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? -- Joshua 5:13
Monday, April 6, 2015
Whose Side Are You On?
Whose side are you on? It’s a question we ask one another. Whether we say it aloud or not, it may come to mind when we are dealing with a friend or even a spouse. We trust and we expect someone to be on our side, but their words or behavior may cause us to question. I have even felt betrayed by God. I am trying to do right, and circumstances cut the ground out from under me. Who can I blame but God?
Joshua led the armies of Israel across the Jordan. The waters of the river at flood stage parted even as the Red Sea had parted before Moses. As the new leader of his people, Joshua had his faith reinforced. The objective before him is the fortified city of Jericho. As a military man, Joshua is naturally planning and considering the options for taking Jericho even as he prays for help from God. Now he finds himself unexpectedly facing an armed adversary, a challenge there on the plain. He wonders who this could be. Perhaps God has sent an ally. Or, perhaps, this is a new enemy.
The stranger’s response might be cause for concern: And he said, No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come (v.14). Sometimes we forget. Sometimes in our human thinking and natural concern for ourselves, we lose perspective. We want God to help us with our plans. We want God to bless and prosper our endeavors. We pray and look for Him to intervene on our behalf. We may, on occasion, lose sight of the fact that we are the servants of the Lord. We are His instruments, and it is His song that we are to play. He is the composer and the conductor. Joshua got it right immediately: And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, What does my lord say to his servant?
As hard as it can be to keep it mind, this is what Paul means when he says: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20). It’s not my life anymore. It’s not my mission. It’s not my job, my kingdom, or my war. I’m here on the Lord’s business.
We intercede for others, and that’s good. We petition God for our needs, and that’s good, too. At some point in my praying, though, I really ought to imitate Joshua and ask, What does My Lord say to His servant?