Joshua 5 has one of my favorite passages. Verses 13-15 are just beautiful to me. Joshua sees a man standing before him with a drawn sword. He asks this man, “Are you for us or against us?” And the man says, “No.”
I’m glad he doesn’t stop there, because the rest of the line is pretty epic, but I always kind of stop there, just for a minute.
Are you for us or against us?
It’s that simple, really. God isn’t for us or against us, not really. He’s the captain of the team, the leader, the first on the field. We are either for or against him.
Now, he’s the best leader there ever could be, so once we’ve aligned ourselves to his service he will look out for us like no other, but we have to be onside first.
Of course, this is not the complete image of God. God is also our father, who, like any good father, is for us regardless of where we stand or how we behave. But (there are so many qualifiers that must be used in life and theology), like any good father, he will not condone or support the wrong behavior, the dangerous choices. So he’s for us, but not necessarily our choices.
I consider this worth mentioning due to how many people have been given the image of God as the stern task master that we either obey or perish.
When viewed on the battlefield, God is neither for or against us. He is for justice; he is for right; he is for the redemption of all humanity; and we are either for or against him. When viewed in the home, he is the loving father who comforts, disciplines to correct, is unwilling that any should perish but also unwilling to violate your will.
Unlike our fathers, who get things wrong, who are mistaken, who are human themselves and flawed, he is perfect. He does and always knows best. We can choose to submit or rebel, and he will love us just the same. He will always seek reconciliation, and moved through history to make it possible, but he will not force it.
Here, with Joshua, stands the commander of the army of the Lord. God himself. Now he has come. There will be justice. There will be a promise kept. Redemption and reconciliation, through one nation, will be provided to the world. So no, the question is not whether he stands with Israel or against, but rather whether Israel stands with him.