Joshua 5 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel. 2 At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. 3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. 4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. 5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. 6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. 7 And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way. 8 And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole. 9 And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day. 10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. 11 And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day. 12 And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. 13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? 14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
God Is Faithful & Expects Us To Be Faithful Also!
God’s Israel is in the Promised Land. They have all crossed over the Jordan keeping their eyes on the Ark of the Covenant, a representation of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what God calls His Church and His Israel to do. As we serve God we trust Him to do the hard things, but we are to do our part.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Do what God tells you to do. Keep moving. Keep trusting. The great preacher J.C. Ryle said:
“The Christianity which the world requires is a Christianity for everyday life. .. A mere Sunday religion is not enough. A thing put on and off with our Sabbath clothes is powerless. Thinking men feel and know that there are seven days in a week, and that life is not made up of Sundays. .. such a faith is a plant which our Heavenly Father has not planted, and it brings no fruit to perfection.”
Israel has taken the first step – but there are other things that must be done. We are told at the beginning of our text:
Joshua 5:1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.
Israel is in one accord. All eyes are on Jesus. All eyes are looking forward. “all the Kings” of the Amorites and the Canaanites – those who possess the territories of the Promised Land, are discouraged. The Bible says:
“Their heart was melted, neither was
there spirit in them any more”
These kings, all filled with belief in false gods and goddesses, are already defeated in their minds. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords has led His people to cross the uncrossable.
Revelation 19:15 … out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
The leaders of the lost are defeated in their hearts already. If the leaders are defeated, the people are defeated. I can imagine there were many in Israel who thought “let’s strike while the iron is hot! They’ll give up now. Let’s rush in and do this!” That sounds good on the outside, but it’s not good in reality. We are to look unto Jesus. We are to look upward to our God.
To Be Blessed We Must Obey In The Small Things First
Canaan has been promised to the Children of Israel. Our God is not a man that He should lie; nor the Son of Man that He should repent: hath He said and shall He not do it? Hath He spoken and shall He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19). God will do what God has said He will do.
But God is in no hurry.
God is NEVER in a hurry.
God created the world, the moon, the sun, our Solar System in six literal days and then rested on the seventh day. Why did God create everything so quickly? Because He wanted to. Because He was going to create humanity and put us on a 24 hour clock, 7 days a week. But God did not create quickly because He was anxious or in a hurry. Later in Israel’s history the Prophet Habakkuk became discouraged because it seemed as if God was taking too long to bring repentance to the nation. God told Habakkuk:
Habakkuk 2:2-4 …. Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. 3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. 4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
Habakkuk, YOU do your part and I’LL do My part. That’s what God told him. God does not get in a hurry. God prepared Moses to lead Israel for 40 years in the wilderness. God put Joseph in prison for 13 years before He made him the right hand of the King of Egypt. King David did not start out a giant killer, but a child shepherd of no repute. Sometimes we want to hurry up God. We forget that “a thousand years is to God but a day” (2 Peter 3:8).
We don’t need to worry about God keeping His promise. God has promised Israel the Promised Land. That’s why it’s called “The Promised Land”. The Lord first made the promise to Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21). The Lord repeated the promise to Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 26:3). The Lord then made the promise to Isaac’s son Jacob (Genesis 28:13), Abraham’s grandson. God told Joshua:
Joshua 1:2-3 … Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
God has made the promise, and His promise is sure. The land ALREADY belongs to Israel – they just have to go and get it. But not yet. Why?
Though God made and will keep His promise to Israel, Israel has not kept their promise to God.
Joshua 5:2-3 At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. 3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.
If you read this text without reading the CONTEXT it sounds as if these people have been circumcised and are being circumcised again. That’s not the case. The Scripture tells us:
Joshua 5:4-5 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. 5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.
Circumcision was a rite that God established with Abraham when He first promised Israel the land of Canaan. The Bible says that God told him:
Genesis 17:5, 8, 10-14 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. … 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. … 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
God promised Abraham and his descendants the Land of Canaan – ALL the land of Canaan. But tied to this promise was the covenant of circumcision. The covenant of circumcision has nothing to do with salvation. How do we know this? Because:
God established the Covenant of Circumcision in Genesis 17
Abraham was saved by faith in Genesis 15:6
The Apostle said in Romans 4:7-11 Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. 9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised …
Abraham had already been saved by faith in Christ (see John 8:56) long before God commanded him and his male descendants to be circumcised. Circumcision has nothing to do with salvation, but with inheritance of the land, for the land of Canaan only belongs to those Jews who were faithful to be circumcised. God established this requirement in Abraham. Every male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth. This rule was absolute on the Jew. In fact, when our Lord Jesus Christ entered into this world, when the Eternal God the Son became the Son of Man, where did Mary and Joseph take the baby Jesus on the eighth day He entered humanity?
