Commander of the Lord's Army
“When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?” The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told.” (Joshua 5:13-15 NLT) Wow! Have you heard this before? Joshua is headed to battle the well fortified city of Jericho, with the original group of doubters. He has just led the Israelites across the Jordan River, circumcised all of the males and is preparing for battle when he sees a Man, with His sword drawn. Upon asking the Man His allegiance in the pending war, the Man’s response caused Joshua to fall face down on the ground in reverence!
Many scholars (all of the ones I looked up) contend that this Commander is Jesus Christ and I agree. He identifies Himself as Commander of the Lord’s army. Remember when Judas leads the Temple guards out to arrest Jesus and one of Jesus’ followers slashes off the ear of one of the guards? Jesus asked His followers not to fight these guards, reminding them He could command thousands of angels in an instant, if He so desired (Matthew 26:53). He also tells Joshua to take off his sandals because Joshua is on Holy Ground…and Joshua does as he was told! Angels repeatedly told those they visited to get up, that they were not to be worshipped, but this Commander doesn’t say that. He tells Joshua he is on Holy Ground and the only thing in this story making the ground Holy is the Commander.
So what’s so great about Jesus showing up in the 5th chapter of Joshua, as the Commander of the Lord’s Army? Well, it affirms that Jesus Christ has been present from the beginning, as the first chapters of John and Colossians claim. Also, it’s interesting that Jesus didn’t show up and take over Joshua’s physical battle, but He stood ready to fight the unseen battle for Joshua. Other translations say He is Captain of the Host, which means thousands upon thousands of angels. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our battles are not against flesh and blood, but against evil rulers in the unseen world.
If you’re like me, you love that you are not alone. As we fight through physical problems and struggles, we slowly learn our battles are not flesh and blood battles. How great is it that the One who promised to never leave you or abandon you is the Commander of the Lord’s Army? I hope knowing this about Jesus encourages you to see Him as the Commander, ready and able to take down any evil rulers or authorities. My prayer is that we will confidently call on the Commander, asking Him to do those things in the unseen world that only He can do.