What side will you take?
Which one shall I chose?
Who will you stand with?
Life is full of choices they bombard us every day for attention from large challenges to small incidental choices that make up the day, tea or coffee, is it toast or biscuits, this way or that way some times choices of opposites and some times so slightly different that it can be complicated. Choices of benefits to you personally, choices that benefit the whole wider community, choices that cost you but are for the greater good. O my word life is full of them!
We also know that from the onset of Gods dealings with humanity, in the account of early Genesis, that he also offers choices. Looking at the story of Adam the Father seeks to mature his sons by bringing before them choices, so that we can learn what it is to be led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14). Adam is given a choice of trees to eat from and directed in his choice yet he made the very opposite choice. Since the beginning God has brought moral choices to you and I as a process of our maturing as his sons. We are even told in Hebrews 5:8 that Jesus who had grown in favour with men also and “learned obedience through suffering” even the Christ had choices set before him, through his overcoming choice He brought to you and I the entry to a face to face relationship with the Father.
Yet within the pages of the bible there are choices offered and some times a different answer is presented and necessary. When you read the opening chapter of the book of Joshua I suggest one these necessary different answer is being presented. But let me commence by starting with offering to you a new “beginning” to this familiar account of the battle of Jericho. We all consider the story commencing in chapter six with God telling the Israelites to walk around Jericho for seven days before the walls “came tumbling down.” Showing us that there is a time for a “shout of faith” on one day and the long walk of 6 days of “silent faith”, we all like the shout but what about the silent faith, that’s for another article. Let me suggest to you that the actual story beginnings at the end of chapter five. In Joshua 5:13 we are introduced to a simple setting that is often missed, Joshua is “near the city”, he is not at a safe distance but the picture opens up in a risky place for an enemy commander to be. What he was doing there? He is not at a safe distance he has found himself near his enemy and as he draws near he is about to encounter the realm beyond the moment. Is it not often when we feel the imminent danger the nearness of threat that an encounter is on the way? Was he on a reconnaissance mission? Was he studying the city walls, trying to come up with a plan of attack?
Suddenly, Joshua is interrupted when he looks up and sees a man in front of him not any man but one with “drawn sword“. Battle ready and Joshua His battle instincts triggered, Joshua walks forward with a challenge: “Are you for us or our adversaries?”
How does the man answer? “Neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” “Neither”
Joshua’s as many of us was clear in his mind he saw two options for us or from them, but that “neither” blew his for and against, friend-or-foe sides out of the water. The passage reveals that it is not just a man but God who was in front of Joshua— and God isn’t bound by “option A or option B” thinking. As the story unfolds we find a strange picture being described as a shoe less commander near the enemy in the middle of holiness as God outlines His plan.
Do you like me often get lost in your mind on what comes before us with “this or that” which is “right or wrong” and the whole moment is summed up with making my choice. we move from circumstance to people also become either “friends or foes”. I can only choose between ‘option 1 or 2’, ‘door 1 or door 2’. Sometimes we even come knocking at God, trying to get Him to tell me which option He’s going to identify with. Joshua’s story reminds me that God may be replying to my “This or that? questions with, “Neither.” What does that mean to me, just maybe, perhaps it is better I recognize His presence, take off my shoes, and stand still for a while on holy ground. Not to get religious, but the very place where your foot is standing now, in every day moment is holy ground, this is constantly the ground of God, and therefore holy ground. Has not heaven come to earth in you, heaven has come to reside in you, to remain in his temple, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the residence of Christ, you are always standing on holy ground. Then avoid making somewhere outside of you as holy and disqualifying yourself, thinking too little of yourself, God has chosen to make his residency in this human life, is this not part of salvation? Heaven has come to earth inside you. Otherwise we will live always chasing heaven and never arriving. Realize heaven has taken up residence in you “Christ in us the hope of glory”. This encounter is to prevent us getting lost in the debate of sides “whose side are you on”, but more bout getting a third perspective, so that He your heavenly Father can outline a perspective we would have never considered otherwise.
“Neither” is often the Fathers view when we offer our predicament, or situation, friend or foe arguments, which way is it this or that and the answer is “neither” let me show you my option. Listen for your “Neither” to have heavens option