When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord . Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my Lord say to his servant?”
Joshua 5:13-14 ESV
How often do we see the world as men and women of flesh and blood who are either for us or against us? But the Bible tells us about our real enemies –
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
Joshua “lifted up his eyes and looked” and gained something very valuable for His battle. He didn’t charge blindly into battle because the enemy was nearby – he “lifted up his eyes and looked”.
This commander of heaven’s armies demonstrates to Joshua clearly that his loyalty is to God, not to a nation of people – when Joshua asks a question expecting an A or B answer and instead gets a whole new answer outside his original frame of reference.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord ,
who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2 ESV
You see, sometimes our frame of reference reverts to this physical world and the ways that it operates and we don’t have the spiritual vision or awareness to understand what it means from that higher perspective. If this battle was just about one people against another, then men receive glory from each other for the victory. But Joshua was not called to receive glory for himself or even for Israel. He wasn’t called to be loyal to men but to God. The glory of the battle was meant to be for God.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:1-2 ESV
When we lift our thoughts out of the distractions of this world and remember that we are not at battle against men of flesh and blood, but that we do battle against principalities and evil forces that work through those around us who are still in chains of bondage – we begin to realize that it’s about the Lord being glorified in our choices, our decisions, our reactions.
Each moment of opposition felt from another person is actually an opportunity to show them love, mercy, forgiveness, gentleness, kindness, and self control in return. It is an opportunity to demonstrate that Christ has won yet another battle in our lives and that we are not simply walking in the flesh, reacting the way that the world expects.
But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:12-13 ESV
When struck in the face by another, when accused unjustly, when shamed and spit upon by the world, the world reacts in kind – but Christ calls us out to be set apart as a peculiar people. He tells us to turn the other cheek. He tells us to give and love even to those who would steal from us. He tells us that lost souls in need of love are more valuable to win over as friends of Christ than to let die as enemies.
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:4-7 ESV
Yes, He tells us to pick up our cross and bear it for one another. Not to bear it for those we think are deserving of His love and forgiveness, because none of us, are deserving. Not me. Not you.
But we love because He first loved us.
Our battle is not against one another.
And our loyalty is not to self.
He is Lord, He is Savior, He is Redeemer, and He has won the victory!
To God be the Glory in our lives today.