Welcome back friends! A few days ago we defined Zionism and focused on its connection to the Abrahamic Covenant. Then we honed in on Biblical Zionism, based on the sure promise of that covenant. Today, let’s go one step further in our study together.
Not only did the Abrahamic Covenant include a sure promise, but also a steadfast condition. God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants as an everlasting possession. However, living in the land came with a condition, and that condition is a common theme throughout the book of Deuteronomy. For example, this is God’s message prior to the Israelites’ conquest of the Promised Land:
“You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land that you are going over to possess.”
Do you see the condition God gave them if they were to take possession (domicile, live) of the land of Canaan? “Keep the whole commandment.” God promised Abraham they would own the land. However, if Israel wished to inhabit the land, they must dwell therein as righteous people.
Deuteronomy 28 is filled with “blessings and curses,” and Moses speaks to this idea of inhabiting the land. For example, in verse 8 we find that God will bless them in the land, and in all they undertake. However, verse 63 of the same chapter warns that God will “pluck them out of their land” if they refuse to walk according to the Lord. Is God contradicting Himself? No, He is establishing the conditions in which Israel may actually live in the land they own.
No one knew this better than Joshua. Prior to leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, he had a very pointed conversation with the angel of the Lord! (This is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Himself. Joshua had a “come to Jesus” meeting!) In that meeting, Joshua asked, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” To which the angel replied, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord.” (Joshua 5:13-14)
Whoa! The commander of the Lord’s army!?! Joshua must have recognized deity because he fell on his face to worship, and asked what the Lord would say to him. (Can you imagine!) The Lord had a very important message for Joshua:
“Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.”
Scripture says that Joshua did so. BTW…we can imagine, because as believers, God asks us to do the same thing!
So, what’s the message?
Joshua was about to lead his people into battle at Jericho to possess and inhabit the land of promise. God was with them by virtue of the covenant promise. However, if they wanted God on their side, He was making it clear that they must “take off their shoes,” because they were standing on holy ground. (Taking off shoes is a sign of humility and yieldedness to a supreme authority…in this case, God Almighty!)
In God’s divinely sovereign plan since the beginning of time, He chose a piece of land between the Jordan River (where they were crossing over) to the Mediterranean Sea to fulfill His worldwide redemptive plan! Thus, He expects His people…the vehicle of world redemption…to live in the land righteously and obedient to Him.
So today, just as in the past, if Israel wants to live in the land, she must take her shoes off! Let’s pray for that…for Zion’s sake!
As a secondary lesson, if you and I want to “possess” (lay hold of) all God has for us, we too must take off our shoes!