December 5, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
With Israel now in Canaan, we come to what will be the last blog in the series From Egypt To Canaan. But it is an important lesson to be learned! For it sets the future which the Israelites are now to follow. Further, it gives the priority for all believers to follow! Here is Joshua 5:13 through 15:
…when Joshua was by Jericho…he…looked, and, behold, a Man stood
opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to
Him, and said… “Are You for us, or for our adversaries?” …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.
Who is this Commander of the army of the LORD? The New King James Version gets it right in capitalizing Man, Commander and the pronouns related to that One. This is none other than the preincarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ! He is seen 50 times throughout the Old Testament as the angel of the LORD (see for instance Genesis 16:7-11; Exodus 3:2; Judges 3:13-21).
Joshua was now the leader of the army of Israel as they were prepared to begin the conquest of the Promised Land of Canaan. He would start with the destruction of Jericho (see Joshua 6:1-27). But first, God did something very significant to prepare this man for his mission. What was it that the Commander of the army of the LORD had Joshua do? The same thing He commanded Moses to do when “…He appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.” (Exodus 3:2). He told Moses, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5). To Joshua “…the Commander of the LORD’s army said… ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ ” I do not know why sandal and foot are in the singular. It is that way in the original Hebrew, but of the sixteen translations I have, six follow the singular, and ten translate it in the plural. But either way we read it, such action is showing acknowledgment and respect for God and His holiness!
The reason this Commander, the Lord Jesus Christ, told Joshua to remove his sandal was that any undertaking led and directed by God must take into account His holiness! As He told the Israelites in Leviticus 19:2, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” (See also Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 20:7, 26; 21:8; 22:32; Numbers 15:40; Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2, 21; 26:19; 28:9; Ezra 8:28; Psalm 15:1-5; 29:2; 96:9; 99:5, 9, 12; Isaiah 57:15). And throughout Israel’s history, it proved true that the Jews were blessed when they obeyed the LORD – honoring His holiness by living holy lives – and they suffered judgment when they forsook this truth!
Apply this to today in the living out of our Christian faith! For holiness is not only emphasized in the Old Testament. Consider the following New Testament quotes:
• Paul speaks often of holy Christian living:
✞ Romans 12:1 and 2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
✞ I Corinthians 3:17 – “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
✞ I Corinthians 6:19 and 20 – “…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in you body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
✞ II Corinthians 7:1 – “…beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
• The author of Hebrews emphatically states in Hebrews 12:14 – “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
• Peter emphasizes holiness:
✞ I Peter 1:15 and 16 (quoting Leviticus 11:44 and 45) – “…as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ ”
✞ I Peter 2:5 – “…you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
✞ I Peter 2:9 – “…you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
✞ II Peter 3:11 – “…what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…? ”
✞ Ephesians 2:19, 21 and 22 – “…you are…a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.”
✞ II Timothy 1:8 and 9 – “…God…has saved us and called us with a holy calling….”
• Finally, John, in Revelation 22:11 exhorts his readers – “…he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”
Holiness is essential to any Godly undertaking! So follow closely in holiness and obedience the One who revealed most fully our holy God – Jesus Christ our Lord!