Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us or for our adversaries?’ He said, ‘No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, ‘What has my lord to say to his servant?’ The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, ‘Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so” (Joshua 5:13-15).
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (II Corinthians 2:14).
On the eve of the battle of Jericho, Joshua found himself face to face with a stranger. The man stood opposite Joshua with a sword drawn in his hand. The captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” Do those words sound familiar?
Let’s look back to an encounter that Moses, Joshua’s predecessor, had with a burning bush. “So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground’ “ (Exodus 3:3-5).
In both instances, the servant of the Lord was instructed to take off their sandals; they were standing on holy ground. This phrase suggests that the captain of the Lord’s army whom Joshua met was indeed a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. We don’t know all that the Lord may have had for Joshua, but I believe it had something to do with preparing Joshua for the battle of Jericho which immediately follows in the text. Maybe Jesus was reassuring Joshua that the battle belonged to the Lord.
Our battle also belongs to the Lord and just as in Joshua’s day, the promise to us is victory in the final battle. “ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:55-57).
Jesus was present at the battle of Jericho, because Jesus was there from the beginning!