His chapter, Joshua 5, portrays two different responses to the knowledge of God. These two responses serve as bookends to the chapter. The chapter ends with Joshua’s encounter with the commander of the Lord’s army (verses 13–15). Bible scholars tell us that the Lord’s army commander is Jesus Christ, the “visible revealer of the invisible God.”[i] Joshua does not recognize that it is God who is standing before him (verse 13). But God reveals Himself, telling Joshua to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground (verse 15). Joshua obeys and removes his shoes while worshipping God.
We read about another side at the beginning of the chapter (verse 1). The local kings and the people in their kingdoms have now heard about how God stopped the water from the Jordan river by piling up the water far upstream in the city called Adam (Joshua 3:16). They saw how the Israelites crossed the Jordan walking through a dry riverbed in the middle of seasonal floods. They recognize that God is coming against them. Now, they are afraid (verse 1). They are so scared that their “fight or flight” responses kick in that the rulers and the people could not breathe! But when they recognize that God is fighting the battle, instead of turning to God (like the people of Nineveh), they continue to think they, in their human strength, can defeat the Almighty God who gave them their humanity and strength.
The question for us today is where do we stand when we recognize the activity of God and the presence of God in our lives? Do we chalk it off to random coincidence or something else and continue to rely on our strength or do we turn to God and worship Him?
[i] Keil and Delitzsch