Friday, July 26, 2002


I was teaching about Rahab in our church's family hour (a summer replacement for Sunday School) two weeks ago. You will recall that after the Jews had miraculously crossed the Jordan River and were readying for an assault on Jericho, Joshua had this encounter:
13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?" 14So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, "What does my Lord say to His servant?" 15Then the Commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, "Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy." And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15, NKJV)

Who was the Commander whom Joshua worshipped? If he is an angel, then Joshua made a big mistake, for we are not to worship angels. Paul writes about this in Colossians:
Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has no seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (Col. 2:18, NKJV)

And the angels themselves will rebuke someone who makes this mistake, as the Apostle John discovered:
8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 But he said to me, "Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God." (Rev. 22:8-9, NASB)

So we are left with a few possibilities:

  1. This was an angel, who made a mistake by not rebuking Joshua.

  2. This was an angel who did rebuke Joshua but the rebuke was not recorded in scripture. This seems a bit odd, for it would have clarified the encounter.

  3. This was not an angel, but an Old Testament appearance of Christ, though not in a human body—a Christophany.

Most people don’t really like the idea of a Christophany although I see no place in scripture where it is ruled out. What do you think? Who was the Commander of the LORD’s army?

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