Theme: Covenant Consecration
This week’s lessons teach the importance of Israel’s consecration before they began their conquest of the Promised Land.
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.
At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.” So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. 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. 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. 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. 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.
When the circumcising of the whole nation was finished, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 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.
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. And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 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.
So in the sacrament of circumcision we find its parallel in the matter of our baptism. And when we look at the Passover, we find its parallel in our Communion service which looks back to the death of Christ. The Lord’s Supper has the elements of the broken bread and the wine, which signify Christ’s broken body and poured out blood. We see that we are to consecrate ourselves as well, because the God who operated with His people in the past is operating with us today. It is the same God, and it is the same Gospel, though the circumstances in history are different. We need exactly the kind of consecration that these people had on this occasion.
You know, I suppose the easiest parallel to make here, one that I have been assuming all along, is the parallel of the sacraments. The parallel between circumcision and baptism and the parallel between Passover and Communion. But there is another parallel, and that is the fact that at Gilgal, where these things were done, the people were to pause and rest and take time to be sure they really were the Lord’s, and that they really were determined to serve Him and were consecrated to Him before they began the wars that would lead to victory.
One of the problems in our lives is that we want to rush into things, even in the spiritual realm. We want to fight the battles. We want to achieve the victory, but we do it without first of all yielding up ourselves to God. Sometimes it’s possible to do God’s work in a worldly way, and we sometimes achieve things in the energy of the flesh. But it’s not of God. It’s not the kind of thing that endures. It doesn’t really produce spiritual vitality and change. What God wants before He wants our warfare is our hearts. He wants to have us.
I’m sure there are battles for us to fight. We live in a world every bit as secular as the world of Canaan. There are cities, figuratively speaking, for us to attack, and the walls are every bit as high and impregnable as the walls of Jericho. Maybe there are battles for you to fight this week. But before you fight the battles, make sure that God has yourself and that you are His. It’s only when He has you that he works through you, and it’s only when He’s working through you that anything of any real value, spiritually, is achieved.
What sacrament is parallel to the Passover? What are its symbols and what do they mean?
What is the last parallel from the lesson that Dr. Boice draws for us?
Are there any areas of your life that you are not consecrating to God as you know you should?