Thursday, August 31, 2006

Prerogative, Part 2

Continuing the thoughts about changing our mind, I am reminded of the story of Joshua. Not the first one that comes to mind concerning the strange tactics leading to the collapse of the walls of Jericho, but the events that occurred just prior to that.

Joshua 5: 13-14a says "And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood 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?" So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come."

In my mind this passage is one of the most powerful and revealing in all of scripture. Here is why; 1) This brief conversation reveals volumes about what is going on around us. The world we see is the superficial, shallow version of the unseen world. Sunday school teachers this weekend around the world will teach little children what has been taught for generations, that Joshua and the Israelites captured Jericho by marching around it and blowing on their trumpets. Some teachers will be wise enough to explain that it was not Joshua but God that caused the walls to fall. I dare say, though, that few will explain that there was an actual invisible army with an actual leader who had His sword drawn for days that brought down the walls. There is lots to think about concerning the unseen world around us. 2) Joshua displayed lots of courage. Some time earlier God had commissioned him to lead his people and instructed him to "meditate day and night concerning the law". Joshua had accepted and begun to demonstrate leadership. There was nothing in the law, however, about coming across such a man as this claiming to be the Commander of the Army of the Lord. I am guessing Joshua thought he wore that title. How would you react to seeing a man outside the city you were about to attack with his sword drawn? Joshua's reaction was to walk up to him and ask "Are you for us or our enemies?" His direct question and response to the answer tell me Joshua was a man who believed in facing the truth--good or bad. 3) Perhaps the most powerful message from this brief passage is this; when asked if He was on the side of the ordained preacher who was constantly in the word or his enemy, the Commander replied "Neither, I am the commander of the army of the Lord." Think about that. The Commander of the invisible army who is fighting around us as He did around Joshua said He was not on Joshua's side just because of who he was. He was not automatically on his side all the time. He was on the side of truth and accomplishing what God wanted accomplished. Can that help explain why some ministries and ministers that seem so right often fail? Can that help explain why the Forrest Gump types sometimes accomplish amazing things?

In my mind, the challenge is easy to recognize and difficult to accomplish. We must constantly remind ourselves and those we love that it is not about us versus them. God has sent an army to fight for right. Not everybody who calls on God's name or claims to speak in His name is on the side of truth and right. I have to constantly seek for truth, not the correct affiliation. I will post later about why I think this means we owe it to each other to speak the truth rather than what is flattering or politically correct. That is not the same as delighting in hurtful conversation nor always being contentious. But if we never lovingly correct nor allow ourselves to be corrected, how in the world can we hope to be constantly aligned with the "army of the Lord"?

1 comment:

Helen said...

You're so right!!

That's my daddy!!