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?” (Joshua 5:13 NIV)

Joshua was in full-battle mode. Crossing the Jordan and entering the Promised Land was not the goal. Driving out the Amorites and other pagan tribes was (cf. Genesis 15:16). Their leader and his fellow Israelites were ready to do the work for which they had come to Canaan.

One man, the man with the drawn sword, stood between Joshua and his battle against Jericho. Was his sword drawn to oppose Israel’s advance or was it to signify he would join Joshua in the fight? Was the man for or was he against? The question of which side the armed man was on was relevant, but considering his identity, it was the wrong thing to ask.

Like never before in the nation’s history, America is fragmented. The rifts are deep along political, cultural, ethnic, social and religious lines. So the question which group is right is not the correct one. It is like asking which of Canaan’s tribes were the best?

Informally we interview others asking–in a roundabout way–“Are you for us or for our enemies?” (It is one or the other.) The response Joshua received from the man with the sword speaks volumes:

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does the LORD have for his servant?” (5:14)

“Do you support Trump for president or do you hate him?” is how many Americans are determining sides. “Where do you stand on this issue?” “What side do you favor in this conflict?” “What upsets you most?” Be careful, our questions and answers will place us in stereotypes. Humbly give an account for your hope, not your negativism.

We should ask ourselves “Am I on God’s side?” Regardless how smart or persuasive we are, the Lord isn’t for us as opposed to our enemies, but we can be on his side. For God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11).

Rahab the harlot lived among Jericho’s idolaters. This woman heard that God had shown himself strong through Israel. She understood her city and way of life were coming under judgment, so she chose risking all and hiding the spies to siding with her people (Joshua 2:8-13).

Whose side are you on? “On the right side,” you say. Well, I’ve known some who were so right they were wrong. Being right is no excuse for being mean and hateful.

Take the side of love. Choose peace and unity. Insist on the side of truth. Opt for the side of goodness, compassion and mercy. Choose life and care for widows and orphans. You, too, may look up and see the commander of the Lord’s army. If so, fall on your face. Declare you are God’s servant. Take off your sandals for the ground on which you are lying is holy.

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