Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

The Revelation of the Captain of the Lord's Army

Written by Rev. G. Hamstra
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The Lord delights in comforting His people with Himself. This is the most precious comfort to God's children. He only is their rock and their salvation. Frequently the Lord leads His own in ways and circumstances, so that from a human point of view, everything seems altogether impossible. The path may then be dark and lonely as well. Besides, questions may arise such as, "Where is the Lord now, and why does He not come to our aid in our present perplexities?" The narrative of Joshua's conquest of Jericho is a wondrous evidence of the Lord's love and faithfulness in times of special need.

Israel's wanderings through the wilderness were completed. Stationed near the border of Canaan, the Lord's chosen people were about to conquer the promised land. Surrounded by impressive walls, Jericho was the key to Palestine. This city was famous for its palm trees, dates and fruitful gardens. The fragrant and colourful roses were an additional attraction. Situated near important express-ways, the city's trade centre was second to none.

The imposing walls were the secret of Jericho's defense. Their enormous height and width made these walls insurmountable. With plentiful supplies of food and water in the city, the gates did not need to be open at any time. Jericho was invincible.

Israel's military leader was undoubtedly aware of the great difficulties he encountered. Joshua personally went to Jericho to explore the strongly fortified city. How could his army ever conquer it? In the light of the obvious impossibilities, what decisions could he make? What action could he plan? As a commander Joshua had to provide leadership. This God-fearing officer was a man of prayer, but he also had to be a man of action. What sensible solution was there to offer? None! The situation was critical. Joshua had never met with such impossibilities as these. He did not know how to proceed. He could neither go forward nor backward. His way was hedged in. Former experiences were no help at present. God had given so many gracious deliverances in the past, but where was the LORD now?

Suddenly, lifting up his eyes, the meditating Joshua saw at a certain distance a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. He approached this person and asked, Dost thou belong to us or to our enemies? Joshua received the remarkable reply, I am neither friend nor enemy, as captain of the host of the Lord [that is, the commander of the army of the angels] am I now come! Before this sentence could be completed Joshua reverently fell to the ground and interrupted with the question, What does my Lord say unto his servant?

The Angel of the Lord, the glorious Revealer of the invisible God, is the same exalted Person Who in the fullness of time came to this earth and was laid in the lowly manger of Bethlehem. Joshua was informed that his feet were standing here on holy ground. Like Moses near the burning bush, he was required to take off his shoes. This sacred Warrior with the drawn sword in His hand came to the assistance of Joshua and his people. Israel's chief army commander was wondrously comforted by the revelation of the Angel of the Lord, the Commander of the heavenly host of angels. They met face to face.

Joshua's question had all along been, how can we conquer this invincible city? The Angel of the Covenant provided the answer. Joshua did not need to proceed with warlike measures. Once each day for six days and seven times on the seventh day, the army should compass the city. During these processions, priests would bear the ark of the Lord. Seven priests would go before the ark and during the final moments blow their trumpets. When the people would hear the powerful sound of the blast of the jubilee trumpet, they should make a tremendous shout. Then the walls of Jericho would tumble down by a divine miracle.

Jericho was not to be taken by human wisdom and strength, but by faith in and obedience to Israel's God. This divine revelation and deliverance was humbling and comforting to Joshua. This servant of the Lord was deeply blessed by the revelation of the pre-incarnate Christ, Who came when He was needed most.

This precious Christ still reveals Himself by His Word and Spirit to needy sinners. They may be in impossible situations. And what impossibility from man's side is more oppressive than the impossibility of salvation? However, the Lord in His love and faithfulness comes to the helpless in their darkest night. When He comes, He opens the treasures of His grace and makes all things more than well.

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