When asked whether God was on his side in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, “I do not care whether God is on my side; the important question is whether I am on God’s side, for God is always right.” It seems self-evident, but becoming God’s cultural change agents begins with choosing to be on God’s side regarding cultural matters.
When approaching Jericho, Joshua sees what most scholars believe to be the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. In this passage, He is described as a man with a sword in hand. Given the fact that the Hebrews were actively invading the land of Canaan at the time, Joshua reasonably asks, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” (Josh. 5:13, ESV). The answer he receives is, “Neither one … I am the commander of the LORD’s army” (Josh. 5:14). In other words, God isn’t choosing sides between two armies; instead, there is God’s side and everyone else’s side.
If ever there was a time for God to be on Israel’s side, this is it. God has personally guided the Israelites to this land, which He had promised to their forefathers; He has supernaturally dried up the Jordan River so that they could cross into this land, and He is about to miraculously collapse the walls of Jericho. Nevertheless, Jesus tells Joshua that He is not on Israel’s side; neither is He on the side of their enemies. Rather, He commands the army of heaven, so Joshua had best be sure to be on Jesus’ side.
Earlier, God had provided a warning to Israel that serves as a principle for all nations and individuals: Choose to obey God and receive blessing, or disobey God and risk judgment (Deut. 11:26–28). These are our only choices, and there is no middle ground. Jesus warns, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matt. 12:30).
God expects us to join His side, not to invoke Him to join our side. We can choose to join God in faithful obedience to Him, or we can choose to stand in opposition to Him. Sometimes this decision can be difficult as God’s side is often not where the cultural majority finds itself. Nevertheless, it is impossible to serve as God’s cultural change agents if we are not in alignment with His position on cultural matters. We must choose a side.
1. Lutzer, Erwin. Is God on America’s Side? The Surprising Answer and How It Affects Our Future. Page 72. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.