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?"Joshua 5:14(NASB)
A new generation of Israelites had grown up during their wilderness wanderings who had not been circumcised. But having passed through the River Jordan, they gladly renewed their covenant relationship with the Lord at Gilgal. Every male was circumcised, God's reproach was lifted from them, and at twilight on the fourteenth day of the month, the entire nation celebrated the Passover with unleavened bread and parched grain.
The children of Israel celebrated this Passover on the plains of Jericho. They recalled how God had redeemed them from slavery in Egypt. And on the following day, when the feasting was over, the people ate of the produce of the land of Canaan. From that day forward, the manna that God had so faithfully provided for His people, for forty long years - ceased.
Now it came to pass, as he was surveying the land near the fortified city of Jericho, that Joshua lifted his eyes and beheld a Man, standing opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. Joshua approached the warrior and asked, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?" The Man replied, "NO! I have come as Commander of the army of the Lord."
Joshua realised that this was no ordinary Commander. The Man before him was no ordinary angelic being! This was The Angel of the Lord. This was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ! And so Joshua bowed to the ground and fell on his face and worshipped Him and asked Him, "What does my Lord say to His servant?" And we read that the Commander of the Lord’s army instructed Joshua, "Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground." And Joshua obeyed as he was commanded.
Joshua was a great military leader in his own right. He was the man whom God had chosen to lead His people into the Promised Land... but there was One Who was greater. This Commander was greater than Joshua, greater than Moses, greater than Abraham, greater than king David! BUT Joshua asked Him the wrong question. He asked if this Commander of God's army was on THEIR side or the side of their enemy. However, the important issue should have been... was Joshua on the side of the LORD? Was Israel prepared to be led by God?
It was when the Commander of the armies of the Lord gave His answer, that Joshua fell down before Him and worshipped this glorious Warrior. He knew that this was no ordinary heavenly visitor, for the Commander accepted the worship that Joshua offered. God will not share His glory with another, for God alone is worthy of worship. The heavenly Person that stood before him was none other than a pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ Jesus, the Lord.
During His earthly walk, the Lord Jesus was able to claim, "Before Abraham was - I AM." Jesus could equally have proclaimed that before Moses, David, and Solomon, I AM, for the Commander Who stood before Joshua was the One Who had spoken to Moses in the burning bush when He proclaimed, "I AM that I AM."
The Captain of the Lord Of Hosts, to Whom Joshua paid homage, was the Second Person of the Triune Godhead. He was the Word of God Who was in the beginning with God. He was God the Son, through Whom all things were created. He was the only begotten Son of the Father Who would come to earth, at the appointed time, to save His people from their sin. He was the pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ, the righteous.
Yes, Joshua knew that the Warrior Who stood before Him with a raised sword in His hand was the Lord God... for he fell to the ground to worship Him. Joshua worshipped the One Who brought His people out of the land of Egypt. He paid homage to the One Who had protected and provided for Israel during their 40-year long sojourn in the wilderness. Joshua was one of two men, still living, whom the Lord had redeemed from Egypt, who crossed the Jordan to enter the Promised Land and he knew the Stranger in his midst was deserving of worship.
The Lord redeemed him from Egypt, sustained him in the wilderness, and commissioned Joshua to lead His people. He had guided him into the Promised Land and commanded him to be strong and very courageous. The Lord had promised to be with Him as he faced many difficulties and dangers in the days to come, and Joshua gave Him the honour due to His name and asked, "What has my Lord to say to His servant?
As we consider this heavenly Commander Who stood before Joshua with His sword raised in His hand, we recognise Him to be the same Saviour Who redeemed us from the slave market of sin. He is the Word made flesh. He is the incarnate God Who is the radiance of God's glory, the exact image of his essence, and Who upholds all things by the Word of His power - and out of his mouth comes a sharp two-edged sword - the Word of Truth.
And the very question that Joshua asked, should be asked of each one of us" "What has my Lord to say to His servant?" It was Jesus, our Lord and our God Who redeemed us from the slave-market of sin. It was Jesus Who came to earth as our Kinsman-Redeemer, shed His blood on the Cross for our redemption, and broke the power of sin and death in our lives through His glorious Resurrection.
It is that same Jesus Who demands that we honour Him, yield to Him, reverence Him, and submit to His leading and guidance, as we journey through life and face the many trials and tribulations that will stalk our path. The giants that Joshua faced and the cities that had to be conquered were in the physical realm, while the giants we face and the strongholds that have to be torn down are often in the spiritual realm - for the weapons of our warfare are not physical, but spiritual - they are mighty, through God, to the pulling down of satanic strongholds.
The conflicts we face in the spiritual sphere are equally fierce as those that Joshua faced in the physical realm. The enemy that confronts us may be as terrifying as those that Joshua and his army were to fight, but we are on the side of the Lord for He is our great Commander Who secured the victory through the shedding of His own blood.
Our victory has been secured, by Christ - our heavenly Commander. Our victory was secured at the Cross... for His truth is unchanging and His grace is sufficient for every eventuality that life may throw at us - for we are on the Lord’s side and He is our God and Saviour.
We have been called and chosen to be His soldiers in an alien land, but we know that when Christ is in control, no foe that can harm us and no fear should alarm us - because victory has already been won. May we, like Joshua, offer our lives to Him, have ears that are open to His command, and be ready to say, "What has my Lord to say to his servant." My heart is ever open to hear Your voice.
Heavenly Father, how I praise and thank You for the Scriptures that provide me with illustrations of living a life that honours You, as I travel along my own life-journey. Thank You for Joshua, whose life in the physical realm demonstrates the continuing need for practical faith and godly wisdom, if we are to succeed in the spiritual sphere. Thank You that You gained the victory over all the enemies of my soul and that in Christ, I have been redeemed and declared righteous. Teach me Your way and help my ears to be ever open to Your leading and guidance. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.