Wrong Question, Right Answer
Joshua 5:13 – And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? 14 He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15 And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Thus ends Joshua chapter 5, and, as a result of Joshua’s humility, the “captain of the LORD’S host” in chapter 6 then gives Joshua instructions on how to conquer Jericho).
The meaning of this meeting is clear: what am I fighting for? What is my motive? America’s War of Independence was to establish a country that was a greater expression of God’s glory than any country ever before: only this. It was not to establish the comforts and felicities of freedom, although they were in abundance as by-products of liberty after the colonists’ victory over British tyranny. Joshua 5 teaches that there are not 2 sides to any battle, there are 3: the dualism of the colonists’ battle for liberty vs. the adversary’s battle against liberty are, without God factored in, merely 2 points at either extreme of the base of a triangle — contending on the same level with one another. But if we factor God in this scenario and we make the glory of God our chief objective, then we transcend these 2 extremes, so that the glory of God is above all (the single, topmost point atop the triangle). In the face of the Captain of the Lord’s host and his intention to glorify God only, any other “side” or any other “us” other than the “Us” of Genesis chapter 1, any “for us” or “against us,” any “success” or “failure” must be treated as an abject imposter.
The angel-thought that Joshua met along his way neutralized Joshua’s self-importance by taking his attention completely off self, reminding him to forget self and never to forget God, especially on the mission that he was to fulfill. The word of the angel was the Word of God, and “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” In other words, the Word of God, as the sword of the Spirit, is capable of dividing personal sense from spiritual sense. The Captain of the Lord’s host is our spiritual sense that always wields the Word of God to divide the light from the darkness, that is, material-mindedness from spiritual-Mindedness.
“The difference is not as great between the opposite species [of plants and animals], as between matter and Spirit, so utterly unlike in substance and Intelligence.” [264, 1st edition, 1st edition, Science & Health]
“There is a wider difference between Spirit and matter than between light and darkness . . .”[page 224, 1st edition, Science & Health]