In the spring of the year, with the mighty river overflowing its banks, God led His people through the impenetrable watery barrier. As if God simply turned the tap, the Jordan River stopped flowing and the once-muddy river-bottom dried up as the people crossed into Canaan (Joshua 3:13-17).
Things were changing. Moses, their leader for forty years, had gone to “Mount Pisgah’s lofty heights” leaving Joshua at the helm. And, as they camped on the plains of Jericho, the daily bread of heaven ceased to fall. Manna, their solitary menu item for four decades, was replaced by roasted grains and scrumptious produce from the “land of milk and honey”(Exodus 3:8). Of course, some things never change. God was still God! He was still all-powerful. Still present. Still in control. So, at Gilgal, the people observed the Passover and worshipped the God that had saved them from slavery and death (Joshua 5:10–12, CSB).
Joshua, with strength and courage, was certain of God’s salvation. But how? How were the Israelites to conquer the land? How were they to breech the impervious walls of Jericho, the fortified city that loomed over the landscape? How?
I suspect that Joshua slipped quietly out of camp. Alone, in the shadows of Jericho, Joshua “looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand” (Joshua 5:13–15, CSB). “Who goes there? Are you an Israelite or a Canaanite?” he asked. “Are you for us or for our enemies?” (Joshua 5:13, CSB).
I’m the “commander of the Lord’s army” (Joshua 5:14, CSB).
As “Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in homage,” the preincarnate Jesus spoke just as He had from the Burning Bush. “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy” (Joshua 5:14–15, CSB and Exodus 3:5).
The One who commands angel armies answered Joshua’s question. “Look, I have handed Jericho, its king, and its best soldiers over to you. March around the city with all the men of war, circling the city one time. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry seven ram’s-horn trumpets in front of the ark. But on the seventh day, march around the city seven times, while the priests blow the ram’s horns. When there is a prolonged blast of the horn and you hear its sound, have all the troops give a mighty shout. Then the city wall will collapse, and the troops will advance, each man straight ahead” (Joshua 6:2–5, CSB).
The battle plan seemed odd. “March around the city!”
Years later, the Commander of Heaven’s Armies said to His Father, “the battle plan seems odd.” ... “Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36, CSB). This time, He didn’t march around the city. He marched through it, straight to Calvary.
A few days later Jesus commissioned His church to leave behind the comforts of camp and march into the city. “Love you neighbor...” “Minister to widows and orphans...” “Be light in darkness...” “Make disciples...” “Take up your cross and follow me...”
The plan seems odd, but as we follow strategies given to us by the Commander of the Lord’s Armies, victory is certain.