Joshua and the Israelites are on the west bank of the Jordan. They are hanging out and healing from the men’s ordeal and celebrating God’s Passover. Biding their time and waiting on the Lord.
God hasn’t called the people into war yet with the inhabitants of the land. Israel knows it’s coming but not the exact date. So far, in the Promised Land, Israel has renewed its covenant with God through circumcision, celebrated the first Passover meal, and moved from eating manna to eating the produce of the land. ALL big steps in the process but there is SO MUCH MORE to come!
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Joshua is just looking around him one day and contemplating Jericho. He is not afraid of the tasks ahead. He knows God will tell him what to do when the time is right but he is wondering when that time will be.
“I wonder how God is going to do this. The walls of Jericho are thick enough that they house people. Rahab’s house is the one in the upper left corner. I can see the scarlet cord hanging out her window. It shows she is ready.”
Joshua’s eye is distracted by movement in front of him. He looks a few cubits ahead of him and sees a man with a sword in his hand. “Curious”, he thinks. “I didn’t see the gates open. There hasn’t been anyone going in or out in days. Where did he come from?”
Joshua raises his hand in salute and calls out to the man “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” (verse 13b).
“No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord” (verse 14a).
Joshua’s knees begin to tremble in awe.
“Now I have come” (verse 14b).
By the time these words leave the Commander’s mouth Joshua is on the ground in supplication. With his face inches from the ground in the most humble position he can assume, Joshua dares to ask a question. “What does the lord say to his servant?” (verse 14c). The Commander didn’t exactly answer Joshua’s first question but this one means everything to him. This man will give him orders directly from God and to Joshua that is what matters.
The Commander smiles at Joshua for a moment, then with a solemn voice says, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy” (verse 15b).
Joshua immediately complies with this order. He laid his sandals, staff and cloak in a pile to the side. He wanted nothing between him and the Lord’s Commander. Joshua remains on his knees as he awaits the rest of the message the Commander brings.
The Commander nods at Joshua’s act of reverence. “This is the man that the Lord has chosen to lead Israel into battle. A wise man and one who shows proper respect to His voice.” To Joshua he says, “The Lord has instructions for you that you are to follow with the people. He has “given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor” (verse 2b).
Joshua squeezes his fists together in excitement. He knows this already because of the promises the Lord has already shared with the people through Moses but it is getting REAL. Joshua reigns in his heart and mind to hear what more the Lord would say to him.
“This is how you are to take the city. It will not be with military might, with ropes and breaching rams but through dedication to do EXACTLY as the Lord instructs.”
Joshua takes a deep breath and quietly waits for God’s instructions. He will follow them to the letter and he will make SURE the people hear and obey too. “Speak lord, your servant is listening.”
“Good. Here is what the Lord would have you do. ‘You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priest shall blow the trumpets. And when the make a long blast with the rams’ horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him’ (verses 3-7).”
Joshua listens carefully as the plan is laid out. He is excited to watch what the Lord will do! “Seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. Once around each day for six days. Seven times around on the seventh day. ALL the men of war are to be in these processions. Shout at the end of the seventh round on the seventh day after a LONG blast on the horns.”
Joshua bows his face to the ground again in worship and thanks to the Lord for Israel’s instruct. His heart is racing with excitement. “Tomorrow will be the beginning! I will tell the people right away what they are to do.” When Joshua rises back to his knees the Commander of the Lord’s army is no longer with him. He quickly rises, retrieves and restores his belongings from the pile beside him to their rightful position on his body then hurries back into camp.
He goes to the high priest and instructs him to blow the rams’ horn for the call to assemble. The people must hear the words of the Lord right away.
The people gather within the hour and Joshua tells them of the Lord’s commands.
(to be continued)
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Father God, I love reading Your stories! I pray You are not angry with me for taking a little license here. I wanted badly to see what else happened with the Commander of Your army. We hear such a short version of what I’m certain was an eventful visit. I put Your words to Joshua through his mouth. Is that how it really happened or did he step aside and let You speak to Joshua as he lay prostrate?
I know if I were Joshua I would have been OVERJOYED at receiving Your instructions. To the natural eye there was little hope this group could penetrate those walls facing them. But You are not limited by what we can do or by the ‘natural world.’
I need to take a lesson from Joshua here. He wasn’t busy in his tent strategizing plans of war. He wasn’t trying to figure out how HE was going to accomplish this task. He was waiting on You. He was looking at the challenge ahead of him without fear. He was waiting in expectation. And he was ready when You sent him the answers. He didn’t have to be convinced that this plan would work. He took Your word for it that this was the path he and the people were to follow.
You have ‘battle plans’ for the ‘Jericho’s’ in my life. I need to stop trying to figure them out on my own and rely on You. And I need to follow those plans to the letter with FAITH. You said it and I believe it and that settles it for me! I excitedly await seeing those walls fall!