Joshua Chapter 5 – The Commander of the Lord’s Army appears to Joshua alone.... And Joshua worships.
Joshua and the people of Israel had crossed the Jordan River and were ready to go to battle against the corrupt Canaanites. They had circumcised the males and afterwards had celebrated Passover.
Now was the time. Joshua was their leader.
Yes, but there was another leader, and he appeared to Joshua out of thin air. The record says: Joshua “looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand.”
Joshua spoke up and said: “Are you one of us, or are you one of our adversaries?”
The man replied: “Neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
“And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and he said to him: “What do you command your servant, my lord?”
The commander of the army of the Lord said to Joshua: “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.”
That encounter was timely. First, Joshua had just taken leadership after the death of Moses. Secondly, he was preparing for the first battle in the Promised Land—the battle of Jericho.
It would be a challenge, but The Commander would assure success. Israel’s inheritance of the land, promised to Abraham—400 years previously!—was now to be a reality. It was guaranteed by the leadership of "The Commander."
* * * * * * * * * * *
Remember the twelve spies from Israel who had first spied out the land and had announced that it would be suicidal to attempt a military challenge that would open up the land of promise to Israel? “It can’t be done,” they said.
But now, Joshua was leading the new nation of Israel to go and do what was seen as IMPOSSIBLE. Now he was more confident than ever; for he, Joshua, had talked with THE COMMANDER OF THE LORD.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Today, some Jewish intelligentsia and pacifists have reacted negatively to the Zionists. They argue that Jews of all people should not have nationhood where force is necessary to maintain boundaries. Rather, they should be advocates for universal peace. They should be happy to be guests of other nations, not fight for populated land.
Left-wing Jewish groups renounce just about any kind of fighting for their people, both literal warfare and verbal.
Verbal warfare? Many American and European Jews detest defending or affirming their own Jewishness and their own people.
Literal warfare? The efforts of the State of Israel to provide for its security by maintaining a modern military establishment are severely criticized by some Jewish people in Europe and America.
Many of these modern, left-wing Jews have been enamored with the ideal of the pure, universal brotherhood of mankind. That, to them, is the kernel of truth in Judaism, and that is what they embrace, not necessarily a land of their own.
What are they thinking? Well, they have taken a liking to American and European society. They are secularists--and probably "globalists." To them, their traditions are distasteful.
They turn up their noses at the Jewish Defense Forces. Any action that the IDF takes is deemed a war crime. They would scoff at anything in the Joshua narrative as being irrelevant.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The Lord God had His own reasons for the battles that Israel would fight.
1. He had told Abraham that 400 years would pass before Abraham’s descendants would settle in the Holy Land. First, among the Canaanites who lived there, the iniquity of the Canaanites would have to be full up…filled with iniquity. Then, the land would be available to Israel.
2. In the 19th century and before the Jewish people began to populate the land, it was generally a wasteland. There was constant fighting between villages, and thievery was widespread among the Bedouins and residents.
3. The land needed the Jewish People and the Jewish People needed the Land.
4. It would take more than smart diplomacy to get the land into the hand of the Jews. It would take international agreements, battles, wars and fierce struggles. But behind it all, it is the Lord Who is the ultimate force behind all of these historical events.
Despite the present unbelief of much of Jewry, the Lord, once again is The Commander. And Israel will sooner or later have to acknowledge that and bow before Him, as Joshua did.
“Help us, O God of our salvation,
For the glory of your name.
Deliver us, and forgive our sins,
For your name’s sake….
Why should the nations say,
‘Where is their God?’”
-- Psalms 79:8-9 (NRSV)
Monday’s statement by U. S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, changed the face of American policy in the Middle East. He declared that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not illegal per se (in or by itself).
WHOA! The world-wide consensus since the time of Moses—well, at least since the end of the Six-Day War of 1967—has been that the “settlements” are illegal. After all, many top flight lawyers have declared such.
(The world consensus has so often been contrary to reality when it comes to the Jewish people.)
The best arguments present a different view.
Pompeo himself has the courage to contradict the consensus. His statement: “After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate,” the Trump Administration has concluded that “The establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”
The consensus has insisted that Israel is an “occupying power.” But that’s not true. Under international law, you have an “occupation” when one country takes over the territory of another. But Israel did NOT do that.
