“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it” (Joshua 1:9–11).
In the army of the Lord, typified here by the Israelites as they prepared for the conquest of Canaan, there must be order rather than irresponsibility. This is evidently the first reference in the Bible to a chain of command in these armies. God commanded Joshua, who had previously been appointed by God, through Moses, to be their human commander-in-chief. “Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people,” who were thereafter to “command the people.”
Similarly, there must be a system of orderly responsibility, with loyalty to the Lord exercised through a recognized chain of command, in any church or other Christian organization, before any kind of victory for our supreme Commander can ever be won. When “every man [does] that which [is] right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), the organization will fail.
Jesus Christ is the “Captain of [our] salvation” (Hebrews 2:10), the Greek word for “captain” meaning, literally, “chief leader,” and it is He who calls and commissions those who are to serve as leaders under Him. Leadership, however, does not imply dictatorship. They must not act as “lords over God’s heritage” but as “[examples] to the flock” (I Peter 5:3).
Whether we are called to be leaders or followers in God’s spiritual army, each of us must also be willing to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life” (II Timothy 2:3,4). HMM