As we come again to study God’s word, I want to welcome all of you and remind you that when we study the Bible, there is one principle above all others that is indispensable. That is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit. It’s His book and only God can reveal God and He delights to do it.
I want to share Psalm 96:2, “Sing to the Lord and bless His name and proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.” Good tidings is another word for “gospel” and gospel is another word for “good news”. The point that is on my heart to remind myself and you is this, that in the message of Christ, in the message that we preach, it is all good news and it’s all good tidings. I used to think that our message includes the gospel. But our message doesn’t just include the gospel, our message IS the gospel. Everything about knowing the Lord is good news. I have a great privilege and I’m honored to be able to proclaim the good tidings of His salvation week after week and I pray once again that we’ll see some good news today.
Heavenly Father, we thank You that you put a Bible teacher in our heart, your own life; the Holy Spirit. We know that it is His pleasure and joy to unveil to our hearts the things concerning Christ. We know that all of our dealings with You is through Jesus and we know that all of Your dealings with us is through Jesus. We pray that we might have a fresh revelation of Him this morning. Thank You in advance that you will over answer our request, because we come claiming it in the matchless name of our Lord Jesus. Amen.
We’re in the Book of Joshua, but like I like to remind you, we aren’t studying the Book of Joshua. We’re studying the Lord. Every book in the Bible is designed to take us to Him. We study to know Jesus. I pray that after we are finished that you will know a lot about Joshua, but the point is that we’re here to see the Lord Jesus. In our study in the book of Joshua we’ve come to chapters three and four. This is the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River during the floody season and it also includes the erecting of the two monuments of twelve stones; one in the dry river bed of the Jordan and the other five or six miles away in the Promised Land in a place called Gilgal.
So far we have looked at three of the obvious pictures in the crossing of the Jordan. In other words, the biggest truth, like the major prophets and minor prophets. The minor prophets are not minor because they have a minor message. They are minor because they are shorter. That’s the only reason. There’s a major message in the minor prophets. There are some facts that we’re going to look at that are in one sense minor because you could just pass over them. But the major facts we looked at; the river itself. That’s a major fact. What is the dividing line between the land of disobedience and the land of obedience. It was the dividing land between wilderness living and Promised Land living.
We discussed the crossing of Jordan in our own lives. When does a Christian cross the Jordan. I told you that there were two answers to that. The first answer is that every Christian already crossed Jordan two thousand years ago when Jesus died and rose again in the Person of Christ. You died with Him. That’s why Paul could say that he was crucified with Christ. So, you crossed Jordan two thousand years ago. You might say that’s just the doctrine. What about the practical. When do I actually today, in my life, cross the Jordan. The answer is that you crossed potentially two thousand years ago. You crossed actually when you begin to believe that you crossed two thousand years ago, when you see yourself in Christ, that takes you across the Jordan.
I told you that there is a salvation from and a salvation unto. Many Christians have only experienced salvation from. When they crossed the Red Sea they were delivered from; from Egypt and bondage and slavery. When they crossed the Jordan they were delivered unto; unto the Promises Land, unto the land flowing with milk and honey and unto the land that pictures Life in our Lord Jesus Christ. The land of milk and honey pictures Christ, the Life of milk and honey. We need to be saved from but we need to be saved unto. Deut. 6:23, is sort of a key verse on that, “He brought us out from there in order to bring us in.” Isn’t that wonderful, to give us the land He had sworn to our fathers. There is a Passover but there is also a crossover, and we need to cross into the land.
The second large picture that we saw was the Levites standing in the dry river bed holding high the ark of God enabling the redeemed to pass over into the Promises Land. The Levites became a great picture of God’s providential choosing a person or persons to help us get into the land. I’m not going to rehearse all that we touched on in that.
The third large picture that we discussed was the two monuments of twelve stones; one set up in the dry river bed and then one set up in Gilgal. Those were the big facts; the river, the Levites and the two monuments of twelve stones. But there is more to the crossing of the Jordan, so I’d like to give another lesson to the crossing of Jordan with the minor prophet facts, the lesser facts that we might miss if we just read in a hurried way but they contain the great truths of God. I’d like to take five of those facts and show the great principles connected with those facts. I may be accused this morning of sermonizing a little. I please guilty right away because some of these precious principles are very, very important.