The so-called “West Bank” (named as such by the Arabs) when Israel took it had been under the control of not the Palestinian, but the nation of JORDAN! Jordan appropriated it during the Israeli War of Independence.
Then, they expelled all Jews from that West Bank territory—that is…from Judea and Samaria (and I mean ALL). They destroyed the synagogues and made latrines out of the gravestones.
And….those Jordanians did NOT let the Palestinians have any part in the governance of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). And…they did NOT give the Palestinians citizenship.
It was NOT Jordan’s land to keep. But they KEPT it until the Israelis took it 19 years later.
So Jordan performed an inhumane operation.
* * * * * * * * * * *
So, Israel has patrolled the area since they defeated the Jordanians in 1967. But the Israeli governments have had a terrible time figuring out what to do with it. At first, they made it unlawful for Jewish people to live there. Then, the authorities began to look the other way. That led to planned settlements in designated areas.
But now, with this new American policy, Israel will get bolder and is already thinking about annexations of some of Judea and Samaria. Annexations? (More about this in a later blog.)
* * * * * * * * * * *
QUESTION: Who is behind this decision? Let me, in a few words, take a leap at this question.
ULTIMATE ANSWER: It is God, Lord of Heaven and earth. Isn’t it just the Trump administration who is doing this for political reasons? No. It is God who brought Trump to the fore. It is God who brought the Secretary of State Pompeo to the fore.
How do I know that? you ask. From reflecting on His Word. From the assurance that these are His Chosen People. From reading their history of faithfulness and unfaithfulness. From reflecting upon God’s promise to this People and His ways of dealing with them in their history. God used world leaders in the 20th century to bring about His will for His People; and now in this 21st century it is the same.
Secretary of State Pompeo is a man of faith. He believes in the God Who saves and Who is faithful to His people. He acted in faith, love and wisdom with ratification by President Trump.
QUESTION: Why didn’t the Lord act before…and through some other person and administration?
ANSWER: Because of timing—His timing. He has punished His People by having them drink the wine of His wrath, sternly humiliating and disciplining them. But now, even with their enemies all around them, He is exalting them. They are successful…growing…increasing in influence, power and productivity.
And those who have blamed them for the strife in their Middle Eastern neighborhood are seen to be wrong. Clearly in the wrong. The Jews of 20th century Palestine are not to blame; for there was strife and terror in Palestine—indeed in all the Middle East, but especially in Palestine—prior to the Jewish people’s return in the early 20th century.
Who will rejoice in this decision, and who will not? The read can consider this.
“Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and the quarry from which you were dug….
For the Lord will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places.”
-- Isaiah 51:1, 3
More on this subject in a later blog.
Israel Israel is the most unique nation on earth. We know that.
The prophet Balaam was hired by the Moab king Balak to place a CURSE on Israel. But it wasn’t working. The only response Balaam was getting from God was a BLESSING.
A CURSE: Basically, that’s what the Muslim neighbor-nations are trying against the State of Israel today, but it’s not working.
A CURSE: Anti-Semites the world over would like to attempt the same.
Balaam, the ancient prophet, DID get an oracle from the Lord. It was clear. And It was surprising.
Balak has brought me from Aram,
The king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
‘Come, curse Jacob for me;
Come, denounce Israel!
But, he continues:
How can I curse whom God has not cursed?….
Here is a people living alone,
And not reckoning itself among the nations!
QUESTION: The king wanted a curse pronounced on Israel….for what reason?
ANSWER: A mixture of fear and loathing. Fear because the nations were hearing of Israel and Israel’s God who worked miracles, making Israel invincible. Loathing, because they were different.
In the October 31st issue of The Jerusalem Post, this observation is made about the United States under President Trump’s leadership withdrawing forces from Syria: Israel is concerned that as the U. S. leaves, it will create a vacuum; and that means that Israel will be “alone among the nations”--among nations that wish to destroy her and annihilate all Jews. That would be Iran, but Iran would be cheered on by many other Muslim nations.
