Joshua
Introduction 1 The Fear of the Kings 2-9 The Circumcision at Gilgal 10-11 The Passover 12 The Manna Ceases 13-15 The Captain
Introduction

Now that the people have come into the promised land, the first task Joshua is given for them is to circumcise them. Circumcision speaks of the judgment of the flesh (Col 2:1111and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;). For us this means that we must apply death to our own flesh, that is to say that we must consider ourselves dead for it (Rom 6:1111Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.). In this way the reproach of Egypt – a picture of the world where the flesh finds its food – is have rolled away.

The power to overcome is found in the food of the land. After they have celebrated the Passover, they eat of it. This food represents the Lord Jesus. By seeing Him in glory we are changed in His image: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2Cor 3:1818But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.). This gives us strength for struggle.

The Lord Jesus is not only the food, He is also the Captain in the battle. The respect that Joshua pays to Him fits us (verses 14-1514He 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?”15The 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.).

In this chapter we see four important events in preparation for the conquest of the country:
1. The circumcision as a picture of the judgment over the flesh (verses 2-92At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.”3So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.4This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt.5For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised.6For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, [that is], the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the LORD, to whom the LORD had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.7Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way.8Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed.9Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.).
2. The celebration of the Passover as a picture of salvation by the Lamb of God (verse 1010While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho.).
3. The feeding on the roasted grain as a picture of feeding on a heavenly Christ (verses 11-1211On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched [grain].12The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.).
4. join the “captain of the LORD’s host” as a picture of placing oneself under the authority of Christ (verses 13-1513Now 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?”14He 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?”15The 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.).


The Fear of the Kings

1Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who [were] beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who [were] by the sea, heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.

The peoples of the land are impressed by what has been happening at and with the Jordan. With the people of God, and with people like Rahab, God’s power works reverent fear. Among the Gentiles, the power of God is also the cause of fear. This is not a respectful fear, however, but a hateful shudder. It does not process inner reversal and surrender, but resistance. What God has done deprives the peoples of the courage to attack God’s people. They withdraw to their fortified cities to resist.


The Circumcision at Gilgal

2At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” 3So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. 4This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. 5For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, [that is], the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the LORD, to whom the LORD had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way. 8Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.

After the announcement that there is no more courage among the enemies (verse 11Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who [were] beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who [were] by the sea, heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.), this is the ideal opportunity to attack. God determines, however, that this is the opportunity to circumcise the people (verse 22At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.”). The task of circumcising the people means that the people become totally incapable of fighting. The people will be so powerless for a few days as a result of the circumcision that they will not be able to defend themselves against a possible attack (cf. Gen 34:24-2624All who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and to his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.25Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares, and killed every male.26They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth.). But God never rushes. He knows what He does and arranges everything for the benefit of His people.

The conquest of the land begins with the lesson of Gilgal. In the circumcision they learn that there is no power in themselves. Spiritually applied this means that each of us must learn personally “that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom 7:18a18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good [is] not.). The people must return to Gilgal after every struggle to learn that lesson again and again as a starting point for the next struggle. The place of action is called “Gibeath-haaraloth”, that means “the Hill of the foreskins”. By this name, this hill will forever be linked to Gilgal as the place where the circumcision took place.

The circumcision must be carried out with “flint knives”. Flint is a material that is not manufactured by human hands. God makes it available. A knife is an instrument with which something is cut away in this case. The flint knife indicates God’s judgment on the sinful nature of man. God used “the knife” when He made Christ to be sin and thus judged sin in the flesh: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God [did]: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and [as an offering] for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:33For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God [did]: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and [as an offering] for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,; cf. Zec 13:77“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
And against the man, My Associate,”
Declares the LORD of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered;
And I will turn My hand against the little ones.
).

We use the knife when we judge every expression of the flesh in us, that is to say, we do not give in to it and ignore it: “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to [literally: put to death the members which are upon the earth:] immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Col 3:55Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.). This means that we immediately judge every impulse of the flesh that wants to incite us to sin and think of what happened to us in the death of Christ, that we died with Him.

