Worship is warfare1
“As commander of the army of the Lord I have now come,” [said the man with the sword]. 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 5:14-15
Worship is warfare.
Joshua and the Israelites stepped into the Promised Land prepared to fight. They knew they would face stiff opposition. They knew there were armies and giants to battle. They expected warfare and they would get it.
But the Lord’s plan for the Israelite campaign into Canaan was anything but a traditional military campaign. He didn’t arm them with siege works and chariots. He didn’t give them instructions to make armor. He didn’t even give them holy hand grenades. No, every step of this campaign would be unusual.
The success of the Israelites’ move into the Promised Land would depend entirely on the Lord’s mighty hand. They would have to be faithful, but they would never be allowed to attribute their military success to their own martial prowess. That’s why Joshua was told to remove his sandals.
The Lord was doing much more in the book of Joshua than aiding a community of refugees as they returned to their ancestral homeland. God was putting an end to the brutal practices of the Canaanites. He was toppling their gods. He was laying the foundation for the world to be set right; for the Savior to enter the world and conquer sin, death and the devil; for each and every one of us to experience his restoring power and redeeming love.
That’s why Joshua needed to start with worship. In worship we connect with and submit to God. The angel of the army of the Lord was not going to align himself with the Israelites; worship aligned Joshua and the Israelites with the armies of the Lord. The same thing happens with us. We respond to God with open hearts and are transformed by him. We humble ourselves. Joshua needed this more than he needed plans, guidance, or miraculous intervention. This was what it took for Joshua to join with the Lord.
How has God been inviting you into worship? How has worship felt like a distraction from the big wars you’re fighting? How do you see worship as connected with God’s call to you to be strong and courageous?