In the Book of Joshua, we see an amazing encounter between Joshua & the Commander of the Lord’s Army. There are varied opinions about who the Commander of the Lord’s Army is and we will examine that here.
One of the statements Joshua is most famous for is this:
If it seems bad to you to serve Adonai, then choose today whom you are going to serve! Will it be the gods your ancestors served beyond the River? or the gods of the Emori, in whose land you are living? As for me and my household, we will serve Adonai! Joshua 24:15 CJB
Joshua’s faith was settled. This was spoken at the end of his life and nothing that had happened in 110 years had shaken his faith. Nothing had kept him from being a servant to God and man. His character is said to have been flawless. Of course, he had made mistakes like all of us but Joshua stands out as a steady, reliable, brave, intelligent, and strong leader.
While we know little of his personal life, we see him as a faithful and obedient servant and a man with fierce faith in His God.
Joshua’s First Look At the Commander
Can you imagine the scenario Joshua was in? Read this verse and then try to picture it and Joshua. “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
Israel had finally entered the promised land. It’s quite possible that everyone was resting. It appears that no one else sees what Joshua sees so perhaps he had gone off by himself to think and rest. Then, boom – you see a mystery man who popped up out of nowhere!
Seems like the normal person would fall over in fear at the first sighting of this mystery “man.” Joshua didn’t. He asked a question! I guess, as one of the greatest Generals in history, that would be your mindset. It would not have been mine. I would probably have been begging him not to kill me!
Instead, it seems that Joshua was calm and clear. I wonder if he recognized this “man.” After all, with all the time he spent in the tabernacle, close to the presence of God, and having seen God’s glory, maybe he immediately recognized that this “man” was far more than human.
How would you deal with an encounter like this? I know it’s just a guess but sometimes it’s good for us to picture ourselves in a biblical setting so that the people and events become more real. Think about it and then answer your best guess as to your response.
Summary of the Book of Joshua
The Book of Joshua was written in approximately 1400-1375 B.C.. It begins just after the death of Moses and before Israel’s entrance into the Promised Land of Canaan covering approximately 25 years of Israel’s history.
Israel has been homeless for over 400 years and they are encamped at the edge of the homeland promised to them long before by God. Much of Canaan was inhabited by violent, depraved, and brutal people. The religion of the Canaanites included fertility with sexual practices and child sacrifice.
In order to occupy their land, the Israelites would have to fight and Joshua would be their General. For many years they would be at war in one or more areas as God gave them victory after victory. Canaan was not conquered all at once. It was a natural progression as they conquered one area, settled, and then moved on.
Who Wrote the Book of Joshua?
No one knows for sure.
Y’hoshua (Joshua) wrote these words in the book of the Torah of God. Then he took a big stone and set it up there under the oak next to the sanctuary of Adonai. Y’hoshua (Joshua) said to all the people, “See, this stone will be a witness against us; because it has heard all the words of Adonai which he said to us; therefore it will be a witness against you, in case you deny your God.” Then Y’hoshua (Joshua) sent the people away, every man to his inheritance. Joshua 24:26-28 CJB
Joshua was one of the authors. It is believed that some events in the Book of Joshua took place after his death. He is thought to have died in 1375 B.C. at the age of 110 and some of the events in the Book of Joshua took place after 1375.
These include Caleb’s conquest of Hebron, Othniel’s victory, and the migration of the tribe of Dan. Judges 1:10-16 and Judges 18 confirm that these events took place after the death of Joshua. Thus, it is supposed that other scribes or editors composed the book using documents Joshua wrote.
Joshua In the BIble
Joshua is famous for many things. He led the Nation of Israel into the Land of Canaan to settle and take their inheritance. He was told by God to be strong and very courageous and God said, “as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Joshua was born in Egypt and was one of the 12 spies sent to the Promised Land. He was one of only two born in Egypt who survived the time in the wilderness – Caleb was the only other one. When Israel escaped Egyptian captivity, Joshua was Moses’ assistant until Moses appointed him as the next leader of the nation.
Joshua’s encounter with the Commander of the Lord’s Army had to have been very important as it prepared him for what was to come. Right after this, Israel suffered victory at Jericho and then defeat at Ai because of disobedience and Joshua undoubtedly gained strength and wisdom in knowing that the Commander was with him at all times.
