God sometimes leads me to certain parts of the Bible, and initially, I have no idea why! I may read a passage (often one I have already previously read, and heard teaching on numerous times), and it seems to stare blankly back at me. But God keeps ensuring I read it over and over, think about it, mull over what I have read until it twigs, and I finally ‘get it’, as if the light bulb above my head lights up and I grasp what God is wanting to say to me.
The other week, the story of the Fall of Jericho was on my mind, give it a read to get an idea of the story. Personally, I’ve heard this story again and again, heard teachings on how God will give us victories, and we shall see the ‘walls’ in our lives fall as we obey Him. Also, I’ve heard the songs sung in kids church all about the walls of Jericho, and the pictures to help illustrate the victory of the Israelites going into the land God promised them.
However, as I read this the other week, it just seemed like empty words on a page. However, God kept drawing me back to it again and again, and it continually felt like I was wasting time reading about concepts I knew already. This was until I read one verse again.
“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.”Joshua 5:13-15
The first part of this passage that grabbed me was the fact that the Commander of the army of the Lord (considered to be an angel by most theologians), said that he was neither for or against Joshua. This seems to go against the traditional phrase ‘God is on your side’ claimed by most Christians. I was puzzled by this at first: Surely, if God promised the land to the Israelites, and they are obeying him then he would be on their side in battle? However, this isn’t a ‘typo’ in the Bible, we can get something from this.
For too long, I feel that Christians have left battles up to God. We have given up all power that we can have through Christ, as if we hide away until the battle is over and we can show our heads again. Some battles are for us to fight. God will guide us, give us help, but we need to show our faces in the battle. The power that defeated death, the power that comes from God is inside us, and as followers of Him, we need to step up to the plate, and fight battles ourselves, with an attitude that says ‘maybe God will show up’. For too long we have been weak-minded, and super-spiritual about everything, saying “I won’t move until God tells me to“. But the truth is, we sometimes need to hear that God is not going to fight our battles for us, and we need to be told that he is neither for us or against us, in order for us to get up and fight our own battles that God has promised victory over.
I’ll discuss the second part of the passage in Joshua in my next blog entry, that’s just a little thought for now…