Prime Minister Netanyahu on October 10th:
“We do not aspire to be ‘a nation that dwells alone’, but that is how we were forced to stand at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War [in 1973]….We always remember and apply the basic principle that guides us: Israel will defend itself, by itself, against any threat.” (Jerusalem Post, 10/31/2019)
“Alone among the nations.” This from a divine oracle and made clear in history.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Did you ever hear of foreign armies or militias taking positions in Israel on behalf of the Jewish people?
Who came to the aid of the Jews when the Romans besieged Jerusalem. No one. But even though Rome was by far the greater power, the Jews fought viciously and came close to victory. THE JEWS WERE ALONE. Not Greece nor Egypt nor Persia came to her aid.
How about when the five nation neighbors of the State of Israel when they fought to destroy it in 1967? Would any great power go to Israel’s aid? How about…let’s say Russia….no way. Let’s say Japan….by international law they were de-militarized. Let’s say NATO….not. NATO was formed to protect Europe from the Soviet Union. Other countries that might have done it are Communist or Muslim, and those nations were scandalized by the idea of coming to the aid of those "Chosen People,” and were more likely to provide armaments for the Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, Iraqis
When in 1967 the American president, Lyndon Johnson was informed that preparations for war were in place for Israel’s neighbors to attack, he pointed out that America was involved in the Viet Nam War and was severely limited in its ability to assist Israel. He urged Israel’s Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, not to initiate hostilities.
But Egypt and Syria had been readying their forces for many months. President Johnson warned: “Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go alone.” (!) WRONG! The United Nations had already removed its protective forces from the Sinai. Who were the U. N. forces to protect? Israel, of course. But Egypt’s Nasser demanded that they leave! ‘Get out of our way, so we can destroy Israel,’ was, in effect what Nasser was saying. And the UN forces left… leaving Israel alone!
THE JEWS WERE ALONE. Neither the U. S. nor Britain nor Russia nor the United Nations came to their aid in the face of the threat to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
Such a small nation. You’d think that some other nation in the world would provide some troops to assist them in their fight for their lives. But NO.
If a small NATO country would be attacked, the rest of all Western Europe and the United States would be required by treaty to come, militarily, to their aid. But not to tiny little Israel.
It is David against Goliath….as usual.
It’s the way it was in the Old Testament. Could Israel depend upon her cousins to assist them militarily? You’re joking. EXAMPLE: The Edomites (next door neighbors), descendants of Esau, rejoiced when Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonians. The Jews were captured. The Edomites came and watched, laughed, danced and gloated and may have captured some of the Jews themselves to sell them into slavery. (SEE: The Prophecy of Obadiah)
No nation ever wanted to get involved in the Middle East just to help the Jewish State.
There are a good number of Jews who despise this characterization of the Israeli people as being alone. They don’t want to be “a people alone”—separate and distinct from others. Some want to be like the Europeans; and they mimic the European calls for universalism, diversity in the population, in philosophy, in the way of life. They rather like their ancient traditions but dislike any dependence upon the Lord.
In 20th century Europe, many were even more adamant: ‘We Jews are no longer a nation but a fossil and should cast off our identity of being chosen. We are just humanists.’
Some despise the Judaism of their grandparents and have retained nothing but an insipid and uninspiring “progressivism.” Let there be freethinking…O yes! But not this separateness from the nations, they say.
Still, they cannot wipe away their identity. For it is God the Lord who graciously has called them.
Here is a people living alone
And not reckoning itself among the nations!
-- (Numbers 23:9)
* * * * * * * * * *
P. S. And it is Jesus Christ, also called by the Father, to dwell as one man in the midst of mankind--separate from sinners, alone, yet blessing them in His life, death and resurrection.
When a whole People Group adopts a fantasy narrative as part of their religion, many Americans and others say: “That’s their business; let them believe what they want.”
Palestinian leaders contend that Israel’s stories are all wrong! During the Oslo Peace meetings in 1998, Yasser Arafat, in his conversations with President Clinton, insisted that the biblical stories of Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple are fiction. Therefore, he insisted that access to the Temple Mount should be controlled by the Palestinians.
Clinton was aghast and infuriated; but his surprise revealed a lack of preparedness. Much of Muslim theology is built upon a fabrication of ancient history.
