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" (Joshua 5:13-14 NIV).
The Commander was a messenger of the Lord (also called an angel). Some argue that He actually may have been Jesus who appeared in Old Testament days "as commander of the army of the LORD." I tend to agree. Either way, the Commander of the army of the Lord said that He was on "neither" side.
Does it strike you as odd that the Commander said he was on "Neither" side? It puzzled me when I recently read that passage. How could God not be on the side of the Israelites who were His people? He had said He was their God and had brought them through terrible times. How could He possibly be neutral between His people and His enemies? It didn't make any sense. Then we read a footnote in the NIV Study Bible:
Joshua and Israel must know their place — it is not that God is on their side; rather, they must fight God's battles.
I thought that was a brilliant and very helpful statement. We are certainly supposed to fight on God's side.
But as the text demonstrates, it's up to us to fight battles on the side of God. His priorities come first and we must choose positions and convictions based on His will. So rather than looking at it as God taking sides in politics, religion, morality, or other aspects of life, we must focus on God's eternal Word that serves as truth in these matters. It seems fitting then to conclude that we are to stand on the truth rather than flattering ourselves into expecting the truth to stand with us. We can be wrong, God's truth cannot.
So which side are you on?