13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord‘s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
“Now I have come.”
These are the awe inspiring words of the angelic commander of the Lord’s army spoken to Joshua. And they are his same words spoken to us today. Now I have come. I have come to fight for you holiness.
Advents always require a battle. The Israelites were about to face a battle at Jericho. And you are about to face a battle for holiness. If you don’t think you’re in a battle as you wait for Christ to return, then you’re not paying attention to what’s going on around you spiritually. But as Joshua prepares for his first big battle against Jericho, God offers him the greatest of assurances – his own holy presence. Now I have come. An angelic advent.
This is obviously no ordinary angel. He identifies himself as the commander of the army of Yahweh. He receives Joshua’s worship, and, like Moses at the burning bush, declares the ground around him to be holy – Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy. It’s pretty clear that this Angel is God himself. The pre-incarnate Christ.
And so Joshua bows in worship. The commander of Israel’s army humbles himself before the holiness of the commander of Yahweh’s army. And this kind of worship is always the desired result of the battle. The war God is fighting for humanity is a worship war. The battle for our holiness is a battle for our worship, as we stop worshiping the false gods we have created and instead worship the God of the universe, our creator, savior, and king.
And notice the strange response of the Angel to Joshua’s question – Are you for us or for our adversaries? The Angel’s answer is simply No… but I am here.
Jesus is not on any one person’s or one nation’s side. Jesus is on the side of God. God is on God’s side. The Trinity is for the Trinity. And so when it comes to humanity, God is on everyone’s side. Because all of humanity has a worship problem. A holiness defect.
And that’s why one day the commander of the army of the Lord would declare now I have come again. Not as a man with a drawn sword, but as a babe in a manger. Not for a physical war against human enemies. But for a spiritual war against humanity’s true spiritual enemies. A battle fought not with a sword, but with the nails of the cross. A war fought with the weapon of love. A violent love that would win the battle that Joshua never could.
- Are you actively aware of the battle for holiness in your life?
- How does knowing that the commander of Yahweh’s army is joined to your life encourage you in this ongoing battle for holiness and love?