LCN Article
Who Is on the Lord’s Side?

July / August 2021

Rod McNair

When Moses received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai, he may have expected to return to a “hero’s welcome” in the camp of Israel. But that didn’t happen. Instead of having a happy reunion with a grateful nation, he was shocked to find the children of Israel dancing and reveling around a golden calf. The children of Israel had pledged to worship and revere God alone. They had solemnly promised to leave their sinful, idolatrous ways behind them—but now, they had grievously dishonored that covenant.

In the rush of events that happened next, what stands out is Moses’ challenge to the whole congregation to declare where their loyalties were. The account is relayed in Exodus:

Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him (Exodus 32:25–26).

Moses challenged the children of Israel to examine their priorities. There was no waffling or sitting on the fence now; they had to decide whether they were on God’s side or not.

That challenge is worthwhile for us to consider today. Our world is increasingly polarized and there is a powerful temptation to take sides, even on political issues. The political issues that became enflamed last year have only become more heated.

Each year at the Feast of Trumpets, we are reminded of the big picture—that at Jesus’ return to the earth, He will come as a conquering King. When His Kingdom rules on earth, His servants will take up His cause and fight to establish His rule. Revelation gives a glimpse of that event: “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war…. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses” (Revelation 19:11, 14).

Christ and the saints will rule over the earth for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4, 6), and then the Great White Throne Judgment will begin. Against the backdrop of the chaos and the outright street fights that increasing polarization has brought to even “peaceful” areas of our world, this is the cause that we must focus on—the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

But that Kingdom is not here yet. So, how do we respond to the pressures that try to pull us into the causes of this world? How do we make sure we stay on the Lord’s side?

Conservative, Liberal, or Christian?

As members of God’s Church, we may find ourselves on the same side as “conservatives” on certain issues. On other issues, we may share values with political “liberals.” However, true political conservatives and liberals are often aghast to find out that members of God’s Church are actually apolitical and don’t get involved in politics.

If there’s one thing politically active Americans cannot stand, it’s people who do not vote! Why don’t we vote? Because no political party has the ultimate answers, and God is the One who places leaders in positions of power. What if God’s will is to raise up a certain leader to accomplish His own purpose, and we vote against that candidate? We could actually be opposing God’s will by casting our vote.

We must not be swayed by the false argument that getting involved politically is somehow our Christian duty. It’s actually just the opposite—our Christian duty is to stand for God’s cause and not take sides with human political forces.

Could members of God’s Church someday in the future face increasing pressure to become politically active? Absolutely. Actually, it has happened before. Some of our brethren, particularly in countries outside the United States, have faced immense pressure to get involved in local causes and conflicts. Some decades ago, one of our faithful Church members lived in an area suffering under insurrectionists’ battles with government forces. This member was pressured by both sides to join with them in the armed conflict—and one force was a “Christian” militia. The man faced a very dangerous situation personally—economically, too, since he had a successful local business. But after counseling with his pastor and being strengthened by Christ’s warning that “all who take the sword will perish by the sword,” he determined to resist the temptations from both sides and trust in God. God blessed and protected him and his family, and he continues to serve as a faithful leader and elder to this day.

To him, the pressure was not theoretical or hypothetical. Others undoubtedly have faced similar situations. What if you or I were put under that kind of pressure? Could we unintentionally be dragged into false causes?

Fighting over Deck Chairs

There is a saying that when someone is bustling around in a frenzy of activity in support of a losing cause, they are, in effect, “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” No matter how well you rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic, it’s still going to sink—in other words, we shouldn’t spend time on futile efforts.

Today, however, political groups are not just rearranging these deck chairs; they are fighting over these deck chairs. Do we really want to get caught up in that? Or do we want to take a third option and get off the sinking ship altogether? If we think about this world as the Titanic, God’s people got off the boat long ago (1 John 2:15). This world—the boat—is sinking. It is Satan’s world, built on lust, greed, and pride—sinful attitudes that lead to self-destruction. When we were baptized, we made the decision to come out of this world and be different (Revelation 18:4). We turned our back on the world, and now we are striving to follow God and His cause faithfully. We shouldn’t be fighting over what is on the boat if we are already off the boat.

But is that all there is to it—to get off the ship and never look back? Did God just call us to save ourselves? Or are we supposed to become involved in the effort to help others get off the sinking ship as well? God wants us not only to focus on ourselves and our salvation, but also to help others—to assist those whom He is drawing out of this world. We are to be a “light of the world,” shining in the darkness, giving light and hope to those who are willing to see it (Matthew 5:14).

That is what the Work of God is doing today. God’s Kingdom is not yet established on the earth—we will be part of that cause when Christ returns. The cause right now is the work of announcing and preparing the world for the establishment of that Kingdom of God. We are a part of the Work that Christ is doing in saving those who hear the message, respond, and repent. We also live as a witness to God’s way, truth, and power.

What cause could be more important?

Motivated for a Cause

Today, more and more people are filled with political zeal to support some cause or another, because they see that as crucial to the survival of their group or their nation. They see their causes as requiring dedication, commitment, and sustained effort.

What about us? Are we as zealous for God’s Work as some people are for carnal political causes? When Jesus was on this earth, He was motivated to get His job done. It’s what drove Him and gave His life meaning and purpose. He explained it this way: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34).

Jesus’ attitude was not to wait around or be lazy—He was focused on doing God’s Work and doing it right away, with no delay. He made this focus plain to His disciples when He said, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (v. 35).

