If you're a Bible student, you're most likely familiar with the battle of Jericho recorded in Joshua 5:13 of the Old Testament. It was only recently that I noticed a key part of that story that I'd read past many times before. Here are the two key verses from which I'll make my point.

13 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?"

14 "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come."

The Commander was a messenger of the Lord (also called an angel). Some argue that He was actually Jesus who appeared in Old Testament days in human form and 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 said He was their God and brought them through terrible times. How could He possibly be neutral between His people and His enemies? It didn't make any sense. Then I did what most ex-preachers won't admit; I used the footnotes of my Bible.

The footnote said, "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 from the footnotes of the NIV Study Bible.

Make no mistake, we are certainly supposed to fight on God's side. I've often heard people suggest that there is no fight, that Christianity is somehow a neutral religion that doesn't take positions or stands. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus was crucified for the very fact that He took stands. Some of His extremely bold stands were claiming to be the Son of God, that the religious leaders of the day were "white-washed tombs" full of bones and that He could tear down the holy Temple and rebuild it in 3 days. He took strong stands and made enemies for doing so.

But as the text demonstrates, it's up to us to fight the battles of God.

His priorities come first and we must choose positions and convictions based on His stands. So rather than looking at it as God taking sides in politics, religion or other aspects of life, we must focus on God's eternal Word that serves as absolute 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.

Look around and make sure you are on God's side rather than living as though He ought to pick your cause.

Lee Wilson founded Grace-Centered Christian Forums, Real Christian Singles, and works with Love Path Institute, an organization that works to save marriage relationships from separation and divorce.  

Original publication date: June 1, 2009