Joshua 5:13-15 The fear of God secures divine assistance to succeed in all our endeavors.
13 Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” 14 He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15 The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Joshua’s posture of worship before the captain of the Lord’s host shows us how our heart’s posture and desires must be conducted when we come before the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth. The fear of God and love for God as Christ described are two sides of the same coin. Today’s passage shows us that the fear of God is the key that secures divine assistance and authority to succeed in all our endeavors.
Are you for us or for our adversaries?
Joshua was by Jericho (near Jericho), probably pondering over battle plans. He saw a man standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand which suggests combat readiness. Instinctively, Joshua set out to ascertain his allegiance and identity, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” The man simply answered, “No” or neither. For he did not fit into either category of friend or foe but identified himself as captain of the host of the Lord whom all armies of the earth were subservient to. By saying, “…rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord”; he made clear that he was neither friend nor foe, for He was above all.
Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.
Joshua, having registered the man’s identity, immediately fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down and worshiped. The first moments of their encounter established the proper protocol of engagement between Lord and man. Joshua was required to remove his sandals and bowed with face to the ground in worship. Sandals carry a connotation of uncleanness and had to be removed in the Lord’s presence. The focus here was not the place but the presence of the holy God. The holiness of the Lord when approached necessitates absolute submission and worship on the part of man.
The fear and the love of God are two sides of the same coin.
Some churchgoers comment that they love God a lot but somehow could not submit to His Lordship. Then I would say that there is something seriously wrong with their love for God; for them it’s more like a romantic notion or a sense of gratitude. Jesus said,
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” John 14:23-24.
The fear of God and love for God as Christ described are two sides of the same coin. To fear God is to live life in reverence and submission to His will. The fear of God relates to the positional leadership of God while love relates to the personal ministry of Christ. We fear God and obey His instructions because He is the Lord of heaven and earth. We love God because He loved us first by suffering and dying on our behalf. The fear of God leads to obedience, and love leads to intimacy and inner healing. Hence, one can say that love heals our wounds so that we can obey Him and serve Him. A love that is Spirit centered will definitely lead to the fear of God.
Joshua’s encounter with the Lord shows us how our heart’s posture and desires must be conducted when we come before the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth. When Joshua came face to face with the Lord, he instinctively bowed with his face to the ground and worshiped. Yet Joshua’s worship was found wanting and needed to remove his sandals. The Lord appeared to Joshua because Joshua feared God. It also applies that whoever does not fear God will not experience His intimate presence and divine assistance.
Jesus tested Peter of his understanding of love when He asked him, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter answered, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” Jesus countered, “Feed My lambs.” This dialogue was deliberately repeated three times as Jesus wanted to show Peter a concrete correlation between love and obedience to His instructions.
In order for prayers to be effective, they must first be aligned with God’s plans.
Prayers that are outside of God’s plans will certainly not be fulfilled. Joshua, being a humble man must have prayed earnestly for God’s intervention right before his battle with Jericho. When Joshua asked the man, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” Imagine Joshua’s surprise when the man answered, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” The captain of the host of the Lord came not in response to Joshua’s prayer. But rather to fulfill the Father’s will. Are we saying that we should not pray? No. Rather we must first pray for the revelation of God’s will. Then, we should pray to understand our role in this matter and receive the Spirit’s power to do it.
Many churchgoers have been asking God, “Are you for me or against me concerning this prayer request?” God is neither for us nor against us. Rather, He is above all. Hence, believers must never suppose that anything uttered in Jesus’ name is a done deal! Christ did not come to fulfill man’s will but the will of the Father. He alone determines our life direction, our battles, and what we should seek and pray.
Having said, it is God’s will to grant His people abundant living and a prosperous future. The conquest of Jericho was not Joshua’s idea; it was God’s all along. And the captain of the Lord’s host came to deliver Jericho into Joshua’s hand. Believers who seek above all to understand God’s plans will find themselves prospering beyond what they could think or imagine.
In the midst of our daily struggles, the fear of God is the key that secures our victory.
In order to win battles, we must be given the mandate from above. Without divine mandate, we stand to be defeated by the forces of darkness no matter how capable we may be. Many worked hard and became successful. But because they did not fear God, they succumbed to the forces which they could not control. However, those who fear God are entrusted with divine authority to succeed regardless of the circumstances.
How do we secure authority from the captain of the Lord’s host? By the fear of God, and total obedience to His instructions. The greater the obedience on our part, the greater the authority given to us. When Joshua came face to face with the captain of the Lord’s host, Joshua must remove his sandals and bow his face to the ground in fear and worship. Joshua’s posture communicates total submission to God in fear and worship without which, Joshua would never be granted the authority. The captain of the Lord’s host was the commander of the heavenly army of warring angels that went ahead of Israel in all their battles which ensured their victory.
Therefore, believers must begin by yielding their dreams and desires to God and to become an instrument under God’s bidding. By cultivating a disciplined lifestyle of reading the word and prayer, we condition our spirit to be always attentive to the instructions of God. God begins to show us His plans of conquest on a daily basis and how we could take territories for His kingdom.
Divine mandate and authority is gained through the fear of God which is the key to enduring prosperity and success.
During worship, while you sing praises to God, do you feel love and the fear of God at the same time? While there is gratitude towards God, there must also be conviction to do His will. Worship becomes a more fulfilling experience when love and obedience are present.
In your daily challenges at work and in the family, did you seek divine assistance? It is God’s desire that His children depend on Him concerning all matters of life. The apostle Paul said,
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
In the process of prayer, we understand God’s will pertaining to this matter. At the same time, God instructs us in the way that we should go. When we hear God’s voice through His Word, clarity and peace return to our soul.
Dear Lord, use me to win souls for your kingdom like you used Joshua. Use me to draw people towards you and to be reconciled with God. As I submit to your authority, cause me to overcome challenges and to prosper in all my endeavors. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.