Middle East Muslims say that Jerusalem is one of their holy places from ancient times. Yet it is never mentioned in the Koran which was written in the 7th century A. D. while Jerusalem is mentioned 660 times in the Tenakh (Old Testament) which was written about one millennium before the birth of Islam.
Islam contends that Jewish stories of ancient Israel are fiction-- changed to suit their people, whereas Muhammed, the Koran and its narratives convey the truth of those ancient stories.
Is "untruth" an accepted term? I want to use it here.
The Muslims claim that what the Jews have taught is fabricated.
But the following are examples of Muslim untruth:
--They claim that their ancestors—Muslims!—Adam and Eve!--invited their children to follow the Islamic way of life! (Thanks to Melanie Phillips for this in her book, The World Turned Upside Down.”) Untruth is one of the practices that turns the world upside down.
--“Adam and Eve, their children and their later generations followed the teachings of Islam as propounded by Prophet Adam (peace be upon him)” for quite a long period. Phillips says that this “absurdity is embedded in the foundational religious texts of Islam.”
--The Qur’an says that Islam came before Judaism and Christianity, and that it was the faith practiced by Abraham.
--This Islamic counter-history says it was Ishmael, not Isaac, who was the son of promise to Abraham whom God instructed to sacrifice on Mount Moriah.
Now To Modern Events
Modern events are changed by Muslim historians to center on Islam, thus replacing Hebrew-Jewish history with their own:
For one thing, they deny the Holocaust.
Two, they charge Israel with carrying out a Holocaust in Gaza.
Three, to cancel out the news of the growing anti-Semitic activity in Europe, they put the Muslims in the place of the persecuted Jews by claiming that European Islamophobia is the real problem, not anti-Semitism.
They then insist on their “right of return”-- not to Palestine but to Israel.
Phillips quotes Osama bin Laden in his Letter to the American people:
Bin Laden: “It is the Muslims who are the inheritors of Moses (peace be upon him) and the inheritors of the real Torah that has not been changed. Muslims believe in all of the Prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammed, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all. (Melanie Phillips: The World Turned Upside Down. New York: Encounter Books, P. 168)
This is what Israel has to deal with—the peoples of the Middle East who believe in this corruption of the Biblical narratives.
Samuel M. Zwemer, noted early 20th century missionary to the Muslim peoples said that the Muslims believe that Allah sent down one hundred and four sacred books. Adam received ten, Seth fifty, Enoch thirty and on and on.
They say that the Qu'ran is uncreated and eternal, and to deny this is rank heresy.
Zwemer continues with more Islamic legends: “Jesus…spoke while still a babe in the cradle….he foretold another prophet, whose name should be Ahmed (Mohammed)….They believe that Jesus was, by deception and substitution, saved from crucifixion and taken to heaven, and that now he is in one of the inferior stages of eternal bliss.” (Samuel Zwemer: The Moslim World, 1907.
QUESTION: When the very foundations of a religion are built upon such obvious mendacity—untruth—fiction—legends, how does one deal with its adherents when one is attempting to forge lasting agreements and contracts and make peace, especially but not only, when one is dealing with land apportionments and security measures?
This is what Israel has to deal with—peoples and their representatives who believe in this corruption of the Biblical narratives—people who have had legends presented to them as truth.
The Muslim Arabs who suffered defeat at the hands of little Israel in three major wars have their explanations which are supposed to save face….and other explanations of how the Israelis advance so quickly in the field of technology.
- Israel’s military successes are due to American assistance, according to the Arabs.
- Their industrial enterprises cannot be regarded as Israeli, for they are really American industries.
- Everything in Tel Aviv is a primitive imitation of everything in America.
The fabrications are mind-boggling.
But remember this: belief in Muslim tenets is enforced. A declaration of non-belief can, in the case of the Middle East Muslims, and probably will mean, your execution. When a fictitious religion such as this is taught to the masses, it has to be enforced with punishment. That is how Islam is perpetuated.
This is religious tyranny.
Lord, where is your steadfast love from of old,
Which by your faithfulness You swore to David?
Remember, O Lord, how your servant is taunted--
How I bear in my bosom the insults of the peoples,
With which your enemies taunt, O Lord…
Blessed be the Lord forever.
Amen and Amen.
-- Psalms 89:49-52 (NRSV)
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.