As we navigate these uncertain times an important question on everyone’s mind is, Are you with us? This question is a relevant question as we seek to navigate uncharted territories. It was the same question Joshua asked a man he met on his way to Jericho, the same question Moses asked the Israelites in the wilderness, when he asked them who is on the Lord’s side. It seems like from the beginning of time we are always face with the task of choosing a side.
In the Garden of Eden Adam had to choose a side. Noah had to choose to build the ark. Abraham had to choose to leave his family and follow the Lord. Moses had to choose to listen and obey the voice of the burning bush and now Joshua is faced with the same task to chose to listen to the angel of Lord.
Now Joshua met this strange person on his way to battle with the inhabitants of Jericho. The first thing Joshua wanted to know was, “Are you with us or against us? It was not his name or where he is from or how great he was Joshua simply wanted to know Whose side are you on?
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? “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13- 15)
All Joshua wanted to was “Are you with us?” This is the same question that is burning in our hearts and mind as we navigate modern racism. In light of the recent uptick in racial violence we are left wondering, who is a friend or foe? We wonder, whose side are you really on? Are you truly a ride or die? You call me homie, bro, sis, and many terms of endearment but when the rubber meets the road, will you be there? Can I count on you? Do you have my back?
I’m not concerned about you positions and titles? I’m concerned about your loyalty, your pledge of allegiance. I’m not concerned with your skin color, I’m concerned with your heart. Who do you vow in your heart to protect and serve? Can I count on you to be my neighbor? Can I count on you to be a friend when the going gets tough? Can I really lean on you when I’m not strong? Can I really lean on you when pain and sorrow comes my way? Will you be there? Can I trust you?
The man answered Joshua’s questions, and said “neither” He was neither friend nor foe. I’m sure that this is not an answer you would want to hear. Especially in this tense moment when you face a stranger with his sword drawn. Joshua was getting ready to enter his first major battle when he met this strange man. The last thing Joshua needed was some distraction and diversion. His gazed was fixed on Jericho, He knee what lies ahead of him was no easy task after all he was one of the spies that spies out the land forty years before, he knew that there were giants in the land, he knew that he could not win this battle by himself. Joshua was keenly listening for the tiniest breath of God. His eyes was fixed on Jericho but his ears fixed on heaven. So I could imagine the perplexed confused look on Joshua’s face ‘what do you mean neither? Where I’m from and after all I have been through, you cannot tell me that you are neutral? You are either with me or against me. The strange man quickly added, “I am commander of the Lord’s army” at this Joshua fell face down to the ground and worshipped.
I wonder what are you identifying yourself as, are you identifying yourself as white or black or brown or blue or Christian or simply human? Is your identity in your skin color? It is intriguing to note the angel that Joshua met did not identify himself as a angel, the fact that Joshua could not tell that he was an angel meant that the angel reveal himself as a mere man. The angel came down to Joshua’s level to be identified as human. He didn’t come in the typical angelic mystical figure. He was not interested in being identified by his created nature although there is purpose for it. He was more interested in being identified by what was inside him.
The angel had a message, he was sent by God to bring a message to Joshua and he simple wanted to be identified by God’s purpose. The angel identified himself as captain of the Lord’s Army. He identified himself by the purpose of God. What is God purpose for you? Are you identifying yourself with the purpose that God has for you?
Joshua questioned the angel from his perspective? Joshua was the captain of the army of Israel and he was heading into battle and only way he saw things was, you are either an enemy or a friend. The angel was neither on the enemies side or Israel’s side, he was on the Lords side. The angel basically said, Joshua I didn’t come here to take sides, I came here to deliver a message, from one captain to another. Joshua I understand that you never fought in any battle like this before so I am now come to give you some instructions from the Lord of host, the Holy one of Israel, I have come to give you some strategies for battle but the first thing you need to know is the ground you are standing in is Holy ground. You cannot treat this battle as you did other battles because you could perish along with your enemies. You have to treat this battleground as Holy because the Lord’s is in this battle fighting for you and you have to do exactly as you are told. You must fight this battle in Holiness unto God because His presence is here and only Holy things can stand in his presence. The angel then proceeded to give Joshua instructions for the battle at Jericho.
The message that the Lord wants us to hear today is that He is not on the white side or the black side or the blue side or the brown side. God cannot take sides because we are all His children. So while we are busy trying to figure out what side the Lord is on He is busy telling us to be holy. The only side the Lord is on is the side of holiness! There is no law against Holiness.
The Lord is not impressed by your skin color He made it!! He is not impressed with your political affiliation, he cause them to rise and fall. He is not impressed with your titles or positions He is impressed by righteousness. If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen 4:7). He is not impressed by your greatness, He is impressed by Holiness!!! Be Holy for I am Holy!! (Leviticus 20:7). God is not impressed by your religion He is impressed by your obedience, Jesus became obedient unto the point of death! (Phil 2:8)
In order for us to win in this warfare we must do what Joshua did, we stop and pause to acknowledge God’s messengers in the earth. Bow down and acknowledge the holiness of God in the midst of this tumultuous time worship in the presence of our Holy God. Listen and accept the strategies that God reveals to you, then do precisely what God tells you to do.
After Joshua worshipped, the angel gave him the strategy that he needed to defeat Jericho (Joshua 6:2-5). He told him to march around the walls of Jericho for seven days and on the seventh day the priest should blow the shofar. This was no ordinary battle and this was no ordinary strategy. I wonder what methods and strategies that the Lord wants to give us to fight this pandemic and racial tension are you willing to take a step away from your pursuit and ask God to reveal himself in this unusual warfare that we are facing? Are you willing to stop marching to Jericho long enough to have a conversation with God to get a strategy that will win? Are you willing to bow down and acknowledge God as Holy? Are you willing to do what He says even if it means giving up your strategy?
Joshua being captain of the army of Israel had a his own strategy going into Jericho, he was going by what he knew but When he met the captain of Lord’s army he received a new strategy. Joshua had a choice to make, he could choose to do things his way or God’s way. God wants to give us a new strategy are you willing to receive it. Are you willing to give up your way of seeking justice? Are you willing to fight your battles God’s way?
Lay down your way and come seek him with burning hearts. Give up the old methods of war, you cannot win with those methods. Let us fight our battles in worship, let us fight our battles in obedience. Let us fight our battles with divine strategies. Let us fight our battles in prayer.