Posted by: The Simple Guy | May 22, 2011

Joshua 5

Today I preached from Joshua 5:

Jos 5:1-15 ESV
(1) As soon as all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel until they had crossed over, their hearts melted and there was no longer any spirit in them because of the people of Israel.
(2) At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.”
(3) So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.
(4) And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way after they had come out of Egypt.
(5) Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people who were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised.
(6) For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD; the LORD swore to them that he would not let them see the land that the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give to us, a land flowing with milk and honey.
(7) So 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.
(8) When the circumcising of the whole nation was finished, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed.
(9) And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
(10) While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho.
(11) And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.
(12) And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.
(13) 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. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
(14) And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?”
(15) And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

This passage picks up from just after the children of Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.

We find 4 sections here:

Verse 1 tells us of how the adversaries were totally devastated at the news that God had caused the Israelites to cross on dry ground during flood stage.  Conventional wisdom would have said they had some time.  But conventional wisdom was wrong.

They were totally in fear.  Why didn’t they repent?  They could have taken the path Rahab did, and been saved.  But they did not.  What a tragic thought.  What a heart-break.  Rather than surrender to the God of mercy, they closed up their cities and resisted the irresistable.  Do we?

Verses 2 – 9 speak of the mass circumcision of the men of Israel.  When I read this, I decided to go back and look at the mass circumcision that took place as they left Egypt 40 years earlier.  But you know what?  There wasn’t one.  The children of Israel maintained the rite of circumcision through the entire captivity, 430 years.  But they stopped in the wilderness.  This is reminiscent of Moses when he left Egypt the first time.  He went to Midian, and lived for 40 years in the wilderness.  Then God called him and sent him back to free the children of Israel.  While he was on his way, the LORD opposed him and was going to kill him.  His wife took a flint knife and circumcised Moses’ son, thereby saving Moses’ life.  We see two times in a row where men walked away from God’s promise and did not pass the covenant on to their sons.

The second thing this brings to mind is the fact that the children of Israel crossed the Jordan uncircumcised.  Just as Abram was declared righteous before he was circumcised. (See Romans 4 for the significance)  We see again that faith comes before works.  We also have another example of how the salvation that is brought about by faith is independent of circumcision.

Finally, think of the faith that must have been required to accept circumcision as a man just across the Jordan river in enemy territory.  Complete vulnerability in enemy territory with their backs to the Jordan at flood stage.  They must have realized also the audacity they had practiced as they crossed the Jordan and began to possess the land without being circumcised.  We see an example of how God’s mercy covers us and how longsuffering He is toward us.

The third section is verses 10 – 12.  This records the first Passover in the Promised Land.  They crossed the Jordan on the 10th day of the month, and celebrated Passover on the 14th day of the month.  According to Exodus 12:3 the Passover Lamb was to be selected on the 10th day.  In order to have celebrated the feast on time, they must have selected the lamb on the same day they crossed the Jordan.

It also says that the manna stopped that day.  An era had ended that had been  unlike any other, before or since.  Again, I am struck by the audacity of failing to  pass on circumcision in the wilderness while depending upon manna every day.

Finally, we come to the last three verses, 13-15 where Joshua meets the Captain of the army of the LORD.

Joshua is near the city of Jericho and sees a man with his sword in his hand.  Joshua approaches the man and asks, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”

The answer is:   “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.”

How often we ask God to come with us today.  But we should ask to go with Him.  God is not on our side, or on the other side.  But we must ask to be on His side.  Joshua immediately falls on his face and asks what the LORD would have His servant do.  He is instructed to take off his shoes, because he is on Holy ground.

Again, an unintended transgression worthy of death.  First the crossing of the Jordan uncircumcised, now walking on Holy ground with shoes on. (now before you jump in and correct me, I realize that Joshua was most likely circimcised when he crossed, as one of the only two men still alive who had left Egypt as an adult, but Joshua led the Israelites across while they were uncircumcised)

But again we see our LORD’s mercy.  If He had intended their destruction, it would have happened long ago.

I am reminded of how our walk with the LORD goes.  1 John tells us that if we walk in(to) the light, we will see our sin and have choices to make.  We can agree with God (confess) and He will cleanse and forgive.  Or we can deny our sin, and make God a liar, deceiving ourselves.  Then as we continue to walk into the light, we see more sin, we have to chose to confess or deny, we confess – are cleaned – walk further into the light – see more sin – the cycle of our Christian existence until we step from this life to that, never to repent again.  Praise Him, I can’t wait!!

Have you asked God to go with you today, or are you pleading with Him to take you along so that you won’t miss one of the appointments He has set for you today?

Your thoughts?



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