Circumcision at Gilgal (5:1–12)
The Israelites had been eating manna (verse 12) for forty years in the desert (see Exodus 16:4,14–15,31). During that time, the manna had been God’s miraculous provision of food for the whole nation. Now that the Israelites had set foot in the promised land—a fertile and fruitful land—they would no longer need the manna.
The Commander of the Lord’s Army (5:13–15)
13–15 Joshua looked up and saw a man . . . with a drawn sword (verse 13). This “man” was certainly an ANGEL of the Lord, if not the Lord Himself.29 His drawn sword symbolized God’s involvement in the coming siege of Jericho.
At first thinking this was only a man, Joshua asked him whose side he was on. “Neither side,” was the answer. And then the “man” told Joshua who he was: the commander of the army of the LORD (verse 14).
It is not suitable for us to ask the Lord whose side He is on—as if God took sides like an ordinary human being. God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34–35). The only suitable question to ask is if we are on God’s side! Let us not assume that God “has to be on our side” just because we are Israelites or “Christians.” God is only on the side of those who love Him and obey Him with all their heart—something possible only through faith in Christ and through God’s indwelling HOLY SPIRIT.
God had sent His “commander” to direct Joshua in Israel’s battle against Jericho—and, we can assume, in future battles as well. God was going to give the orders as well as give the victory. Joshua suddenly recognized that he was speaking to a divine being and fell facedown in reverence (verse 14). Then he asked for instructions.
What was the first instruction? Take off your sandals (see Exodus 3:5).
There is a profound truth here. Before we ask for battle instructions, we must first “take off our sandals.” We must understand that we can be of no use to God if we do not humble ourselves before Him and acknowledge His HOLINESS and power. Our own swords and sandals will not gain the victory; but our faith in God will. God, through His angelic hosts, will fight the battle for us; we only need to obey His commands. And Joshua did so (verse 15).