Often when we are in some kind of conflict with another person, or with a group of people, or when nations rage against nations – and especially when this conflict is public knowledge and being fought out in the public arena – we want to know: Who is on our side? Who is against us? Who is our ally? Who is our enemy? Who supports us? Who opposes us? Who will fight with us?
Joshua son of Nun, after living through, and following Moses, for the full forty years of wandering in the desert, was anointed as the one by whom God would lead the Israelites across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. Once the Jordan was crossed, Joshua had the task of leading the Israelite army to conquer and claim the land in the Name of the Lord and for His people to settle. Before going into battle against Jericho, Joshua encountered a man. And Joshua had these same kind of Whose side are you on? questions running through his mind. That man, however, was no ordinary man. His side had already been determined. That man’s side was not up for grabs. That man’s side was not up for discussion or debate.
Joshua looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my LORD have for his servant?” – Joshua 5:13-14
This experience humbled Joshua. He learned that day that he was not to concern himself so much with determining whose side those around him are on. These alliances are often self-focused, self-seeking and can be temporally fleeting and fickle. Rather, Joshua understood that he must align himself only and always with the Lord, his Eternal Leader, who takes no human side and is always faithful to fulfilling His own righteous and holy purposes.
What about you? What about me? What do we need to learn from this? Personally, I need to continually keep myself in check as Joshua learned to do. I need to ask myself:
Am I trying to line others up on my side in order to justify my perspectives on issues? In order to justify my actions in various circumstances? Am I fighting only for myself? For my own ego or reputation? For my rights as I see them? Or, am I honestly and actively seeking to line myself up with the Lord’s will, ways and righteousness?
The question for me, and for each of us, is not: “Who’s on my side?” Rather, the right and righteous question truly is: “Whose side am I on?”
May each one of us be able to answer this question with humility and sincerity, with courage and conviction: “I am on the side of the Lord!”
May we each thank God for the battle that Jesus fought and won for our very souls, through His shed blood on the cross!
May we each keep our eyes, minds and hearts focused on Jesus – focused on where He is leading us and the spiritual battles that rage against His love and authority that we are called to fight. May we each, by God’s mighty power, stand firmly on the side of our Lord today, tomorrow and forever!