We live in the days of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, baiting us with the temptation to feel as though we must pick a side of the line in the sand and choose which banner we’re going to stand under; the Israelis, or the Palestinians? Who’s right? (Is anyone?) Which narrative will history vindicate as truth—that Israelis have stolen someone else’s territory, only to occupy it as a militaristic force under an apartheid regime, or that our sympathy should be given to the Israelis, who are simply trying to survive continued extermination attempts at the hands of bloodthirsty suicide bombers and genocidal neighbors?

While it’s imperative to put the conflict in its proper context,[1] we also cannot responsibly dismiss the plight of the suffering—on either side of the checkpoints and armistice line—whilst professing ourselves disciples of our Master from Nazareth. This is where we stumble upon our plumb line: We’re disciples of Jesus, “Son of Abraham, Son of David”[2] before we’re anything or anyone else. Thus the modern geopolitical conflict and social injustices must be seen through the lens of His Personhood, plans and purposes as revealed through the Scripture written by the prophets and the apostles. We should be wary of how little attention the prophets receive in Western teachings and sermons, or how fluid their context is considered when they are mentioned. God spoke for centuries through the Hebrew prophets about what He intended and intends to do in the earth; we cannot afford to be ignorant of their messages. If myopia arrests our gaze and forces us to stare at modern, finite—albeit bloody and contentious—geopolitical conflicts rather than the broad scope of redemptive history barreling towards the Day of the LORD,[3] nothing will make much sense. We’ll simply argue, backbite and grasp for wind.[4]

Just before the miraculous siege—the miraculous, military, siege—of Jericho, the commander of Israel’s armed forces took a moonlit stroll, likely to get some headspace and think through the tactics with whatever meager solitude he could find. While out on his walk, he ran into a Man who’d already drawn His sword. Joshua understandably stopped in his tracks, frozen with fear, with one question that could yet escape his lips: “Are you for us or against us?”[5]

“Whose side are You on?”

The answer came quite like Gabriel’s elevator pitch to come years later to a similarly stupefied man (though Zechariah was frozen more with disbelief than fear)—“I stand before the LORD of Hosts”[6]—yet with greater authority: 

“No, but as the Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”[7]

Joshua expected one of two answers, and received neither. What he heard instead was, “Joshua, this is bigger than you and your campaigns. This is bigger than Jericho. This is bigger than Canaan. You know nothing of it. All you need to know right now is you’re standing on holy ground.” That tiny, frightened man (who had once, with Caleb, been the sole representation of courage in his entire company)[8] removed his shoes and bowed before the One who put the dust in the desert they met on.

As we navigate the expression of covenant tension in our own era, we must remember Joshua’s default inquiry when he saw the sword-drawn LORD of glory: “Are You on my side or theirs?” He received a gentle, humbling rebuke: “Joshua, you’re My pawn on My chessboard.” We are but pawns on His cosmic chessboard, given only the information He deems fit to share. Our post-Enlightenment, “post-truth” even, generation scorns submission and faith as the drunken stupor of naivety, and we fear accepting what we’re told when such nuanced complexities and human lives are involved.

The Lord is not afraid of our questions and tensions. He who made the mind and gave us frontal lobes with critical thinking capacities beckons us to fully love Him with our minds.[9] That means searching, seeking, and knocking with aggravating persistence.[10] It also means we surrender our minds to the One who stitched them together and believe what He says when He says it, however He sees fit to say it. It means we burn our banners, erase our lines in the sand and bow our faces to His Word. Let Scripture be engraved on our hearts and held above our minds, intellect and confusions. I am confident the Greater Joshua will lead us out of the ashes of our banners to “do justly, love mercy and walk humbly.”[11]






[1]  See “The History of the Conflict.” COMING SOON
[2]  Matthew 1:1
[3]  Zechariah 14:1-21
[4]  Ecclesiastes 1:14; II Corinthians 12:20
[5]  Joshua 5:13
[6]  Luke 1:19
[7]  Joshua 5:14
[8]  Joshua 5:15; Numbers 13:1-14:38
[9]  Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27
[10] Matthew 7:7-12Luke 11:9; 18:1-8
[11] Micah 6:8