Embracing Second Place . . .
Embracing Second Place . . .
"Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, 'Are you for us or for our enemies?'
'Neither,' he replied, 'but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.' 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 5:13-15 (NIV)
Great week for fans of spring and sport. The Final Four was decided last night, the Masters will be decided this week, and major league baseball is just beginning.
And everyone is trying to come in second, right? Every crowd chants like pigs in slop, "We're No. 2! We're No. 2!"
Aaaaaaand . . . of course they're not.
We want to be No. 1. And that's good. No one practices to lose or to finish second.
But in the divine realm, it's a bit of a different ballgame. The only way to win is to submit to second place.
Joshua did, and it won for God and for him and for the Israelites in the Battle of Jericho.
The text from Joshua 5 is on the eve of the Battle. Joshua has replaced the late Moses as the leader of the Israelites. The gates of Jericho are securely barred. Joshua is not secure at all, until God shows up. And God shows up because Joshua was spiritually prepared.
In 1840, Scottish preacher, Robert Murray McCheyne, wrote this to a missionary friend: "It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God."
Joshua was a holy minister. When he asked the man before him. Joshua is about to discover the man is a pre-incarnation appearance of Christ . . . if he is "for us or our enemies?" the man replies, "Neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come."
First of all, the man says he is here to fight a Divine Battle. Not the Israelites' battle or the battle for the people of Jericho, but His battle. To paraphrase, I think what he is saying is, "I'm on my side and I'm in charge. Whose side are you on?"
To clarify, the man says he is the commander of the army of the Lord. And then Joshua knew what the outcome would be, because that was the commander he'd been following.
God fights for His own holiness and purposes. If we want to be on the winning team, we have to get our shoes off by taking time to be holy, and respect the ground the leader is standing on.
You can love second place, even embrace it, when in first place is the commander of the army of the Lord.
Writer/Editor Specialist, University Communications--Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana
Bible Teacher, Sports Announcer
eThoughts Team -- Extended Week-day Free Devotionals -- Vol. XIII, No. 04-11TA -- Archived
Dr. Nelda Hughes Spinks, Professor Emerita--Editor and Publisher
Scripture marked (NIV) is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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