Let me give you the first of the five. By the miracle of the crossing of the Jordan, it was God’s intention to encourage His people, to advance in faith and not to settle on the foretaste. Joshua 3:8-11, “You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the Ark of the Covenant saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” And then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “Come here and hear the words of the Lord your God.” Listen to the words, “Joshua said, ‘By this you shall know that the living God is among you and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivite, the Perruzite, the Girgashite, the Amorites and the Jebusite. Behold the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing ahead of you into Jordan.’”
Look again at verse 10, “By this you will know.” What is the “this”? The answer is that it’s the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River on dry land. “The miracle that you are experiencing crossing the Jordan, by this you will know that the Canaanites in front of you are going to be dealt with.” In other words, where you are walking today is a prophecy of the miracle that you’ll face tomorrow. Today’s miracle is a prophecy of tomorrow’s miracle. “By this,” by crossing this Jordan River in the floody season, by this you’ll know that the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perruzites, they’ll be taken care of tomorrow.”
God mentions all of those enemies in order to remind the people that you have a miracle today, but that you are going to have a war tomorrow. There will be many, many Canaanites in front of them. Remember, now, according to verse 15, they were crossing during the floody season. That was a mighty miracle. But the miracle was even greater than that. Listen to verse 16, “The waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap a great distance away at Adam, the city that is besides Zerathan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho.”
That verse 16 that describes the waters, the waters are actually flowing in two direction. This is an amazing miracle. When the priest feet touched the water, the river went backwards and it went forward. Both were true. It went backwards, some commentators say eighteen to thirty miles back. We don’t know exactly how long. The average is eighteen miles but they are all guesses because no one knows where the city of Adam was. Even to this day they haven’t identified that city.
The illustration is so precious. I’m going to develop it in another connection but listen to it now. I pray that God will help you see this. The victory God gives not only delivers you from any particular sin so that you can have a bright future, but listen carefully, the victory God offers also flows backwards and undoes all the damage your sin has ever done. It not only puts the fire out but His victory rebuilds the house. The curse is turned into a blessing.
When we get to the Levites and the inheritance that they had, we’re going to talk about how God turns the curse into a blessing. When he said in the New Testament, “Death is swallowed up in victory,” it wasn’t only for those who were to die in the future but that rolled all the way back to Adam. Death is swallowed up in victory. His victory not only delivers you now and the days in front of you, but it rolls back and undoes all the damage that has ever been done. Brothers and sisters, pull out all the stops and believe that with all of your heart. It’s a marvelous truth and it’s illustrated by these waters going in two directions.
That’s a graphic illustration that a present miracle is also a foretaste of the miracles you are going to need tomorrow. In this connection, and this is where I sermonize a little, there are two verses that have become very precious to me. One is in 1 Samuel 7:12, after a great victory over the Phillistines, “Samuel took a stone and he set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.” Ebenezer is a word describing what God has already done for you. I’d like to connect that with Genesis 22:14, “Abraham called the name of that place ‘The Lord will provide”. In the New American in the margin, that is the word “Jehovah Jirah”, “The Lord will provide”. It is said in the mount of the Lord, “It will be provided.” When Abraham found that thorn crowned ram and the deliverance of his son Isaac, he just said, “Jehovah Jirah, the Lord will provide. As you look back, you have Ebenezer, hitherto has the Lord helped us. As you look ahead you have Jehovah Jirah, the Lord will provide. Both are true. Ebenzer, Jehovah Jirah.
Let me continue my sermonizing because there is another strong illustration of that in the life of David. 1 Samuel 17:33, this is his conflict with Goliath, “And Saul said to David, ‘You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.’ But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock. I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.’ And David said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’”
Once again you see Ebenezer and Jehovah Jirah. David’s past victory over the bear and over the lion were designed to give him present faith in order to face Goliath. The lions and bears that you face today encourage you for the Goliaths that you’ll face tomorrow. All that is illustrated and God said, “By this you’ll know; by this present miracle you’ll know and you want have to worry about the Canaanites, Hittites and Perruzites, and so on.”
