The Commander of the Lord‘s Army
13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord‘s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15)
To the question: Is the Commander of the Lord’s Army in Joshua 5:13-15 Jesus? the answer, in short, is, no, of course not.
This is one of the wilder attempts by a number of Christians to “find Jesus in the Old Testament”. This is known as the search for ‘Christophanies’, pre-birth appearances of Jesus practised by various churches including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, and some Arian groups like the Bible Students. It is not however normally practised by orthodox Trinitarians, as pre-birth Christophanies are not part of orthodox Trinitarian teaching. Despite this some populist Trinitarian preachers may claim pre-birth appearances by the Second Person of the Trinity, such as the three angels which appeared to Abraham at Mamre, for which see the separate answer to that verse on this site.
This kind of approach to the Old Testament has been characterized as playing ‘Where’s Waldo’ – a comment based on the US publisher’s title for the Where’s Wally? series of British children’s puzzle books created by the English illustrator Martin Handford.
It needs to be said again that if Christ was constantly appearing in the Old Testament as various angels then there is little need for God to have promised to Eve, Abraham and David that through their line they would have a descendant who would triumph over sin and death, inherit the earth and rule as King. It also makes Peter’s comment (1 Peter 1:20) that God foreknew Jesus meaningless if Jesus was constantly in and out of God’s court acting as an angel from Genesis to the day he entered the ovum of Mary.
For related articles on the promises to Eve, Abraham and David, and on the birth of Christ, please use the search box to search the site.