Dog breeding has become a science. Once ferocious wild dogs and wolves have, over the centuries, been bred into domesticated, loveable pets that sit on your lap and sleep on your pillow. We have even bred dogs for specific purposes. The greyhound was bred for speed. The sheepdog was bred to herd sheep. The dachshund or badger dog was bred in Germany to fetch small animals from their burrows. Like the pit bull, bulldogs were originally bred to help butchers control livestock. The Yorkshire terrier was bred just to look cute (I think). We have taken wild animals and domesticated them to serve our own purposes.
We try and do the same thing with God. Either some say that God does not really exist; but the human mind wants something depend or give it meaning, so we have invented the notion of “god” to feel better about ourselves. Or others will say that certainly God does exist but then worship a “god” made in their own image. Normally this “god” is very politically correct, has no concept of sin and everyone gets to go to heaven except Hitler.
This god loves every one of all religions because he is in all religions; and how dare you say any different?
So we have domesticated God to suit our own opinions.
Even Christians, who worship the God of the Bible, are tempted to do the same. We might not like the idea of judgment and hell so much, so we’ll skip over those passages and only talk about love, flowers and inner healing. Or we tend to think that God exists to make my life better and more comfortable. In other words, God exists really to serve me. So I’ll serve God as long as he serves me and fits in with my plans for my career, my children, my marriage and my money. If God stops serving me, maybe I’ll stop serving him – so he better watch out.
Praying to God
If you think we don’t do this, simply examine your prayer life. What do you pray for? Normally we pray about a good job, safety on the road and about having a happy day. It’s not wrong to pray for these things – Jesus said we can pray about anything – but our prayers must end with: “your will be done, not mine”.
Does God exist to serve me or do I exist to serve God? We try to domesticate, tame and control God in all kinds of ways. Yet the God of the Bible won’t and can’t be domesticated, tamed or controlled. Whatever you may think or not think about God does not change who he truly is. God has revealed himself through his Word and the question is not, “Is God on your side?” but, “Are you on God’s side?”
Joshua learnt this lesson in chapter 5 of the book that bears his name. The Israelites had arrived in the Promised Land, but there’s a massive problem – other nations are living in the land. The Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Amorites etc. How are they going to conquer the land?
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. (5:13)
Joshua looks up and sees a warrior in an aggressive stance. We know his is a warrior because he has a sword. We know he is in an aggressive stance because the sword is drawn. I’m not sure who Joshua thinks the warrior is at this stage, but the warrior is no doubt powerful, ominous and not to be trifled with. Joshua asks a very common-sense question.
“Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” (5:13)
Joshua is a warrior himself; want to know who’s side this other warrior is on. He asks, “Are you on our side or one the people of Jericho’s side?” The warrior’s reply is terribly frightening:
“No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” (5:14)
The warrior says, “I’m neither on your side, nor anyone else’s, but I am the captain of the army of God.” Often God is described in the Old Testament as the Lord of “hosts” or “armies”. The “hosts” are the thousands upon thousands of angels in heaven at God’s service. They are the heavenly army. Here is a great warrior and he tells Joshua that he’s neither for Israel or for their enemies. He is the commander of the army of the Lord and he has come. Joshua is not to be too concerned with the problem of conquering the nations living in the land. Why not? Commander of God’s army has arrived.
The question is not so much, “Is God on your side?” because God is on no-one’s side; he’s on his own side. The question is, “Are you on God’s side?” Often we make our own plans, own decisions and own arrangements and then we ask God to “bless” them. More fundamentally, we should first make sure our life and plans align with God’s plan as revealed in the Bible.
Jericho (Joshua ch. 6) was devoted to total destruction because of it’s sin and rebellion again God (cf. Genesis 15:13-16). God will not be domesticated. He is the Holy God and will judge all sin and rebellion against him. The good news of the Bible is that Jesus died for sin so that God’s judgment may pass over all who trust in him. When we try to domesticate God in any way, we do it to our own detriment.
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