Today, we’re looking at the book of Joshua as he brings the children of Israel into the Promised Land. For those who are interested can follow along in their Bibles in Joshua 5:13-6:2. I am going to be giving some of the details, but like in many other cases, the more familiar you are with the background story, the more you’ll get out of it. Consider that an example to be in your Bibles more.
The basic background is that this is the generation that was wandering in the wilderness for the forty years. When Joshua brings them to the Promised Land and they cross the Jordan, they haven’t been circumcised yet and seeing as this is the sign of the covenant between Israel and God, they must have all the men circumcised.
Naturally, this would be a time they’d have to wait and rest. If you remember in the book of Genesis, Simeon and Levi tricked a whole town this way by telling them that all their men needed to be circumcised. Then, while all the men were in recovery (And we men can certainly imagine that’d be a LOT of recovery), Simeon and Levi came in and killed everyone in the town.
Now that everyone has been entered into the covenant, they’re ready to proceed to Jericho and start the conquest. On their way though, Joshua looks and sees that there is a man standing before them. At this point, let us go to the text itself. Joshua 5:13 will give our introduction.
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
Joshua at first does not know who this man is so he seeks to go and ask whose side he’s on. The man answers him.
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
Joshua immediately understands who the man is. This is again the Angel of the Lord figure. Joshua’s reply is one that is worship and asks what message the Lord has for his servant, realizing the Lord has come to help them win their first battle.
The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
The next verse further demonstrates the thesis. Joshua surely knew that his predecessor had been asked to take off his sandals for he was on holy ground and this was when he was standing before the one who proclaimed himself as “I AM.” (Which gives great impetus to the belief that that’s who Joshua is before now.)
1 Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
2 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.
The next two verses continue the pattern we’ve seen. The figure is introudced as someone distinct from God, but at the same time being treated as fully God. A Trinitarian can explain this as this is one person in the Godhead showing a distinction between another person in the Godhead.
It’s my hopes that this isn’t seeming pedantic, but I want many of my readers to see this rich legacy to the Trinity that is in their Old Testament. We often quickly go to the New Testament to show the Trinity. The truth is, we need to spend some time in the Old Testament as well.