Joshua 5 (NRSV)
The Second Work at Gilgal:
A radical obedience
When all the kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the Israelites until they had crossed over, their hearts melted, and there was no longer any spirit in them, because of the Israelites.
Romans 8:31 (NLT)
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
2At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites a second time.” 3So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath-haaraloth.
God had instituted the rite of circumcision to be the seal of the covenant which he graciously had made with Abraham (see Genesis 17). But the outward form of circumcision was of no avail without a circumcision of the heart — a pure heart wholly devoted to God.
Romans 2:25-29 (NIV)
Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
4This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the warriors, had died during the journey through the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt. 5Although all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people born on the journey through the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6For the Israelites traveled forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the warriors who came out of Egypt, perished, not having listened to the voice of the Lord. To them the Lord swore that he would not let them see the land that he had sworn to their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.
7So it was their children, whom he raised up in their place, that Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way. 8When the circumcising of all the nation was done, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed.
9The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.
from Today God Is First,
by Os Hillman
“Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” – Joshua 5:9
Joshua and the people had just crossed the Jordan River. They were camped at Gilgal. But before they could proceed they were required to circumcise all the males, because a whole new generation had grown up while living in the desert. This is where Israel, like a worm in a cocoon, was transformed. Circumcision is bloody, personal, and it exposes all that you are. God was saying that before you can become His army, you must roll away the reproach of the Egyptian way of life. You are no longer a slave to the ways of Egypt. It is a time to put aside the old way of life. Many are walking around as goats in sheep’s clothes, practicing a form of religion without the true source of truth and power.
Sin in our midst testifies against us. It keeps us in Egypt and never allows us to enter the Promised Land. Our lives must be circumcised in order for us to come out of Egypt into our own Promised Land of spiritual blessing with God. This transformation marks the first time Israel begins to taste the fruit of the Promised Land. No more manna from Heaven. The manna stopped the day after they were circumcised. There was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate produce from Canaan.
God is turning our plowshares into weapons of love to usher in a new generation of workplace warriors. But we will not be effective if we have the reproach of sin in our lives. Ask God to show you what needs to be confessed this day so that no reproach exists. The cross of Jesus takes away all reproaches. Enter the Promised Land with power.
The Third Work at Gilgal:
A redemption remembered
10While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. 11On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.
Imagine how interesting it was for this generation — raised in the desert on manna and quail, plus meat and milk from their flocks — now to have fresh produce from the gardens and fields of Canaan! I am glad for them!
13Once when Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?”
14He replied, “Neither;
An enigmatic answer! Perhaps because it was an improper question. The question really wasn’t if the Lord was on Joshua’s side. Rather — if Joshua was on the Lord’s side.
but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and he said to him, “What do you command your servant, my lord?”
15The commander of the army of the Lord said to Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Good for you, Joshua!
John 12:26 (NRSV)
Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
Some Christian interpreters have reasoned that the heavenly figure was Christ, because, as Wesley put it, “a created angel dared not receive” Joshua’s worship. Was he neither man nor angel, but the pre-incarnate Christ? Perhaps what matters more to us is that Jesus himself does stand before us, asking us to follow him. May our response be like Joshua’s — worship and obedience.
HERE is “In Christ Alone” by Brian Littrell.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.