Luke 2:21 … when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
The child Jesus was circumcised. Had He not been circumcised then He would have also been cut off from Israel – and that would not do.
The first generation of Israel was an unbelieving generation. God allowed them all to reach their natural deaths before ever attempting to take a believing Israel into the Promised Land. But before THIS generation goes into the Promised Land they must obey God in the small thing.
An Opportunity For Obedience Is Given
We previously read:
Joshua 5:1 … all the kings of the Amorites, …and all the kings of the Canaanites, … their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.
The depression and discouragement that the leaders of Canaan was not there so that Israel could attack. It was there so that Israel could do what they were supposed to do FIRST. Before they can hope to take the land of Canaan they need to observe the Covenant of Circumcision. Circumcision on a baby is not too bad …. but on an adult male is extremely difficult. Israel will need several days to rest and heal before they go forward to Jericho. But Israel must keep their promise to God if they expect to receive the Promised Land.
Salvation has always been by faith in Jesus Christ.
But Blessing …. this only comes by obedience!
God expected His Israel to comply with the Covenant of Circumcision. God never asks us to do the impossible. So God provided a time of peace where the Amorite and Canaanite Kings were too afraid of Israel to bother them. That’s what God does. God gives us opportunity to serve, and commands we do so.
God gives us the POSSIBLE to do while He does the IMPOSSIBLE.
God gives us the COMMON to do while He does the UNCOMMON.
Now I’ll not make light of circumcision. I can only imagine how painful such an act must be. But here’s the thing. If God’s people had done what God told them to do in the FIRST place, there would have been no pain of circumcision in the SECOND place. If the first generation of Israel had circumcised their male babies on the eighth day – which is what they were commanded to do – those same babies would not be suffering adults right now.
Obedience to God brings blessing.
Disobedience to God brings suffering.
Jesus said “blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Luke 11:28).
Jesus said “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people, and walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you” (Jeremiah 7:23).
Jesus said “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great”. (Luke 6:47-49).
Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone … but BLESSING comes by obedience whereas CURSING and PAIN comes by disobedience. The parent that does not raise the child to respect the Lord can expect that child to live a life of misery, saved or not. God calls us to do the small things to be blessed in the big things.
Jesus said “baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. A person tells me “you don’t have to be baptized to be saved. The thief on the Cross next to Jesus was saved. After all, Jesus told him “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). My answer is simple. Yes, the thief was saved apart from baptism. But hear me. That thief died screaming. How do I know? The soldier broke his legs before he died (John 19:31-32). The Jews did not want these men hanging on their crosses during the Passover Sabbath. So they asked that the legs of those crucified be broken. Jesus’ legs were not broken, for He had gone to the Father (see John 19:33-34). But this man – saved by faith in Christ – died screaming.
Listen to me, dear Church. Salvation is by faith in Christ. He did the work. But blessing comes only by disobedience. What did Jesus say? “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28). Oh, thank You, Jesus, that salvation is by faith in You and You alone. You did the work. You paid the penalty. But Lord, help us all to remember that the blessedness of salvation comes only by obedience. You must obey your Lord and Savior. You must obey your Shepherd, or satan will rend you. You must heed the Light of the World, your Jesus, or you will be consumed by the darkness. You who are His are called to be salt and light in this present world. Jesus said “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” (Matthew 5:13). You can be the world’s boot licker, or you can be God’s people. I choose to be God’s people.
God Speaks To And Blesses The Obedient
Joshua 5:8-9 And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole. 9 And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.
God was silent to Joshua until Israel did as they were commanded to do. When Israel did what the Lord told them to do then God “rolled away the reproach of Egypt”. The word translated “Gilgal” is a Hebrew word which means “a rolling wheel”. Israel did the first thing first. Now they were moving. Now they were on the way to the blessings that God had in store for them.
As this chapter ends we read that the manna ceased falling on Israel, but “Israel ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year” (verse 12). But here’s something even more interesting.
Joshua 5:13 … when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
Joshua asked “Whose side are YOU on?” The “Man” he saw was no Man, but The Commander of the Army of the Lord. Joshua immediately fell down on his face and said:
What saith my Lord unto his servant?
In our world today everyone wants to choose side. Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative. We all think that God is on our side. Listen. We don’t need God to be on our side. We need to be on GOD’S side. Joshua didn’t ask any foolish questions. He didn’t ask “Are you here to help us win the battle?” or “Can you break down the walls of Jericho?”. Joshua simply asked:
What do YOU want ME to do?
Until we learn to do God’s work in God’s way we will never be blessed. We need to truly sing “Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way. THOU art the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will. While I am waiting, yielded and still.” This is the key to the destruction of evil, and the triumph of God. We are to heed Him, not lead Him.
Have Thine own way, Lord! May God touch your hearts with His Spirit.