate. MacDonald was put in the American barracks and the chaplain was housed with the Brits.
Every day the two men would meet at the fence and exchange a greeting. Unknown to the guards, the Americans had a little homemade radio and were able to get news from the outside, something more precious than food in a prison camp. Every day, MacDonald would take a headline or two to the fence and share it with the chaplain in the ancient Gaelic language, indecipherable to the Germans.
One day, news came over the little radio that the German High Command had surrendered and the war was over. MacDonald took the news to his friend, then stood and watched him disappear into the British barracks. A moment later, a roar of celebration came from the barracks.
Life in that camp was transformed. Men walked around singing and shouting, waving at the guards, even laughing at the dogs. When the German guards finally heard the news three nights later, they fled into the dark, leaving the gates unlocked. The next morning, Brits and Americans walked out as free men. Yet they had truly been set free three days earlier by the news that the war was over.
With Christ as our Captain, he has already won the battles of our life. The battles with finances, won! The battle with sinful habits, won! The battle with this world stealing our children won! Whatever the battle is it is won already in the power of Christ and now wait not for our own power to win battles that are already over but we simply wait to see victory declared. We need to be like these POWs and start acting living in victory until we see the gates flung open wide.
We have seen Joshua walk with God, we have watched as he waited for God those seven days of marching and now go to verse 15 of Joshua 6 and see as Joshua wins by God.
15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. 16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.