Let me develop this a little more. I want to take that same fact, that the miracle of the crossing of the Jordan, that victory anticipated future victories. But I want to call attention that it’s not only the enemies that you are going to face but that you are entering into the land that pictures Christ, flowing with milk and honey, abundance, blessing, fruit, union with Christ. It’s a wonderful land that you are going into. Now in the one sense, their crossing of the Jordan River was a repentance. You see how that is so. The last time they stood at this bank, they sinned. They had unbelief. They did not cross. Because of their unbelief they had to wander for forty years in the wilderness. I’m not expecting everybody to understand this. I’ll explain it another time but listen with your spiritual ears. Now, when they are ready to cross, the old man pictured by the old generation was dead and now since the old man is dead, they are able to enter into the land of rest. Because that was a repentance, they could have settled for the foretaste.
It is sort of like the Prodigal Son coming back from the far country to his father. God worked a great miracle and brought him back. As a Christian, in 1963, I departed from the Lord in a very big way and it still brings blood to my cheeks when I recall what I did and how I departed from the Lord. When He forgave me (I had already been a saved man), and re-established union with me, my heart was so full and I was so thankful, that I couldn’t stop praising Him that He took me back. I would have given up on me but He didn’t give up on me. I’m sure this generation now crossing the Jordan, in the light of the past, they are so thankful that they can cross the Jordan on dry ground. Joshua 4:12, why does God bring this up now? “The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over in battle array before the sons of Israel, just as Moses had spoken to them; about 40,000 equipped for war, crossed for battle before the Lord to the desert plains of Jericho.”
I hope you understand what I’m trying to get at when I say that these 40,000 all dressed up in battle array stood out like a sore thumb in the crossing of the Jordan. They didn’t cross like the rest of the three million people. They were all in battle array and I think that perhaps to the eye of flesh maybe that encouraged some of those who were timid to say, “Well, at least we’re being defended.” But to the eye of faith, that was a sad scene, a sad sight. That was their consequence of rejecting the Lord, rejecting the land. They were different than the people of God going in to possess the land. They weren’t going in to possess the land for themselves. They didn’t want the land and they didn’t want what the land pictured. It was a rejection of Christ.
Listen to these verses from Numbers 32:5, “They said, ‘If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession; do not take us across the Jordan.’” “We’re happy with the foretaste and we’re happy over the victory at Sihon and Og and the sixty cities here. This is good for us and our families and for our flocks. We don’t want to go in to the land.” When Moses heard that in verse 7, “Now why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which the Lord has given them?’” Verse 14, “Behold, you have risen up in your father’s place, a brood of sinful men, to add still more to the burning anger of the LORD against Israel.”
So, they made a deal and here was the deal they made; if you promise that we don’t have to take the land, here’s what we’ll do. Verse 16, “Then they came near to him and said, ‘We will build here sheepfolds for our livestock and cities for our little ones; but we ourselves will be armed ready to go before the sons of Israel, until we have brought them to their place, while our little ones live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. We will not return to our homes until every one of the sons of Israel has possessed his inheritance. For we will not have an inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has fallen to us on this side of the Jordan toward the east.”
I say this is a sad spectacle because now they are crossing the Jordan to keep the condition. They are going in battle array but they will not enter in. They are going to come back. We’ll have more about them later. So, the presence of the 40,000 reminded the people who were crossing not to settle for the foretaste. Praise God for the blessing He gives you because no matter what that blessing is, it’s not Christ. Your inheritance is Christ; it’s a Person; it’s union with a Person. Never settle for a blessing in the place of the Person. He doesn’t give you something called “patience, love, power, endurance.” He only gives His Son. If you have Jesus, you have love, patience, power, endurance, fruit and everything; everything in Jesus. That’s our inheritance.
For the two and a half tribes victory over Sihon and Og was the foretaste but for this generation the miracle of crossing was the foretaste. There’s life beyond the crossing. Don’t get so wrapped up in this. I’ll tell you again in shame that I know restoration and I know the joy of restoration. I wouldn’t trade anything for Psalm 23:1&3, “The Lord is my Shepherd. He restores my soul.” Praise God for restoration.
Let me illustrate my heart from the parable of the prodigal son. You remember the story. After the prodigal had wasted so much of his inheritance, he decides to return back to his father and home. We read in Luke 15:20, “So, he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him…” We’re told by scholars that the Greek word is “kept embracing him and kept on kissing him over and over”. You can imagine what a scene that was, a beautiful scene; a hug, embrace, kisses, restoration and welcome back.
