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The Commander's Commander

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
May 27, 2021 8:00 am

The Commander's Commander

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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May 27, 2021 8:00 am

It is simply true that one lonely, weak, and trembling Christian against a human army is stronger than anything else if the armies of the Lord are on his side. It was true for Joshua and it is true today. On The Bible Study Hour, Dr. James Montgomery Boice talks about God as Divine Commander.

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It is simply true that one lonely weekend, trembling Christian against a human Army is stronger than anything else.

If the armies of the Lord are on his side. It was true for Joshua and it's true today.

Coming up on the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce talks about God as divine commander are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Christians often though unwittingly think God is particularly pleased with their own religious system, but rather than enlist God in our cause. All Christians should be enlisted by God to fight for his cause from Joshua five. Dr. Boyce talks about divine leadership in studying the book of Joshua in preparation for these studies. I've been greatly helped by Francis Schaeffer study and I have been most impressed as Schaeffer with his unique approach to the book has stressed, I believe, rightly the theme of continuity is the continuity between God's dealings with Israel under the leadership of Moses, the era that has passed. At this point in the history and the way in which God now operates with the people under the leadership of Joshua. The point being that God is the one eternal and immutable. God writer Schaeffer talks about free changeless factors. One of them is the written word of God, the Bible which they possess in this time already because the first portions of it had come from Moses as God gave him. By inspiration the ability to write first five books of the Bible down the second changeless factor was the power of God, we saw that in the Exodus one hand under Moses leadership now on the crossing of the Jordan River, under the leadership of Joshua and then there is the third changeless factor, which is the divine leader or leadership already seen the first two and we come now at the end of the fifth chapter of Joshua to the third as Joshua the human leader of the people encounters this one. Who is the divine or heavenly commander of the Lord's armies is a very interesting little vignette that comes at the end of this fifth chapter. Up till now, this story of the crossing of the Jordan and the invasion of the land has proceeded with almost dramatic solemnity story has been told over the space of three chapters began chapter 3 and unfolded in chapter 4 and carried on in the chapter 5 is all the people crossing and then setting up a memorial and consecrating themselves to the Lord by circumcision and the observance of the Passover all about is been deliberate and has been a major event in the history of the people and we expect at this point I have the next event rapidly thrust upon us. This assault upon Jericho the first of the city states of Canaan to be taken instead of that we find these three verses Joshua five verses 13 through 15 which were told how Joshua probably out to reconnoiter the situation on the outskirts of Jericho looking at the city that he is going to have to take a suddenly confronted by a man with a drawn sword in his hand.

Joshua isn't abashed he moves forward quickly and demands to know whether this man is for the house of Israel, or for his enemies. The man replies neither.

But as commander of the Army of the Lord I have now come to know that at that point Joshua fell down on his face to the ground in reverence he asked orders from this visitor announced he said what message does my Lord have for his servant and the commander tells him to take off his sandals for the place where he standing is holy ground exactly the same words that Joshua's predecessor, Moses heard from the burning bush on Mount Sinai. We can't really have any doubt who it is who has confronted Joshua at this point this is Jehovah himself. Perhaps we don't know, but perhaps in the pre-incarnate manifestation of the second person of the Trinity. Even Lord Jesus Christ. Now, as I say the story itself suggests that conclusion is a bold one story merely describes this individual is a man man standing with a drawn sword in his hand. But as I say the story suggests that if the man were just a man is nothing more than a man, he would've repulsed Joshua's attempts to worship them, just as Paul and Barnabas rightly repulsed the attempts of the citizens of glycerin, worship them when they had done a miracle of the citizens of the city assume that they were Zeus and Hermes said in horror. Why are you worshiping us it was only worship God. We are manage. You are this man was just a man that would've been the proper response and since he didn't do that since he received Joshua's homage and didn't give them orders and since the orders that he gave correspond to the words that Moses hard on Mount Sinai is God himself said take off the shoes from your feet, because the place in which you stand is holy ground. We are right as I say to suspect and conclude just on the basis of the story along that here where dealing with the revelation of God and yet that's not the only place in the Old Testament where we find something like this in the other stories encourages also to think along these lines, I can think of three places previous where something like this it happened. The first is way back in the early chapters of Genesis chapter 3 to be exact there. Adam and Eve had eaten of the fruit of the forbidden tray. They had sinned and fell in their sin and were told in the context of that story, the Lord God became communicating with them in the garden in the cool of the evening doesn't tell us how God came good. I suppose been a theophany than a voice from heaven speaking but that is what the language says the language says God came to them in the garden in the cool of the evening and it said, in such ways that we are right, no doubt, suppose that God was in the habit of communicating with Adam and Eve in these first days of yours creation in such a way doesn't say exactly what form he had but we would suspect that it was in human form, or at least in a form sufficiently human that they weren't alarmed and that God was able to communicate with them as a person would communicate with another person as a second example of this kind of thing.

