Summary: 10th in long series on Joshua. This speaks of his listening to the Lord’s leadership in all he did. What does it take to hear the voice of the Lord?
Joshua 5:13-15 – Leadership 101
In his book "Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life", the author Charles Swindoll tells a story about the 19th century agnostic Thomas Huxley. Some of you may know that name – Huxley promoted Darwinism and Humanism as he attacked the Christian faith. Now, Huxley was in Dublin and was rushing to catch a train. He climbed aboard a horse drawn taxi and said to the driver -"Hurry, I’m almost late ... drive fast". So, off they went at a furious speed and Huxley sat back in his seat and closed his eyes.
Well, after a while Huxley opened his eyes and looked out the window and noticed that they were going in the wrong direction. Realizing that he hadn’t told the driver where to take him he called out, “Do you know where you’re going?” The driver replied, "No, your Honor, but I am driving very fast.”
That’s how some people live their lives. Very fast, running around, doing things, but getting nothing done. Going nowhere. Climbing ladders to get to the top of walls that end nowhere. And, I hate to say, it’s no different for Christians, either.
Honestly, do we evaluate everything we do? I doubt it. I doubt that we look at our days and ask the question, “Does this matter? Is this important?” I’m not saying that we can only do serious things and take no time for pleasure or entertainment. I’m not saying that having a flower bed or relaxing with some TV needs to go out the window. But I am saying that as Christians, we need to pay more attention to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
E. Stanley Jones tells of the time he was about to board a plane when he heard God, in his spirit, telling him not to get on the plane. He learned later that the plane crashed and there were no survivors. When he shared his experience with someone, they said, “You mean to say that you were the only one God told not to get on that plane?” Jones said, “By no means, but it is possible that I was the only one listening.”
Folks, it’s important for us to develop our ability to hear God, and to listen to His leadership. In our Bible passage today, we find a story of Joshua listening to God’s instructions. Let’s read 5:13-15.
God was preparing His people to take the Promised Land. This event is the last of 5 key preparation events. The 1st was a statement about the morale of the inhabitants of the land (5:1). You see, part of spiritual victory is our understanding that in Christ, all the enemies we face are, in essence, defeated foes. Colossians 2:15 says that Jesus, “having disarmed the powers and authorities, made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Victory in Jesus is already ours.
The 2nd preparation event was the renewal of the rite of circumcision (5:2-9). We looked at this before camp. Circumcision stood for Israel’s faith in God’s promises, which included the possession of the land as their inheritance. It was an act of faith and spiritual preparation.
The 3rd event was the observance of the Passover (5:10). Passover was a reminder that God had saved their forefathers from slavery. And just as crossing the Red Sea in Exodus was followed by the destruction of the chasing Egyptians, likewise, the crossing of the Jordan would be followed by the defeat of the Canaanites. Understand: Remembering the past is a great way to prepare by faith for the tests of the future.
The 4th event was eating the produce of the land, and the manna’s end (5:11-12). Manna, food from heaven, was how God provided for His people for 40 years. That was over. The days of the past were done. God was about to do a new thing in His people. All these things led finally to the 5th event: Joshua’s encounter with the Captain of the armies of the Lord (5:13-15).
Who was this guy? Well, to be honest, it was likely Jesus. Joshua worshipped Him, and He accepted it. He was likely no angel, but the very Son of God. He had arrived to bring about victory for His people.
Now, there are 4 things that stand out in my mind about Joshua’s attitude and actions when getting directions from God. The 1st thing we can learn about listening to God’s leadership is: 1) Get on God’s side. This sounds silly at first – I mean, of course I’m on God’s side. Joshua was on God’s side. But look at what the captain said: v14a. What he said was, “I am here, not to take sides, but to take over and take charge as Commander of the Lord’s army.”