Ever had a door slammed in your face? Or maybe it was angry words spewed toward you with the intent to hurt. Perhaps it was worse. Those moments snatch your breath away in disbelief. You wonder what went wrong in that relationship, and if it will ever be right again. Perhaps you even felt a little hurt or angry with God that He didn’t prevent that conflict from happening. ‘Whose side is God on anyways?’ you may have wondered.
Our friend and co-sojourner Hezekiah faced a similar proverbial door-slamming too. The Assyrian king’s commander had boasted: we have more power than you, you are alone, you cannot access God, and you are too weak to resist. Now came a declaration and claim that took Hezekiah’s breath away.
“Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this place without word from the LORD? The LORD himself told me to march against this country and destroy it” the besieging commander informed Hezekiah (II Kings 18:25). God is on our side, he was boasting.
The dominant culture (D.C.) of our day makes those same claims. It associates itself with varying causes endorsed by its current god, ‘self rights-irrespective’: this god is at times irrespective of others, irrespective of common sense, irrespective of dignity, virtue, or wisdom. It requires all opposition be destroyed, and at times it feels like it is succeeding. We may come away from a D.C. interaction asking ‘Whose side is God on anyways?’
That’s a good question; it might be helpful if we ask another question: “Does God take sides?” When it comes to claiming the right to have divine backing for our ventures, we need to be very careful. The arrogance that seems to accompany that mindset is a dangerous thing. At risk of distracting us from our main object, let’s take a look at one other reference from the Old Testament (Joshua 5:13-15). Joshua, leader of the Hebrew nation, is called by God to take the chosen people into their promised land. Jericho, gateway city of the D.C. of the day, stands in opposition to Joshua’s goal. As he approaches a certain vantage point, he comes face to face with someone described as a divine Commander, celestial sword drawn.
Joshua asks the obvious question, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
The mysterious officer responds simply, “Neither,” then adds, “But as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Our clue that this person is otherworldly and most likely an epiphany of Christ comes from Joshua’s reaction. He does not argue. He does not demand God represent his interests. He just falls on his face to the ground in reverence, and the Commander accepts his worship.
“Take off your sandals,” the Chief of the host of heaven commands, “for the place where you are standing is holy.”
How does this help us today, when the D.C. of our day arrogantly claims divine backing, when we wonder whose side God is on? It seems we had better leave that sort of arrogance to the D.C. and embrace humility instead. The place on which we stand in holy ground, because it is ultimately God’s ground. It’s His earth, His heaven, His universe. He is not a puppet to be manipulated into doing our will. In that sense, He is not on anyone’s side.
He is on His side, and the question we must ask ourselves is, “Whose side am I on anyways?” Will we take up our own version of claiming divine backing and arrogantly butt heads with anyone in our way? Or will we humble ourselves before our ever-present Maker, barefoot, prostrate before Him, taking His lead on how to face those in-your-face, door-slamming encounters with the D.C.? Our loyalty is not to be to our own cause, but to humbly submit to God’s.
“This is the one I esteem,” says the LORD. “He who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” No need to tremble before the arrogant words of the D.C. We are called to tremble before the Word of God, Chief of the host of heaven, the Almighty Prince of Peace, Jesus.