Life is filled with battles. One of three things is true about you: you are coming out of a battle, you are headed into a battle, or you are right in the middle of a battle. In Joshua 5, Joshua has an encounter with God where God prepares Joshua for the battle of his life. If we are going to be ready for the battles, three things must be true of us.
1. We Must Be Courageous When Facing Conflict. Why is it that we are not fully following Jesus Christ? Why are we not sold out for Christ in our schools, our ball teams, our workplace, or in our conversations? If we were honest I think we would say, “I am honestly afraid. I am afraid of what it might cost me.”
Did you know that when God calls Joshua to follow Him in Joshua 1 that fear was a real possibility in the heart of Joshua. The most repeated phrase in Joshua 1 is this: “Be strong and courageous.” If you are a follower of Christ, you have the same three promises that Joshua had. You have the promises of God’s Word, the principles of God’s Word, and you have the presence of God living inside you.
In Joshua 5 we see Joshua taking God at His word and showing some courage. I think that is what we need in the body of Christ today, courage. If we are going to be battle ready in our homes, our churches and our communities, we must be courageous when facing conflict.
2. We Must Be Devoted To Following Christ. Joshua 5:13 says, “Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand.” The idea in the text is that there is a surprise or an unexpected guest as Joshua is surveying Jericho. Joshua looks up and here is this guy standing with his sword drawn.
Joshua goes up to him and says, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?”
Joshua says, “Whose side are you on?” Joshua immediately draws a line in the sand and says, “Are you on Israel’s side or Jericho’s side?” In Joshua’s mind there are only two sides to the battle, Israel’s side and Jericho’s side. He is right in this, there were only two sides to the battle but it was not Israel’s side and Jericho’s side, it was God’s side and the enemy’s side.
The man responds this way, “No, rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.”
Joshua is in the presence of God. And because he is in the presence of God the question is not whose side is God on, the question is Joshua, whose side are you on?
By Joshua’s actions he will immediately answer the allegiance question and he will fall to his face and worship and by his actions he declares his allegiance and says, “God, I’m on your side.” If we are going to be battle ready we must be courageous when facing conflict and we must be devoted to following Christ.
3. We Must Be Committed To Faithful Obedience. Joshua 5:14 says, “And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant? The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.”
If we were to get some soldiers overseas right now and say, “Are your shoes important during battle?” They would say, “You better believe they are.” God tells Joshua to take off his shoes.
Do you know what the sandals represent in scripture? They represent a lot of what our shoes represent today. As we live life the shoes pick up the dirt and the junk as you live. In Scripture the sandals symbolize any ungodliness, uncleanliness, sin, and filthiness that we pick up as we live life.
The Bible says, “And Joshua did so.”
When Joshua took off his sandals he was doing two things: Joshua was acknowledging the holiness and perfection of the God in whose presence he was in and Joshua was acknowledging his own unholiness and uncleanliness and his need for the God in whose presence he was in.
For some of us today, if we are going to be battle ready, the most significant thing that will take place will be for us to lay some dirty sandals on the ground, to turn from our sin and acknowledge our need and dependence upon God.