“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?’”
Jericho is one of the greatest military victories of all time. A group of relatively untempered wanderers, enters into a new land, defeats the most secure city in the area with loud shouts and ram’s horns. Never, in the history of warfare, have their tactics been repeated. No training camps have ever been set up, teaching soldiers how to play musical instruments, and expose themselves to their enemies day after day. That being said, there are spiritual principles that led to Israel’s success. These same principles will lead us to success in our walk with the Lord, and service for His Kingdom. Back in chapter five, three things guaranteed their victory.
First, upon entering the land, God required the men to be circumcised (Joshua 5:2). Circumcision is an operation on a very sensitive part of the body, with the purpose of removing the flesh. Circumcision was considered to be the sign of Israel’s covenant with the Lord. In the New Testament, the word ‘flesh’ is used to speak of our sinful desires. Before any real victory can be accomplished for the Lord, we must allow Him to cut away the flesh. Those things in our lives that are not pleasing to the Lord must go if we are going to live in victory.
Second, once they healed from their operation, they celebrated the Passover (Joshua 5:10). It was a reminder of God’s deliverance from Epypt, and points forward to the work of Christ on the cross. While celebrating, God stopped the manna that He had provided for the past forty years (5:12). Though I am sure the people had grown quite tired of manna, they had also grown accustomed to it. Every day they went outside their tents and their provision was there for the taking. Now, as they are about to embark on a military campaign, God stops their food source. Simply put, in order to be victorious they must learn to rely upon the Lord.
Finally, the wounds from the operation have healed, the manna ceased, Joshua begins to survey Jericho. As he stands back, observing the city, trying to determine the best approach, he encounters a Man with a sword drawn (Joshua 5:13). It is obvious from the text, this is more than a man; it is in fact, the Angel of the Lord, or Christ Himself. Joshua approaches, and asks the question all of us might have asked, “are you for us or against us.” The Lord’s answer is quite striking. He declares “No!” Jesus is making it clear, He is not there to help make Joshua a better Joshua, He is there to be Master and Commander. The secret to success in our walk with the Lord, comes down to allowing Jesus to have His rightful place as King of our lives. As long as we are fighting with Him for control or authority, we will find our Christian life frustrating and unsuccessful. It is high time we surrender all.