It reminds me of the scene in Joseph’s life. Remember when he was restored to his brothers and to his father, after he already wept on the necks of each one of his brothers, he came to his father. Genesis 46:29, “Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; as soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck and wept on his neck a long time.” I don’t know what a long time is. A long time is a long time. I can imagine that reunion. I’ve been with people who have been restored to the Lord and I don’t want to interrupt that long time. I don’t want to interrupt that hug or interrupt those kisses. I never want to interfere with that.
While they are still in the embrace, the father speaks again. Luke 15:22, “The father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
Understand me, please, brothers and sisters, after the hug and after the embrace, there is a party. The hug is not forever. Praise God it’s there but there’s life after restoration. You’ve got to move on. Don’t settle for the foretaste. I know a brother in Christ who has been hugging Jesus for five years. It breaks my heart. He sinned and he lost his wife and he lost his kids and he ruined his testimony. He screwed up badly. Then God restored him and he’s so involved in that restoration that every time somebody asks for a testimony he stands up, “I messed up. My life was terrible. But God took me back. I want to praise God for His restoration. He loves me and He’s still with me and I’m so thankful. For five years.
There’s life after restoration. Praise God for crossing the Jordan but move on into the Promised Land. The land waits and the party waits. Give the Lord His party. Praise God for restoration and for the hugs and kisses but then move on. I think that is all illustrated in, “By this you’ll know. This is wonderful but by this you’ll know that there is more in front of you. Yes, there will be battles but you already have the victory.” Let me read that verse again and then we’ll move on. Joshua 3:9-10, “Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, ‘Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.’ Joshua said, ‘By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite. By this you shall know.’”
There is a second little fact that illustrates a great principle and it’s in Joshua 3:17, “And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan. “Until all the nation had finished crossing,” in this connection I like the King James Version, “Until they had crossed clean over.” I don’t know what “clean over” means. It’s the same truth in chapter 4:11&12, and once again the KJV says, “When the people had crossed clean over.”
I don’t know if you are familiar with Alexander McLaron. He’s a wonderful commentator and he made a comment on that verse, “The Lord waited for the greatest lager and slowest of foot.” That’s a wonderful expression. It’s logical to believe that in a group of about three million, that some in that number were infirm. I can’t prove that but I’m pretty sure that all things being equal, that would be so. It’s true that nobody except Joshua and Caleb are over sixty, so everybody is under sixty. But, even so, I’m certain that some were slower than others. I think the majority, according to chapter 4:10, that “the people hurried and crossed”. I think for the most part, if a water was building up behind me, you better believe I’ll be thinking that I’ll want to get over there. But I’m sure they were slowed down.
Don’t forget they had their flocks and their herds and they had their tents and they had their belongings and they had their kids. You know about kids. Many of them were too young to say, “You are about to go into the Promised Land and enter your inheritance.” They don’t know that. They are on a hike. I know when my kids were young, sometimes they were in front of us and sometimes they were behind us and we were always having to watch where they were.
The point is that the presence of the Lord, pictured by the ark, the throne of God, waited until the last foot had come out of the dry river bed. His presence held back the waters that would have destroyed them. I’m so glad in my life, when God walks hand in hand with me, and He does, that He does not take God steps. Imagine if He took God steps! He doesn’t. He takes my baby steps. It’s like a mother or father walking hand in hand with a toddler. Do you ever notice how slow they walk? They don’t walk with adult steps. That’s what the Lord does for us.
Perhaps there are some here who were taking great strides with the Lord. Well, He’ll walk with you in those great strides. But there might be others of us who are taking slower strides or sometimes even going backwards. I wouldn’t trade anything for the patience of the Lord in my life, or your life. Praise God that He waits for the slowest foot and the lager. As I look back, He never drove me and He never dragged me. He has encouraged me along the way and used many Christians to encourage me along the way, but most of all He just waited for me.
You’ve heard this principle but I’ll never tire of repeating it. God always deals with us as we are and where we are in order to bring us to the place that He wants us. Bless the Lord that He knows you inside out and is intimately acquainted with all your ways. He knows how fast you walk and He is not going to let the waters come over you until you have entered that land.
