Posted by Craig Borlase on 20 February 2014

It can be tempting to think that God likes us Christians so much that we have exclusive rights on his work. Nice idea, but sadly misguided, as Joshua found out. 

Prior to his arrival in Canaan he sends out two spies with the mission of checking out the state of play in the enemy city of Jericho. They find shelter in the house of Rahab, who is not only a resident in the enemy city but a prostitute living, like many other outcasts, quite literally on the edge of society in her house built into the wall. Not only does she offer them shelter, she helps them escape, deals with the authorities and tells Joshua’s men the safest route home. Not bad for a woman. And a prostitute. And an enemy. 

This theme of God working in mysterious ways is picked up later shortly after as Joshua prepares to lead the army on to victory. 

'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 face down 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)

Joshua, focused on the battle and with the whole nation backed up behind him, is understandably a tad nervous. But his question of the suddenly appearing swordsman brings up more than just a case of butterflies in the stomach. Whose side is he on, he asks, understandably enough, but he has failed to comprehend the truth of the situation.

It's God's battle not Joshua's. This isn’t a case of God pitching in to help the Israelites crush the Canaanites, it's another step in the establishing of God's kingdom, another move to bring salvation to the world. The real question is whether Joshua is on God's side, whether he is fighting the Lord's battle or his own.

Whose battle are we fighting? Which side are we on?

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