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.” Then Joshua fell with his face toward the earth and bowed down, and said to him, “What does my Lord have to say to his servant?” The captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
This is the familiar story of Joshua, the great military leader of Israel as they entered the Promised Land. God instructed Joshua as to how He wanted the land cleansed of the people corrupted with Satan's seed. Joshua was obedient and understood that the victory in each battle belonged to God. In that manner there are some interesting comparisons to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
To begin, they share the same Hebrew name. The English name "Joshua" is a rendering of the Hebrew name "Yehoshua", meaning "Yahweh is salvation". "Jesus" is the English translation of the Greek transliteration of "Yehoshua" via Latin, also known as "Yeshua". Both Jesus and Joshua share the same role as leader of Israel; both having the same mission of bringing peace through obedience to God, and having the same number of appointed men (twelve). But it is their mutual identification as military commander and warrior for Israel that has become lost through the ages.
Today, most Christians can relate to the Jesus of Christmas, and identify Him as the One whom the angels declared would bring "peace on earth and goodwill toward men." We recognize Him as being full of justice, mercy, and peace. But how many understand that this same Jesus must turn into the Yeshua of Armageddon in order to bring that peace? How many can admit that He is returning in His role as Commander of God's Army in order to wipe sin off the planet?
We are so used to the advertising approach of presenting who Jesus is --- accentuate the good vision, and minimize what we perceive to be the bad image. It's as if God's Gospel message doesn't include His Judgment right alongside His Mercy; as if this Gospel of Judgment is offensive to those who see Him only as Love.
If you are mindful of the times in which we live, you will recognize Who is speaking to Joshua in today's Scripture. First of all, He tells Joshua to remove his sandals because it is holy ground. The Bible does not state who the person is, though we are presented with one hint: Joshua fell down and worshiped him without rebuke. We know that men are not to be worshiped (Acts 10:25-26) and neither are angels (Revelation 22:8-9). Thus we must conclude that the person was divine, that is, a part of the Godhead. And remember, the ground was made holy -- something usually only associated with God.
Also, this Being is the same One who said to His disciples, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." What did He mean by that? It must be taken in context. Read the Scripture before and after this controversial statement. It all has to do with Obedience and Faith. We all recognize that the "Sword" of the Spirit is the Word of God; and Jesus is the Word. The Word of God is the Sword that will divide those who believe in Him and are willing to follow Him (even unto death), from those who deny Him.
Yes, He came the first time to bring Peace; the peace that comes from the assurance that God would provide a way to be delivered from our sin. But for those who do not accept that way, He is returning in righteous anger as the Commander of God's holy army. How easily we recognize Jesus in Revelation 19:11: "Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war." Why is it so difficult to recognize Him as this same Being in the Old Testament? Does not Scripture tell us that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow? But then the Enemy has done a good job in convincing man that there is a huge barrier between the Old Testament and New Testament; that Jesus doesn't appear until Matthew. Nothing could be further from the truth! He appears all throughout the Old Testament. He is the Angel of the Lord, and He is the Commander of the army of the Lord, just as much here in Joshua as in Revelation.
The bottom line is this ... Jesus is not a Pacifist! No matter how many paintings or movies you see showing Him as the loving carpenter holding a sheep, we must never forget that He is a Warrior. He always has been, and always be until we recognize Him as Judge. That is made quite clear in Hebrews 4:12: "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." In its simplest understanding, that verse tells us that the word of God (Jesus) judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Just as He extends His love and mercy to those who believe in Him, He will bestow His judgment on those who refuse Him. He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. He will be returning at the head of God's holy army; returning with a sword of division between belief and unbelief. Praise the Lord! The day on which we will witness our Warrior King is close at hand.
Keep in mind that this evening at sundown begins God's Feast of Trumpets. It is a future day upon which we will hear the trumpets of heaven announcing the approach of our Warrior King. Praise Him and Glorify Him!