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."
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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.
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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.
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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)
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