Video Devotional: Heaven Has Its Own Side (Joshua 5:13-14)
Posted on March 27, 2012 - 6:05pm in Weekly Devotionals
Tuesday, March 27th
"When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, 'Are you friend or foe?' 'Neither one,' he replied. 'I am the commander of the LORD’s army.' At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. 'I am at your command,' Joshua said. 'What do you want your servant to do?'"
"Whose side are you on anyway?" That’s a familiar cry from people who are in the midst of an argument. We want to find out who is for us and who is against us.
In today’s reading, Joshua was certainly in an argument. He was about to lead the Israelites into the greatest battle of their lives: the battle of Jericho. Joshua was already sweating it. Ever since he took over from Moses, God had had to tell him more than once: “Be courageous.” Leading a rag-tag army against a fortified city was no mean trick. Joshua was definitely out-gunned if not out-numbered.
Suddenly, he sees a man standing in front of him with a sword. Counting every last man, Joshua wants to know, “Are you for us or against us?”
The man’s answer is surprising: “Neither one. I am commander of the LORD’s army.” Joshua has just encountered an angel and he discovers that heaven doesn’t take sides, but requires people to join up with God.
Throughout history, people have been keen on enlisting help, especially from heaven. We desperately want God to be on our side, especially when we feel out-numbered or out-gunned. However, God doesn’t join sides, but requires people to join His side.
Abraham Lincoln, the greatest president in the history of the United States, understood this. Even though he stood on the side of the right to end the horrific practice of slavery in this country, he was keenly aware that God was not automatically on the side of the North. In his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln admits that the North had been somewhat complicit in the slavery that had so offended God, and needed to bring their ways into alignment with His. The South was mostly wrong, but the few degrees off that the North found itself in need to be righted in God’s eyes.
When we find ourselves in the midst of conflict, it is easy to get carried away with bolstering our position. We want people, and God, to join our side, which is so obviously the right one. But God has greater things in mind for us. He wants us to join His side and do things His way, and that is where the real breakthrough comes. We can be stuck in a conflict with someone else and look for God to give us the advantage, when in reality he has a totally different solution than the one we imagined. He may want us to stand our ground with renewed courage and watch Him solve the problem. Or He may point out where we are partially wrong and have us seek reconciliation. But we’ll never really know until we join His side.
Joshua was smart enough to know that while you can fight city hall and you can fight Jericho, you can’t fight God. When he realizes who he’s talking with, Joshua falls to the ground and asks, “What do you want me to do?” That’s not a bad question for any of us to ask God.