“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ 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 worshipped and said to him, ‘What does my lord say to his servant?’ (Joshua 5: 13-14)
As Joshua prepares to lead the army of Israel in their first battle of the conquest of Canaan, he encounters this man, who is more than a “man.” He is the “commander of the army of the LORD (Hebrew – Yahweh)” that has arrived with a drawn sword ready to make war. This was probably a “Christophany” – a pre-incarnation appearance of Christ. The question that Joshua asks is, “Whose side are you on?” That seems to be a simple question with a simple answer. But the answer he receives is an interesting one, “No.” He did not come to “join” sides. He came to take over.
Jesus does not show up to take sides in our conflicts. He does show up to take charge. He does not show up to vanquish our enemies, but He does show up to conquer His enemies. The question for all of us is “Whose side are we on?”
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was asked, “Is God on our side?” He responded by answering in this manner, “The issue is not, ‘Is God on our side?’ The issue is, ‘Are we on God’s side?’ “
It is easy for us to assume that God is on our side. It is easy for us to assume that our cause is just. As Americans, it has always been easy for us to take for granted that God is “in our corner.” But we should not be so glib and assuming. Most of us need to be more self-examining as to our true motives in the alliances we make and the causes we support. Some are undoubtedly righteous and are supported by God’s eternal Word. But could it be that some are rooted in self-protection, misplaced loyalty, and our own “blindness.”
Many years ago, I became involved in a conflict with a major ministry that was in our city. I was part of a network of churches that launched a “war” against this ministry. I regret to this day my engagement in that conflict that was unjust, unloving, and ungodly. I was not on God’s side.
The Pharisees in Jesus’ day thought that they were on God’s side. They saw themselves as justified in their attempt to stop the ministry of Jesus. But they were on the wrong side. They became enemies of God.
What am I saying in all this? Let all of us cease joining sides and make certain that we are on the Lord’s side.