“And Joshua went unto Him, and said unto Him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my LORD unto his servant?” (Joshua 5:13,14).
The Israelites had come to a place of testing. Behind them the Jordan was at flood stage, preventing any retreat. In front of them was the walled city of Jericho with its imposing defensive systems which prevented any advance. Joshua’s task was to get the nation of Israel ready, and to wait. They were delayed in order to be obedient to the commands which had been forgotten during the forty years in the wilderness (vs.5–12). God will not fight His battles with unclean vessels. God prepares His soldiers not only outwardly and physically, but also inwardly and spiritually (Colossians 2:11,12). Paul tells us that we must be circumcised in the heart, not by hands, but by the Spirit (Romans 2:28,29). Obedience is one’s preparation for any service to God.
After their preparation, Joshua, the commander-in-chief, saw a man dressed for battle. He saw only two possibilities, and confronted the man with a question: “Whose side are you on, ours or theirs?” Notice the answer: “Neither; I am here to take over.” The warrior, as we see in Joshua 6:2, is the Lord Himself. He essentially says to Joshua, “I am not on your side; I am here to take you on my side.” In response, Joshua surrendered his position of authority. “And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship.” Next, Joshua sought His instructions: “what saith my LORD unto His servant?” Lastly, Joshua submitted to His orders (5:15).
There is no neutrality in the spiritual battle led by Jesus, commander of the Lord’s host. “He that is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30). We can be sure God is on our side only when we have made sure that we are on His side. RBB