The story of Abraham. We have a story in Genesis 18 Abraham was sitting by great tree of mom rubber all one of the locations where he spent many years and it was while he was there that he received visitors came from heaven with freedom. Some people have suggested because there were three visitors that is maybe an intimation of the Trinity. I don't know.

I suppose that's possible. I don't think so I think is you read the story, it would appear that two of the three visitors were angels merely angels there. The two that left the conversation with Abraham and went down to Sodom to rescue lot brought them out. They were angels, but the third that's something different that the furred is one who speaks is God and whom Abraham himself honors as God 18th chapter is verse after verse where this character speaks and it says the Lord spoke or when they appear. The Lord appeared verse one. The Lord appeared Abraham near the great trees.

A bum rap. While he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day or again in verse 10, one of the heavenly visitor speaks as God promised that Sarah will have a son.

By this time next year. That is the third of these visitors. Verse 13 we read then the Lord said Abraham further on in the story as he walks along with the men to see them on their way.

The text reads then the Lord said shall I hide from Abraham what I'm about to do these and other references indicate perhaps that didn't these earlier days of salvation history. God, on occasion, appeared in human form to his people think of 1/3 example of this that precedes the story of Joshua five and that is the story of the man again. He's called a man who wrestled with Jacob on the banks of the Drabek River just before his meeting with Esau. The story in Genesis calls him a man, but in Hosea 12 verse four that the individual is called the angel. However, even that doesn't go far enough, unless we recognize this angel not only as an angel but is this character that appears again and again the angel of the Lord who embodies divinity himself and who I have been suggesting is perhaps actually the second person of the Trinity before his historical incarnation in any way to the story that character wrestles with Jacob. As you know, and clams over them and renames them using the divine prerogative to remake and rename his creatures before he had been Jacob, it meant supplant her rated cheat and after this encounter. He was called Israel, which means one conquered by God, so God was active in this great victory in Jacob's life. Well, this is the character I believe the Joshua met outside the walls of Jericho and follows naturally. This is who he was that Joshua should fall down on his face before him and worship him in sight. Now you are one to tell me what to do. What message do you have for your servant, and he began to obey him when he asked for that message.

I would think that the heavenly visitor Lord Jesus Christ gave them the plans for the battle very, plans were carried out in the next chapter and no doubt directed the operations of the armies from that time on in the seven year conquest of the holy land is even more to it than this.

This heavenly visitor identifies himself as commander of the Army of the Lord. Now it's natural to think of that. I've already intimated is much that abuse the commander of the Army of the Lord. It means that is the commander of the Jewish troops and no doubt he was when he gave his word to Joshua. Joshua baited that would have to do with how the troops would be marshaled for the battle when Joshua directed them to circle the city of Jericho once a day for seven days and on the seventh day to start seven times.

I wasn't something Joshua dreamed up out of his own head must be something that this divine commander told him to do all that is true. This commander was no doubt the commander of the armies of Israel {the armies of the Lord of the hosts of the Lord in the Old Testament often means something much more than the human armies has to do with those heavenly armies. The armies of angels, which are there to direct blasts and protect God's people. Let me give you two examples that in that same chapter in which Jacob who I referred to earlier wrestled with the angel, there is a revelation to him of the heavenly armies surrounding him and over seeing his camp. Jacob was very impressed with out it was always greatly impressed with heavenly visions.

I suppose we would be to add Jacob gave a special name of the place behind I means two camps work camp in the plural. Two camps because he said here's my little camp. He had a few servants while people knew how to take care of sheep. All that he wasn't very strong force, and if his uncle had attacked him on one side. His uncle could've defeated him to be sought attack on the other side.

Esau could've defeated and there was Jacob's little camp, but called attempts to camps because wasn't only a question of his little camp, but there was camp of the heavenly angels that God revealed to him in order to bolster his faith and strengthen them to do the right thing.

The next day which he did. Again, I think of a story that happens later in the story of the long ministry of the prophet Elisha, who was Elijah's successor, the king of Israel was at war with been paid at the king of Syria in those days and been paid at was the stronger of the two that we would easily have overrun the king of Syria, except that God would reveal by means of the prophet Elisha to the king of Israel, the king of serious plans.

So when he set a trap for the king of Israel and his armies, God would tell Elisha about it.

Elisha would tell the king of Israel and the Jewish armies would escape that hey dad thought what you would think in those circumstances, he thought he had a traitor in his high command.

