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The DEEP

Humiliation

The key to leadership.

Joshua 5:13–15

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood 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?”

So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

In this passage, the New King James Bible capitalizes “Man,” “His,” “Him,” and “He” the same way it capitalizes “He” when “He” is God. This is no ordinary man.

And this “Man” has the drop on Joshua, with His sword drawn in His hand. Given that “He” just popped up out of nowhere, Joshua must be scared out of his wits.

But somehow Joshua has the courage and presence of mind to stand his ground. He even moves toward the Man and asks Him, point blank, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” The question is rhetorical, since if He was for Joshua’s adversaries, His sword would have already found Joshua.

The Man’s comeback line is one for the ages— “No.”

Joshua’s narrow, self-centered perspective needs adjusting. “Not everything is about you, Joshua.”

The Man goes on to say that He commands the army of the LORD. Joshua immediately gets a clue and prostrates himself in worship. Then he asks, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Good save, Josh!

Then He gives another surprise— “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.”

This is humbling beyond being face down in worship. Nothing Joshua is thinking about is even relevant.


This lesson is amazing in light of Joshua 3:7 where the LORD says to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 

One moment God is elevating Joshua to a role of unquestioned leadership, with a whole nation of people who would follow him off a cliff. The next moment, God is dope-slapping him like a fool.

That’s His pattern. The same thing happens to Peter, Thomas, Paul—virtually all the great saints.

It’s a key part of God’s leadership package. This stands in stark contrast to secular leadership, where the sword of Damocles is the counter-point to the blessings of being at the top.

Crushing humiliation is often how God keeps his leaders on track.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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