Removing Sandals – Joshua 5

13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”  14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”  15 Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.  Joshua 5:13-15 NKJV

Before Moses died, God had him anoint Joshua as the new leader of the Israelites.  After leading the people across the divinely parted Jordan River, Joshua prepared them to take possession of the Promised Land of Israel.

God had specific instructions on how this was to be done.  Not by human power, but by God’s Spirit, would the land be subdued.  God would lead as Commander the entire way.  The Armies of heaven would be intimately involved in the battle and the victory would serve divine purposes to God’s glory and under His authority.

Who was this Commander of the Lord’s army? Joshua fell on his face before him, and was instructed to remove his sandals because the ground was made holy by His presence. Joshua referred to Him as Lord and worshiped Him.  Since Joshua was not corrected for worshiping, we know that this heavenly Being was God, the Creator, and not a created thing. 

There are several different appearances in the Old Testament by a similar Being, often referred to as the Angel of the Lord.  It is clear from the context of scripture that this Angel is different from other angels, who always rebuke those who bow to worship them. This is a special Angel.  He is the one who visited Abraham near the great trees at Mamre, accompanied by two other angels, and also later on Mount Moriah to provide an alternative sacrifice.  The Angel of the Lord also visited Hagar in the desert, instructing her to return to Sarah.

This Angelic Man is quite similar to the Man who wrestled all night with Jacob as he confronted his faith and his past. Afterwards, Jacob named the place it occurred with a reference to seeing the face of God. 

There are similar visitations in the Old Testament by other heavenly or mysterious beings, some more ambiguous than others in identity.  But whenever direct worship of an Angel is permitted and not rebuked, we know that it is God Himself making the visitation.

Some have interpreted the Angel of the Lord to be Jesus Christ before His incarnation as a human being born of Mary.  Jesus was both 100% God and 100% man while on earth. We also know that Jesus has been working with the Father from the beginning.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  John 1:1-3 NKJV

Like Joshua, Moses also had an encounter with the living God at the beginning of his ministry. At the age of eighty, Moses was out in the desert herding sheep when he observed a burning bush which was covered with fire but not being consumed by the flames.

Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” 

So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”  And he said, “Here I am.”  Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”  Exodus 3:3-5 NKJV

Both Moses and Joshua were being called by God to begin great new chapters for the people of Israel.  Moses would lead them from slavery in Egypt and Joshua would lead them to take possession of the Promised Land of Israel. In both cases, Moses and Joshua were anointed by God as leaders of the people, but it was only by relying on the power and presence of God and by obeying His commands that they were able to achieve these purposes.

The presence of God brings healing and wholeness to us whenever we seek Him.  Each morning, we wake up from sleep to begin the new day.  By inviting God into our lives each day, we experience His holy presence and healing touch.  We gain a fresh balance as we invite Him to be at the center of our activities.  Problems that weigh us down begin to melt as He helps to bear our burdens.  We begin to experience serenity and peace as we surrender to Him despite the whirlwinds of trouble that may surround us.  He reigns supreme in our life, bringing us deep love and wonderful blessings as we walk with Him.

Reflection

As we choose to “remove our dirty sandals” and turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, we are able to rely on Him as a sure and stable Foundation.  In His presence and power, the troubles of our lives are eased by Him as He leads us into a joyful new land. Our Commander in the war against the “foes” which come against us is Jesus Christ, our Lord and our peace.

God, help me to remove my sandals which are covered with the dirt of worry, anxiety, stress and depression of the world. May I bask in Your holy presence today. Defeat the internal and external foes which war against my soul, now and forever. Amen

May God help us all to “Let go and let God” today.

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