In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Us, them. We, they. White hats, black hats. “Are you for us, or for our enemies?” “NO.” (Josh. 5:13-14)
The Passover had just happened. (Josh. 5:10) Israel remembered that the Lord had saved them from slavery 40 years earlier. The Lord had brought them into the land, crossing Jordan. (Josh. 3-4) At Passover they ate of the Land that flowed with milk and honey, and grain too. The manna stopped. (Josh. 5:11-12) They could make their own honey cakes now. God had given them a land that flowed with all the ingredients they needed. A land like Eden. But first to conquer to the land.
There under the walls of mighty Jericho Joshua met a man. A mighty man. A soldier. “Are you for us or our enemies? “ “NO. I am the commander, the prince, of the armies of the Lord. Now I have come.” (Josh. 5:13-14) What an answer. Evasive? No. This man was telling Joshua: “Your question is wrong. Am I for you and against others? NO. Do I choose one nation over another? NO. Did I choose Abraham and His offspring alone? NO. (Gen. 12:3b, 7; Gal. 3:16, 26-27, 29) I am for faith. Faith which trusts in the Lord. (Gal. 3:26-27) Abraham’s offspring are those who have his faith in the Lord’s promised salvation. (Gal. 3:29) The sword in My hand is My weapon. (2 Cor. 10:4) The sword of My Word. (Eph. 6:17) The Word which fights unbelief. (Rom. 1:16; 10:17) It blots it out. It puts it to death. It kills the old sinner in you. It cuts you to the heart (Acts 2:37), cutting out the heart of unbelief, the heart of stone and giving you a true heart which clings to My Word. (Eze. 36:26) Destroying the old and raising the new. (Deut. 32:39)
For by faith in Christ you are new. The old you of sin is gone. Dead. He took a sword through the chest. The new you of faith rises. To take the place of the old you. Who is the Lord for? Us or them? NO. He is for everyone. He died on the cross for the sins of the world. (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2) For everyone. For all. He is for faith. Salvation.
The Commander of the armies of the Lord was there. There to fight for faith. There to faith to the faithful. There to save by the faith He gave.
Who was this Commander of the armies of the Lord? It is Lord. Jesus. The 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity before taking on flesh. That’s how God appeared to Joshua without killing him. (Exod. 33:20) By taking on human form. By hiding Himself. When the Lord called Moses, the Angel of the Lord appeared in burning bush (God in human form) and said, “Take off your sandals for the place you are standing is holy ground.” (Exod. 3:5) Now to Joshua, God in human form appears, saying, “Take off your sandals for the place you are standing is holy ground.” (Josh. 5:15) What made it holy? Nothing, except the fact that the Lord is there with His salvation. What makes this place holy? Nothing, except that the Lord is here today in His Word and Sacrament for your salvation. “This place is holy for now I have come. Come to save.” (Josh. 5:14) So He lays out His plan of salvation to Joshua. (Josh. 6:1-5)
Have you ever noticed that with the Lord there is always preaching? There are always entreaties to repent? There is always a time of mercy before judgment? For He is love and mercy.
Then on 7th day--the day God rested after creating all things (Gen. 2:1-3), the day He rested after saving all things (John 19:31-34)--the Lord gave His people rest from their enemies. Gave them victory. Rest in a gracious land that provided for them.
For the Lord who led them, who commanded this, took on our flesh. He took on our sin. He was devoted by His Father to destruction upon the cross for your sake.
Repent. You and I are no different than the Jerichoans. You live for pleasure. You sacrifice what is good and godly—family, children, contentment—to get ahead. To be successful. Our culture is just like that of the Canaanites: worshipping sex and sacrificing our kids on the altar of material wealth and sensual pleasure. We’re all part of it. It's not us against them because we're all in the same boat. No, it's the Lord for all. For the Lord has come. He has come to fight for faith. To save you from yourself, your sin. To save your children alive. To give them His life and His love. To bring you to your promised land of heaven. To a mighty city whose foundations have been laid at cost of His own firstborn Son. Who by His death has become the gate by which you enter that city. (John 10:9; Rev. 14:13)
The Lord is not for you and against everyone else. He is for faith. The weapons of His warfare are not of flesh and blood. (2 Cor. 10:4) For He does not fight against flesh and blood, but against the forces of spiritual darkness. (Eph. 6:12) And He has won the victory disarming sin, Satan, & death by devoting Himself to destruction for your sin. And He has given the eternal life of faith to you in Himself.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON