As a Lenten practice during this season, clergy and leaders in the church from youth to elders will be sharing their devotions.
Scripture: Joshua 5-8
Key verses: (5:13-14) “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?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as a commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell down to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
Reflection: Are you for us or against us? Oh how often we ask this question without realizing it. So often we view the world through an either/or lens. In group, out group. With us, against us. Good guys, bad guys. In our text for today we find Joshua on his way to conquer Jericho. Joshua has been commissioned by God as Moses’ successor, he had a lot of responsibility riding on him, he had a lot of power. I can only imagine that through the trials that Joshua and the Israelites faced that they felt like there were only two people in the world, those with them or those against them, and it was Joshua’s job to keep those with him close and those against him at bay.
And so Joshua asks this question, “Are you for us or against us?” Joshua thought he was ready for any answer. If the man was with them, great add another to the numbers. If the man was against them, then get ready for battle. Yet the man gave the only response Joshua wasn’t ready for when he replied “Neither, but as a commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” What a message to stop Joshua in his tracks. In this moment Joshua was reminded of God’s sovereignty over all of creation, that God was Lord over all, that while the Israelites were God’s chosen people that God was bigger than one nation.
May this passage cause us to pause as well. In our current culture of divisive sides, we often try to pull God with us to one side or another, giving a litmus test to others of whether they are with us “real Christians” or against us. And yet, God is neither. God is bigger than our human divisiveness. God works in and through and outside of the church through all kinds of people and in all kinds of places. How do you hear these words today? Where might you be setting up “sides” where in reality there might be a third way? May we hear God’s call and respond.
Prayer: God of creation, we pray that you would guide us this day to see a third way, your way. Soften our hearts from their divisive nature, and open them to your love. Help us pause this day to reflect upon your vast love for all of creation. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].