“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, ‘What does my lord say to his servant?’ And the commander of the Lord‘s army said to Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” Joshua 5:13-15
Joshua had just succeeded Moses, and like his predecessor at the beginning of a new, divine campaign, he is met by a strange vision and is told to remove his sandals, he is on holy ground. Surely Joshua, as his long-time assistant, knew of Moses’ experience, and had received directly from the Lord his commissioning to lead Israel into Canaan and conquer it, but my heart skips a beat at God’s personal attention to Joshua here. It’s as though He is waving His hand in front of his eyes and saying, ‘Look at me. I’ve chosen you to be on My side and be the captain of all I will accomplish here. I’ve made the marvelous way before you through the Jordan, and will continue to go before you. Don’t get distracted by the work, though it is a great one; be consumed with Me. Don’t ask Me to be on your side; stay on Mine. Never forget this is My campaign and will be My victory. I am holy.’ (Exodus 3:1-5)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God would visibly show up as a warrior every time we embark on a daunting unknown, a formidable endeavor, a risky defense? Is He teaching here that He is in charge and wherever He meets with us, and calls us to be, He is present and therefore we are on holy ground? Mustn’t I remove my sandals, surrender whatever habits and practices I’m accustomed to, the tools and equipment and talents I think necessary, the wise strategies I’ve developed, to His higher, holier enabling? Instead of asking Him to sidle up to me and bless my plans, shouldn’t I be aligning myself with His?
I love how God arrested Joshua at his point of embarking. Joshua took a moment to look up- whether at Jericho’s looming walls or to the heavens in prayer, we do not know, but the LORD met him at his gaze. It takes a deliberate pausing, physically, of mind’s racing, of heart’s passion, of runaway fear, to behold the Lord and take in His word for me. Will I look up when the Jerichos are before me?
Oh mighty and holy Commander, fix my attention and focus on Thee. Keep me on Your holy ground, shoeless for Your adorning, hands lifted in dependence, whenever You call, wherever You lead. (Psalm 134:2)