Joshua 5:1-9 Our shame became Christ’s, and Christ’s glory became ours
Now it came about when 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 how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.
2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” 3 So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. 4 This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. 5 For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6 For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the Lord, to whom the Lord had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way.
8 Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
Israel’s crossing at Jordan and their circumcision had forever wiped the reproach of Egypt from them. God had given them a new identity as sons and inheritance of land in Canaan. What God had done for Israel, God will do for us through His Son Jesus: Our shame became Christ’s shame, and Christ’s glory became ours. In staying true to God’s vision and His kingdom’s work, God will build for us an enduring career, family and ministry.
And all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan.
It was no wonder that news of the great miracle epitomized by the memorial spread quickly throughout the land of Canaan. With no exception, the Amorites and the Canaanites were petrified, their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel. The heart in Old Testament context is the seat of the intellect, volition and emotion. The melting of the heart results in a total loss of spirit, hope and breath.
Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.
Circumcision was instituted as an outward sign of Israel’s covenant relationship with God. Through the rite of circumcision, Israel invested herself into the vision of building God’s kingdom throughout the land of Canaan. God had originally instructed Abraham,
This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations. Genesis 17:10-12
Joshua received the command to circumcise all those who had not received this rite. According to verse 5, the Israelites that first came out of Egypt had already been circumcised. But those who were born in the wilderness have not received their circumcision rite. This mass circumcision exercise brings to mind that all who first came out of Egypt through Moses, who were men of military age had already died in the desert. It is a grave reminder of the consequence of rebellion and disobedience (Numbers 14:28-32). A striking observation is: the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give a land flowing with milk and honey is also the One who declares by oath that He would not let them see the land. It shows that God’s lovingkindness and patience is not to be tested; His covenant promises must be obtained by faith and obedience.
Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.
The root of Israel’s reproach was slavery in Egypt. There was a byword among the Canaanites that despite God’s presence and protection, Israel was cursed and could not enter into the west of Canaan. And all Israel would eventually die in the wilderness (see Numbers 14:13-16). Upon God’s declaration, the stigma of the Israelites as slaves of Egypt was finally and definitely removed as the people were safely on Canaan’s side. The Israelites have by their crossing of the Jordan emerged from slavery and poverty into freedom.
Respect is given to those who possess the favor of God. Respect is never gained by ingratiating one’s self to others; respect is never obtained by being agreeable, nice and obliging. Such people were usually perceived as being weak and easily taken advantage of. Society is likened to a jungle where the fittest survive and where the weak are marginalized. Contrary to popular view that it is a matter of personality, closer observation reveals that such are not accustomed to operating according to truth and principles; they often choose the path of least resistance. They are convinced that they could not stand on their own merit and need to be propped up by others. Israel gained the respect and fear of the Canaanites: their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel. They were feared not because of their formidable military exploits but by virtue of the fact that they were the children of God. Word had spread throughout Canaan that a people whose God was the Lord of heaven and earth had emerged out of Egypt. Israel had made a covenant with God to be His children and to walk in His ways. As a result, God favored Israel and fought for them. At the individual level, a righteous person is feared and respected by many. Proverbs 16:7 says,
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Therefore, when we endeavor to please God in all our ways, we gain the respect of our family members, colleagues and friends.
By staying true to God’s vision, we build an enduring foundation towards an unshakable future. Why did God command the Israelites to be circumcised before commencing their conquest of Canaan? Circumcision is a rite pertaining to Jewish law that expresses their total allegiance to God. By committing our allegiance to God, He becomes our Master and Lord. And we are given the privilege to participate in His vision by building an unshakable kingdom on earth. Many suppose by their hard work and ingenuity they can build a dream house that will stand the test of time. As a result many find their house crashing under the onslaught of forces they cannot control. No vision can succeed unless it is the vision of God. No house can stand, unless it is built by God’s devices. The psalmist wrote,
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain. Psalm 127:1
Before we set out to build our family, career, or our ministry, we must circumcise our hearts by surrendering ourselves to God in humility (see Deuteronomy 30:6). In so doing, God begins to direct our path and to build for us an unshakable career, family and ministry that endure forever.
God’s desire is always to help us break free from the stigma of our past. Therefore, we must release the burden of self-vindication to God and focus on doing what is right. God is in the business of wiping the stigma of His children and exalting them as sons of God. The psalmist wrote,
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light. Psalm 37:5-6
After renewing their covenant with God as sons through the rite of circumcision, God immediately declared to the Israelites, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” The timing of the declaration revealed the urgency and priority of things topmost on God’s mind. It appeared that being children of slaves had weighed on their heart the stigma and shame of their fathers. On that day, Israel was given a new identity as sons of the Most High God. Therefore, we do not have to be overly concerned about clearing our name and vindicating ourselves. For at the right time, God will exalt us and subject all things under our authority. The Spirit said concerning man,
You have made him for A little while lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And have appointed him over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things in subjection under his feet. Hebrews 2:7-8
As God’s sons, we have in our inheritance the crown of glory and honor, being appointed as rulers over all things. We may be subjugated for a time by sin and the powers of the enemy: You have made him for a little while lower than the angels, but God has placed the shame of our slavery upon Christ. By resurrecting Christ from shame and death, God had at the same time raised us with Christ in glory and honor. The apostle Paul wrote,
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-6
Jesus declared, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36. It was at the cross that our shame became Christ’s shame, and His glory became ours.
- Are you preoccupied with being on everyone’s good books? And you find yourself being mistreated and disrespected every so often. Perhaps, you should just focus on doing what pleases God and being mindful of what God thinks. The opinions of others are important so long as they offer constructive and sound advice. Ultimately, people respect one who can hold his own despite a myriad of oppositions. And God will in His time vindicate us and exalt us in righteousness.
- Are your dreams and aspirations built upon the vision and commission of God? Do you spend most of your time building your personal wealth and comfort while neglecting those who are poor and needy? God identifies with the poor and the broken hearted and will deliver them. But for those who neglect the poor, God will judge. Ezekiel spoke about why Sodom was judged and destroyed,
“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49
By sacrificing our time to help the poor through charity works, we build an enduring future for our nation and our descendants.
Dear Lord, thank you for clearing my shame of mediocrity and sin. I have made my decision to be part of your kingdom vision. In all my endeavors, I choose to please you and you alone. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.