In this life there are times when we need help. We need to recognize God is there, ready to help. It's good to look in His Word and see how He has done some things that we might have an understanding of how He will do other things.
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come.
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
We can't always see where the Lord has sent help and strength our way. It would be an eye opener, sometimes, if we could see in back of the scene.
This angel suddenly appeared out here, and Joshua saw him standing with his sword drawn. Joshua, seeing this, went out to challenge him: "Are you for us or for our adversaries?" He quickly found out that this was the captain of the host of the Lord. The Lord had sent His captain to lead the fight when Israel went in to Jericho to conquer the land.
Somebody's got to be captain of the host that can be seen, and somebody's got to be captain of the host that can't be seen. These heavenly forces have moved in; a band of angels has come to help in this task.
We look back at Joshua coming up with Moses and the forty years he spent out there in the wilderness; where he saw the miracles of God saw all the mighty things which God did.
Notice that wherever there was a battle to be fought, Joshua was chosen by Moses to lead. And we find some strange things in those battles.
There was the time up there on the mountain (see Exodus 17): Moses, Aaron, and Hur were up there, and in Moses' hand was his rod. Joshua and his forces prevailed when Moses held his rod out; but when Moses' arm grew tired, he lowered it, and the adversaries' forces prevailed.
Putting two and two together, they realized the victory was in keeping the rod up. So they had Moses sit down on a rock with the rod held out, and they helped him by holding his arms up. Now the army kept plowing into the adversary, and soon they had that enemy defeated. There was a victory that day.
Why did God work through the rod being held out? Why was this the means God chose to work through? Whether we understand it or not, this is the way it was done.
It was God's means for that battle. And it was over there by the Red Sea that Moses took that same rod, as God commanded. He held it out over the sea all night, and God began to move to part the sea. How could there be any help in a rod?
There's something in this we might not recognize with our natural eyes; nevertheless, this rod was used of God.
So, God has His way of using things. And, somehow, I perceive faith is the key to God's using things.
We anoint someone with oil, but we must do it in the name of the Lord and pray the prayer of faith (see James 5:14,15). We lay hands on the sick because God said to lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover (see Mark 16:18). Our natural hands have no healing in them; but if God anoints our hands, then something happens.
We do what God said to do and — behind the scenes, somehow — God is there working. The Holy Spirit is there at work to anoint:
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him.
There was a power there, wasn't there? And there was a power present by Jericho. An unseen host was going to be there for the battle. This captain — though he looked like a man, appearing in the form of a man — is not a man. He is an angel of God. And this angel of God is going to take charge of the battle the army was about to enter into.
Boy, now that's help! That's when we can look and say, God moves in unaware to us many times. Here we are: Maybe we're bellyaching because we don't see God doing anything. We ask, "Where is God? Why isn't He on the job? I need Him!"
He's waiting for us to finish bellyaching so He can do something for us. You know, faith has to be in what we do.
Does God put something in our hands? Realize that whatever God gives us, whatever we see that God is accustomed to working through or working with, we should work with that too.
Sometimes it's a simple thing, such as a little anointing oil. Now, is there anything in oil that we should note? What is there in that oil? It's what it represents to us, and it's the faith we put in what God has told us to do. That's what God blesses.
Remember how God spoke to Gideon concerning the multitude out there in the valley (see Judges 6 & 7)? God didn't want him to have all those men in his army. He kept whittling the army down until there were only three hundred men left.
There's the vast enemy army, and then there's three hundred left with Gideon. Now, how did they get the victory? Was it through military might? Was it because of their great weapons? Were their swords sharper?
No! It was because they each had a pitcher, a lamp, and a trumpet — and obedience to the Lord's instructions! When the time came, they broke their pitchers, letting the lamp be exposed, and they blew their trumpets. When the enemy looked up, they were afraid, thinking they were surrounded by a great army! All at once, they all got up and ran. They ran and they ran and they ran. They left everything behind and just ran away.
Who was running them out? I want you to know, there was Someone else there! You may not have seen Him that night, but there was a force there. And it drove the adversary out of the land. Gideon's few men did their best — but God did the rest.
So today, I would want you to think in your heart, if you would, that there's the way in which God works. God has His ways, and they've always proven out. We should want those ways. We'll find if we do things God's way, it will always prove out to be the right way. And it will always prove out to be far better than anything we could do in the natural.
Do we ever need help, then?
Well, there's surely those times when God sends somebody along to help us, and we don't even realize God has sent them.
I know the Bible says some have entertained angels unawares. Thus, some have been in the presence of angels without being aware that what they were seeing were angels. Angels can appear to look like any ordinary man, so how would you be able to distinguish the difference?
We're saying all of this, primarily, because we see here in Joshua how God had a way to help the children of Israel to conquer the land. By any equation, they were outnumbered seven to one! There were seven nations of peoples living in the walled cities of the Promised Land. This was their home.
And out here was Israel: just one nation . . . yet, they were the majority with God on their side! We need to recognize in our hearts that God has His ways to bring us victory.
What is this angel going to do? Let's note one thing that was happening at the time the angel appeared before Joshua: Over in Jericho the people in the city were terrified. Those stone walls were placed around cities as a fortress. They were very high. You couldn't just crawl over them. They were solid, made of great stones. You couldn't just tear them down.
There were ways that such cities were taken. The invading army might encamp around those walls for a year or two to starve them out. Eventually, they'd come out because there was no more food and they were hungry, ready to starve.