(Exodus 32:1–8, 19–29)
One of the commonest questions that is asked in life as we face every decision and as the public decides in every matter of government is this: “On whose side are you?” We have just been through a general election—the first in the series was on February 25 and the second took place on March 18, 2023. Throughout the electioneering campaigns, people often met one another and asked the same question: “On whose side are you?” Not only that, some persons tried to set the different ethnic groups against one another. What should be the position of Christians in such a situation? Christians must be on the side of God at all times, regardless of what the issues are. There is perhaps no better passage to help us understand the need for this than Exodus 32 where Moses asked the children of Israel, “Who is on the Lord’s side?”
The background to this is that while Moses was away on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God, the Israelites veered into idolatry. Their reason for this is that they did not know what had become of Moses, who had been away for about forty days. According to them, they needed another god that could lead them to the Promised Land. Unfortunately, Aaron, who should have known better, went ahead to produce a molten calf for them, named it the god who brought them out of Egypt, and led them to offer sacrifices to it. When Moses returned from Mt. Sinai with the tablets of stone on which were written the Ten Commandments, he found the people worshipping the calf-idol. His reaction to this development is in Exodus 32:25–26. “25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. 26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.” Moses had seen that the people had cast off all restraint, that they had been running wild, totally out of control morally (Exodus 32:25). And tragically, they had become a joke to their enemies. The Hebrew word for out of control means to expose, uncover, and loosen all restraints. The people had apparently stripped themselves and were engaging in immoral and sexual misconduct—all due to the wild partying, drinking, and dancing. Moses, therefore, shouted out for all to take a stand for the LORD (Exodus 32:26). Tragically, only the Levites from among the partying crowd rallied to him. Moses then declared that the guilty were to be executed (Exodus 32:27). He called upon the Levites to execute every evil person, even their family members. The Levites obeyed, and three thousand evil, rebellious people were executed (Exodus 32:28). By coming to Moses, the sons of Levi chose to be on the Lord’s side. This choice of the tribe of Levi was rewarded with great honour as they received the blessing of being the priests to God on behalf of the nation of Israel (Deut. 33:8–11). In our choices as to whom we will serve, we also must take sides.
In the Fall, man, through Adam and Eve, chose to go against his Creator (Gen. 3:1-6; Rom. 1:18-32). Because of this, man has become separated from fellowship with God. Since then, God has been calling man back to fellowship through his servants, the prophets. The side that man ought to choose is seen from the following admonitions: Joshua [“Now, therefore, fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth” (Joshua 24:14)]; Elijah [“How long halt ye between the two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:21)]; Jesus [“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” (Matthew 6:24)]. The apostle Paul stated the choice that preachers face in their preaching: “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
What, then, does the Bible say about God’s side? God’s side is truth, and truth is found in His word [“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17.17)]. To be on God’s side is to choose or accept God’s word on all matters, including how to be saved. God foreordained salvation to be in Christ (Eph. 1:3-11; 3:9-11; Titus 1:2). To be “on the Lord’s side” is to accept Jesus’ teachings on all matters (John 8:31— “31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples; 2 John 1:9— “9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son”). What should we do if we would be on God’s side? Choosing to be “on the Lord’s side” is more than mental assent; it is acting upon your belief in God’s word. It is to do the things Jesus said to do (Luke 6.46). Faith and obedience to God’s word bring us to God’s side.
If we would be on the Lord’s side, we must, first, be careful of the company we keep or people we associate with (Psalms 1:1-2—“1Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night;” Psalms 119:63— “63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts”). We must not associate with men of this world whose reward is this life (Psalms 17:8-9, 13-14a—14 O LORD, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life”). We must not associate with those who have a form of godliness but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:1-5— “5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them”).
Second, we must know what pleases the LORD and live to please Him alone. God has stated very clearly for us in the Bible what pleases Him (Jeremiah 9:23-24— “23 This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD;” Micah 6:6-8— “8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”). If we are on God’s side, we will not be party to destroying anyone just because they belong to a different ethnic, religious, political, or socio-economic group. We would treat everyone the way God treats them (Matthew 5:43-48— “43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”). Talking about “enemies,” I am always intrigued by the episode in the life of the Israelites when they camped outside of the walls of Jericho. We read in Joshua 5:13-14— “13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The implication of this passage is that God is only on our side when we are on His side (2 Chron. 15:1-2), and doing the things that are pleasing unto Him. There is no wholesale endorsement of our actions by God just because we are His children. There are times when the Lord will be with us, and there are times when the Lord will be with our so-called enemies because He made us all. In Psalms 9:7-9, we read, “7 The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. 8 He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. 9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”
Third, we must be free from the love of money, position, and power (Matthew 4:8-10— “8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only;'” 1 Timothy 6:6-10— “6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs;” Hebrews 13:5— “5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you;” Philippians 3:17-19— “17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things”).
Fourth, we must be ready to stand alone, if need be, in order to prove our faithfulness to God (1 Kings 19:9-10— “9 There, he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 1 Kings 22:12-14— “12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing: “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.” 13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, as one man, the other prophets are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favourably.” 14 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me.”
Fifth, we must adopt God’s priority as our own and be ready to pay the price of being on His side (1 Timothy 2:1-4— “1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth; 2 Timothy 3:10-13— “10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings–what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived”).
Finally, what are the blessings that we stand to gain from being on God’s side? God foreordains spiritual blessings to those who choose to be on His side. In addition to forgiveness of past sins, he has promised adoption as His spiritual children, sealed in a covenant relationship. Bible examples abound that show that the righteous are spiritually blessed. Abel was accepted, while Cain was rejected. Noah and his family were spared, while the wicked were destroyed. Lot’s life was saved while Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. So, likewise, will it be at judgement, as the righteous few will be rewarded with heaven while the wicked majority will suffer eternal damnation (Matthew 7.13-14). God also undertakes to meet the temporal needs of those who choose to be on His side. He will supply all that we need to fulfil His purpose for our lives.
Your eternal salvation and spiritual well-being are our concerns. If you wish to receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour, you can pray the following prayer to God: “Dear God, I thank you for sending Jesus into the world to die for my sins. I repent of my sins right now and invite Him into my life to be my Lord and Saviour. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you offered this prayer to God, please write to let us know at the address below. You are also invited to join us in worshipping the Lord every Sunday in Yoruba at 7.20 a.m. and in English at 9.00 a.m.
- Good News Baptist Church,
47/49, Olufemi Road,
Off Ogunlana Drive,
P. O. Box 3781,