“The Lord is on our side!”
As a so-called Christian nation, some in the United States have invoked the Lord to our side in our nation’s battles.
This happened in the Civil War.
Abraham Lincoln was asked which side God was on in the Civil War. He responded: “I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.” (Abraham Lincoln’s Stories and Speeches, J.B. McClure, ed. [Chicago: Rhodes and McClure Publishing Co., 1896], pp. 185-86 – taken from http://www.proconstitution.com/under_god/ accessed August 11, 2011)
Long before the American Civil War, Joshua faced a crucial battle. It was the first battle in what would become known as the Conquest of Canaan. If anyone can claim that “God is our side,” it surely could have been the Nation of Israel under the command of Joshua.
It was God who said:
I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:7).
But was God on their side? Really?
Like Abraham Lincoln, the people of Israel would have been better off considering themselves on God’s side instead of the other way around.
By Joshua’s time, with the people having crossed the Jordan River some forty years after the exodus from Egypt, God makes sure Joshua understands who’s on who’s side.
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” Joshua 4:13-14
It seems to me that God is telling Joshua that He is not on Israel’s side, nor Jericho’s side. He’s not on anyone’s side. He didn’t come down to take sides. He tells Joshua that He’s come down to take over.
This is an important lesson for me to learn. I need to see myself as on God’s side and not God on my side. I must – through the power of the Holy Spirit – realign my thinking and my life to being on God’s side.
Jesus paid the ultimate price – His very life – to put me on God’s side.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life (Romans 5:10).