“Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us or for our adversaries?'”
I’m sure we’ve all read this story hundreds of times, both for ourselves and with our children. The object lesson is usually along the lines of teaching God can do anything, even bring down walls of a city. Nothing is too big for God. And this is true. But it wasn’t until quite recently an entirely new lesson was brought to my attention, speaking to my heart.
For those who might be unfamiliar with our story… Joshua is the new leader of God’s people, Israel. After forty years of wandering in the desert, God has brought them to Jericho and the promised land. The only problem? A huge city, with a seemingly impenetrable wall, stands in their way. While out perusing Jericho, Joshua sees a man and asks his question, “Are You for us or against us?” An understandable question. The response, “Neither.”
If I were Joshua, a flood of emotion would be coursing through my blood. Relief. Disappointment. He isn’t here to kill me, but help would be great too. Frankly, I would be missing the point entirely. The question isn’t whether or not this man – an angel of the Lord, by the way – was with Joshua. What mattered was whether Joshua was with God.
Now that, my friends, is the question of a lifetime.
Often, I find myself praying for God to be with me. (Read: To be on my side.) I want Him to make my homeschooling day successful. Meaning easy and fun. My budget to be prosperous. Oh, and having fewer parenting woes would rock. Who doesn’t want God on their side?
But, what I want is not really important. I should not be asking myself if God is with me and my silly plans. Instead, I should humbly be confessing my desire to be on the side of my Lord. It is His plans which matter and His plans which always succeed. The question is whether or not I am going to seek Him out, asking for vision and clarity.
In Joshua’s story, we see a lesson in obedience and faith. The Israelites do as God planned, and God is glorified. We see the people blessed beyond imagining. If we were to keep on reading, do you know what else we would see? A history of obedience to disobedience and back again. Another lesson. When we stop asking ourselves if this is God’s plan, and start following our own, we end up in trouble.
Today, may we be encouraged. I pray the Lord would humble me, reminding me of where my heart belongs. May each of us be filled with faith to the fullest, able to follow God no matter where He leads, even to the walls of our own Jericho; knowing God is greater. May we not stray from the path, whether through a valley or mountaintop; continually asking God to lead.
“Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'”
Your Turn!: You’re walking through the valley, with fruit trees all around. Which fruit?