Meaning of Joshua in Hebrew
Moses changed Joshua’s name from Hoshea to Yehoshua which means “Jehovah is salvation.” Joshua was the leader in bringing the nation of Israel into the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. More than once, Joshua had to remind the people that they needed to remain faithful to God and not take up the practices of the Canaanites. In many ways, Joshua’s life makes him a type of Christ.
Joshua and Jesus
Joshua is often seen as a “type” of Christ.
Notice that the name Yehoshua (i.e., Joshua) and Yeshua (i.e., Jesus) come from the same root (i.e., yasha: ישה) meaning “salvation” or deliverance (in the Greek LXX, Joshua is spelled Ἰησοῦς, the same spelling for Jesus in the New Testament. Indeed, in the book of Nehemiah, Yehoshua (Joshua) is explicitly called Yeshua (ישה), the name often transliterated as “Jesus” (Nehemiah 8:17. Hebrew for Christians
Here are some of the similarities between Joshua and Jesus:
- Both were descendants of Joseph.
- Both were commanders of the Lord’s army.
- Both were humble, of perfect moral character, and true servants filled with the Holy Spirit.
- They loved God’s house and were faith leaders of Israel.
- Both led the people of God to the Promised Land fighting for the Kingdom of Heaven.
- Both accomplished the salvation of the people of God, something no one else had been able to do.
There are other similarities but these summarize the most widely known.
WHen DId Israel Enter the Promised Land?
The Israelites finally enter the Promised Land of Canaan in approximately 1400 B.C. At the beginning of the Book of Joshua, God speaks directly to Joshua and when God has finished Joshua issues the order to cross the Jordan River in 3 days and the people vow to obey him.
Like Moses, Joshua sent 2 men out to spy on the land, especially Jericho. Here we find the famous actions of Rahab, a harlot who ended up being part of the nation of Israel along with her family. They were saved at the direct orders of Joshua. After three days, the conclusion the spies came to was that God had truly given them this land.
What is the Promised Land?
The Promised Land is symbolic of the Promised Land Jesus would open up for all who believe – heaven. The Israelites were promised inheritance of physical land while we are promised a place created by God especially for each one of us.
For Israel, the Promised Land was a place called Canaan – a land flowing with milk and honey, a place of peace and promise, a great deal like heaven!
Encountering the COmmanDER OF THE LORD’S ARMY
Joshua CHAPTER 5
The children of Israel made their three-day journey through the Jordan River which had parted to let them through. They celebrated Passover on the plains of Jericho and then Joshua has his encounter with the Commander of the Lord’s Army.
Who Was the Commander of the Lord’s Army?
This is also the subject of varying opinions. Some believe it was Jesus, others that it was Michael the Archangel, perhaps the Holy Spirit, and others believe it was an Epiphany or appearance of God Himself.
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 approached Him and asked, “Are You for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” He replied. “I have now come as commander of the Lord’s army.”
Then Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in worship and asked Him, “What does my Lord want to say to His servant?”
The commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Joshua 5:13-15 HCSB
Joshua saw ‘a man.’ In Hebrew, the word “ish” used here, means “man, male, human being (in contrast to God). Whether it was God, Jesus, or Michael, it was One who caused Joshua to fall to his face before him and the Commander ordered him to remove his sandals because this was holy ground – much like Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush.
The Spirit Filled Life Bible NKJV says this about the encounter, “Christ is revealed in the Book of Joshua in three ways: by direct revelation, by types, and by illuminating aspects of His nature. In 5:13-15, the triune God appears to Joshua. as the ‘commander of the army of the Lord.’ By His appearing, Joshua is made aware that God Himself is in charge. It is Joshua’s task, as it is ours, not so much to follow the Commander’s plans as to know the Commander. We need to be on His side, not to have Him on ours‘” Spirit Filled Life Bible NKJV pg. 279
What is the Significance of this Appearance?
Up until that time, Moses and Joshua had commanded the armies who fought Israel’s battles. Of course, they had done it with God at their side and at His direction.
