When Moses returned from the top of the mount, after having received the law from God, he came face to face with those he had led there, wrapped up in idolatry. The golden calf had been made and worshiped by the children of Israel. Both God and Moses were angered by such actions. Moses asked the question, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me” (Exo. 32:26). Like the children of Israel, we too must choose a side. Jesus once said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matt. 12:30). The Lord has already chosen you to be on His side. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (John 3:16). Jesus invited all that labor and are heavy laden to come (Matt. 11:28). “Whosever ever will” is invited to come (Rev. 22:17). God would “have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:3-4). Yet, not all are on His side. The reason is that man has to choose for himself to be on the Lord’s side. What does it require to be on the Lord’s side?
It may well require that which you do not want to do. In the text we noted where Moses asked who was on the Lord’s side, the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him and were told to slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour (Exo. 32:26-27). It is not likely that they desired to do such, but that was what being on the Lord’s side required of them. As Christians, we will not have to slay our friends and such with a sword, but we may well have to do some things we simply do not want to do. It is likely that we will have to abstain from certain “pleasures of life”. Fornication, adultery, drunkenness and such like will have to be put aside (Gal. 5:19-21). You may have to get out of your “comfort zone” and teach others.
The Lord’s side may require that which seems foolish to you. When Israel crossed the Jordan River under the leadership of Joshua, their first battle was to take the walled city of Jericho. They were told to march around the city once a day for six days, then seven times on the seventh day, blow the trumpets and shout and the walls of Jericho would fall down. This would no doubt sound foolish to any military man, in fact to any intelligent person. Yet, being on the Lord’s side required it. God’s way often seems foolish to mere man. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isa. 55:8). Paul said, “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” and that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (I Cor. 1:18, 25). Can’t understand how baptism washes away sins? It does so because God requires it just like He required the Israelites to compass the city of Jericho.
The Lord’s side may well be a costly side. Certainly one cannot purchase salvation. Yet, there is a required cost. Jesus taught, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:27-28). It will cost commitment. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). It may cost family. Just before His statement about counting the cost, Jesus had told them that serving Him must come before, even the members of one’s family (Luke 14:26). It will cost money. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give…” (II Cor. 9:7). It will cost work (I Cor. 15:58).
The Lord’s side will likely be a lonely side. Out of the over six hundred thousand men numbered when Israel left Egypt, only two made it to the promise land, Joshua and Caleb. Out of the multitudes that were on the earth at the time of the flood, only Noah and his family survived the flood. The truth is simply that those on God’s side have always been and will always be in the minority. Jesus said concerning the broad and easy way that leads to destruction, “Many there be which go in thereat” (Matt. 7:13). But of the strait and narrow way that leads to life, He said, “Few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14). Following the majority will usually lead to eternal destruction.
What the Lord’s side requires is complete submission to His will. No more can one do what he or she likes, but what the Lord has specified. What feels good or right is not the issue, but what the Lord said. Being on the Lord’s side may sound like a difficult way to choose, however the end result will be worth all that is required of us in being on His side.
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.