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Joshua 5 is a chapter of preparation. In vv.1-9 we see the nations in the paths of God’s people preparing for battle (v.1) and we see Joshua circumsising the sons of Israel a second time. A terrible decision from a military-readiness perspective, but the people were to show faith and trust in God over their own ideas of how to prepare for battle.
As the preparation continues the people kept the passover (v.10). As they are doing so, God’s provision shifts from manna to the produce of the land. God will always provide for His people, but the method certainly changes from time to time.
Then, perhaps the most important piece of preparation. Joshua sees an armed man near camp (v.13). Taking his responsibility as leader seriously, Joshua approaches the man and asks whether he is, simply, friend or foe. The man replies with a confusing answer: “No”. He tells Joshua he is the commander of the army of the Lord. Joshua falls down to worship the man, and the man doesn’t stop him from doing so.
Angels never receive worship (Revelation 22.8-9), and the man goes on to say that the place where you are standing is holy. This is almost word-for-word what we see in Exodus 3.4-6, and this leads us to believe that the man is God Himself, God in the person of Jesus.
Before the battle was undertaken, before plans were drawn up, before anything was done to step into the promises of God given to His people, Joshua and the people had to learn to submit and commit to God Himself: “Take off your sandals…”…And Joshua did so”.
The same is true for you and for me.
Before any challenges are overcome, before we plot a course through life with God at our side, before we step into the promises that God has given us, we must learn to commit to God Himself. We must take Him at His Word, trust that He will guide and provide, and, as Joshua did here, encounter God in the person of Jesus.