Ever wonder whose side God is on?
Not long before the fall of Jericho, Joshua had an encounter with the Commander of the Lord’s army. When he met him, he didn’t know who this man was, or at least he didn’t know whose side he was on.
So he asked him.
Are you for us or for our adversaries?
A reasonable question.
If he was for Israel, Joshua could welcome him to the ranks. A lot of fighting lay ahead of him and his people and a strong, experienced warrior would help. It would be good to have him on the team.
If he was a foe, would Joshua draw his own sword? Had the man come to fight Joshua? Was he there to try to cut a deal?
Whose side are you on? Ours or theirs?
To which the man said, ‘No.’
That’s a strange way to answer an either/or question. He had to be one or the other. No was a non-answer.
I am the commander of the Lord’s army.
When Joshua heard that, he realised that the question had changed. Or the direction of the question had changed. It was time for Joshua to acknowledge whose side he was on. It was time to acknowledge that Joshua, the God-appointed leader of his people, was still a servant. Someone else was in charge.
We like to think of God as being on our side. We can quote Romans 8: if God is for us, who can be against us? But he has a bigger agenda and that agenda requires us to ask ourselves whose side we are on.
God, whose side are you on? Ours or theirs? Mine or his? Are you for me or for them?
But are you on my side?
Joshua had no hesitation. In a moment that is reminiscent of Moses’ dramatic encounter with God on the edge of the desert, he removed his sandals, for he was on holy ground.
God calls leaders. He empowers them. He affirms them.
But he is still God.
And the leader is not.