He also explained that no one lives or works alone and in a vacuum. We all walk a path that has been trod by others before us. In terms of the Work, He explained it this way: “For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors” (vv. 37–38). Like so many of you, I have personally benefited from the many faithful members of God’s Church who committed themselves to God’s Work under Mr. Herbert Armstrong back in the 1930s and 1940s. My parents were called as a result of those Church members’ zealous and faithful support of Mr. Armstrong’s powerful ministry.

What about you? When did you become aware of the truth? Who labored to make it possible for you to learn the truth? These are important questions to ask as we commit ourselves to making that same truth available to others.

With God’s help, we will accomplish His Work and fulfill His will for us. We have much to do and more people to reach! The Church itself is constituted to do the Work; it is here to announce the coming of the Kingdom of God and to prepare the world for it.

So, what are specific ways we can get more involved in the cause of preaching the Gospel and preparing the world for Jesus Christ’s return?

Watch and Pray

We are commanded to “watch” as the end of the age approaches. It’s vital that we watch world events and stay in tune with what’s happening on the world scene. Whether that’s through the newspaper, radio, television, or Internet, we should stay up to date. Dr. Roderick C. Meredith personally set that example for decades, often bringing up news events in his classes and sermons.

But how do we make sure we are properly understanding those world events, and not just getting caught in the swirl of the news cycle? How do we avoid falling into a particular political slant because that’s the news source we feed on? We know that many news outlets today are extremely biased and have a particular political agenda to sell.

Luke 21 has the answer. After warning His disciples to beware against “carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life” (v. 34), Jesus said, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (v. 36).

How do we stay balanced in our approach to the news we ingest? We not only spend time keeping up with the headlines, but, more importantly, we spend time in prayer, talking to God. When we talk with Him about what’s going on, we are reminded about what He is doing behind the scenes. We ponder the prophecies that He is working out. We ask Him to guide the efforts of the Work to reach more people who are without hope and looking for answers. And we are greatly encouraged when we consider how He is calling people now, and that, in fact, every human being will eventually be called. He is working out a great plan, and His Kingdom will replace all kingdoms to bring lasting peace to a troubled world.

It’s worthwhile to consider the proportion of our watching to our praying. If we spend hours with the news but only minutes in prayer, perhaps we need to reevaluate how we spend our time.

Support the Cause Financially

It matters that we support the Work of God with our wallet as well as our words. As Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19–20).

God will provide for the Work—He says that all the gold and all the silver is His. But He provides through people. Our Father is not limited in resources, and it is to our benefit to put our heart into His Work. He could even raise up stones to do that Work (Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8), but He has chosen to give us the privilege of playing a part. We are blessed for and experience the joy of being part of His Work, and He takes care of us. Putting our hearts in the Work involves faithfully tithing and giving offerings.

Support the Local Chapter of the Cause

All around the world, members of the Living Church of God are united in support of this cause. Members support Headquarters, and they also help in supporting the local ministry. They help support local Sabbath services. They bolster and encourage one another. Some deliver telecast tapes to broadcast stations and help at live Tomorrow’s World Presentation events. Many share YouTube telecasts, Viewpoint videos, whiteboard videos, articles, or sermons on social media. One way or another, they are directly involved in supporting the Work!

We need to think about what we can do on a personal level in our interactions with outsiders, in our neighborhoods, on the job, and in the community. Historically, many of our brethren have been called through personal contacts or family members. We must not be afraid of shining as lights, convicted so others can see who we are and what we stand for.

This does not detract from our support for the weekly Tomorrow’s World telecast, the Tomorrow’s World magazine, the many aspects of our Internet outreach, and other media efforts. In this world, mass media efforts are extremely effective—easily the most effective way to get a message in front of the most people. God is opening new doors for us to do just that.

Yet our individual contribution at the local level is also vital. Just as with any cause in the world, support at the local level—a good “ground game”—is crucial. Notice what Paul wrote about the importance of each member to the function of the body: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:3–5).

A few of the functions of the body are roles of the ministry, but many are not. As needs arise, everyone’s service in the body is vital in a different way for the support of our “chapter” to preach the Gospel locally and around the world. Together, as we serve God and His Church, we are laying down our lives as “a living sacrifice,” as Paul explained in Romans 12:1.

Our Cause, Our Banner

Before the Israelites ever reached the foot of Mount Sinai and committed the idolatry we discussed earlier, there was another event worth noting. Angry bands of Amalekites had attacked the congregation of the Israelites, and Moses sent Joshua to fight against them. Scripture tells the inspiring story of how God defended His people when they needed it—and it gives us a clear, concise understanding of where our loyalties should lie.

And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun (Exodus 17:11–12).

God’s servants were holding up Moses’ arms, just as we “hold up the arms” of our leaders today. And then Moses built an altar to honor God’s deliverance. Notice what he called that altar: “Moses built an altar and called its name, ‘The-Lord-Is-My-Banner’” (Exodus 17:15).

There are a lot of slogans people get excited about today. You can find them written on hats and T-shirts, posted on social media, and promoted at sporting events and political rallies. All these slogans are brands for causes of this world. But what is the cause we support? Which “flag” do we wave? And are we on God’s side? Is the Lord our Banner?

Jesus told His disciples, including us, to preach the Gospel to the world as a witness, in preparation for the establishment of the greatest kingdom the world has ever seen. There is no greater cause than that.