There’s a third observation. Not only does He says to not settle for the foretaste and that there’s a life ahead of you, a party, a land and the Lord Himself, not only is He patient but my next observation is from chapter 3:7, “Now the LORD said to Joshua, ‘This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you.” Joshua 4:14, “On tht day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life.”
I know there is a human way to look at this. They’ve been following Moses for forty years and even though there were seasons of rebellion, in the main they knew that Moses was God’s man and their leader. Therefore Moses had pretty big shoes to fill. When Moses died the people needed to be convinced that they had a new leader and that leader was Joshua. When Joshua led them across the Jordan, evidently that was the sign that they knew that this is now their new leader.
There’s also a deeper spiritual significance in the fact that God exalted Joshua in one day. The sudden exaltation of Joshua in one day, when they got on the Promised Land, He did more in one day exalting Joshua than He had done in forty years trying to convince a lot of rebellious people that Moses was their leader. I remind you what we began with early in our study, that the name “Joshua” in Hebrew is the name “Jesus” in the Greek. When Joshua led them into the land, you can also say that Jesus led them into the land. That contains a spiritual principle, and that is that only Jesus can lead us to Jesus and only Jesus can take us into the land that pictures Jesus.
I’ve emphasized many times that crossing the Red Sea was delivered from. But now they are being delivered unto. For thousands of Christians, that is all they know; salvation from. They think that’s the whole Christian life; “I’ve been delivered from sin and I’m not going to hell. I’m going to heaven. I’ve been saved. I’ve been born again. I’m separate now from my old friends, from my old ways, from my old habits, from my old acquaintances and I’m separated from my worldly dress and worldly music and worldly pleasures I used to be entertained by and the world’s methods that I use to follow. But once you’ve come to Jordan, everything is changed. It’s no longer salvation from. It’s now salvation unto and as God exalted Joshua in one day, Jesus in one day, passing into the land of rest, all of a sudden, your focus is on Jesus. Jesus is exalted in a way that He was not when you were wandering in circles in the wilderness. Now everything is Christ and it’s His will, His name, His reputation, His glory, His honor, His everything. That’s the difference between salvation from and unto. In fact, you can’t really be delivered from until you are delivered unto because it’s by union with Him that you have the power to be delivered from all those things.
I didn’t want to waste these wonderful details that contain such precious truths. It’s a great truth that the victory you have today is a pledge for the victory you are going to have tomorrow. It’s a precious truth that God is patient with you and He waits for you. His revelation constantly waits on your capacity and my capacity. It’s a precious truth that when you enter the land, Christ becomes everything. I love Joshua 4:18, “It came about when the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD had come up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up to the dry ground, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, and went over all its banks as before.”
The fore fact is this; those returning waters gave a message and the message is “no turning back”. Once you are saved unto and Christ is exalted and the good land is in front of you, victory is assured. There is no turning back. When they were in the wilderness, they often wanted to go back to Egypt. But once you are in the land, you never want to go back to the wilderness.
When I was a young Christian involved in a student movement called “Youth for Christ”. That was a mighty instrument for my own salvation that God used. We used to sing a chorus, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back. Though none should join me, still I will follow. No turning back. No turning back. The world behind me, the cross before me. No turning back. The cross behind me and the crown before me. No turning back. No turning back.” Once you’ve tasted Christ and I think many of you have, you’ve become gourmet. There’s nothing else that satisfies you. The problem with that is that there is a tendency, then, to become very critical, that when you hear other servants of the Lord speaking, and they don’t serve you that fine food, then you become critical. May God deliver us from that critical spirit!. We need to be delivered from that.
When you enter the land, you’ve been changed from hunger to appetite. Hunger is that I need it or I die. Appetite is that I’ve tasted it and I like it and I want more. That’s appetite. So, now we have an appetite from Christ. I don’t want you to get the idea that what is in front of you is all flowers and no trees and all honey and no bees because there are Canaanites in front of you. You might get that idea from reading chapter 5:1, “It came about when the kings of the Amorites who were beyond Jordan to the west, kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the Lord dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, their hearts melted and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.”
