First Passover in Canaan
10 While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. 11 And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.
The Commander of the Lord‘s Army
13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord‘s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Verse 10: An important thing to realize is that the Israelites still observed the Passover feast even after all these years. While they had not circumcised the children born in the wilderness, this act of remembrance continued onward. So they chose not to complete the outward sign of their covenant with God, but continued to honor the actions of God that led their parents out of bondage in Egypt. The significance of the Passover is critical, as this was a very pivotal moment in history. The Israelites had been in slavery until Moses was raised up as a leader among them (See Exodus 3:10) and Moses implored Pharaoh to let his people go. Yet we also know that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (See Exodus 9:12) to glorify His own name through the process. It was with the final plague, that of the firstborn, where the Passover came from (See Exodus 12:1-32) and provides us with an excellent picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross. For he has taken our sins, which were red as scarlet, and made them white as snow (See Isaiah 1:18), allowing us to enter into Heaven through faith alone in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
Verses 11-12: The Israelites celebrated Passover in the new land, and then something important happened: they ate food from the land. And then the manna, which had sustained the Israelites for so long, ceased. This portion of God’s intervention on their behalf was complete, now that they were in a land that could sustain them. How often do we get stuck in habits and routines to where we want the same things to continue to happen forever? We dislike change. In fact, many times we fear and loathe change. A change to our circumstances requires a change from us in order to adapt and be successful. Yet all things have their seasons and, eventually, those must come to an end. Rather than blaming God for taking away what we had, we should be more like Job. After all, Job had it all: money, a great family, thriving livestock (See Job 1:2). He was a man who God bragged about (See Job 1:8). Yet when it all was taken away, Job still praised God (See Job 1:20-21). He wasn’t happy about the circumstances. He wanted answers as to why those things happened. But he never stooped to the level of accusing God of being unjust, in spite of his wife demanding that he simply curse God and die (See Job 2:9). Instead, his response to his wife is one we should learn from: “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (See Job 2:10)
Verses 13-14: An interesting exchange happens here. Joshua encounters a man with a drawn sword and asks if he is on their side, or the side of their enemies. And the answer is remarkable. Some translations respond with the word “Neither”, which is not the sort of answer you would expect to receive. Yet it tells us a lot here. It is not God’s responsibility to choose sides in a conflict. It is not a division of He chooses this side’s cause over the other. After all, God is for all people and all nations. He is the God of us all, and there will be people from every tribe, tongue, and nation present in Heaven. Comments like this remind me of a scene from C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle:
Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.
Even those who are doing good deeds in the name of some other god may find, in the end, that what they have done has been accounted to the Christian God. It is not God’s place to be on the right side, but rather the burden falls on us to make sure that we are on God’s side.
Verse 15: This scene here is a great parallel to the scene in Exodus 3 with Moses and the burning bush. In both cases, the man is commanded to remove his shoes because the ground is holy. What a blessed encounter for Joshua, and a great and reassuring sign on the things to come for him and the Israelites.
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