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Touch Down On Holy Ground

“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 ‭5:15‬

The Lord of glory… radiantly holy… He’s a God who comes close to His beloveds. He wants us to encounter Him.

In Joshua 5, we see God show up to Joshua in a powerful way. Through the commander of the Lord’s army.

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.” 

Joshua 5:13-14

The commander of the Lord’s army is symbolic of Christ.

It foreshadows the triumph and coming reign of Jesus in Revelation. Returning for His people… and slaying the devil & darkness forever. So Joshua can’t help but respond with honor.

Verse 14 goes on to say, “And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?”

When God shows up in holiness, our first response should be complete and utter submission. We say Lord what can I do for you… and we let Him tell us. He takes priority over every other voice. His way is above every other. What I love about the Lord is He is a such a loving, kind and selfless king. Yet he reigns in ferocious power that will not be undone.

He is King and He deserves to be honored as such.

With honor, follows love and intimacy with this King who longs to know us deeply. Joshua is going to experience the power and confirmation that comes from the Lord as this encounter unfurls. At first, Joshua asks him who he is… and whose side He’s on.

“Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” in verse 13.

I love how the commander responds to Joshua. Joshua is leading Israel and they have just crossed over into Canaan. They’ve fought many battles and experienced trial and trial en route to the promised land. To see one unknown here by him alarms him and he wants to know if he’s in danger… if he’s on their side or not.

But the commander says “No.”

He doesn’t answer Joshua’s question of whose side He’s on. Because He’s not on either of their sides.

He’s on the Lord’s side.

He says “I am the commander of the army of the Lord” in verse 14.

He serves the LORD, not the people. Thus, He does what God speaks and intends to do. He operates according to the paradigms of the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of men. 

God is a warrior who fights according to His kingdom paradigm alone.

This is one of the first manifestations of Jesus’ glory in the Old Testament. ❤️

It’s a christological moment. Jesus is the Word made flesh as John 1 says and from the beginning of time He has existed.

And because He is holy, any spot on the earth where He touches down is instantaneously…

…Holy ground.

The commander asks Joshua to take off his sandals.

I love this request… it’s an intimate exchange. And it’s always an honor to say yes to Him.

I can see the Lord looking at Joshua with love… He says, I want you to touch this ground… feel this ground… permeating with My presence unlike anything you’ve ever touched before.


here the ground is illuminating

with a fire that lingers

in the earth’s crust

You formed

to pick me over the battle

when I touch it

I feel the metal


from over the feet

that shackled

me from victory

here I stand


in Your holy beams of beauty

my feet changed from the touch

my heart is ever enough

because You let me feel

Your holy ground

Now the holiness of the Lord has transcended the holy place.

His glory is dwelling right here with Joshua through the commander of the Lord’s army and it’s saturating the ground before Him. The Holy Spirit is present so strongly. And it’s a glimpse of the triune God who has always been making Himself known to His people, in the past and in the present and will continue to in the future. For He is the same God yesterday, today and forever as Hebrews 13:8 says.

It seems this would be the moment Joshua is asked to keep his shoes on… for how can something unholy touch something so holy?
To take off his shoes would reveal what’s unclean… and also make his feet vulnerable to the elements.

But often that’s what Jesus asks of us.

To open our hearts… and let Him invade the places we think God doesn’t want to come close to.

God wants to touch the unholy places… making us holy from His touch. 

Nothing else is needed when God is present. He Himself is enough. He is the purifier. If we want to partake in this purification process, we must take off everything that rests between us and God’s touch.

If you want to stand on holy ground, take off what hinders you.

I’m reminded of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet in John 13. “Now that I, your Lord & Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”  John 13:14 

He demonstrates kingship through His humble, giving heart to serve. And so should we.

In this passage with Jesus, Peter says no Lord I can’t take off my shoes… but Jesus rebukes him and says if you don’t take off your shoes you have no part with Me. We have to let Jesus touch the places we think are dirty. So we can be made perfect and complete, lacking nothing just like James 1:4 says. And one Jesus touches you… you are purified and you dont’ have to go back to the way it was before.

Jesus heals instantaneoulsy. 

Jesus purifies you instantaneously.

For Joshua and the disciple alike, sandals were a protective mechanism guarding them rough terrain. So for Joshua to be asked to take off his shoes highlights the transaction taking place where he’s gaining a new kind of protection: the Lord’s strength.

The commander of the Lord’s army is imparting new strength to Joshua while illuminating the supremacy of God’s power and authority. God Himself will be Joshua’s protection and all He has to do is touch the Lord’s holiness.

After this encounter, Joshua’s feet are never the same.

Joshua will soon go on to defeat Jericho… simply from marching with his feet.

God says… you are changed when you touch My holiness!
You are empowered when you touch My holiness.
You are perfected when you touch My holiness.

If you want to possess the power and strength needed to live victoriously… let God touch you.

There’s so much more awaiting us and He gives us all we need. Encountering God’s holiness is the answer for every victory. Take off what hinders you from standing on holy ground and encounter the majesty of the Lord who loves you… and comes close to you.

“And put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Ephesians 4:24

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