The Commander of the Army of the Lord

“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, `Are you for us or for our enemies?’

“`Neither,’ he replied, `but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’ Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, `What message does my Lord have for his servant?’

“The commander of the Lord’s army replied, `Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5: 15 NIV)

Imagine if you are willing that there is no chapter division at this point in your Bible. Suppose that the beginning of chapter 6 flowed from the ending of chapter 5. If that were the case the following scripture instructing Joshua in the method of the attack on Jericho would be coming from the commander of the Lord’s army as Joshua bowed in reverential awe before Him:

“Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, `See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.’” (Joshua 6: 1 – 5 NIV)

The mysteries of Scripture are revealed to us only by the Lord: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” (Proverbs 25: 2 NIV) Jesus was incarnate among us so that He could be the full revelation of God the Father. But the essential truth is that Jesus has always existed. There have been times in history when Jesus has appeared on earth in visible form. One of those times was as Melchizedek king of Salem:

“After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram saying,

‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.

And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’

“Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14: 17 – 20 NIV)

Another time that the Lord appeared in bodily (visible) form in the life of Abram was at the time of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, (Abram’s name had been changed to Abraham to signify the fulfillment of the promise of an heir from his own body at the age of 100) was living in Sodom. Three visitors appeared to Abraham and confirmed the promise of a son to be born to Abraham and Sarah. Two of them continued on to Sodom and proved to be angelic beings as the story unfolds. However, the Lord remained and talked with Abraham because he had been chosen:

“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18: 19 NIV)

In these two stories involving Abraham we find the Lord to be physically present. Note that in both of these stories the destruction of enemies was the central theme. In the first Abram is involved in rescuing Lot and his household who had been captured at the time of the king of Sodom. Now we find that the report of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great that the Lord has decided to destroy them if the report is as bad as He has heard.

When we meditate on these three appearances of our Lord we find that destruction has become necessary to bring about justice and righteousness. God is neither with us or our enemies. His love abounds to all of mankind. This is the basic theme of the entire life of Jesus. His admonition to love our enemies is based on the fact that God makes no distinction between the just and the unjust when He brings about the natural blessing of rain.

In the case of the appearance of the commander of the armies of the Lord to Joshua the Lord had waited more than 400 years for the “sin of the Amorites” to reach its full measure:

“As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, `Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.’” (Genesis 15: 12 – 16 NIV)

We come full circle to the story of Joshua. This story is of particular interest to me in relationship to Living Fully and VMTC-International. When I attended the International Board Meeting (IBM) in the fall of 2014 I was encouraged by the Lord when Dr. Ian Heming, a delegate from Australia, gave me a scripture from Joshua 1: 2 – 9 for myself and for VMTC-Canada (Living Fully). This word of encouragement has played a significant role in our attitude as we prepare for the Leadership Conference of May 1, 2, 2015, and the additions to the School of Prayer Ministry that we are presenting.

All of this has happened since we dedicated ourselves at the annual meeting in 2014 to follow the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit rather than ask the Holy Spirit to bless what we were attempting to accomplish. In the case of the story reported in Joshua; when Joshua and the Israelites dedicated themselves to follow the Lord through His designated servant, Joshua, 31 kings were conquered in the Promised Land and their territory appropriated into the inheritance promised to the Israelites, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

In the case of Living Fully; we have dedicated ourselves to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We have followed the word of the Lord to us given at the IBM from Joshua 1: 2 – 9, and have been strong and courageous. When we follow the word of the Lord to be strong and courageous we witness that Jesus shows up through the power of the Holy Spirit. What we are being led to do is add teaching to the SPM to include the gifts of the offices given to the church to carry out the ministry of Jesus. We are adding this in two places. One place will be in the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The other place will be in the teaching on Total Commitment. We will also organize the SPM so that the Prayer Vigil will start at the beginning of the school and increase the emphasis on worship throughout the school. We also plan of emphasizing the prophetic word of the Lord throughout the SPM with an expectation that the Lord will give word to those in the Prayer Vigil as they pray for each prayer ministry session.

Furthermore, since we have found it difficult to have meaningful fellowship in churches that do not yet fully accept the ministry of Living Fully; it may be necessary to develop small groups that can meet to encourage and pray for one another. This thought is simply one aspect of the final command of Jesus to love one another and is the basic identifying mark of those following Jesus. By these changes and actions we can expect that the walls in our lives will fall as surely as the walls of Jericho.