Monday, October 14, 2013

Provider and Warrior

"And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. 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 5:11-15 ESV

I don't think I ever saw this progression before. The manna ceased because the people had been brought fully into the land of promise and the leader of the LORD's armies appears. Joshua has to defer to that leadership. Going into battle holiness must trump delegated authority before Jericho's walls are to come down (see Joshua chapter 6).

Joshua didn't cease to lead but he was discouraged indirectly from taking on a new role that wasn't his to take. The Hebrew word for the captain or commander of the LORD's army is Sar (Strings H8269) and it speaks of someone who is fully in charge because they have been given that right directly from the King. That person reports directly to the King.

The Israelites learned that God was their provider and now they would learn that God was their warrior. They did not fight alone nor did God fight to win their battles. He is not for us or against us in this respect. The war is not what we think it is anyway. We see the war as being primarily about our interests and we look for allies in that fight.

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33 KJV

The moment we passed over chilly Jordan into the promised land there was a faith exchange. Instead of trying to make things happen... our effort becomes the effort of shoe removal. Our labor is the labor of entering into the rest of the finished work. Our leadership is to lead in submission to the captain of our salvation. Christ has His sword drawn and we fall on our face before that reality. There is a land to be taken but grace is the only way it is going to happen... not effort only grace.

We lead people into the promised land. That is evangelism. Then we lead people under the King of Kings. That is edification. Earthly leaders can become little gods to their followers. Spiritual leaders magnify God and impart a way to eternal perspective. They are keepers and deliverers of God's message of Grace. They give the Gospel and live the Gospel. The battle is the LORD's battle.

Is He for us or against us today? That is the wrong question. Behold the grace of God and take off your sandals. You are walking on holy ground.

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