The following passages from Joshua are very important. They reveal the means by which we attain every new level that God opens for us.
1 ¶ Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.
2 At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.”
3 So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.
4 This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt.
5 For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised.
6 For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the LORD, to whom the LORD had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.
7 Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way.
8 Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed.
9 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
10 ¶ While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho.
11 On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.
12 The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.
13 ¶ Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?”
14 He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?”
15 The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Israel spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness until all the men of war who originally came out of Egypt died. After crossing the Jordan, all those born along the way were circumcised. This is indicative of how we can enter into a measure of fulfillment, but ultimately a thorough work must be done in us if we are to receive our full inheritance. After the circumcision, Israel celebrated the Passover on the plains of Gilgal. God spoke to Joshua that He had rolled away the reproach of Egypt from Israel. This was symbolized through the circumcision. The very next day after celebrating the Passover, they began to eat some of the produce of the land. The manna ceased. They had begun to partake of the Promised Land. But there was one more encounter with the Lord that was needed before they could take Jericho.
Joshua lifted up his eyes and beheld a man standing opposite him with his sword drawn. Joshua approached him and asked if he was for them or their adversaries. The man replied, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” It’s significant that in this manifestation of the Lord to Joshua, the question of who the man was for, was not answered. Before we can possess the new realms that God sets before us, He always comes with a drawn sword in His hand. This is not a one time occurrence, but happens perpetually with every new step we take in God. The question of who the man was for was not answered, because in a true sense, God is not for, or against us. He stands before us as a door into a greater realm. How we respond to Him determines whether He is for us or against us. Verse 14 of our text says Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down. Joshua then said, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” Joshua was then told to remove his sandals from his feet because the place where he was standing was holy. What was happening in this encounter was the establishing of God’s Lordship over His people. It was understood by Joshua there was to be an absolute submission to the Lord’s authority over him. This cannot be overstated. We can look back through the days of Joshua growing under Moses’ ministry and see that Joshua was intimately acquainted with the presence of the Lord. Exodus 33 records how Moses would enter the Tent of Meeting and speak face to face with God. When Moses left the tent, Joshua would not depart from it. At other times Moses took Joshua with him upon the mountain to meet God. The point being made here is that while Joshua was acquainted with the presence of the Lord, he did not recognize the man holding the drawn sword as being the Lord. Why was this? It was because God was bringing Joshua into a new revelation of Himself, and Joshua did not perceive the Lord in the higher realm that was before him. And so it is with us. We will not enter into new realms in God without first facing “the man with the drawn sword.” There must be the establishing of Christ’s Lordship over us with each new step we take. As we submit to Him afresh, an open door is set before us. If we kick and squirm under the demands of the cross, we will find our entrance into the next realm blocked.
We have this same truth presented to us in Genesis 3.
21 ¶ The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
22 ¶ Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—
23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.
24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
Adam was driven from the garden of Eden. The cherubim and the flaming sword which turns in every direction was stationed to guard the way to the tree of life. To put it bluntly, Adam will never be allowed to partake of the tree of life. The Adamic nature in us will never be allowed to enter the higher realms of Christ’s kingdom. Thus, with every new level we come to, we find “a man with a drawn sword,” standing in our way. The Lordship of Jesus Christ is established deeper and deeper in us with each new realm in God. Nothing of Adam is going to walk in the realm of Zion. Our ascension into Zion is only limited by how thoroughly we submit to Christ’s Lordship at each new level we come to.
The wisdom of God tells us we are to sacrifice the good things for the better, and the better for the best. Many things seemingly born of God die along the way in our pilgrimage into Zion. The cross removes from us the mixture of Adamic and Godly thinking.
This brings us to the next great realization of Zion. How do we define a living word at this level? Quite simply, a living word is defined as an expression of Christ’s Lordship over us. The term “living word” is tossed around very casually in Christianity. It is the latest “kingdom” buzz word. Having revelation does not constitute a living word. Teaching or sharing certain revelation does not necessarily translate into a living word. In the level of the kingdom of God now opening, a living word is synonymous with the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The only word spoken with authority is the one expressing His Lordship. Christ’s Lordship is conveyed in the utterance of His sons. We only move into higher expressions of His word in us as we are continually confronted by the “man with the drawn sword.” There is no substitute. The satanic realm can mimic many of the works of God such as the magicians did in the days of the Exodus. Miracles and such can be counterfeited. But there can be no counterfeiting the Lordship of Jesus Christ over a person. The work of the cross cannot be counterfeited. Thus, we have the basis of the true and the false.
The “man with the drawn sword,” the Cherubim with the flaming sword, are not one-time encounters. We will meet them again and again as we move forward. Each step we take into a new level is purified before our foot ever hits the ground. Thus is the fulfillment of “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.”