And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”
So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”
I will leave it to the reader to go investigate the rest of the story in the book of Joshua; it is quite cool (well, for the Israelites it’s cool, but for those in Jericho who opposed God, let’s just say they had a bad week).
Notice the interaction between Joshua and the angel. Joshua is full of power, ready for battle, and he sees a man he knows is not an ordinary man. God gave Joshua orders to lead Israel into battle. So he challenges this man with a question. Then, when he realizes he is talking to an Angel of the Lord - if not the Lord himself, in humility he quickly obeys. What an awesome place to be, full of the energy for the Lord, and able to stay humble. Joshua was an amazing man.
But, that is not what this story is about. As the title already suggests, it is about the angel’s response!
I have been fascinated by this text for years. Notice the response of the angel, when challenged by Joshua as to whose side he was on, it seemed obvious to me the first time I was reading this, that the angel was going to say “Duh Josh, I’m with you buddy! Let’s go get ’em…” But he does not do that. In fact he tells Joshua that he is not on Joshua's side. I can imagine Joshua readying his sword until he hears the rest of that sentence.
You see, the angel basically said, “Joshua, I am not on your side. I am not on their side either. You are completely missing the point! From my vantage point there is only one true side to be on, and that is the Lord’s side. And, I have no intention of changing that!”
What an amazing answer. This way, no matter what happened in Joshua’s life, or in Jericho, the angel was on God’s side and would never ally himself elsewhere. Had the angel said he was on Joshua’s side and Joshua went off on a tangent, Joshua could get angry at the angel for not following. “But I thought you are for me?” he could say.
Although this passage can be used in so many instances, I can see it flesh out this voting season as Facebook is covered with people (including me) that are putting out reasons why their candidate is the right choice.
Whose side is God on? The GOP? The left wing? Radicals? Liberal Democrats? Ah… the answer is obvious, right?
Gotcha ya! NO!
I am 100% convinced that Jesus is neither a Republican, a Democrat, or a Libertarian or any other political persuasion. To reduce the God of the Universe to a political party is absurd and is laughable just writing it. I can see within all three parties there are qualities that God would agree with, and there are tenants that I know He abhors. I can prove it too. But, it would be silly to stack up the list. The one with the most qualities wins God's favor? Not happening. The answer is NO.
It is safer for us to say that an action, or tenant, or creed, honors God, or it does not. But be able to back that up with examples in the Bible. I think I can do that for all three major political parties.
I am quick to say that I want to be on the Lord's side, but that does not mean Jesus is a Grand Old Party member. This also means that when I disagree with something within my party and I am asked whose side I’m on, I have an excellent answer!
I’m on the Lord’s side.