Gilgal has five characteristics:
1. There stands the memorial of the twelve stones from the Jordan: the memorial means that there is a constant memory of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
2. It is the place of circumcision: death must be applied to our flesh and its works.
3. The Pascha is being celebrated there in a totally new way. It is the first Passover in the land: when we remember the death of the Lord Jesus, we may think of all the blessings He has given us on the basis of His work.
4. In Gilgal God gives a completely new food after the circumcision, the fruit of the land: we may enjoy what has been given us in blessings.
5. In Gilgal we meet “the captain of the LORD’s hosts”: in the struggle we must fight to enjoy the blessings, He goes ahead of us. That’s why victory is certain.

Joshua is ordered to circumcise the people for the second time. The meaning of circumcision is found in the New Testament. The Old Testament does not give the doctrine, but the examples of how we can live our lives of faith and enjoy what we have received in Christ. The teaching of Paul’s letters makes clear what the significance of circumcision is for us. We mainly read about this in the letter to the Romans and in the letter to the Colossians. The letter to the Colossians brings the believer in the spiritual sense from Egypt into Canaan. In that letter we spiritually come to Gilgal.

The key verses can be found in Colossians 2. There we read that in Christ there is all fullness and that the believer has come to fullness in Him: “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority” (Col 2:9-109For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,10and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority,). This is the position of every believer from the moment he has come to conversion and faith. At that moment he was ‘circumcised’, that is to say, at the moment of his conversion and faith, the judgment that God carried out over Christ in his place and for his sins, that judgment has been attributed to him.

But after forty years, a new circumcision comes. Joshua is ordered to circumcise the Israelites “the second time”. That teaches us the following. You may know you are in a certain position, but that’s not the same as putting it into practice. Paul says to the Philippians: “We are the circumcision” (Phil 3:33for we are the [true] circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,). This shows that for us it is not an external circumcision, but an internal circumcision, a circumcision of the heart.

He says it in the letter to the Romans as follows: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God” (Rom 2:28-2928For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.29But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.). This must be fulfilled by judging every working of the flesh that arises in us (Col 3:55Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.).

The circumcision is carried out to a new people. The whole old generation is perished (verse 66For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, [that is], the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the LORD, to whom the LORD had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.). A whole new generation, that of sons, has entered the land. God calls Israel “My son” (Exo 4:2222Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Israel is My son, My firstborn.). It is a new generation of sons with new exercises. They are being circumcised. There is also an application to the future of the people, when the whole people receive a new heart within them (Deu 30:66“Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.; Eze 36:26-2726Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.27I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.).

When the people have been circumcised, the reproach of Egypt has been rolled away. The reproach of Egypt has been on them for the whole wilderness journey. Egypt is marked by wisdom. But worldly, human wisdom cannot help us to know how to live. This is the danger to which Colossians are exposed. They are sensitive to the wisdom that opposes Christ. That is a wisdom by which Christ is removed from the hearts. They are warned not to be prey to that false wisdom (Col 2:8a8See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.).

Everything that is of the world must be turned away from us. There is talk of ‘rolling away’, as if it were a heavy weight that lies on us and that keeps us subject to the world. Taking away the things from the world can hurt if we cut them away, because they have become a part of us. It will take some time before we are recovered. The sooner we radically deal with sin, the shorter the recovery time will have to take.


The Passover

10While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. 11On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched [grain].

What will certainly soothe the pain is the thought of the Passover lamb, which was the cause of their liberation from Egypt. It speaks of the Lord Jesus and the judgment that came on Him to free us from the power of sin and from the judgment of God. Therefore, after circumcision, the Passover can be celebrated, for how could an uncircumcised people celebrate the Passover? That is impossible. So it is impossible to celebrate the Lord’s Supper without self-judgment (1Cor 11:2828But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.).

