“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
The commander of the Lord's army replied, "Take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
- Joshua 5:13-15
In this passage, Joshua is scouting the city of Jericho: the first great battle on the epic journey to possess the promised land. In this place he encounters a “man” with a drawn sword in his hand and assumes he is a warrior. Joshua's question seems logical…”Who are you for? Whose side are you on?”
The answer is anything but logical… ”Neither” or as some translations say… ”No.” Apparently Joshua is asking the wrong question! Then the man goes on to identify himself as “commander of the army of the Lord” and to declare that he “has now come.” The fact that Joshua falls down to worship indicates that this is no ordinary man or even an angel. It is Jesus Himself.
Then comes the right question...“What message does my Lord have for his servant?” As Joshua removes his sandals and listens in a posture of reverence, God unveils a battle plan that no human could have dreamed up. A plan that would bring city walls crashing down and win a stunning victory for the people of God.
Even before the current challenges in our society I have noticed a tendency in myself and others to pick sides. Then we “ask” or assume that God is on our side. But lately, when I feel that question rising up, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” I sense God’s gentle correction...neither...no...it’s the wrong question. He has a plan. He is the Commander. My place is to fall down in reverence, remove earthly sandals and listen for divine instructions. “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
By God's grace, may we be people who are less concerned with picking and protecting our “side” and more concerned with worshiping and listening to our Lord. Let's ask the right question!