From that verse alone it looks like the enemy is just going to roll over and play dead. Don’t believe it for a moment. There can be a false confidence. It’s true that the enemy has already been dealt with and when we march into the land we can have confidence that the victory He gave us over the bear and the lion, He’s going to give us over Goliath. But the very fear that they expressed made them desperate. Listen to Joshua 9:1&2, “Now it came about when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country and in the lowland and on all the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, heard of it, that they gathered themselves together with one accord to fight with Joshua and with Israel.” Joshua 11:4-5, “They came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. So all of these kings having agreed to meet, came and encamped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel.”
Fully developed form, Revelation 12:11-12, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” Both are true. They are terrified of us but now they have great wrath, knowing that their time is short. It’s sort of like Satan has received his eviction notice and like someone who is kicked out of a rental, they are going to do all the damage they can do before they finally leave. They are going to steal all the brass fittings and so on. Satan I still going to trash the apartment but we have the victory. I didn’t want you to think, “They are going in victorious and the enemy is so frightened that they aren’t going to even raise a sword.” The opposite is true. Bloody days are ahead. When somebody is cornered, they become desperate.
Let me tell you a little story; a ground hog story. I’m not the brightest light in the chandelier. That’s for sure. This one day… I used to work at a camp and early in the morning we were sitting altogether before we began work and I saw a ground hog on the golf course and he was down by the sixth hole. I had golf clubs, so I took my six iron. I took a bushel basket and I was being very proud and I told all these people to watch how I captured the ground hog. So, I took my bushel basket with the club in one hand and the bushel basket in the other and the ground hog didn’t even run. He just looked up at me and said, “Alright, keep coming..” I got closer and closer. I was only steps away. I was going to put that basket in on him and I had my protection and suddenly he attacked me. He grabbed my foot and ripped my shoe, the top of my sneaker, and ripped it off and then sauntered into the woods laughing. I gave him the basket and I gave him the club.
The point I’m making is that these Canaanites, they were cornered and they were desperate. So, they came at Israel with great violence. That didn’t change the victory that God’s people had but that was important.
Not only does God give you a foretaste of future victory and not only is God patient with you and walks in your steps and not only is there no turning back because Christ is now pre-eminent, but I want to make one other fact and it’s about the place that they camped. Joshua 5:9, “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.” I want to say a word about Gilgal. We’ll be there again but let me introduce it. The word Gilgal technically just means “circle”, it means “around”. Because of that it means “rolled away”. Perhaps, we don’t know, when they took those twelve stones and made the monument, maybe they just put it in a circle. We don’t know if they piled the stones or how they did it. Anyway, we’re going to come back in our next session and look at some of the things that happened at Gilgal but for now, I wish I could tell you that Gilgal remained this great symbol of spirituality but it didn’t. It later on became a symbol of apostasy, after the days of David and Solomon and so on.
What I want you to notice is the expression in Joshua 5:9, “Today I’ve rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” The reproach of Egypt is a very instructive phrase. God’s people had been out of Egypt for forty years but Egypt had not been out of them. Do you hear what I’m saying? They had been out of Egypt but the reproach of Egypt was still on them. They were saved but they were still slaves to indwelling corruption; grumbling, idolatry and many other sins. It’s not until God takes us to salvation unto, unto Christ and into the land of rest, that the reproach of Egypt rolls away. We have been delivered from Egypt, maybe years ago, but is the reproach of Egypt still on us.
I think the New Testament illustration of that truth is when our Lord Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. “Lazarus, come forth.” Did he come forth? Oh, he did, in his grave clothes. Then he needed another deliverance, “Unbind him and let him go.” I was saved for seven years but I hopped around in my grave clothes. I was saved but the reproach of Egypt was still on me and I had to have God’s people unwrap me and set me free. That’s what happened to Lazarus. So, the reproach rolled away.
Let me review those five things. Praise God that your victory today is a prophecy that you are going to be victorious tomorrow. Thank the Lord that He is patient with you and walks at your pace. Praise God that now Christ is exalted. Praise God that you don’t have a desire to go back again and turn back. Praise God that in this place the reproach of Egypt is also gone.
Next time we gather we’re going to look at something very precious. What is our first day like in the new land? What is our first day in Gilgal? What does it look like? We’ll pick that up next time.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word, not for what we think it means, but all that You’ve inspired it to mean. Would you work that in our lives and in our hearts? Thank You for being with us today and take these truths and write them indelibly on our hearts and on our spirits. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.