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?” 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?” 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 (Joshua 5:13-15).
As the people of Israel were preparing to conquer the Promised Land of Canaan, God met with Joshua. Just like Moses, Joshua was told to remove his sandals from his feet because where he stood was holy ground. Before Joshua could effectively lead the people of Israel, he had to be reminded of and impressed by the holiness of Almighty God.
Here are three simple observations about Joshua standing on holy ground:
- God is Holy.
- Wherever God’s presence dwells is to be regarded as holy.
- Changes must be made to recognize and honor the holiness of God.
#1 – God is Holy
Whenever mankind was put in the presence of God and shown His glory, they immediately were brought to their knees and they trembled. But why? Because of the holiness of God. Isaiah, for example, the moment he saw the vision of the Lord, he knew right away that he was a sinful man with a dirty mouth (Isaiah 6).
Here is a passage about Jesus that I believe helps to explain holiness:
Hebrews 7:26 – For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
Innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted. This is why as man we tremble in the presence of the glory of God, because He is sinless and completely pure. Adam and Eve, before sin, did not fear and tremble before the presence of God. Sin brought fear and separation. Through the blood of Jesus, we can be reconciled and made pure so that we can dwell in the presence of God without fear and boldly come to His throne.
#2 – Wherever God’s presence dwells is to be regarded as holy.
Was there something special about the dirt by the Jordan River? No. It was holy because God was there. Another example is in 2 Peter 1:18 when Peter was reflecting upon his experience during Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain. Peter called that mountain a “holy mountain.” It was no different than any other mountain, but what made it holy was the presence of God.
Think for a moment on just a few places the Bible says He dwells. God dwells in the heart and spirit of the Christian, we are His temple and dwelling place (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). He also dwells within the body of Christ, the church; collectively we are His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Marriage is to be regarded as holy and undefiled, because God’s presence is there as well (Hebrews 13:4; Malachi 2:14-16). Where the holy God dwells is to be counted by us as holy.
#3 – Changes must be made to recognize and honor the holiness of God.
Remove your sandals, in other words, take off the defilement of this world before you meet with God. When people were going to meet with God, there were preparations that had to be made. They had to purify themselves, wash themselves, change their clothing, and put away the wickedness/idolatry of the world (Genesis 35:1-5; Exodus 19:9-15; Isaiah 1:10-20). We can’t be unholy and meet in fellowship with a holy God. Just like Moses and Joshua had to remove their sandals, we have to take off the filthiness of the world, wash ourselves in the blood of the Lamb, and put on a new man (Ephesians 4:20-24; Revelation 7:13-14; 22:14).
2 Corinthians 7:1 – “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”
Hebrews 12:14 – Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
1 Peter 1:15-16 – but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
This week, we are going to focus on this passage, and use the concepts from today to apply to our various relationships in life.