Wednesday, September 07, 2005

JOSHUA 5

5:2-8 Circumcising the Nation

2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, Â?Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.Â? 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. [1] 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, Â?Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.Â? And so the name of that place is called Gilgal [2] to this day.
The emphasis continues to be on spiritual preparation. The premise is that the Lord will give them the land, so they must be spiritually prepared to follow the Lord and receive his provision.

Circumcision was a sign of the covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham. See Genesis 17:3-14. The covenant had been broken by Israel. When an individual broke the covenant, he was cut off from the people. When the whole nation broke the covenant, it was cut off from the land.

This passage in Joshua tells us that the men who came out of Egypt were circumcised, but those who were born during their wanderings in the desert had not. Moses recorded this factdeterminednomy 2:14-15. So, all of the men were circumcised and they remained in the camp until they healed. This took faith, in addition to obedience, because they were camped in enemy territory. They might even have remembered the story of how JacobÂ?s sons tricked the men of Shechem into being circumcised, the slaughtered them to avenge their sister Dinah. This story is in Genesis 34. It also shows that the strategies we might adopt in human wisdom are not necessarily in agreement with GodÂ?s plan. Since verse 1 told ucommunitiesanites were fearful since the God parted the Jordan for the Israelites, human wisdom would say to attack immediately. But, God had the battle plans in order. What he wanted from the Israelites was spiritual preparation and obedience.

They were circumcised with flint knives, just as Zipporah circumcised her son in Exodus 4:25, when Moses had not done it.

God also said he had rolled away the reproach of Egypt. Their redemption from slavery in Egypt was not complete until they reached the promised land of Canaan. There is also some thought that Egypt would hold Israel in reproach for wandering in the desert, as that was an indication God had forsaken them. That is what Moses said would happen in Exodus 32:12.

5:10-11 First Passover in Canaan

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.

The second spiritual preparation the Israelites made was to celebrate the Passover. They had not observed Passover since their encounter with God at Mt. Sinai in Numbers 9:1-5. So, while they stayed in the desert under GodÂ?s condemnation, they did not celebrate Passover or circumcise their children. They had disobeyed God by refusing to enter Canaan and they were in a state of broken covenant with God. This is recorded in Numbers 14. In Leviticus 20:40 et seq, God told them that, after they rebelled and were punished, they would confess their sins. When their uncircumcised hearts were humbled, he would remember his covenant with them. That has evidently occurred here.

The date is given here, because they were commanded to celebrate it on that date. In Exodus 12:2 and Deuteronomy 16:1, God said that month was to be the first month of their year. They called it Abib (Nisan?) and Passover was to be on the 14th of the month. At twilight, they were to slaughter a lamb, (put the blood on the lamp posts on the first occasion), then eat the lamb, bread without yeast, and bitter herbs. So, on the evening of the 14th, the Israelites celebrated Passover according the LordÂ?s command.

5:12 Change In Provisions

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.
An interesting thing happened the day after the Passover. For the first time, the Israelites ate produce from the promised land. After that, the manna no longer appeared.

5:13-15 The Commander of the Lord's Army

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, Â?Are you for us, or for our adversaries?Â? 14 And he said, Â?No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.Â? And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, Â?What does my lord say to his servant?Â? 15 And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, Â?Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.Â? And Joshua did so.

Finally, after the consecration of the people, the crossing of the Jordan, the circumcision of the men and the celebration of the Passover, the Lord appears to Joshua. Joshua apparently was going to get a first hand look at Jericho. The Lord appears as a commander, meaning he is ready to lead Israel to military victory.

Joshua was instructed to take off his shoes on the holy ground, just as Moses was at the burning bush in Exodus 3. In Leviticus 19:2, God said be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy. Notice that God is with Joshua just as he was with Moses, as he promised Joshua he would be.

Some think this person was an angel, maybe the Â?angel of the LordÂ? mentioned many times in the Old Testament. Some think this was not an angel, but the Lord who appeared. Note that he does not tell Joshua not to worship him and he instructs him that he is on holy ground. (The NIV says he Â?fell facedown to the ground in reverenceÂ? rather than use the word Â?worshipÂ?), which may indicate an uncertainty on the part of the translators on this very issue.

When Joshua asked for instructions, the Commander did not give him military instruction, but instruction on reverence.

Lessons To Be Learned From Joshua 5:

GodÂ?s people need spiritual preparation for battle.

Success is measured in terms of adherence and obedience to GodÂ?s word, rather than earthly accomplishment.
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