Joshua 5, Psalms 132–134, Isaiah 65, Matthew 13

DateVersionReading Plan
@July 3, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Joshua 5

Joshua 5:13–15 (ESV) 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.

Following the crossing of the Jordan when Joshua was by Jericho, he was confronted by the commander of the army of the LORD. A couple things to note here. First, that Joshua fell on his face to worship and the Commander did not rebuke him. There are other instances in Scripture that we see a representative of the kingdom refuse worship (ex. Rev. 19:10; Rev. 22:9), but not here. As the Believer’s Bible Commentary makes clear, “Here is conclusive proof that Joshua was in the presence of God, and knew it. Mere angels never accepted worship, but here the Angel of the Lord commands worship, thereby proving His divine nature.” The second notable aspect of this encounter is the Commander’s instruction of Joshua to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. This is similar to what happened to Moses at the burning bush (Exod. 3:5). In both occasions, the LORD presented Himself as an encouragement and to provide direction prior to a challenging task: Moses in leading the Israelites out of Egypt and Joshua to begin the campaign of taking possession of the promised land.

Psalms 132–134

Psalm 134:1–3 (ESV) 1 Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD! 2 Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD! 3 May the LORD bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth!

In this very short psalm—a song of ascents—the psalmist calls 3x for the people to come and “bless the LORD”. This brings to mind a time when I was asked, “How can someone ‘bless the LORD’ if He is the One from whom all blessings come?” Understanding God as Father is helpful in seeing how we are able to bless our LORD, for what father would not delight in receiving blessing from his children. The CSB Notes further unpacks this by saying, “Bless and ‘praise’ are the same word in Hebrew (brk). To bless a person is to speak well of him. When people speak well of God, it is praise. When God speaks well of a person, that person is blessed (Gen. 24:35; Job 42:12).”

Isaiah 65

Isaiah 65:17–18 (ESV) 17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.

God through Isaiah speaks of the new heavens and new earth—the new Jerusalem—where the former things shall not be remembered and where there will be gladness and rejoicing forever. In the shalom and fullness to come, there will be no need to remember former things. One might ask, “Why would we forget our past in this way?”, but we must realize how much this vaporous life in a broken world will pale in comparison to the direct presence of our glorious Creator. Upon death and consummation with the LORD, the saints are granted an everlasting dwelling place with our Him and our gaze will be ever fixed on Him in joyous praise.

Matthew 13

Matthew 13:41–42 (ESV) 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. … 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Twice in this chapter, Jesus speaks of how the unregenerate will be gathered by His angels and thrown into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. As the antithesis of the previous meditation on Isaish 65, these verses foster awareness of the unbearableness that awaits those who refuse the offer of eternal salvation in Christ. It will be an everlasting existence of unbridled torment, the severity of which we simply cannot imagine. Praise be to God that He has chosen to send His Son as a worthy sacrifice and so rescue His children from this horrifying destination.

Carson on Joshua 5

Circumcision is now carried out on all the males that were born during the years of wilderness wandering. At one level, this is rather surprising: How come they weren’t done as the boys were born? In many instances the multitude stayed in one place for long periods of time, doubtless developing community life. What prevented them from obeying this unambiguous covenantal stipulation?

There have been many guesses, but the short answer is that we do not know.

Carson addresses a question that many scholars have certainly pondered over the centuries regarding this chapter: “Why was the latest generation of Israelites not already circumcised?” As a rite of membership into covenantal relationship with God, it seems odd that the Israelites did not circumcise newborn boys as was commanded. It seems to point to a level of disobedience on the part of the previous generation, those who had perished by this point after being refused entry into the promised land because they did not obey the voice of the LORD.