When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, Are you for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, What does my lord say to his servant? And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy. And Joshua did so.Joshua 5:13-15 ESV
Joshua experienced amazing miracles in his life prior to becoming the leader of the Israelites. He witnessed the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the miracles of manna, and the stopping of the Jordan river. As he prepares to take on the city of Jericho, he comes face-to-face with the Captain of the Lord’s Army, the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ (1). Every time I read the passage; I stop in awe at the encounter. I wonder what it would have been like to have the visible Jesus Christ suddenly appear. I imagine walking around my campus strategizing who will teach a course, how can I recruit faculty, and what will happen if I have to cancel classes or delay graduation. I can imagine being deep in thought when suddenly I look up and see a strange man standing before me. I most likely would not think he is an enemy. Instead, I could see myself asking him if he could help me with my problems, especially if he was dressed as a nurse. I am that desperate!
Instead of answering my question, the man responds, “I am the Commander of the Army of the Lord. Now I have come.” Like Joshua, I would fall face down in shock. I have to admit, I would be too dumbstruck to respond in reverence to the Son of God. Maybe after a few minutes, I might be able to pull myself together enough to at least listen to what he had to say. I doubt it though.
Beyond my personal reflection behind, I find profound meaning behind the encounter between the Commander of the Lord’s Army and Joshua. There were two principles communicated to Joshua:
The first one is for Joshua to realize God’s claim over him and His purposes.
“We tend to approach our battles and causes backward; we turn things around and try to marshal God to support us rather than to submit and follow Him…Joshua, as with all of us in the army of the King, must be following the Lord, submitting to His authority, taking our orders from Him, and resting the battle in His hands because we realize it is really His battle as the Supreme Commander.” (1)
In other words, instead of seeking God to provide wisdom for my problems in nursing; I need to submit and follow God. Instead of being stressed and racking my brain for solutions, I need to follow Joshua’s example and state, “What has my Lord to say to his servant?” After Joshua replied, the Lord provided directions for taking Jericho, which, if you read on through Chapter 6, was not a military maneuver.
The second principle is the commander brings God’s powerful provision and personal presence.
“The promise of God’s personal presence always carries with it the assurance of God’s personal care. Likewise, the promise of His powerful provision always carries with it the promise of His infinite supply and power no matter how impossible the problem may appear to us.” (1)
When I recently asked the question, “What has my Lord to say to his servant?” The Lord replied, “It’s all mine and I will tell you what to do.” His answer changed my perspective. Yes, I still am looking for instructors to teach. Yet now, I wake up and ask the question and do what I can to solve the many problems. I don’t get stressed and am not afraid of worst-case scenarios. It is up to God, and he will decide what the future brings. He will tell me what I need to know when I need to know it. I wait for His directions, and when they come, I act. I take them one step at a time, expecting God’s personal presence and waiting on God’s powerful provisions to address the challenges I face.
(1) Keathley, J. Hampton, Studies in the Life of Joshua. 4.Consecrating the People (Joshua 5:1-15)