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Whose Side Are You On?

I was listening to a lecture by Professor Bruce Waltke on some Old Testament stuff. I know, I know, exhilarating. Bear with me. Although I was driving while listening, I think I got the point regarding expectations.

We all have expectations of God. Do this. Give me that. Fix this. Help me. We cry out day and night. And God is quite happy to assist. But there are expectations of us too – one really big one – one that we can’t miss – whose side are we on? God’s? Or our own?

I think we’re more inclined to stick with our own ideas and interests.

Bruce touched on the Fall Of Jericho and some of its highly symbolic language. Joshua, a leader of the Israelite tribes, was embroiled in war. He looks up and sees a man standing in front him with a drawn sword. Joshua asks, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” A reasonable question when someone’s brandishing a sword.

“Neither.” we are told. Okay…? The mysterious sword-wielding-man then states, “As commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Joshua is psyched and asks “Great, what message do you bring?” The man of mystery then says “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.”

What the heck? It’s an interesting exchange to say the least, but God, the symbolic sword-wielding-man, was first establishing that we need to do things his way – he’s the commander. A reasonable request if you’re the creator of the universe, I think anyway.

It reminded me of when I get pulled over. The first thing the officer does is demand, “License and registration.” If we protest, they’ll repeat “License and registration.” They’re establishing their authority. I’m not suggesting God is doing this in the same dictatorial sense as our fine protectors of the law. God is more saying “Okay, we’ll do this, but we’ll do it together and it needs to jive with my overarching plans because they’re way better than your concoctions, capeesh?”

Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson


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  1. Matt516 says:

    At first I thought you were going to say you were pulled over while listening to the sermon! It’s so easy to give seeking God lip service (heartfelt) while all the time keeping our own interests in the center of our minds, hearts, and all that we are doing and being. Truly seeking God involves a consistent habit of digging into the depths of our being to discover those parts of ourselves that still lie outside the good influence of God. That, my friends, is hard to do, but so worth it. Being totally on God’s side … takes a lot of grace – all the time. God…strengthen me to do it!

    • Ted Olson says:

      Matt516 – thanks for your comment. Yes it’s easy to “think” we’re on God’s side, but the reality – the practice and thoughts of our everyday lives – tells a very different story. As you inferred, with God, it can be done – and, I think, with practice, it gets easier to the point where there is simply no other option. Death would be preferred.

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