I have been encouraged by people telling me about how they are enjoying studying the book of Joshua. They are connecting with a part of the O.T. that often gets overlooked. They are connecting with the big story of God’s people. One of the great things that happens when we study the O.T. is we gain perspective on how God’s people find meaning and purpose in this life. Meaning and Purpose for God’s People comes from connection to God. THE GOSPEL IS ALL ABOUT CONNECTION.
We need to connect to God, and HE shows us how in HIS Word, in HIS story is were we find the meaning and pupose of OUR story.
God’s people, after spending 40 years in the wilderness have now entered the Promised Land…and before they begin the conquest God strengthens their connection to him to prepare for what is to come. Led by Joshua (a human ‘Type’ of Christ) the people of God do five things that connect them to purpose and meaning that flow from God.
Connection with the real state of opposition to God’s people.
Connection with the Identity God has given HIS people.
Connection with the freedom God has given HIS people.
Connection with God’s provision yesterday, today and in the future.
Connection with ‘The Person’ of God; aka Jesus Christ
These are foundational aspects of how God’s people live connected to HIM. These principles enable Christ’s people to live a life of discipleship. Today’s text shows us that God desires HIS people to connect to HIS purposes and that is were HIS people find meaning in this world.
The process of inhabiting the promised land begins with the building and strengthening of a connection with HIS people.
Joshua 5 – 6:7
5:1 Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until they had crossed over, their hearts melted in fear and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.
- The stories at first would be dismissed, but now there is too much confirmation
- They felt safe with the Jordan river between them and the Israelites
- Two factors: Physical barrier gone & that barrier was supernaturally overcome
- If the Israelites crossed the normal way, the Kings would have attacked
- After seeing what God did they no longer had the will to fight (lost fighting spirit)
- They are a defeated enemy!
- Our connection to God is enhanced by knowing the situation of the enemy
- Our enemy is already defeated; death has been defeated for those ‘In Christ’
- They had metal tool, why use flint blades?
- Easy to make multiple very sharp, smooth blades, makes for faster healing
- Stone less likely to transmit bacteria as metal… better for this situation
- Gibeath Haaraloth means: ‘The Hill of Foreskins’
- Circumcision was a mark to identify God’s chosen people
- Symbolic and Physical proof of their identity as a ‘Son of Abraham’
4 Now this is why he did so: All those who came out of Egypt—all the men of military age—died in the wilderness on the way after leaving Egypt. 5 All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt had not.
- Why didn’t they follow the law and circumcise all male children on the 8th day?
- While in the wilderness they were ‘disconnected’ from their identity as God’s people
6 The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord. For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land he had solemnly promised their ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey.
- The previous generation had been circumcised but broke the covenant
- Because their fathers had broken the covenant the children did not get the sign
- Rejection of that generation was shared by their children until they were gone
- They were going to reconnect with their identity as God’s People
7 So He raised up their sons in their place, and these were the ones Joshua circumcised. They were still uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way. 8 And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in 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 place has been called Gilgal to this day.
- This generation replaces their fathers and now receive the covenant sign
- To keep from bleeding it was necessary to be still for 3 days
- Reproach is disgrace, the opposite of unmerited favor (Grace)
- The previous generation was tainted by being enslaved in Egypt
- Physical circumcision was a foreshadowing of our spiritual circumcision
- Gilgal sounds like the Hebrew word for roll
- He rolled away the reproach, He rolled away the stone
- ‘Therefore there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ!’
- God reconnected them through the recognition of their true identity
In Christ, you were circumcised, not by any physical act, but by being set free from the sins of the flesh by virtue of Christ’s circumcision. You, so to speak, shared in that, just as in baptism you shared in his death, and in him are sharing the miracle of rising again to new life—and all this because you have faith in the tremendous power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You, who were spiritually dead because of your sins and your uncircumcision, God has now made to share in the very life of Christ! He has forgiven you all your sins. ~ Colossians 2:11-13 (PHILLIPS)
10 On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. 11 The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12 The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.
