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 and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”
“Neither one,”he replied. “I am the commander of the the Lord’s army.”
At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reference. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place you are standing is holy. And Joshua did as he was told.”
~ Joshua 5:13-15
Is God our friend or foe? It depends.
We often hear people say — especially the so-called Religious Right — that God is on our side.
I submit that’s a huge presumption on their part. Where’s the evidence? Politically speaking, the evidence is slim if non-existent. If that were the case, abortion and gay marriage (I expect the Supreme Court to rule in favor of gay marriage), would still be illegal and the fights to keep prayer and religious symbols on public property would always be won.
Yet those fights are lost.
We should eliminate such verbiage when we fight for what we believe, because it smacks more of pride instead of humility and a genuine desire to do God’s will. If God were truly on our side, we would never lose our battles — as the book of Joshua testifies more than once, such as the battle of Jericho. Nor would we ever have to proclaim how God is on our side, because it would be obvious.
The better question: Are we on God’s side?
The moment Joshua discovered who the commander was — neither friend nor foe — he fell to the ground and asked what he, a mere servant, could do.
As Christians, are we bowing before God and presenting ourselves as servants to his will? Or are we too busy fighting battles without him?
Joshua also describes how the Israelites lost at Ai soon after defeating Jericho (7:1-15). Why? Several reasons. One, although they were required to destroy everything in Jericho, one person kept some of things that were supposed to be dedicated to God. An egregious sin in God’s eyes. Joshua also didn’t ask for God’s will before attacking Ai. He and the nation of Israel pridefully assumed that since God was on their side, they would win.
If we want to win our battles, we first have to ask God what battles we should fight.
We must be sure we’re on God’s side.