The Passover is celebrated here for the first time in the land, after the people celebrated it in Egypt (Exo 12:1-141Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,2“This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.3Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household.4Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons [in them]; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.5Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.6You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.7Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.8They shall eat the flesh that [same] night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, [both] its head and its legs along with its entrails.10And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.11Now you shall eat it in this manner: [with] your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the LORD’S Passover.12For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment—I am the LORD.13The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy [you] when I strike the land of Egypt.14‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it [as] a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it [as] a permanent ordinance.) and in the wilderness (Num 9:1-51Thus the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying,2“Now, let the sons of Israel observe the Passover at its appointed time.3On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall observe it at its appointed time; you shall observe it according to all its statutes and according to all its ordinances.”4So Moses told the sons of Israel to observe the Passover.5They observed the Passover in the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses, so the sons of Israel did.). They do it just before the walls of Jericho. The LORD “prepares a table” for His people “in the presence” of their “enemies” (Psa 23:5a5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
).

Blood is applied only once, in Egypt (Exo 12:77Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.), but the memory of the liberation from the judgment of God is celebrated each year. We can celebrate the Passover every first day of the week in celebrating the Lord’s Supper. The more we do it, the more precious the blood will become for us. Without the blood there is no salvation, no wilderness journey, and no entry into the land. Both the letter to the Ephesians and the letter to the Colossians, who present the highest Christian blessings to us, speak of blood and the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:77In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace; Col 1:1414in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.). We must never forget the blood of the Lamb. We owe all the blessings to the blood.

After the Passover the Feast of unleavened bread begins, which lasts seven days (Exo 12:15-2015Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.16On the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and [another] holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you.17You shall also observe the [Feast of] Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance.18In the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.19Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether [he is] an alien or a native of the land.20You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’”). This speaks of a whole life – the number ‘seven’ speaks of a completeness, in this case of a complete period – without malice and wickedness: “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are [in fact] unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1Cor 5:7-87Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are [in fact] unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.8Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.). When we have celebrated the Lord’s Supper, it will have an effect in the following week. At the same time, that week is a preparation for the next Lord’s Supper.

On the day after the Passover, the people eat from the proceeds of the land. It is also the day on which the first sheaf from the barley harvest is brought. That speaks of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He is the Firstborn of the dead. In connection therewith the people may eat from the proceeds of the land. Through His resurrection we can enjoy all spiritual blessings. But we will never forget that we owe everything to the judgment that He wanted to undergo for it. We see this in the roasting (Darby translation) of the fruit of the land, i.e. the fruit is exposed to the fire.

The fruit of the land, barley and wheat, symbolically represents the Lord Jesus. He is the bread of life (Jn 6:3333For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”). The Passover speaks of His death, but He was raised on the first day of the week, on the day of bringing the first fruits of barley. That is why John 6 also begins with barley loaves (Jn 6:99“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”). To this the Lord Jesus connects His teaching about Himself as the bread of life. Whoever eats Him (Jn 6:48-5848I am the bread of life.49Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.50This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.51I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”52Then the Jews [began] to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us [His] flesh to eat?”53So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.54He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.55For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.56He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.57As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.58This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”) has eternal life, that is to say, gets Him as his life, for “He is the true God and eternal life” (1Jn 5:20b20And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.). Eating Him means appropriating Him in faith in the recognition that life is only given by Him.

The Lord Jesus speaks of Himself as the grain of wheat and the fruit thereof when the grain of wheat dies (Jn 12:2424Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.). The wheat comes later than the barley (Exo 9:31-3231(Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud.32But the wheat and the spelt were not ruined, for they [ripen] late.)). The barley speaks of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The wheat speaks of his death, his resurrection, and the fruit of his death. We are, as it were, seven weeks further. We see a glorified Lord, while we see ourselves in the many fruits, as is also represented in the two wave breads (Lev 23:15-1715‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths.16You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.17You shall bring in from your dwelling places two [loaves] of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths [of an ephah]; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD.).


The Manna Ceases

12The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.

Eating the fruit of the land is not the same as eating the manna, the food in the wilderness. The manna represents the Lord Jesus, but in His life on earth. Every day we need the manna for our earthly journey. We eat that manna when we read the Gospels, for example. There we see the life of the Lord Jesus in humiliation on earth. By feeding ourselves with Him in this way we get His features. But for knowing the heavenly blessings we must concern ourselves with Him as Man in heaven. That is proposed in eating the yield of the land. We do this when we read about Him in the letters, especially Paul’s, in connection with the place He now occupies in heaven.

