Theme: The Final Aspect of the Crossing of the Jordan
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.
This week we are continuing our study in the third episode of Joshua, which is the crossing of the Jordan River. We learned last week that this third episode has three parts. The first part was the crossing of the Jordan itself, with the ark of the covenant going before the people. The second piece was God’s command to set up the memorial stones. Now this week we come to the third of the incidents that are connected with the crossing, and this concerns the consecration of the people once they had passed over into the land and had set up their memorial. The story is told in Joshua 5:1-12, and it entails two acts of consecration, which we would call sacraments.
The first is the sacrament of circumcision, the mark of the covenant between God and His people that was administered to all the males. And the second was the observance of the Passover. Apparently, these had been in abeyance during the years of the wandering in the wilderness; but now, as the land was about to be possessed, as this great promise that had been given to Abraham so many hundreds of years before was about to be fulfilled, these important sacraments of consecration were reenacted because it was important for the people as they began their conquest to begin it in a right relationship with God.
From a human point of view, of course, this matter of circumcising the army was a very strange thing. It was strange, first of all, because it meant delay, and from any human perspective, the obvious thing to do on an occasion like this was to attack at once. This is what is conveyed to us, I’m sure, in the opening verse that tells us that all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the sea coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until they had crossed over, and their hearts sank and they no longer had courage to face the Israelites. That was a situation in which the part of wisdom, human wisdom at least, caused for an immediate advance into the land, and yet God had the people tarry here at Gilgal for three days while the circumcision took place and the Passover was observed.
What is the third incident associated with the crossing of the Jordan River?
Of what two acts is this third incident composed? Why were they important?
What seems unusual about the timing of the two acts?
Did you ever experience a time when you wanted something to happen that you saw as spiritually profitable, but had to wait for its arrival? What means were especially important to get you through it? What did you learn about both God and yourself?