This was it. No turning back now. They were going in. They were about to enter the land that God said He would give to them. They were about to go head to head with the peoples of the land. “Be strong and courageous!” That would be the rallying cry. And leading them would be Joshua.
And though Moses, under God’s command, had hand-picked his successor, there was still the matter of preparing the man who would lead God’s people into the promised land. He would need to be lifted up . . . and he would need to be put facedown.
The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.”
(Joshua 3:7 ESV)
Time to establish Joshua as God’s chosen man for leading the people into conquest. Moses had led them out of Egypt, Joshua would lead them into Canaan. Moses had delivered them out of the land of bondage, Joshua would deliver them into the land of blessing. And so God says, “I will exalt you.”
And He tells Joshua to instruct Israel to fall in behind the priests carrying the ark and march to the flooded Jordan. He then directs the priests to walk into the Jordan and stand there. And when the soles of the feet of those bearing the ark of “the Lord of all the earth” touch the waters, the Jordan stops flowing (3:11-13). And just as Moses had said to those who walked out of Egypt, “Cross the Red Sea on dry ground,” so Joshua tells those who would walk into the land of promise, “Cross the Jordan on dry ground.” And they did.
On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.
(Joshua 4:14 ESV)
Man of awe established. Check that off the “prepare-the-man” to-do list. Next, ensure the man doesn’t become overly enamored with his own press clippings.
And Joshua encounters a Man standing before him with a drawn sword. The Man identifies Himself as the Commander of the army of the LORD. “Now have I come,” says the Man. Now the people are ready to rumble. And now Joshua — the man like Moses, the man people are in awe of — does what so few leaders do, he goes facedown.
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” And the Commander of the LORDs army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:14b-15 ESV)
And the contrast strikes me. Standing on top of the world one moment, standing on holy ground the next. Lifted up before the people in chapter 4, and then put facedown before the Lord in chapter 5.
Great men of God are men who never lose sight that they are but men of a great God. Great women of God are women who never lose sight they are but women of a great God. They are those who by God’s grace know they are standing on holy ground.
Though they know the task at hand, they never lose sight of the power to accomplish the task. Though they are confident and courageous, it is not because they believe in themselves, but because they believe in the God who has called them. Though they are willing to stand at the front of the line and lead the charge, they are ever mindful that they are but servants of the Commander of the army of the Lord.
Facedown on holy ground. By His grace . . . for His glory.