So I got all his commanders together and he said look, there's a traitor here somewhere. Why doesn't one of you tell me about and they told him the truth. They said no it's not. Case of treason. Rather, there is this man Elisha in the Jewish camp and Tesa prophet. God tells Elisha what we're planning to do and then he tells the king and that's why the king of Israel always escapes well said been a data that's a situation we have to first of all, capture Elisha once we got him and we can handle the Jewish armies so we asked where he was turned out that he was city called Dothan and so he moved his armies by night Dothan surrounded the city and there he was in the morning with his chariots and horses saddened his foot soldiers. I wish I was a movie director filming. This would be a very dramatic scene. The dawn is rising, the armies are all there. The armor is glittering in the early morning light. And Elisha's servant boy is getting up to go out of the city, probably to draw water kind of things that he would do to serve as master every morning and is rubbing his eyes as he makes his way out of the city to the well and that he happens to glance up and there, which was not there the night before. The armies all around all the soldiers. So the horses spears and swords and esterified New Jersey runs back inside and he describes what has happened to his master like is what should we do Elisha says don't be afraid because those who are with us or greater in those who are with them and then he prayed that the young man's eyes would be opened and the story tells us of the young man's eyes. This time really were opened and he saw the hills filled with the armies of the Lord. Chariots of fire and angels round about Elisha. That's the heavenly host. You see when this commander comes and says I am the commander of the Army of the Lord.

Let's understand that in the fullest measure of the meaning of that phrase. This man is not merely saying I am commander of the Jewish troops below that of course was pro he was commander of everything you say I am the commander of those heavenly hosts, in whom alone you are going to find victory and of course, Joshua did find victory. When they finally attacked and surrounded it on the seventh day circle to seven times and shouted in the wall spelled out. It was not the shouts of Joshua was Army or the trapping of their feet that made those thick walls fall was the armies of the Lord commanded by this heavenly commander is the I should be a bit of an encouragement to us because we are told many places in Scripture that the angel of the Lord in camp with roundabout those fear him. That is true for us today we go to battle in one form or another. We go to him earnestly because we only see the human we see the enemy and we say well the enemy is stronger than we are. Yes, yes, humanly speaking, that's perfectly true. Elisha had it right when he said those were with us are greater than those who are with them to see one week, trembling Christian against a human arm is stronger than anything else. If we armies of the Lord are on his side and Christians throughout the ages taken the stand singling against evil and the triumph because of that same principle and power that enable Joshua to triumph in his day, but I want to say something else all about a certain sense, as preliminary leases in my thinking because the part of the story that really interests me is not so much the identity of this heavenly commander are they identify the other heavenly commander's troops, but the commander said. When Joshua issued his challenge to see. Joshua said are you for roster for our enemies. That's like saying if you're thinking of the history of England in the middle ages. Are you for Lancaster or York or if your Northern Ireland today.

Are you Protestant or Catholic say that was a challenging, provocative, necessary question in times of war, and here's what the commander replied. Neither he said was commander of the Army of the Lord I have now come in a fascinating leader. He said so what you expect. Is it I mean this is Jehovah please we have reason to believe so. This is the God Jewish people were suffocated. I certainly don't worship Jehovah, and it was at the direction of Jehovah that the armies of Israel had actually come now to the point of having entered the promised land. Jehovah had stopped the river so they could get across. They were about to begin the battle.

Joshua said will you forgive arise of our enemies.

You expect God to say, in circumstances like that. I will, of course, why do you think I brought you here, it's time to attack Jericho, and it's for that reason alive, when tell you how to go about the ordering of the battle. That's what you'd expect, and instead this heavenly commander says when he is asked the question, are you for us or for our enemies.

He says Peter one, but I come as the commander of the armies of the Lord now turns out the story that Joshua and the commander fought on the same side and it was through the power of the heavenly commander, the Joshua one is victory when the question was put this way are you for me or are you for my enemies that heavenly commander said neither the point would seem to be is not the case that it is not for us to enlist God on our side or for our cause. However righteous our cause may be, but is rather for us to be listed by God to fight in his class, whatever that cause may be in any rate, that's the way I take read an interesting book many years ago that many of you will probably scene in which I've had occasion to refer to again and again over the years is not really very profound book by work great philosopher I would sure refer to Calvin's institutes constantly, but this book is much simpler than that is more on my level. It was written by an English mother's name was JB Phillips. He was a translator of one of the early paraphrases of the Bible in his book is called your God is too small first half of it analyzes the limited use of God. Most of us have been very piercing, as I say is not profound with very piercing because you see yourself in these chapters.