- Finished crossing the Jordan the 10th day, circumcision happens on 11th day
- After 3 days they celebrate the passover on Nissan the 14th
- Then it is the festival of unleavened bread for 7 days Nissan the 15th – 21st
- Except the 1st one, previous festivals featured only mana (God made it kosher)
- The provision of God is now coming from ‘The Land’, so mana was not needed
- They connected to the reality of God’s provision
- Connecting with how God provides strengthens the faith of God’s people
13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
- The assumption is that the festival is now over, Joshua goes for a scouting trip
- Looking at the most fortified city in all the land he must have been dismayed
- The man is in a battle ready stance
- He asks if he is for Israel or it’s foes…he thinks this is a battle of humans
- The ‘Man’ tells him it’s not about you or them, it is HIS battle, not theirs
- He proclaims: I am the Prince of the Lord’s Host…Who would that be?
- I have come now as Army Commander, will HE come later as something else?
Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my lord have for his servant?” 15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
- Is this an angel? If so he would tell Joshua not to worship him…
- Joshua is told to remove his shoes, it’s holy ground…as in ‘burning bush’
- At this point Joshua realizes he is face to face with ‘The God Man’
- This is the incarnadined Christ / Yahweh in the form of a man; a ‘Christophany’
- Joshua on behalf of the nation, is personally connecting with the Person of Christ / Yahweh
6:1 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. 2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.”
- The city was impregnable to the Israelites, they had no siege works
- Only God himself would say: ‘I have delivered’ (He is outside of linear time)
- He has already done it all, knows exactly how it will go down (He predestined it)
- The all powerful Creator of The Universe condescends to connect with Joshua
3 “March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
- The plan will give Joshua all the confidence he needs, God does all the work
- Yahweh is going to surround the city with His presence
- Then He is going to defy natural reality, making the city wall collapse
- It is going to be a situation that invites ridicule…(veggie tales ‘French Peas’)
- This would sound crazy, unless God said it to you!
- Unless you had seen God part the red sea, seen God part the Jordan…
- Unless you have a personal connection to HIM by HIS spirit
- Joshua’s connection was unique at the time
- Post resurrection and Spirit indwelling, we all can have a personal connection
6 So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” 7 And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.”
- Joshua doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t run it by anyone, He enacts the plan NOW
- When we are connected to God in every way He wants us to be we are ONE!
God’s people find meaning and purpose in their lives by being connected to God in the ways HE prescribes for us.
In terms of eternity, we have a defeated enemy. The only thing he can do is mess with our minds. We can connect with the reality of that and live without fear.
Our identity as God’s chosen is a key element of being a Christian, we can connect to that identity and let it shape our lives. The nation of Israel’s physical circumcision is a parallel to our spiritual circumcision.
It is vital for God’s people to be connected to their heritage of God’s grace. Scripture is God gift to us that we would live in light of HIS Story.
The celebration of and thanksgiving for the provision God has provided and will provide, is a humbling connection that enables grace to flow through us.
The cultivation and maintenance of our personal connection with Christ will power us through the mundane and the miraculous.
CONNECTION FOR GOD’S PEOPLE
The Connection of knowing the condition of our enemy
The Connection of renewing our identity
The Connection of remembering our past
The Connection of acknowledging God’s provision
The Connection of personal a relationship with God
How can you grow in the level of connectivity you have concerning your eternal fate?
What is the source of your identity as one of God’s people and how well are you connected to that source?
What is your plan to become more connected with the history & heritage of God’s people?
How does your connection to how God provides for you impact the financial and career decisions you make?
How can you improve your day to day personal connection to Christ?
VISION & PRACTICE
As God’s chosen people let us recognize Scripture’s guidance as to how we are to intentionally connect with Christ. And may our lifestyle choices reflect the cultivation of that connectivity.