For four decades Moses was God’s spokesman and the nation’s leader. Joshua, Moses’ right-hand-man had been mentored and groomed to become his replacement. So, when Moses climbed to Mount Pisgah’s lofty heights, God presented the mantle of leadership to Joshua. “Moses my servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses” (Joshua 1:1–3).
God comforted and encouraged Joshua in his daunting mission. “Be strong and courageous... Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go... Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6–9).
The first challenge was the mighty Jordan River which was “overflowing its banks” (Joshua 3:15), making it impassable. “When the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of the whole earth, come to rest in the Jordan’s water, its water will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand up in a mass” (Joshua 3:13). When the priests dipped their toes into the water, like the twist of the spigot, immediately the river ceased to flow. Just as Joshua and the fathers and mothers of the young nation had done forty years earlier at the Red Sea, Israel crossed the Jordan on dry land.
As the nation set up camp in the low-lying plains of Gilgal on the western shores of Jordan, the seemingly impossible mission still lay before them. Looking to the west, the land rose two-thousand feet in the distance. Closer, the immediate challenge was clearly visible. Jericho’s towering rock walls seemed to mock and taunt any enemy determined to challenge the fortified city.
Alone, Joshua slipped out of camp to survey the city. Soon the Israelite army would besiege the city. But how? The walls would be impervious to their attack. The city’s gates were tightly bolted. Joshua, once a brick-maker in Egypt, had fought battles on the level lands of the Sinai wilderness, but he was unprepared for these odds. Joshua could still hear God’s words “I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads” (Joshua 1:3). But how?
As Joshua pondered these things, “he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua approached him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’ ‘Neither,’ he replied. ‘I have now come as commander of the Lord’s army.’ Then Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in homage and asked him, ‘What does my lord want to say to his servant?’ The commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, ‘Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did that”(Joshua 5:13–15).
How do we conquer the unconquerable? First, recognize that we can’t. In our own strength, in our own wisdom, in our own ability, we can’t. Then, be reminded that the battle isn’t ours to fight. The battle is the Lord’s. He’s the God of Heaven’s Armies. Let Him guide you. Let Him take the worries away. Let Him be the Commander.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.