104-106-Joshua Chapter 5
If the hearts of the Canaanites had melted into a state of repentance this would have been an even greater victory for the Kingdom of God. But as it was they melted with fear that the God of the Israelites was stronger than any god they were worshipping. With some, when their hearts melt before the power of God they only harden and solidify against God. Such was the case for the Pharaoh of Egypt and now for the kings of Canaan.
It is also true that when our spiritual enemies see that our faith in God is obedient even when in the wisdom of the world it would seem crazy their confidence soon evaporates in the battle against the faithful of God. We of the army of God sometimes fail to remember that, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31) They know that when we trust in the Lord their eventual defeat is assured.
This generation of Israelites were the children of the generation that lacked the faith to enter the Promised Land as God had commanded and therefore had wondered in the wilderness for forty years until all had perished. During this time the practice of circumcision had not been performed. Entering into the Promised Land was part of the covenant promise given to Abraham and therefore before they possessed the land the males had to be circumcised. Flint is found in a natural state and this is why Joshua was commanded to use flint for the circumcision. The flint did not need to be honed and therefore was pure and holy to the Lord.
This new generation of Israelites was raised up in place of the generation that was full of unbelief. God’s will and work will be accomplished but those of unbelief will not be able to share in it.
Circumcision is a powerful committed act to show that you are consecrated unto God. It was a physical way to set one’s self apart from the world. It was a faithful and obedient was to identify yourself as one who belonged to the Lord. It was an act of cutting away the flesh and the world, dying to self and living for the Lord.
From a military point of view this was a suicidal act to commit. All of the men of fighting age were now for several days unable to fight during the healing process. We remember the story of Simeon and Levi who tricked the sons of Hamor into being circumcised. Then when try were unable to fight properly they were slaughtered in retaliation for raping Dinah their sister. (Genesis 34:24-25) This could have been the fate of the men of Israel.
Not only did they cross the Jordan River at an undesirable place, right in front of the strongest military post in Canaan they incapacitated their army for several days. They trusted God and His directions rather than their own wisdom. They were in a bad place which left them to only trust in God alone. It was a hard place to be but it was in the right place, as it was of God’s choosing. When we find ourselves in a hard place we must remember the great things God has done in our lives and trust Him with a steadfast obedience.
What reproach? What dishonor? It is the shame of their slavery in Egypt. As we travel through this world we are burdened done by our slavery to sin. By repentance, turning away from the worldly way and towards God’s way we receive forgiveness and the burden of sin is rolled away. The meaning of the name Gilgal is rolled away.
Israel was now in a place where they could now see themselves as the children of God, His chosen people. By faith they had become an obedient and trusting people and they were no longer the slaves of Egypt past. As for the Christian, our sins have been washed away by His blood and we can see ourselves as we are in Jesus Christ.
The original Passover in Exodus before leaving Egypt could never be repeated. But it signified God’s deliverance from the bondage of slavery. There is a great power in remembering the Passover. For the Israelites this was the first Passover celebrated sense the Sinai. For the younger this was the first Passover they had celebrated and it is fitting that it was now as they prepared to take the Land of Milk and Honey that God had promised to their fathers.
In the same way there is power in the remembrance of our redemption through the work of Jesus Christ. We must always live our lives in the shadow of the cross at Calvary.
The people of Jericho had hurried to get behind the walls of the city for safety from the Israelites. So the Israelites harvested their crops and enjoyed the produce of the land. At this time God stopped the manna from heaven that they had eaten during all the days in the wilderness. They had the satisfaction of harvesting their own food. God was now providing for His people by other means, by giving them the land of milk and honey.
The place of Gilgal became the beachhead or point of operations for the conquest of Canaan. They returned there after battle as it was a place to find strength as they remembered in memorial often their obedience to their God and their redemption from Egypt and the wilderness. Like the Israelites it is good for us also to have a base of operation. A place where we come to remember the fulfilled promises and the promises that we have faith in that God has given us. it is a place of quite prayer, obedience and joy in our redemption.
Joshua was scouting the defenses of Jericho to plan the battle when he noticed a man with a sword drawn at the ready. In a courageous act Joshua approached and asked whose side of the coming conflict this man was on. The man answered “no” which was not a clear answer to who he was. Perhaps this was not the correct question to be asking. Neither may it have been the most important question to ask. The question should not have been if the man was on Joshua’s side but a statement that Joshua was on the Lord’s side.
The man identifies himself as the Commander of the Lord’s Army. Joshua was a great military commander, but he was not the Commander in Chief. There has been much discussion as to who this man was but it is obvious that he was a man of great power.
This being before Joshua could have been no other Being than God Himself. Some have argued that with the title of Commander of the Lord’s Army it could have been the Arch Angel Michael. (Revelation 12:7) but Joshua fell down and worshiped the Being and angels will not allow that a man should worship them. (Revelation 22:8) The term Army of the Lord implies that He commanded angelic beings as He was of a higher rank. Also Joshua addressed Him as Lord and then was told to remove his sandals. This would signify the humanity of Joshua and his contact with a sinful world. Joshua as the assistant of Moses knew of the encounter of Moses with God and the command to remove the sandals on Holy ground. (Exodus 3:4-6) The prevailing argument is that this was Jesus who is often referred to as the Angel of the Lord. (Genesis 18:16-33 Genesis 32:24-30 Judges 13:1-23)
Joshua’s submission to Jesus Christ shows that Joshua knew who he was in front of. Also his humility before the Lord assured the victory for Israel. When we submit to the Commander of the Army of the Lord there is none that can defeat us.
The purpose of this visit from the Christ was to instruct Joshua in God’s plan to capture Jericho. The plan given to Joshua is so improbable that it could only have found success by the direct will of God. Most of all the Lord had come to conquer Israel. For Israel to live in the Promised Land they had to be conquered by God and through Joshua’s submission it is shown that they were submitted to God’s will. This is a missing element in the life of many Christians. In order to have victory you must be and continually be conquered by God.