Joshua 5:13-15

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 facedown 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.


Now, this passage is a fascinating one. Because the commander was no longer mentioned after verse 15. This passage seems to me as an isolated case that seems out of place. However, as I was thinking just now, it dawns upon my mind that this happened after the circumcision and the feast of Passover. How is this significant then? After preparation and after celebration, I think we need to expect God to speak to us. Otherwise, we might be living a very human life. We need to be expectant in living a supernatural life with God. The question is, are we expecting God's supernatural act in our lives and our ministries?

I am also struck by what the passage says and does not say. You see, after this passage, immediately was the campaign of Jericho. The only message that the angel brought to Joshua was to ask him to take off his sandals. Although further down, the LORD spoke to Joshua, it was not particularly clear whether it was spoken through the angel but I doubt so. So the message that the angel brought to Joshua intrigued me a lot. The command to take off sandals was not new to Joshua and should not be new cos it happened to Moses too in Exodus.

"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."

It was likely, as we will see in chapter 6, that the LORD was there personally to give Joshua the instructions on how to take down Jericho. And because of God's presence in the place, it became holy. So essentially, the angel's job was to proclaim the LORD's presence, as I see it. Of course he also came as God's commander. But let's dwell on the former point for a while. I wonder out loud again why take off sandals? A symbolic move to recognise God's holiness? A response to God's holiness? If so, then we ought to think about how we react to God's holiness in our lives, because as believers, we bring God's presence with us. This is serious stuff, baby. It is being widely exposited in the NT that we are God's temple and we should be holy because God is holy.

So the crux here for me is this: are we reacting correctly to God's holiness? What is our response here to God's presence? Reverence? Worship? I continue to ponder and I continue to wonder and I will continue to pray. It is reminder for me to continue to live my life right before God.

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