It seems that as I listen to the sermon each week and then reflect on it as I prepare to write this blog post, there is always something that stands out to me. Sometimes it may just be a phrase that the pastor mentioned in passing or it might be the main topic of the sermon. In the dumpster fire that has been the past 12 months, there have been times when like so many others, I have thought about where God is.
It’s been rough, but what about the Israelites who wandered in the dessert for 40 years before they reached the promised land. Was God with them? Of course he was. Even when they doubted his ability to protect them he cared for them. As they were pursued by the Egyptians, they ran to the Jordan at high tide. (How did I miss that it was at high tide?!) How on earth would they safely cross? When I was younger, I just thought the river dried up. But here’s what the Bible says.
Yet as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of Arabah was completely cut off.Joshua 3:15-16
God was there protecting his people and when the army tried to cross the river in pursuit, the waters came crashing down on them as soon as the last Israelite stepped onto dry land. God was there then just as he was when they needed food, he provided manna. When they needed water, he had provided a miracle to cause water to flow from a rock. God is with us today as well.
Just as Joshua was considering the insurmountable wall in front of him, we face the walls in front of us. We’ve dealt with quarantine and isolation from all that we know as normal, not able to gather as we would in support of each other. Family hospitalization, funerals, weddings, graduations have been restricted in one way or another. Where has God been in all of that, you ask? He’s been there in the nurses and doctors that have worked tirelessly to comfort and console your loved one. Doing this with no cure, treatment or vaccine in sight. He’s been there in the teachers who have prepared lessons to provide an education for the children when they weren’t able to go to school. This was completely foreign to many teachers, but they were in the trenches learning on the job.
As Joshua was pondering how he is to approach the task of battling for the city of Jericho, he finds himself in the presence of God. He took the same 3 steps on his journey that we must take now.
Joshua meets a man with sword drawn and asks if he is friend or foe. He introduces himself as “commander of the army of the Lord”. Joshua doesn’t understand the man’s position, but he is neither friend or foe. As the commander of the Lord’s army, he has now come.
Here, Joshua and the Israelites must realize that God isn’t on their “side”, he is on the side of God alone. He doesn’t fight our battles. This is God’s battle and if Joshua and the Israelites choose to follow, God will lead them. It’s important to remember that we can’t use the phrase “God with us” to justify things not of God. God will not be with what he condemns. We should say “Here is God and we are with Him”. When Joshua realizes he is on holy ground, he removes his sandals and fell face down.
With things coming into focus, Joshua changes his posture. He falls down and worships and asks what God would have him do. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, but that time is not yet here.
At this point we still have a choice concerning our posture.
- Some come into the presence of God and do nothing
- Some feign worship and go through the motions
- Some worship with everything but never ask what would you have us do
- Some worship with everything and ask what they could do…never do it.
True posture, the only posture, is total worship. Total service, reverence and obedience. This is Joshua’s example. How is your posture?
The third step of the the journey is a change of Paradigm.
- It’s a way of looking at things.
- Joshua’s posture leads to a realization of a new, het timeless, paradigm
- In Psalm 24:1-2 we are shown this paradigm
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it: for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.Psalm 24:1-2
Everywhere we step is Holy Ground that belongs to God. Joshua realizes this. Parting the sea, the walls of Jericho, the land of milk and honey, slavery, the desert…it’s all God’s – all of it holy ground.
This is where we need to be also. Everywhere we look, everywhere we go, everything we see…it all belongs to God. All Holy Ground.
But the enemy tries to steal it all away from us. He wants to deceive us. But our place is not to make a battle and reclaim it all ourselves. God is inviting us to join him. This is his battle and his ground.
- Our position: follow God into battle
- Our posture: reverence, wonder, awe, and submission
- Our paradigm: the earth and everything in it is God’s. It’s all holy.
- We must follow God’s lead and Word with bowed heads and bare feet
- Go into the battle, jump into the fray…
- Assured of victory because…
- Here is God and we are with Him
I bring all of this to you to remind you that the choice is yours, but you must choose God. You can’t ride the fence. You’re either with him or you’re not. One day every knee will bow. Do it willingly and let God guide you through the rest of your days.