God gives in His providence the manna for as long as it is necessary. He has even given it when the people once show their aversion to it (Num 11:66but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”). The fact that the people have been able to pick up the bread from heaven every morning and feed themselves with it has been a daily recurring miracle. God works miracles as long as it is needed. This also indicates that miracles are temporary. If there are ‘normal’ facilities, the miracles stop. There is no claim to be made on the progress of God’s extraordinary actions.


The Captain

13Now 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?” 14He 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?” 15The 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.

It seems that Joshua went to Jericho to measure the resistance. He has not yet been commanded to attack the city. He may have discussed how this extremely strong city should be captured. He is a military man, but he has never moved up against a fortified city. Absorbed in thoughts he lifts up his eyes and to his surprise discovers the Man with the drawn sword. He does not recognize Him, as is later the case with Gideon (Jdg 6:11-2211Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save [it] from the Midianites.12The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.”13Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”14The LORD looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?”15He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”16But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”17So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.18Please do not depart from here, until I come [back] to You, and bring out my offering and lay it before You.” And He said, “I will remain until you return.”19Then Gideon went in and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour; he put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, and brought [them] out to him under the oak and presented [them].20The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so.21Then the angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.22When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the LORD, he said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.”) and Manoah (Jdg 13:11-2111Then Manoah arose and followed his wife, and when he came to the man he said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to the woman?” And he said, “I am.”12Manoah said, “Now when your words come [to pass], what shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation?”13So the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Let the woman pay attention to all that I said.14She should not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; let her observe all that I commanded.”15Then Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “Please let us detain you so that we may prepare a young goat for you.”16The angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Though you detain me, I will not eat your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering, [then] offer it to the LORD.” For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD.17Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that when your words come [to pass], we may honor you?”18But the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?”19So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering and offered it on the rock to the LORD, and He performed wonders while Manoah and his wife looked on.20For it came about when the flame went up from the altar toward heaven, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. When Manoah and his wife saw [this], they fell on their faces to the ground.21Now the angel of the LORD did not appear to Manoah or his wife again. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD.), but not with Abraham who does recognize Him (Gen 18:1-31Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.2When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw [them], he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth,3and said, “My LORD, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by.).

Once we have taken in the previous events, we can, after using the flint knife (verse 22At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.”), meet the Man with the sword. So we see Him with Balaam. There He is ready to kill him if he should drive on (Num 22:2323When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, the donkey turned off from the way and went into the field; but Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back into the way.). Also at Jerusalem He is ready with the sword to destroy it (1Chr 21:1616Then David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, covered with sackcloth, fell on their faces.). Here He goes out ahead of the army. He has come “now” and not a moment before. His coming is announced (Exo 23:2323For My angel will go before you and bring you in to [the land of] the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them.) and now He has come and takes over the guidance.

His presence makes every place where He stands a holy place (cf. Gen 28:16-1716Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”17He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”). Thus He says to Moses that when it comes to a people in misery that is about to be freed (Exo 3:55Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”). Here it is about a liberated people that is about to conquer the land.

The presence of the LORD as “the captain of the LORD’s hosts” requires as much holiness and reverence as in His coming down to redeem His people. As He is when He comes down to participate in the oppression of His people – He appears in the burning bush which is a picture of it – so He is also when He stands among His people to bless them and lead them in struggle. The hosts of the LORD are his earthly people, but it is also the angelic power which he commands (Gen 32:1-21Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him.2Jacob said when he saw them, “This is God’s camp.” So he named that place Mahanaim.; 2Kgs 6:1717Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.; Mt 26:5353Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?; Heb 1:7,147And of the angels He says, “Who makes His angels winds, And His ministers a flame of fire.”14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?).

We too need spiritual preparation to be able to fight the spiritual struggle. The spiritual preparation we have in Ephesians 1-5. This also includes that the relationships between man and wife, parents and children, employer and employee mentioned in Ephesians 5, are in order. Then the struggle according to the directions of Ephesians 6 can be fought effectively. The struggle fought in the heavenly battle is a holy struggle.

Joshua’s mind is that of submission and obedience. He asks respectfully what the LORD has to say to him. When the LORD does so, Joshua obeys immediately. This is the right attitude to receive further communications about the struggle to be fought.


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