And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “ Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15 NKJV).
Yesterday I read this passage and it struck me, and then it remained in the forefront of my mind until today when I was waiting in the doctors surgery with my sickly two year old in my arms. I found my self ask “God what is this? What are you trying to tell me?” When I felt as though God reminded me gently of what I feel about shoes.
I looked down at my feet, as usual unsuitable shoes for a wintery, snowy day, my favourite blue pumps. I love them because I can kick them of as I walk through the door of my home, and pop them on just as quick when I need to leave. You see for me, shoes have always had bad press. I dislike them, I’m not sure why but I always see home as cozy, as some where shoes can be taken of and tidied away and I can roam freely in my bare feet or slippers and be content, happy, at rest and peaceful. It’s odd I suppose, but even as a child If I could go out with no shoes on I would have.
But the more I thought of this the more the words “take the sandal of your foot” came to mind. There is no exclamation marks, no reference to say this is a demand. To me this implies it is a calling by the Man Joshua met. It is a request to honour God, and the place in which he stood. Then I wondered how often do I kick of my trainers or sneakers and sit by the feet of Jesus like Martha instead of running through life in a race against time, love, finances, or available equipment. Do I know the scent of Him? Do I know the sound of His voice hidden in the noise of the day?
How often do my work boots, or court shoes be put in a box long enough, to work out the life that God has planned for me by simply spending time on my knees, in His courts with Him?
How often do my sandals get worn strutting beaches admiring the beauty that God created instead of slinging them over the chair and standing on Holy ground admiring the beauty of the creator?
How often do I wear my stilettos with pride and poise instead of standing barefoot in humility?
I desperately want to be a person who longs for the moments of barefoot humility with Jesus. A person who knows the intimacy of being bare before Him. Of being spiritually naked and stripped of all the mess and muck I drag into my life and left with only my saviour.
The passage of scripture referenced above comes at a poignant moment for Joshua. It is situated between two of the most incredible passages of scripture. In Joshua 5 God commands that all the men would be circumcised. From a military perspective this seemed suicidal as it left the entire army, the entire camp vulnerable for several days until all of the men were healed. But Joshua does as God commands and ensures that all of Gods people followed the command. This was a period of intense pain for the men of the Israelite camp but also of great trust in God and sacrifice, but Joshua had no idea of what would follow.
He had no idea that in the very next scene, if you like, of his life, in Joshua 6, it would consist of Gods command to march around the walls of Jericho for seven days and then he would watch as these 26 foot high and 6 foot wide walls would come tumbling down as though squashed by the mighty hand of God at the sound of shouts and of the trumpets and lyres.
Verse 20 in chapter 6 says
“So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat… And they took the city”
This is phenomenal. This is Gods miraculous hand ensuring the safety, and the triumph of His people.
I believe all of this was possible because Joshua followed the voice of God, but I also believe it was possible because he honoured God, he honoured Him by submitting His life to Gods command, and by choosing to take of His shoes. To step aside from His busy life leading one million Israelites through the wilderness, which came with its own trials and despairs, and listened to the words of God. Effectively listening as he chose to act on it also. He was more than a hearer he was a doer of Gods words and commands also.
This year, I wonder what our lives would look like if we stepped aside, took of our shoes, and took the time to acknowledge that the ground on which we stand as Gods children is Holy.