Joshua 6:1-5: Receiving God’s Commands

Read: Joshua 6:1-5

Joshua in the previous chapter had encountered the presence of God when he met the commander of the Lord’s army outside of Jericho. The text does not say whether or not that the man was God incarnate himself, but regardless of that, Joshua responded in humility, asking of the man what he should do. Some scholars think of the last part of Chapter 5 as an introduction to chapter 6, which is where Joshua receives explicit instructions from God. It is likely that Joshua was planning a military strategy when he was looking on to Jericho, but God had other plans. Jericho had heard of the works that God was doing on behalf of the Israelites, so they sealed the city so that none went in and none went out. God gives Joshua specific instructions to march around the city once one time per day for six days, then on the seventh day, march around the city seven times. Then seven priests would blow seven rams horns. Then the people would shout and the walls would fall.

As a leader, Joshua was a conduit through which God gave his instructions. He had been recognized by God, by Moses, and all the people. God had made Joshua mighty in the sight of the people and in sight of the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 31:7-8, Joshua 1:1-9, Joshua 3:7). The people had accepted Joshua as their leader too (Joshua 1:10-18). The instructions that God gave Joshua were not an orthodox military strategy. Hebrews 11:30 calls the actions of Joshua and the people of Israel an act of faith – that is they believed that God would act according to the way he said he would. Rather than act according to his own plans, he listened to what God had to say and obeyed the commands.

Christian leaders and followers alike are like Joshua in the sense that they sometimes receive commands from God to give to the people of God. And sometimes, the plans that God gives do not make sense according to conventional wisdom, but nevertheless require faith to believe and act upon. Faith, however, is not blindly doing something with no good reason to do it. God had acted mightily on behalf of the Israelites and had exalted Joshua in their sites. Joshua was obviously anointed by God and God was using Joshua. Joshua had seen God act mightily through Moses on numerous occasions and was seeing God act through him. What this does require on the part of the Christian leader is humility and reverence towards God. And when God does speak, the one whose heart it tuned towards God will know and can act accordingly!

Lord, humble my heart so I can hear you speak and act accordingly.