THE CAPTIAN IS OUR CAPTIAN
Joshua was by Jericho, the pagan stronghold at the entrance – the doorway so to speak – into the land promised by God to the Israelite nation, and was replaying in his mind their recent experience of crossing the Jordan River on dry land, for the LORD had stopped the waters of the river He was pondering all the LORD had spoken to him, “he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand.” (Joshua 5:13) Joshua, having received instruction from the LORD and from Moses (Deuteronomy 3:28; Joshua 4:10), realized that to get into the Promised Land they must first contend with this great fortified city. When asked if He was for the Israelites or for their adversaries, the Man replied, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” (Joshua 5:14) Joshua quickly identified himself and his people as belonging to the LORD, for he “fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’” (Joshua 5:14) The first command was for Joshua to take off his sandals, “for the place where you [Joshua] stand is holy.” (Joshua 5:15) The first command was to worship the Lord God as His servant.
Here was a land promised by God to his people, those who had said they would serve Him. But here was also a great pagan city blocking their free entrance into their promised home. A city great in strength and number and reputation, yet we learned earlier in Joshua 2 that they had shut themselves in for fear of the Israelites. No one went into the city, neither came out of the city. The enemy was sitting in a stronghold, hindering the Israelites’ way to promised freedom in the LORD while keeping its sinful citizens trapped within its walls – a pawn of Satan who ever works to hinder the people of God, to keep them from being all God has for them to be. A mere mortal alone could never overcome such a strong city, such a work of Satan as this. Defeating an enemy of this magnitude would require heavenly intervention. And so, the Commander of the host, Lord Sabaoth is His name, comes from heaven on high to destroy the works of this city and to destroy the work of Satan who plots to keep God’s people from living in His promises. The battle and the victory are the Commander’s, the city is destroyed, the door to the Promised Land opened. And now the tribes of Israel are recognized by the surrounding kingdoms as the army/people of God.
Now fast forward many centuries from that time, in the same land but a different city. This city called the House of Bread – Bethlehem, a small city where the Shepherd King David had grown up so long ago. A city which had received a promise God gave through the mouth of the prophet Micah. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah5:2). Many around the world now know this story of the Baby Jesus born in Bethlehem under the light of a new star. How curious that an angel announced His birth to the shepherds of Bethlehem, the shepherds who attended the birth of and watched over the first born lambs set apart for the daily God-ordained sin sacrifice and for the Passover sacrifice observed every year by the Jews, their recognized identity now being as people of Judah – which just happened to be the tribe from which the Messiah was prophesied to come.
Not only one angel announced the birth of this child Jesus, but “suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God…” (Luke 2:13) Why? Why the heavenly host, the army of the LORD? Could it be they were hailing this helpless looking child as their Commander who was again stepping into the world to defeat the works of Satan? To break through the great enemy’s stronghold set up before the people to hinder their way to promised freedom in the LORD? What could the Commander possibly do as a baby?
The battle truly was intense from the beginning, from His entering the world by way of a virgin’s womb. The enemy, Satan, was building strongholds of sin in every people, including the Jews. In this sin, no Jew could hope to receive entrance into God’s heaven, into a home where he may be free to live in God always. This baby, mysteriously God dwelling in flesh, grew into a man, one without any taint of sin, for evil cannot abide with the Lord. (Psalm 5:4) While walking about as a man, He showed great power over creation, both physical and spiritual. He went to the frontline of battle, facing the enemy of mankind, to offer the sacrifice of His life as a ransom for many. The enemy was hoping for a victory at the death of this Man. But the Commander had one more strategic move to make, He arose from the grave!
In paying the required price for sin – “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) – He obtained forgiveness from that debt for all who identify themselves as His and worship Him. Now with that and through His Resurrection Power, the Commander is victorious! This time utterly, for all time, destroying the work of Satan and his stronghold, He opens the door to heaven so that God’s people may enter into their promised eternal home, – “in my Father’s house are many mansions….I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) And all those who worship Him are recognized as His army/people in heaven and on earth.
The Commander of the host of the LORD, our Captain our Lord, the One Who “set(s) before you an open door, and no one can shut it” (Revelation 3:8), Who fought for our salvation that we may return without fault or blemish to worship God as He desires “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23,24) – to Him give all thanksgiving, all you who are baptized in His Name and worship Him as Lord, for the great works He has done. Amen. (Written by Melanie Chu)
Have you followed your Captain and entered His promised Land for you today, the place of salvation in Him? If so, spend some time thanking Him for all He has done in opening the way for you.