Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in front of all Israel, “Be strong and have strength of heart. For you will go with this people into the land the Lord has promised to their fathers to give them. And you will bring them in to take it. The Lord is the One Who goes before you. He will be with you. He will be faithful to you and will not leave you alone. Do not be afraid or troubled.” Deuteronomy 31:7-8
Imagine fear, especially inside the city of Jericho, when the Israelites were marching around their walls for the first six days. They had heard so much about them. Were these the same people whose God had caused mighty Egypt to crumble with plagues and death? The same God who could split open the Red Sea and now the Jordan River? Was this the Warrior God who gave them victory over Og and Bashan, Amorite kings East of the Jordan? Imagine the terror of Jericho. What were the Israelites doing? They were simply marching. Or were they?
Imagine now the fear of the whole of Canaan, especially in nearby cities like Gibeon, when they found out what happened on the seventh day of the march; when the strong, fortified walls of Jericho were no match for the God of Israel. Imagine their fear, too, when Ai, another city, was taken by the Israelites—albeit after a little drama when they saw that, whoops!, Israel could make a little mistake, too, and lose one battle. Yet, the fall of Ai sent panic and anxiety into the hearts of the kings. In fact, this is what the Bible says happened:
“Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—the kings in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites)— they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.” Joshua 9:1-2
God had given Joshua a command to take Canaan, and he was setting just the right conditions so that the Israelites could do what He wanted them to do. Five Kingdoms with one blow? Sounds like God setting up the Israelites for a victory. It was an example of God being at the helm; Him not just working on outside occurrences, but also in the hearts of men. He had a plan of action, and He was enjoining the Israelites to war WITH Him.
One of the beautiful moments that happened showing God as the Warrior God was when He appeared to Joshua before they took on Jericho. He stood, a drawn sword in his hand. When Joshua asked if He was for them or against them, this Person replied, “Neither. But as commander of the Lord’s army, I have now come.” (Joshua 5:14)
We know this Person was not simply an ordinary angel because He told Joshua to take off his shoes for the ground was holy. He was not simply an angel because angels stop people from bowing and worshipping them (they are created beings), and this Person did not stop Joshua from bowing before Him. Here was God Himself, the Commander of Heaven’s Armies. In the New Testament, known as Jesus. In the Old Testament, appearing when He chose to be, and yet giving clues to His identity— for even the Book of Isaiah and Revelations show him as an army commander with a drawn sword.
Just like Joshua, we, the Sons and Daughters of the Most High God have inheritances to take; promises from God to claim. God sets the conditions for us to take our own Canaan. He comes to us as Warrior, the Lord Sabaoth, the Commander of Heaven’s Armies when it is time to conquer. We have a God who is both lamb and lion. The Lion roars, and we are summoned to fight alongside Him.
There will be times in our lives when we get to experience God as the Warrior God. It is His pleasure that we learn the strength that comes from Him TO BATTLE WITH HIM for our nations and cities. We need the tenacity of the warrior to call forth Heaven on earth; to bring good in places/situations where evil is rampant; mercy when there is a need for charity; and justice when our neighborhood, cities, and nations need justice. Are we ready to step up to the plate? To bend our knees and pray, and to take action when the Lord says: “MOVE” ?
The Lord Sabaoth calls for His troops. It is necessary we say YES and join His army.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.