Are you WILLING to ‘FIGHT’ under GOD’s COMMAND? 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. (Josh. 5:13-15)
There are times when we must get alone with God to strategize our next steps and take some big decisions in our lives. After taking charge over the Israelites, Joshua went to a hill overlooking Jericho and began to think about how he would conquer this great city that was enclosed within a mighty fortress wall. As he was there alone planning his war strategy, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand.
Since the man had his sword drawn, Joshua could only infer that he was prepared for battle and thus asked, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?" The answer this man gave must have been as startling to Joshua as His very presence. And he said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come". When Origen writes his Sixth Homily on the book of Joshua, he states the following, “Joshua knew not only that he was of God, but that he was God. For he would not have worshiped, had he not recognized him to be God. For who else is the Captain of the Lord’s host but our Lord Jesus Christ?” Other Bible scholars also affirm that this person was none other than the Son of God!
We know that God had previously appeared to Moses on Mount Horeb in a burning bush to make the announcement that He would be directing him for the enormous task of leading His people to the land of Canaan (see Exo. 3). Now, He appeared to his successor Joshua as the ‘Commander of the army of the Lord’ to proclaim His support for completing this task (vv. 13–14). Just like in the case of Moses (see Exo. 3:2–6), Joshua was made aware that the ground he stood on was holy because of God’s near presence (v. 15). This private encounter that Joshua had with God Himself preceded Joshua’s public role for the remainder of his public life! This encounter with the divine Commander of the Lord’s army validated Joshua’s place as Moses’ rightful successor. What He discovered that there is a Commander-in-chief, mightier than he, who stands ready to lead the Israeli nation in conquest!
The famous Bible scholar Arthur W. Pink in his classic narrative ‘Gleanings in Joshua’ has made this great analysis: “Observe how well God suits the revelation of Himself unto His saints according to their circumstances and needs: to Abraham in his tent He appeared as a Traveler (Gen. 18:1–3) to Moses at the backside of the desert in a bush (Exo. 3:1–2), to Joshua at the beginning of his campaign as ‘a Man of war’ (Exo. 15:3)”. Just as the Lord had appeared unto Moses, He has now appeared unto Joshua, and just as the Lord had been with Moses, He promised to be with Joshua. The preparations for Canaanite conquest are now complete!
It is now evident that as ‘the Commander of the Lord’s army’, God is now in full control of the next phase of the conquest of Canaan. The significance of this incident is that Joshua, the human leader of Israel, is subordinated to God, the divine Commander. It is very important to acknowledge God’s position and understand His role in the battles ahead. From that time, whenever Joshua took off his shoes, it reminded him that he was second in command. God does not come just to help us, but He comes to take full control over our lives!
Today, God does not intend to be just a foot soldier in our personal campaign, whatever it may be. He does not make His resources available to us so that we can accomplish our own agenda. He comes as our Lord and Savior, as the Sovereign One, and as our supreme Commander. We serve Him, we fight in His army, we worship at His feet, and we allow Him to take over our life battles. Are you willing to fight under God’s command today?