"THE CAPTAIN OF THE LORD'S HOST."
Intro. The children of Israel have crossed Jordan, and they are now in the land of promise, all that remains now is to conquer the land. But speaking from a human standpoint, that is impossible. Joshua, God's chosen successor to Moses, is out near Jericho. Through his mind he is probably thinking, "What am I doing?" The awesome responsibility of the task ahead is perhaps weighing heavily upon him. He sees a man standing there with a drawn sword, so he approaches him and questions, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" The reply comes back, "As the Captain of the Lord's host have I come."
I. JOSHUA HAD EARLIER RECEIVED THE PROMISE OF THE LORD'S PRESENCE.
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, [so] I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] with you wherever you go.
A. The dispelling of his fear was to come by the knowledge that the Lord his God was with him wherever he would go.
B. The conquering of the land was a great undertaking.
1. The people of the land all looked like Shaq O'Neal; and in hand- to-hand combat, as in basketball, size is a great advantage.
2. Besides that, they had strong defenses. Their cities had walls that seemed to reach up to heaven.
3. Having been one of the twelve spies, Joshua knew what they were facing.
4. But faith looks not at the difficulties, but to the Lord.
a. Faith believes more in the promises of God to help, than in the power of Satan to hinder.
b. Faith will give comfort in the midst of fears, unbelief will bring fears in the midst of comfort.
c. Faith makes great burdens light, unbelief makes light burdens unbearably heavy.
d. Faith lifts us up when we are down, unbelief casts us down when we are up.
e. Faith brings peace and comfort to our souls, unbelief brings restlessness.
f. Faith brings assurance, unbelief brings fear.
5. Forty years earlier, Joshua and Caleb sought to allay fears of the people who were wanting to find a captain to lead them back to Egypt after they heard the scary report of the ten spies. They said to the people: "The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; land flows with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they [are] bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the LORD [is] with us: fear them not."
a. Joshua had encouraged the people not to fear, because the Lord was with them.
b. Now as the time had come to actually begin to take the land, Joshua is beginning to feel a little fear, so he takes a walk.
C. Earlier the people wanted a captain to lead them back to Egypt, but now before Joshua stands, the Captain of the Lord's host is to lead them forward into the land.
II. THE CAPTAIN OF THE LORD'S HOST.
A. This would be none other than our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. This is one of the many theophanies in the Old Testament. A manifestation of God.
a. Many times as people read the Old Testament they imagine a contradiction in the Bible, for it speaks of them seeing God.
b. In the New Testament, John said, "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He has manifested Him.
2. Thus, when you read of their seeing God in the Old Testament, it was one of the many manifestations of Jesus Christ.
3. Jesus told the Jews, "Abraham rejoiced to see My day he and saw it."
4. After Jacob had wrestled all night with the angel of the Lord, we read that he called the name of the place Peniel, which means the face of God. He declared I have seen the face of God and lived.
5. When Moses requested to see God, God told him that no man could see His face and live.
6. The writer of Hebrews in describing Jesus said of Him, "God has spoken to us by His Son, who is the brightness of His glory, and His express image of His person. Thus, Jesus could say, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father."
B. Joshua is not face-to-face with the Captain of the Lord's host, but the Lord's host is not the nation of Israel, but the angels of the Lord. When Jacob left his father-in-law Laban we read:
And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
And when Jacob saw them, he said, This [is] God's host:
1. Joshua is going to need and receive the divine help of the Lord to accomplish his mission.
2. How awesome is the Lord's host?
a. We read in the Bible of the invasion of Judah by the Assyrians who at that time were a major power in the world. The prophet Isaiah sent a message to King Hezekiah not to worry, that they would not shoot an arrow into the city.
b. The Assyrians had sent a message to Hezekiah in which they told him that his God could be of no help against them, that the gods of the other nations were unable to stand against the mighty Assyrian army.
c. We read that an angel of the Lord went out at night and destroyed the Assyrian army. In the morning there were 185,000 dead soldiers lying outside Jerusalem.
d. One angel destroyed 185,000 in one night. How mighty is the host of the Lord?
3. In the garden of Gethsemene when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus. Jesus said to him, "Put away your sword. Do you not realize that I could call for a legion of angels if I so desired? The cup that the Father has given Me to drink, shall I not drink it?" Jesus was the Captain of the Lord's host; they were at His disposal. If one angel could destroy 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one evening, think what a legion of angels could do.
4. I think of the statement of Paul when writing to the Romans. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
5. John in his first letter spoke of the spirit of the antichrist that was in the world, but declared that we can overcome it, "for greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world."
6. Jesus is the Captain of the hosts of heaven.
C. This appearance of the Captain of the hosts was a fulfillment of a promise God had made to Moses:
Behold, I send My Angel before you, to keep you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.
Listen to him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name [is] in Him. (The name Jesus is a contraction of Jehovah Shua, which means Jehovah is salvation.)
But if you shall indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto your enemies, and an adversary unto your adversaries.
For my Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the land.
D. Throughout the Old Testament God is referred to as the Lord of hosts.
1. In Psalms 24:10
, David asked: Who is this King of glory? Then he answered the LORD of hosts, He [is] the King of glory.
2. In Psalms 46:7
, he said: The LORD of hosts [is] with us; the God of Jacob [is] our refuge.
3. When Isaiah saw his vision of heaven and the Seraphims around the throne, he said: And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory.
III. WHAT A RELIEF THIS MUST HAVE BEEN TO JOSHUA.
A. There are many indications that Joshua was fearful of the task that had been placed upon him.
1. God had said to him, "Be strong and of good courage."
2. Again God said, "Be strong and very courageous."
3. The third time God said: "Be strong and of good courage, be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:"
a. You only say that to a man who feels week and timid, a man who is afraid, and is dismayed at the task he is facing.
b. The fact that God repeated it three times only shows just how much he feared the task ahead.
B. As Joshua feels his total inadequacy to handle the job that the Lord had called him to perform, when the man standing before him announced himself as the Captain of the Lord's host, it immediately took the pressure off Joshua. I am sure that it was with great relief that Joshua fell at His feet and worshipped Him.
1. The fact that Joshua worshipped him only proves that it was more than just an angel, but the Lord Himself.
2. In the scriptures we are forbidden to worship angels.
3. The scripture declares that you are to worship the Jehovah your God and Him only.
C. Do you today feel that you are over your head? The tasks that lie before you are greater than you can handle? Are you fearful or apprehensive about the future?
D. The same Captain of the Lord's host that met Joshua there near Jericho wants to meet you today.
1. He is ready to go before you and lead you into the promised land.
2. As Joshua, you need to bow before Him and ask, "What do you say to your servant?"
3. By this declaration he is acknowledging the Captain of the Lord's host as his Lord.
4. You also today need to surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
5. The moment you do, you can rest, for the great task ahead is not your responsibility, but His. "Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."