Here, however, we see the manifestation of One who is far greater than Joshua and we see that Joshua has no argument. In fact, Joshua only had two questions when he saw this Commander. First, “Are you on our side, or on the side of our enemies?”
The Commander of the Lord’s Army just says, “Neither, I have come now as commander of the Lord’s army.” This commander is the “prince, ruler, leader, chief, chieftain, official, captain 1a) chieftain, leader 1b) vassal, noble, official (under king)” according to Strong’s Concordance. He is someone of great importance who reports directly to God or might be God.
Joshua asks one more thing, “What does my lord have to say to his servant?” The Commander replies by telling him to take off his sandals because this is holy ground.
From there, we know nothing of what the Commander said to Joshua or if he said anything more. Perhaps, this encounter with the commander of the Lord’s army served a different purpose and no more words were needed.
It seems to me that the job ahead of Joshua was a daunting one, especially if you felt you were facing it alone in respect to command. He knew God was with him. He knew God was faithful. Joshua relied on God and God’s Word. As far as we know, he hadn’t expressed fear but it seems that this appearance of a Commander with far more power than Joshua would be very reassuring.
“I have come.” The Commander may have come as a seal of God’s promise to be with Joshua. The first battle was for Jericho and at the end of the story of taking down the walls of Jericho, the Bible says, “So the Lord (Yahweh) was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the country.”
Joshua’s Example of Being Led By God
After the Israelites took over the land of Jericho they moved on to Ai. After being defeated there, they discovered that a man named Achan had disobeyed God and Joshua’s orders not to take any goods from the defeated people. Achan confessed and was killed. Immediately, God gives instruction to Joshua in how to defeat Ai and Israel prevails over them in the next battle.
Joshua then renewed Israel’s covenant with God by building a memorial of stones and writing the entire Torah on the stones! I have no idea how long that took or how difficult it must have been to carve all of that into stones.
I don’t know whether Joshua wrote out the entire Torah – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy – or just portions of it. But, since there is no mention of portions, I believe he remained true to his former master, Moses, and wrote the entire law just. as Moses had done in Deuteronomy 31:9-11.
The priests were there with the Ark of the Covenant and as Joshua did this:
After this, he read all the words of the Torah, the blessing and the curse, according to everything written in the book of the Torah. There was not a word of everything Moshe had ordered that Y’hoshua did not read before all Isra’el assembled, including the women, the little ones and the foreigners living with them.
Joshua read the entire Torah
Joshua remembered Moses’ instructions and God’s. As you read through the book of Joshua, you will see repeated examples of Joshua’s faith, faithfulness, and a constant realization of who was in charge.
The Sun Stands Still
At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel. Joshua 10:12-14 ESV
Moses saw God’s glory and His back. Joshua was the only man whose voice God heeded.
JOSHUA & the Commanders of the Lord’s Army
Near the end of the Book of Joshua, we see the outcome of the assignment God gave Joshua and the Commander.
Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. Joshua 21:43-45 ESV
Joshua lived to see the fulfillment of God’s promise to give Israel the Promised Land. Joshua’s life was certainly filled with struggles and victories, but in it all, his legacy was astounding. Even more astounding was the level of his faith and servanthood. He took no credit. He did not disobey.
It was enough for him to know that the Commander of the Lord’s army had come. Joshua and the Commander of the Lord’s Army had an immediate understanding. That is faith.
Your Encounter With the Commander
We have each had an encounter with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the moment we believed on the name of Jesus. Our relationship with God the Father and Son is completely open as their battle plan brought victory over the enemy of our souls. And God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us is fulfilled when the Holy Spirit takes residence inside us.
Like Joshua, we can say that we have chosen to serve God. Joshua had a unique purpose just as each of us do. Our purpose may change throughout our lives but one purpose remains – to live in a manner pleasing to God – Colossians 1:10. Our tasks will change and our encounters with the Commander of heaven and earth will bring new encouragement, hope, peace, and assurance just as it did for Joshua.
I pray that you enjoyed this and are inspired to read all of the Book of Joshua. As always, if you have questions or need help, email me:
SYBN uses verses from different Bible translations. To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit this page – Scripture Citations.
You might also enjoy reading – 8 Outstanding Lessons From the Life of Moses