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Do you know when God is acting in your life? Do you recognise it when He does? Or, is your expectation so low, you would not recognise God even if He stood before you? Few believers today actually portray true belief and faith! As a result they see little or nothing of God. It is true that as I write the world is under a dark cloud. Yet, even so, the Lord rules and is soon to rid us of our enemies and His.

Joshua saw the Lord because he obeyed. Excitement was in the air. Is this what you see in your circumstance and life? If not, you are looking away from Jericho and cannot see your Saviour, though He is in plain sight.

Verse 1

  1. And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

We see that the “kings of the Amorites... in the side of Jordan westward...” were greatly afraid of the Israelites, because of the Jordan miracle. You might wonder if the text is wrong about the location of the kings; after all, were they not vanquished on the EAST side of the Jordan? Yes, two kings were destroyed along with the Amorites in the east. But, there was more to it...

The Amorites were the most powerful of nations at that time. However, the name was also used, at various times, of all the nations of Canaan. Later, the tribe of Judah took the land south of Bethlehem, which was held by some of the Amorites (‘mountaineer’) living in the mountains. They had five kings. Other Amorites lived north of the Jordan, and they were ruled by two kings, one from Heshbon (on the east side of the Jordan) and the other from Bashan (south of Heshbon), who were beaten by the Israelites.

In other words, only some of the Amorites were destroyed before the Hebrews reached the plain outside Jericho. Whether scripture is referring to all the Canaanite nations or just the Amorites in this verse, it does not matter, for the entire Middle East was sorely afraid of the tribes of God. Have you ever been so afraid, you experienced a knotted abdomen, dry mouth, weak legs and numbing panic? That is how the Canaanites were. They felt beaten even before battles commenced. Not because the tribes were so large in number, but because of their fear of the God of Israel.

Today, we must encourage the same fear in people today, both believers and unbelievers. Nothing else will drive out the ungodly and their evils. This time in history, of the taking of Canaan, was exciting and daunting, because everything depended on Joshua, who himself depended on God. We can expect to be excited when we are challenged by modern woes and problems, if we depend on God! Fear and anxiety should never remain in control of us.

The excitement is waiting to see just how God will deal with what we pray for and about. But, if our situation ends in our depression or anxiety, it is proof we do not rely on God at all. Relying on God is rather like those electric cars that do not require a driver! When we hand everything over to God, He will take us along the road He already has in mind for us. As I have discovered many times, His road is often not what we expect it to be. Even so, it is the road giving us optimum benefits. Do we dare to take that road, though we do not have our hands on the steering wheel? It is a vital question.

Verses 2-7

  1. At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.

  2. And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.

  3. And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.

  4. Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.

  5. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

  6. And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.

The massed camp of Hebrews had pitched their tents, awaiting further instructions from Joshua. God spoke to him, commanding that he order the people to make “sharp knives” to circumcise the “children of Israel” (males) “at the hill of the foreskins”. The sharp knives could either be small swords or stones used as knives.

Verse 2 speaks of circumcising them “again”... “the second time”. Most readers have no medical knowledge, but even to these it is obvious that if someone has been circumcised, he cannot be circumcised again! And they are right. The text, though, is not saying the males must be circumcised twice. Only the males who originally left Egypt were circumcised (that is, removal of the foreskin). These had now all died off, so the command is for those who were born in the desert during the forty years of roaming. They were never circumcised (see verse 5). Therefore, to redress this problem, God demanded they show their special relationship to God by circumcision.

We are reminded (verse 6) that all who had previously been circumcised, the soldiers especially (“men of war”) did not obey God, so were punished with wandering in deserts without ever seeing the promised land. They lost the reward of “milk and honey” (symbolic for wealth and food, as well as literal milk and honey). We are told “Joshua circumcised” them. Obviously, this meant they were circumcised by his command, the act itself left to local chiefs and/or Levite priests. The rite was a sign of national belonging as well as obedience to the Lord. Only those males who were circumcised could partake of the paschal sacrifice. The “hill of the foreskins” was a low hill where the operations were performed (“at” signifying a place).

I would remind Christians today that if they continue in their sins, they, too, might be left in a spiritual desert, or might suffer physical problems, through disobedience. And such suffering could last their entire lives. Obey the Lord and live!

