Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord[e] have for his servant?” The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. – Joshua 5:13-15
Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace is also a Man of War. He comes to conquer all of His and our enemies.
Joshua has just celebrated the Passover. The LORD has cast fear into all of Israel’s enemies, now Joshua is responsible for leading the people of God to take possession of the Promised Land, or is he? As Joshua’s thoughts must have been turning to the daunting task that was ahead of him, he sees a warrior with his sword drawn. This stranger is not only armed for battle, He appears to be ready to get the fighting started. We see something in the character of Joshua that instead of calling for reinforcements, he personally goes out to meet this man in order to protect his people. Then we remember that the LORD had charged Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Indeed, the LORD had promised: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). Joshua believed the LORD and therefore he goes out to confront a potential threat to the LORD’s people.
So, Joshua asks a natural question: “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” Those are apparently the only two possible choices, but the Warrior answers with an abrupt “No!” And then He declares, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” As Tony Evans so memorable put it: “Jesus doesn’t come to take sides. He comes to take over.” And lest Joshua have any doubt about whom he is speaking to, Jesus gives Joshua the very same command that He had given Moses back at the burning bush: “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” It is the LORD Himself who will lead His people to victory at Jericho. It is the LORD Himself who must lead us to fulfill the Great Commission in our own day, too!
Martin Luther captures the idea of our Holy Savior as Divine Warrior in his great hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God”:
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he,
Lord Sabaoth his name,
From age to age the same,
And he must win the battle.
And so we are reminded of a great truth from Romans chapter 8: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 29
Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.