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 we had crossed over, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.
At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.
Now this is why he did so: All those who came out of Egypt—all the men of military age—died in the desert on the way after leaving Egypt. 5All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the desert during the journey from Egypt had not. 6 The Israelites had moved about in the desert 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 that he had solemnly promised their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 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.
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.
Joshua 5 is a short chapter, but SO pivotal, so full of blessings – let’s take our time:
If you take a snapshot of Israel at this one point, it seems that they are on the right path, but if you take a step back, you see that Israel’s history is a sordid (but unhidden!) one. Chapter 5 reminds us of this history, how a generation of Israel was denied the Promised Land because of their disobedience and complaining hearts. It’s a history rife with failure, sin and tragedy, and Israel is well aware of it.
But then they reach Gilgal.
Gilgal is the Hebrew word for “wheel” or “roll”, and there, God rolls away Israel’s terrible past from them, and reveals a new season for them where they will finally enjoy the Promised Land. What a wonderful thing to realize, that we serve a God who rolls away the past from us, and the reproach of our sins! And all of this points forward to the ultimate “rolling away”, the rolling away of the gravestone of Christ, that it is through Jesus and his resurrection that all of our sins are cast far from us, and we enter into a new life!
And we realize this: we all have terrible regrets, and hold onto our broken and sinful pasts, but our God has always been in the business of rolling away the past to reveal far better things for us, in Joshua’s time, in Jesus’ time, and in our own.
1. What do you regret most in your life?
2. What stands in the way from God rolling away your past as he did with Israel?
3. What new things have you been sensing God wants to do in your life?