Verses 8-12

  1. And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.

  2. And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

  3. And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.

  4. And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.

  5. And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

Once all the males were circumcised they stayed in their respective tribal camps to heal. This involved washing with warm water daily, and covering the cut area with a suitable salve, such as honey, and a piece of clean cloth. The cutting took about ten minutes; the healing took about ten days. Quite painful for a day or two.

In these ancient days the procedure was called the “covenant of circumcision”, or brit milah. The man who performed this small operation is called a ‘mohel’. It was just as well that the Canaanites did not know what had happened, for what better time to strike, when even the warriors were laid low by a painful wound!

When the men were circumcised God told Joshua that He now “rolled away the reproach of Egypt”. Though God saved them from slavery, the people quickly became rebellious, some even wanting to return to their ever-increasing bondage! For this they were reproached by God and those who left Egypt did not see the promised land, as a punishment. Now, the people who were born in the wilderness were circumcised, thus showing their obedience to God through Joshua. God removed/took away His reproach and all was well.

The place the Hebrews camped, near Jericho, was called ‘Gilgal’ (a wheel, rolling) following this act of compliance with the Lord’s command. It is commonplace in the Old Testament to see mention of a place even before it existed.

On the 14th day of the first month (our March) all the people celebrated the Passover in the evening, on the plain of Jericho. Next day they ate grain they found stored, for God now stopped provision of manna. In a way eating the grain was a picture of their taking of Canaan, when they ate of the land’s produce for the first time... the grain and the land now belonged to them.

Verses 13-15

  1. And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?

  2. And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?

  3. And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

Joshua was standing near Jericho city and saw a man standing close by holding up a sword. Joshua was on the alert and challenged the man “Are you for us, or against us?” The man’s reply was startling. He told Joshua that he was the leader of the angelic host. We know he meant this, for Joshua was the captain of the earthly host.

This is how Joshua took the statement, and he immediately fell on his face on the ground, and worshipped, asking the angel what he wanted him to do. Matthew Henry thinks this was a vision. I see it as an actual angelic visit because there is no indication of this being a dream or vision, and the sentence structure demands it. It is also my view that the angel was none other than the Son of God, for why should Joshua worship anyone lower than God, even an angel?

The angel/Son made a demand – for Joshua to remove his shoes, for he was standing on holy ground. Did he mean the Jericho plain itself was holy? No, it was holy because of Who was there – the Son of God.

Every believer is ‘an holy thing’, for the Holy Spirit indwells each one of us. Therefore, each one of us must display this fact in our lives, thinking and words. We should not project any other attitude or action. When we thus live as we ought, ‘things happen’ and God acts on our behalf. Think about it – why is your life seemingly so empty and motionless?

God is good to those who love Him. Do you love Him? Or, is your ‘love’ just a mimicking of what you THINK love is? As Jesus said, a sign of our love is that we obey His commands. Do you? I do not mean legalistically, but from the inner most part of your heart.

To obey God no matter what happens is a step of real faith. It is not a ‘leap in the dark’ but a walk in the light, for God says He WILL look after His own and WILL show us the way; nothing is hidden. But, we must obey first.

Many today think they do God’s bidding because all seems right with them. Not so. Earthly success is often a sign not of obedience or faith, but of the opposite. This is when God will no longer bother with guidance, for it has already been shunned and avoided. The earthly success is, then, just what unsaved men enjoy... until they die. Christian success is altogether a different kind of thing, for it is the result of witnessing to Christ, not of doing what we think is right and good for our careers, incomes, and even religion.

How do I know? Because, those who truly witness are always attacked by the world. Many lose everything. Most lose all their so-called friends. They deliberately avoid befriending fakes, unbelievers and wicked men, because they know that to stay in their company is to lower their spiritual standards. As such they become useless soldiers of Christ and their actions tend to go against true witness. Friendship with the world (unbelievers) constitutes treason against God and weakens spiritual life.

No Christian should base his or her friendship on emotional ties... an unbeliever is still an unbeliever, no matter how welcoming he or she is. And Psalm One warns us specifically not to be with them. Israel chose to not just avoid the enemy, but to engage with them in battle, not in parties, dinners and social evenings. At this time, Israel was ready to do battle. Are you? If you befriend the enemy (unbelievers) then you will be loathe to do so, and will be a liability at a time of heated battle.


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Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
United Kingdom