Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Growing Up
Pastor Dave Norcross
Joshua 5:13-15
A new year brings with it questions. What are we going to do about ‘X’? Where are we going? Is this year going to be similar or totally different than last year? In today’s scripture Joshua’s interaction with God gives me great comfort. Why? Because I learn from this chapter that God already knows the answers to these questions. He has a vision and a plan. He is not asking us to come up with visionary ideas. He is in fact asking us to follow Him. It is not wrong to have ideas or plans, but they must be held with an open hand. That way if God wants to change them He can. Growth in our Christian life is different from our natural life, we grow from independence to interdependence, not to independence. He is calling us to a partnership with Him, to interdependence; the place of mature balance where we don’t demand miracles nor do we ignore Him and do as we please.

The immature believer often thinks prayer is a way to get God to do what he/she wants. And, if I pray long enough, fervently maybe even fasting, God will see things my way. Prayer is really much more about being with Him than talking to/at Him. We find as we spend time with Him, we change and our prayers are answered but often not the way we supposed. As we enter this new year, I believe God is calling us to grow up and into interdependence.

Joshua 5:13–15
Isn’t this kind of a strange exchange? Joshua asks an ‘or’ question and gets a ‘NO!’ answer.

Who is the ‘captain of the host (army) of the Lord’?
• Acts 10:25, 26 — I conclude the captain is not a man (at least not a good one).
• Revelation 19:10 — I conclude this captain is not an angel.
• Exodus 3:4, 5 — Do you notice any parallel between this passage and the Joshua passage? Remove your sandals…

So, who do you think the captain of the army of the Lord is? Theologians call this a theophany or Christophany, a physical appearance of God or a preincarnate appearance of Christ.

If the captain of the Lord’s Army has come, what is Joshua to do?
Joshua is quite possibly looking over the ground between Israel and Jericho planning out his next military action when he is intercepted by this ‘man’. Is Joshua supposed to step aside and stop leading Israel? No, God commanded him to take over Moses role as leader when Moses died.

If not, then who is in charge of Israel’s army, Joshua or this captain? This is a critical decision and lesson for Joshua.

Notice in verse 14 he worships the captain, the preincarnate Christ and then he waits for instructions. Joshua understands he still has a role to play, but he is not the supreme commander. He is the servant commander. He is responsible to act while being dependent on the Lord for direction.

The Lord does things so very differently than us.
The timing of this encounter is so strategic. Joshua has crossed the Jordan River, Israel is camped just two miles from Jericho. God tells Joshua to reconfirm His covenant with Israel by having all of the uncircumcised men, the warriors, circumcised. Note verse six? I believe God is really testing this group’s faith in Him. They are camped about two miles away from the enemy. At any time the king of Jericho could attack, maybe this is unlikely because he is in a better position behind his walls. But if you heard that all the enemy’s warriors had just undergone minor surgery and could not fight – would this not be a great time to attack?

The previous group had been circumcised—signed the contract—but when it came time to put their money where their mouth was, to put their faith to the test and into action, they gave in to fear and refused the Lord’s command.

Let’s put this further into context. This is a do over. Spies had already gone into the land on a recon mission. They returned, this time with a good report, God performs a miracle by parting the Jordan River to confirm His total commitment to them and this venture. But now He commands this circumcision with curious, even fearful, timing. And finally Joshua is confronted by a sword-wielding ‘man’ who as it turns out is Yahweh Himself. Joshua asks whose side are you on and the reply is neither side, as if to say ‘wrong question!’ ‘In fact the question is: Joshua are you with Me?’ Joshua responds by worshipping and thereby affirming his allegiance.

How do we put this into practice?
- Stop and ask for directions.
- Follow the directions.
- Grow in listening prayer.
- Do your part and fully expect God to do His.

Are we praying to God and asking Him to be on our team in 2012? Are we asking Him to bless us with health, wealth and good times? It’s not wrong to ask for things, but we need to get the relationship straight. He is the Supreme Commander. We are to do His bidding. And while He is quite willing to bless us, He has much bigger plans than we can imagine.

His plans are good and His purposes are righteous and holy. So following His plan is the right thing to do—everytime, even when it is inconvenient, scary or illogical. Will we commit as a team and as individuals this year ahead to faithfully follow Him. To bow our knee as Joshua did and say, ‘Lord here I am. What are your instructions?’


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