Kim did a great job in her post about this story on Monday regarding the way God worked through the Israelites to conquer Jericho. The very beginning of the reading is what I have been locked onto and can’t shake - “Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he 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?" 14 "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." Joshua 5:13-14 (NIV)
Joshua asks the angel whose side he is on – Joshua’s or Jericho’s - and the angel gives a very stark answer, “neither”. As I have thought about this, it has made me think about how easy it is to project my own ideas on what or who has God on their side. I bet Joshua was hoping to hear that God was on his side, cheering him and the people on to victory. But the angel’s answer is a sobering reminder of what our question should be. Instead of, “whose side is God on?”, we should be more concerned with, “am I on God’s side?” The difference is huge. It is too easy for us to rationalize that our agenda, motives and intentions are good and thus try to sway God over to our way of thinking. The truth is that as followers, we should be focused on what God wants done and how He wants it accomplished. This assures us of being on His side. You see, God doesn’t take His marching orders from us. He never has. He invites us to His side. He doesn’t follow us.
Joshua immediately recognized the gravity of the meeting with the angel and I love how he responded in the rest of verse 14 - Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?" Joshua realized that the matter at hand was whether he was rightly aligned with God and His purposes and this lead him to surrender in worship. This is how we can live with confidence and courage no matter what we have to face - that we aren’t in it alone!