Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.” – Nehemiah 2:20
For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. – 1 Corinthians 3:9
It’s one thing to say, “God is on our side” – especially after a successful battle or project. It is quite another to consider sincerely whether or not we are on God’s side. The latter is much more important, and while impossible to prove, lived out in dedicated, intentional, and persistent faith.
The Psalmist says, “If the Lord had not been on our side…” (even saying it twice, cf. Psalm 124:1-2). The Old Testament is filled with examples and object lessons of what happens when Israel was not following in God’s ways, and he was not on their side. They experienced initial defeat at Ai because of the sin of Achan. Later, God sent them, and gave them success. On one occasion Jonathan, David’s son took his armor bearer and attacked the Philistines, saying to him in preparation for the battle, “It may be that the Lord will work for us…” (1 Samuel 14:6).
Sometimes today God’s providential care can be seen in the success of a particular endeavor. Sometimes, however, it rains buckets on Christmas Eve, or hurricanes devastate churches and schools. In any case, however, God is at work for the cause of his kingdom and his good purpose: to save the world through faith in Jesus.
Jesus is God’s ultimate sign of God being on our side. Think of it this way: the entire Old Testament is a testimony of what doesn’t work: God speaking to man immediately gives way to his people calling for a king. Kings too quickly become corrupt so God sends priests to offer atonement for the peoples’ sins. But the people continue to fall away, and God sends prophets. Prophets are too easily and often ignored and even killed.
Our Prophet, Priest, and King, the Lord Jesus, has come and assured us that God is on our side. That’s a good thing, for we will never perfectly be on God’s side – try as we might. But try we must; for it is not wise to kick against the goads (cf. Acts 26:14).