You for Me, or Me for You?

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

Oh, we are so prone to thinking our way is best! Superior, smart, enlightened. This scene, early in Joshua’s tenure as Israel’s commander in conquering the promised land, turns our whole way of thinking upside down and inside out. The Israelites have crossed the Jordan, been circumcised in their special identification as God’s own in this foreign place, celebrated the Passover, begun to eat the fruit of the land instead of their daily heaven-dropped manna, and are eager to begin their conquest against the cowering Canaanites. It is a natural curiosity for Joshua to wonder who this armed man was, but God intends to set right his whole perspective. This would not be an “us versus them” occupation, but was all to be God’s operation. (Joshua 5:1-12)


Maybe spurred by natural protections, and perhaps by an inflated view of our own expertise or outlook, it is easy to see life as a battle for my rights, a venue to accomplish my plans, or a venture for my way.  I am master of the universe, and everything and everyone serves at my command, for my purposes, to help me achieve my ends. ‘Lord, please bless them.’

While we do not see a particular pride in Joshua, and he had served years alongside the humble Moses, we observe that the Lord wanted him to be sure from the beginning that this settling in the land would be His doing, not Joshua’s. And He was to be regarded, from day one, as holy- something Joshua’s predecessor had failed to do. ‘Remember, Joshua, where I have you now, and where I will lead you, are holy ground.’ (Exodus 3:4-5; Numbers 20:12; Proverbs 16:9)

How do I view my agenda, my place, my opportunities? Do I, by my very determinations and actions, seize ownership of my days and resources, to treat and employ as I choose, and ask simply for God’s blessing and favor on my efforts? Or do I hold open my hands and calendar and say, ‘Lord, You have given this day and these talents. My home, work, and ministries are holy ground. I rejoice in You and what You have provided and will reveal. Enlist me as Your soldier, lead me in such a way that Your kingdom purposes are advanced, and that all see You exalted’? (Psalm 118:24)

Lord, keep me prostrate on Your holy ground of every day. Help me hear what You say to Your servant, and arise to walk in Your paths. (Psalm 32:8)

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