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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?”

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?”

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

In this passage Joshua is facing one of the tipping point moments, not only in his life, but in the history of the nation of Israel.

We find him by Jericho, perhaps observing the city, planning his strategy, scoping the joint.

I can only imagine how he felt. The walls of Jericho were no ordinary walls but massive fortifications with a series of outer walls and inner walls and ditches between them. In ancient warfare such cities were either taken by assault – using cool ancient siege weapons or surrounded and the people starved into waving the white flag. Its invaders might try to weaken the stone walls with fire or by tunnelling, or they might simply heap up a mountain of earth to serve as a ramp. Each of these methods of assault took weeks or months, and the attacking army usually suffered heavy losses. It was not pretty.

And then lifts his eyes… which makes me so think of Psalm 121, I look to the hills, where does my help come from, my help comes from God, the creator of the heavens and earth.

Of course that was written AFTER Joshua but it so fits.

Joshua lifts his eyes and with eyes open sees a man, sword drawn. Now put yourself in Joshua’s shoes. He’s spying on enemy territory and then a man appears with a drawn sword. I would be freaking out! Is this some Jericho ninja, some champion of the city, the toughest kid on the block, ready to take the commander of the Israel out before the battle even begun?

I have to give Joshua some credit here. He uses courage begins a conversation with the man, assessing perhaps emergency exits or an Achilles heel.

What happens next shows us how we should have our eyes open when facing impossible odds, seeing God in the midst of the battle and moving on into victory.

 

 

*** part one of my preaching notes from Sunday 16th Feb – stay tuned for :::
Eyes Open – To Surrender
Eyes Open – To See
Eyes Open – To Worship
Eyes Open – To Hear
Eyes Open – To Follow
Eyes Open – To Victory

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