Now is the time of Joshua 5:13-15. With the nations and ethnic groups in uproar and problems on every side. Each of us wants to ask God in a pointed way Joshua’s question. “Are you on my side?” (or on ‘our’ side!) But the answer is the same now as then. He answers, “Neither! Do you stand with me?!”
Remember that this response was decisively made to Joshua even though he and Israel had been given promises of victory from Yahweh confirmed by miracles over 40 years. Even false prophets like Balaam had confirmed God’s blessing and plan. In spite of this, the angel’s first words were a strong reminder that even Israel must understand ‘it is not about me or even us —it’s about Him.’ They must understand who is truly in control and continually submit to Yahweh’s cleansing and His guidance.
If this is true of Israel, who has had strong prophesies of victory, how much more is it true of organizations, ethnic groups and nations today? Just as the angel appeared to Joshua on the eve of a critical battle, the world is on the edge of a critical period and it is time for a heart check.
It is human nature to put whatever group we are part of first. This is true whether that ‘group’ is based on ethnic identity, nationality, religion, or ideology. And make no mistake, multi-culturalism is just as much a ‘group’ as any other. Even those of us who claim Jesus as our Lord can easily confuse our ‘group’ and interests with God’s plan.
Now is the time for those who follow Jesus to ask ourselves where our heart is. As the scripture states, judgment (and by implication testing) begins in the house of God. Are we willing to walk through God’s plan?
Remember that Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you” was part of Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles correcting the false prophets and giving them the bad news that they would be in Babylon for 70 years. God’s plan is not always good news. In the short term, the good and righteous do not always win. If we need to, are we able to hear the news that we are to be salt and light to a corrupt empire?
This is the primary question for now.
Are we submitted to Jesus whatever happens in the coming days?
Are we ready to hear His plan instead of our own?
This is a tough question and requires faith and confidence in Jesus to answer correctly. This is why Jesus told the disciples, and, through them, us that we are not to be afraid. He promised He would never leave or forsake us. It is why the Jews in exile received Jer. 29:11 as part of the bad news. In effect, He told them: Yes there is a difficult time ahead. Yes you are walking this out because you failed horribly as a people. But, I am in charge and the plan I have for you is “a plan for a hope and a future” and it is still in place!
So don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be afraid of the answer. If we are listening and if our ears are not clogged by self interest or pet philosophies, then those with clear hearts and open ears will know the path at the right time.
So Joshua did not question Yahweh’s motives. He fell to His knees and asked for Yahweh’s plan. This is the time for us to do the same.