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Joshua 5






AUTHOR:  Joe Ligon 

When this chapter opens, the nation of Israel had finished its crossing of the Jordan and is now in the Promised Land.  The first thing we discover is that all the kings of all the different nations that made up the Canaanites were absolutely terrified of what had happened at the Jordan River. 


At that point, four important things happened.  The men were circumcised.  Passover was celebrated.  The manna from heaven stopped.  And Joshua had a most interesting encounter.  Although I could use at least a page to deal with each of these four things, I have a page to deal with all four.  So, let me give you a little bit to think about for each of the four.


First, as a military leader Joshua would have had to have been a least a bit concerned about the circumcision of all the men.  That process would have debilitated the men and would have left the nation defenseless.  Since God commanded that to happen, He obviously sovereignly protected them. 


Circumcision was a token of the Covenant that God made with Israel.  It was a visible symbol of a very important relationship.  It was actually initiated with Abraham and was carried through the generations.  It seems that the Hebrews did not or were not allowed to practice circumcision in Egypt because they did not circumcise in Egypt until right before the Exodus.  From this story, we can also assume they didn’t circumcise in the wilderness journeys either perhaps because the adults were not committed to the covenant like they should have been. 


Regardless, the men were circumcised.  This was a renewal of the covenant from their perspective.  Because of the renewal, Passover could be observed for the first time in Canaan.  This was in fact only the third Passover that had been observed since Moses prepared to lead the people out of Egypt.  The first one was in Egypt the night before their departure.  The second one was observed at Mount Sinai.  And the third one was at this point in the Promised Land.


Circumcision was the token of the Covenant.  In many ways, Passover was the Covenant Meal.  We can make sort of a New Testament comparison here.  Baptism would be somewhat like circumcision.  It was a visible symbol of a very important relationship.  And the Lord’s Supper would be somewhat similar to Passover – the covenant meal.


The third thing that happens in the chapter is the manna stopped.  God had provided all those Hebrews all that manna for over 40 years.  Despite Israel’s multiple rebellions and sinful choices in the wilderness, God continued to provide this heavenly bread.  Now that they were eating the fruit of the Promised Land, the manna would cease.  God was still providing for their nourishment.  He just wasn’t providing manna.


The fourth thing that happened is a bit unusual.  It begins in verse 13 and is a meeting between Joshua and the Commander of the Lord’s Army.  Joshua’s question is whose side is this “Man” on.  The “Man’s” answer was basically, “I am on My own side.  You should be on My side.”


Some consider this to be an angel.  That would be cool. But I am quite convinced it is Jesus appearing in what is called a Christophany (an Old Testament appearance of the second person of the Trinity).  The Commander’s command was almost identical to what God said to Moses from the burning bush.  This place was sanctified by the presence of the Lord.  And the presence of the Lord had to be a great encouragement to Joshua.

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Joshua 4



Wednesday, December 26


By: Joe Ligon

After the people had crossed over the Jordan and while the priests still stood in the middle of the dry river bed, there were a couple of important things that had to take place.  One, the twelve men (one from each of the twelve tribes of Israel) that were selected in chapter three, were to go back out into the dry river bed and pick up twelve stones.  Although we are not told in this chapter, most commentators believe these were probably good sized rocks – not like one you could hold in one hand or even a river rock like you might find in Colorado.  These rocks were probably the size that a man would have to strain to pick up and perhaps carry with two hands or on his shoulder.  The other thing that happened was Joshua piled up twelve stones in that dry river bed right where the priests stood holding the Ark of the Covenant.

I love what the end of verse 10 says: “The people hurried over” or “The people passed over in haste”.  That simple statement adds more than a bit of realism to the story.  The writer could have tried to spiritualize the whole thing and write about a slow and meaningful march across the river bed.  Instead we read where they hurried across.  So would you.  So would I.  The Jordan River piled up would have been an ominous sight and had it been released countless people would have drowned.  So the folks hurried across.

Once all those millions of Israelites were across, Joshua commanded the priests to come to the other side.  I suspect they were glad about that.  As soon as they got to the opposite shore, God released the Jordan River and it returned to not just its banks but to its flood stage.  Imagine them watching as the water slowly engulfed that pile of rocks Joshua left in the middle of the river.

With the river flowing again, there was only one thing for the nation of Israel to do and that was to prepare to move forward.  The previous chapter of their lives spent wandering in the wilderness was over.  Now they were to move forward and take the Promised Land.

The twelve stones carried out of the riverbed were to be set up on the Canaan side of the river.  This happened at Gilgal which literally means the wheel or the circle.  Many believe those stones were arranged in a circle and were left there as a memorial.  The purpose of this memorial was to be a witness to future generations about what happened on this particular day.  Joshua said when the children ask their fathers… the fathers were to recount the amazing thing the Lord did. 

These stones were to play an important spiritual marker in their lives.  A marker that indicated God had done something pretty important there.  A marker that would remind those in the days ahead of the good work of God.

We all need spiritual markers in our lives.  We need those things in our lives that remind us of the good work God did.  We need to be able to go back to those places either physically or mentally and remember what God did.  That strengthens our faith.  But we can also take other people back to those spiritual markers in our lives and tell them what God did so their faith is strengthened.

I have often wondered how often Joshua came back to that place not only to see the stones encircled there at Gilgal but also to think about the stones that were still piled up out there in the middle of the river.  Some spiritual markers are always visible.  Some may never be seen.  Both are important. 

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