“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?”
God’s people had waited for centuries for this moment. God miraculously divided the waters, and Joshua led the people across the Jordan River and into Canaan. They would soon face their first military challenge – the city of Jericho. The Scripture describes an encounter Joshua had just outside of Jericho. A man with a drawn sword appeared to Joshua. Joshua inquired of His identity and purpose, saying, “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?” Was this armed stranger a friend or foe? The visitor replied, “Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come” (Joshua 5:14).
Though initially troubling, this turned out to be such an encouraging moment for Joshua. God sent divine assistance to His people and their leader. The visitor, the Commander in Chief of the Lord’s army, was not an angelic being. If He had been so, He would not have received Joshua’s worship. This was a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of God – the eternal Word – manifested Himself to Joshua as the Captain of the host of the Lord. The Lord was available and ready to defend His people and demonstrate His power. Joshua “fell on his face” (Joshua 5:14) and asked his Captain what he was to do. Joshua was commanded to “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy” (Joshua 5:15). Joshua did as he was instructed, and worshiped his Lord. He could go into battle knowing that as he led God’s people, the Captain was near.
What a great thing it is to know that our Captain is near! We are never alone when we are engaged in spiritual service for our Lord. Although we do not see Him or audibly hear Him, our Savior is by our side. His promise is still true, “lo, I am with you alway” (Matthew 28:20). He is the source of our triumph, and we are more than conquerors as He leads in battle and brings forth victory. By faith, we can go forth with confidence, knowing that there is an unseen hand that is present, armed, and completely committed to our defense and help.