Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” (Joshua 5:9a)
When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’”
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the LORD your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”
So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the LORD had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there.
The LORD had said to Joshua, “Command the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to come up out of the riverbed.” So Joshua gave the command. As soon as the priests carrying the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant came up out of the riverbed and their feet were on high ground, the water of the Jordan returned and overflowed its banks as before.
The people crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. Then they camped at Gilgal, just east of Jericho. It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River.
Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the LORD’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the LORD your God forever.”
Yes, God was with Joshua, truly faithful to God, and the new generation of Israelites, who trusted God wholeheartedly not like the first generation getting out of Egypt. The first generation of Israelites actually saw the Promised Land, but they were immediately scared about the strong people who were already living in the Promised Land, and the fortified cities.
They should have trusted God and His promise instead of their rationale. Instead, they looked at themselves, and compared with the strong people in the land. Then they immediately knew that it was impossible to possess the Promised Land. Yes, it was impossible for the bunch of ex-slaves to drive away the stronger people and conquer the fortified cities. Suddenly fear came into their hearts and minds. Since then, they were driven by the fear. In fear, they concluded that they could not go into the Promised Land. They blamed God for not being able to get into the Promised Land. Many of them questioned, “Why did God bring us here? Just showing the Promised Land without really giving it us to possess it?” They were very sad too, because they believed the God’s promise for generations. When they had a hard time under Egyptian oppression because they were slaves, this promise made them go. That night, they got together and talked about God’s promise – God would lead them to the Promised Land. They encouraged each other while relying on the hope that they would eventually go into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Finally, they arrived at the Promised Land, but it was not what they expected. The strong people and the fortified cities in the land was unsurmountable obstacles. It was impossible to push out the strong people in the land, and occupy the land. In short, the promise of God that they put all of their hopes was turned out to be nothing. It was an empty promise, and they harshly complained to God. Was it true? The answer is absolute not!
Even so, the old generation believed what they saw with their own eyes more than God’s promise, which was not visible to their eyes. However, the new generation was different. They believed what God promised. Remember that they marched toward the impossibility -- the overflowing Jordan River in the harvest season. Before the impossibility, they wholeheartedly trusted God, and believed His promise. Out of their faith, they were able to experience the mighty God’s hand and the miracle that stopped the overflowing Jordan River, and they walked on the dry land to the other side of Jordan River. The new generation proved their faith, not like the old generation who failed miserably. In fact, God was about to fulfill His promise given to them generations ago. Yes, the new generation of Israelites was ready.
God is always faithful to those who are faithful. Faithfulness does not come easy. Our eyes and brains tell a different story, “That’s impossible. It will never happen. You must be crazy.” Yes, it is impossible if we only rely on our own might, strength and wisdom. We don’t have to blame ourselves. It is natural. Any human beings would respond in the same way. Then what’s the answer? We need to absolutely surrender to God and His will. We need to trust Him no matter what happens to us.
Surrender your heart to God,
turn to him in prayer,
and give up your sins—
even those you do in secret.
Then you won’t be ashamed;
you will be confident
Your troubles will go away
like water beneath a bridge,
and your darkest night
will be brighter than noon.
You will rest safe and secure,
filled with hope
and emptied of worry.
You will sleep without fear
and be greatly respected. (Job 11:13-19)
When all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings who lived along the Mediterranean coast heard how the LORD had dried up the Jordan River so the people of Israel could cross, they lost heart and were paralyzed with fear because of them.
This is the secret of God. For those faithful Israelites, God had already prepared. Although the people in the Promised Land looked much stronger than the Israelites, it was not true. God already put fear in the hearts of the kings in the west side of the Jordan River. How? God made them hear that God had dried up the overflowing Jordan River during the harvest season. God stopped the overflowing Jordan River, and let the Israelites walk on the dry land to reach the other side of the Jordan River. All of the kings in the Promised Land believed that the overflowing Jordan River would block the Israelites’ progress by being a barrier to their land. This thought was false. The almighty God dried up the Jordan River, the Israelites were marching through the river as if they were walking on a dry land, and they were already into their territory. The kings knew the Israelites were unstoppable, because the almighty God was with the Israelites.
The Israelites also realized that the mighty hand of God was with them and He made a way before them. They were mentally and spiritually ready to conquer the Promised Land. Suddenly God told Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise this second generation of Israelites.” Why did God suddenly command Joshua to circumcise the new generation of Israelites? The first generation who left Egypt had all been circumcised, but none of those born after the Exodus, during the years in the wilderness, had been circumcised. The Israelites had traveled in the wilderness for forty years until all the men who were old enough to fight in battle when they left Egypt had died. For they had disobeyed the LORD, and the LORD vowed he would not let them enter the land he had sworn to give us—a land flowing with milk and honey.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the entire male population of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. After all the males had been circumcised, they rested in the camp until they were healed. Joshua faithfully obeyed God’s command. Yes, faithfully! Please note that at that time, Joshua were in the territory of the kings on the west side of Jordan River. That is, they were in the middle of the enemy’s territory. Who would really circumcise under such a dangerous situation? After circumcisions, they had to wait till being healed. During this period, they were really vulnerable. If any of the kings had known this fact, they would not lose the prime opportunity to defeat the Israelites and completely wiped them out to eliminate any future problems caused by the Israelites. Nobody with a right mind would perform circumcision, but Joshua did with the entire Israelites. They did not ask nor argued with God. They quietly obeyed the entirety of the God’s command. The Israelites completely trusted in God and His promise over their own reasoning.
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)
God saw their trust in God by absolutely surrendering to God while risking everything including their own lives in the most critical time and in the most dangerous place, i.e., in the enemy territory. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” (Joshua 5:9a) The almighty omnipotent God announced that God had removed the four hundred years’ shame of slavery in Egypt on that day that the entire Israelites obeyed the God’s command without any doubt but only their complete trust in Him.
God always waits for our whole trust in Him and His promise although our eyes and brains might tell a different story of impossibility, “You have already tried before, and it did not worked. It was impossible and it is still true. What’s different for this time? No rationally minded people would do because it is ridiculous. How in the world do you really want to follow God? Even you don’t know where you are going.” Yes, we will hear lots of voices when we try to obey God’s command and keep His promise wholeheartedly. If this happen to us, then think this is truly natural to all, not just us. What really happens here is that there is a war in our heart between ourselves and faith.
Apostle Paul, who is the super apostle of Jesus Christ, shared his struggle as follows:
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:21-25)
Yes, our inner war between ourselves and faith in God is the very evidence that we have faith in God. If we just do what is rational to our eyes, then where is the faith in God? Sure, the fight is not easy. Resisting against ourselves and our own sinful desires is very difficult. If we experience this difficulty, please note that this is common to all believers. For example, Apostle Paul struggled, who had a far superior faith in God than us. Thus, don’t be dismay. We all believers want to follow God regardless what we see and know in faith, but our own self always war against us trying to hostage us not to follow God, but ourselves. By the way, if we fight this temptation with our own might and strength, we have already lost. The power of the temptation is too strong to us. (Just a little bit stronger than our might.) Then what shall we do? As Apostle Paul said, the answer is the Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Only by the power of Jesus Christ, who dearly love us by giving up Himself on the cross for our sins, we can overcome. Yes, the victory is sure in Jesus Christ. Praise God, and give thanks to Jesus Christ, who strengthens us to overcome all things in faith!
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)