The chapter on God as the heavenly policeman got to get you when you do something wrong or God. The parental hangover God like your daddy used to be gets after you and so on, or all kinds of lesser views. One of these chapters is entitled God in a box and it Phillips analyzes quite wisely the kind of partisan approach to God that I am alluding to when I say it is not our business to enlist God on our side but rather our business to be listed by him in his madness, read a little bit of what JB Phillips says because I think it strikes home in a remarkable way to write this. All Christians, whatever their church would of course instantly repudiate the idea that there God was a superb example of their own denomination and it's not suggested that the worship is conscious to last beneath the conscious critical level of the mind, it's perfectly possible for the Anglo-Catholic, for example, I was running out of the British situation really possible for the Anglo-Catholic, for example, to conceive, God is particularly pleased with Anglo Catholicism doubtful about evangelicalism and frankly displeased by all forms of nonconformity Roman Catholic who asserts positively that ordination in the Anglican church is invalid and that no graces receivable through the Anglican sacraments is plainly worshiping a God. It was a Roman Catholic and who operates reluctantly of it all through non-Roman channels.

How does it on the other side the ultralow churchmen on the other hand, must admit, if he is honest that the God whom he worships disapproves most strongly of investments in sentencing candles on the altar tragedy of these examples which could be reproduced ad nauseam any day of the week is not a difference of opinion which will probably be with us to the day of judgment, but the outrageous folly and damnable sin of trying to regard God as the party leader of a particular point of view that he begins to reflect on how all of this appears to the non-Christians looking at it from the outside.

And this is what he says the thoughtful man outside the church is not offended so much by the differences of denominations to him and his happy ignorance there, merely that normal psychological variations of human taste and temperament being expressed in the religious sphere he cannot stomach is the exclusive claim made by each to be the right one is judgments is rightly empirical did not cry, say by their fruits ye shall know them. If he were to observe that the church which makes the oldest and makes most exclusive claim to be constituted and maintained according to Almighty God's own ideas was obviously producing the finest Christian character obviously wielding the highest Christian influence and obviously most filled by the living spirit of God, he could perhaps give the exclusive claim what he finds nothing of the kind no denomination has a monopoly on God's grace, and none has an exclusive recipe for producing Christian character is quite plain to the disinterested observer that the real God takes no notice whatever of the boxes because the spirit along with where it listed and is subject to no regulation of man. I don't mean to suggest by that.

I'm sure you understand that doctrine forms are unimportant, they are but in a limited relative sort of way, and what I mean to say is that when lips titles his book your God is too small. He is really making a point that speaks to us all and comes I believe from this response of the heavenly commander to Joshua. Even when we are trying to be most biblical and we should try to be most biblical, we are nevertheless always in our thoughts and limiting God in some way because our minds are finite and we cannot comprehend the infinite Zoe have to hear back challenge and response. Personally we say to God father Joe Farah's enemies. What we mean is you better be for us because we are the faithful one. We need to hear that response. Neither says God none of you approach it that way.

I'm the commander I'm your commander and what I have come to do is command you in the list you in my cause. Well, I've talked about this error is error partiality's regarding God is our party leader, making God and will Presbyterian or Catholic or an Episcopalian or whatever it may be, let me say that while it is all too common sometimes humorously so.

Other times, tragically, so it is also the case that there are other kinds of people. I'm sure you've known them like people that are in difference to Dr. Rebecca very concerned about doctrine and they're certainly not in different to the way things are done in the churches there reactive often in the churches when you talk to them. Your where the to something else. There are aware that while he may be a Presbyterian or nonconformist, or an Episcopalian or whatever it may be they are not primarily these things rather than a give evidence of having a larger view of God view of God which fills our heart and mind motivates our actions and which simply because God is big is able to embrace a wide variety of operations and people and see even though in some cases, some of the things that people believe and do. Maybe wrong when measured strictly by the divine standard which is nevertheless able to see them as part of what God is doing and so rejoice in what is happening. I'm sure you know people like that. I've known them and you ask when you meet them you say well why are they like that and what is the difference how to get this large view of God, the answer I'm sure is that they are people who have done what Joshua did.

They have met God. God has told them to bow before him, and they have done that and then they have asked what message do you have for your servant and what they are primarily interested in doing is carrying out that message in the world. That's kind of people we need. We we need leaders like that because what makes the leaders is that they are following the leader because her following him. They they lead us not to narrow views of God, but to that grace. God was revealed himself in Jesus Christ, and who will be the object of our learning worship and adoration throughout endless ages. Let us pray our father, we confess that we live by our own mental processes in an extremely narrow world. We are now in terms of what we conceive your work to be and for more significantly, we are narrow in our thoughts about you.

We don't want to be casual where Scripture is concerned, everything we know about you comes from Scripture or father. We do ask that you would give us grace as we study your word and live in its light to see you increasingly as you really are and say great God, the one who was the father of all your people and the author of all Christian work in the soul, strength and power by which that which is of value is ever done so. Our father make us partisans make us servants of yourself servants of that great God. We pray in Jesus. You are listening to Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103, you can visit us for Canadian smell. Those 2237 Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON M1 C2 line 9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologian. Thank you again for your continued support and for listening to Bible study

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