Joshua 5

Joshua 5

Joshua 5 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

There was a series of events that the Lord required of Joshua prior to conquering Jericho. Joshua completed these duties (circumcision and First Passover) and was now waiting on the Lord. For whatever reason (we are not told why) he was stationed by Jericho. Was he overlooking the land, Was he waiting on a revelation? Was he in prayer? We don’t know. But what we do know is, he was waiting for the next step. The divine manifestation was about to take place.

Joshua was about to come face to face with the commander of the Lord’s army. There is some speculation by commentators that this person was Jesus. As compared to the manifestations of this being in Old Testament history, it’s certainly possible that it was. One interesting detail about this encounter is that in Joshua 6:2 this victory is attributed to this supernatural appearance and the name given is Jehovah.

The LORD said to Joshua, “Look, I have handed Jericho, its king, and its fighting men over to you.

Joshua 6:2 HCSB

If “the LORD” spoken of in Chapter 6 is a continuation of the conversation with the Commander of the Lord’s Army at the end of Chapter 5, then we have our answer. It certainly would be “God in the flesh,” our Savior Jesus Christ!

Unanswered Questions

But let’s dig deeper into this interaction between Joshua and the Commander of the Lord’s Army here in Joshua 5. It strikes me as a strange interaction. Joshua asks a question and that question goes unanwered, yet, the scene ends with worship and obedience by Joshua. Did you catch that?

Joshua is alarmed. There is a man standing in front of him and his presence is a mystery. We are told Joshua simply looks up and there he is. Surprise! But that’s not all. He’s standing there with a sword in hand. And the sword is drawn. Double surprise! Random man with sword drawn! Naturally, Joshua is startled. He wants to know if this random man has a purpose or agenda.

In other words, “Since you are standing in front of me with your sword drawn, would you mind telling me if you are for me or against me?!” It seems like a logical question, however, Joshua doesn’t get a logical answer. He gets shot down. “Neither,” the man replies. Neither? Really? That seems like an important question, right?

This should bring pause. This Commander states he has been sent by God and Joshua knows that the Lord is trustworthy. The current situation does not call for questions, but for worship and obedience. In fact, God is not in the business of answering all our questions. Just think back to the life of Job and all the unanswered questions of his life!

Imagine if Joshua would have said no. Imagine if he would have refused to cooperate until his questions were answered. What kind of trust would that demonstrate? What kind of faith (or lack thereof) would that reveal? I am convicted by this. I often want God to answer my questions. Instead of humbling serving Him, I would rather Him let me in on all the details first. Joshua’s example is one that should speak to all of us.

“The stranger did not respond to Joshua’s question, but instead identified Himself. He was the Commander of the army of the LORD. This elicited a response of humble worship from Joshua. Rather than any further questions about this Man’s loyalties, Joshua asked how he could serve this One greater than him: What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Nelson’s New Illustrated Commentary

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