Notes: May 24, 2008 – Joshua 4 & 5

Crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 4)

And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan. (!Joshua 3:17)

  1. How long this took, we don’t know. Imagine the strength of body and mind required to stand there doing the Lord’s work while hundreds of thousands of your family, friends and neighbors passed by. Christians should be so disciplined in their spiritual service.
  2. Two memorials of 12 stones each were set up, one on the edge of the river (Joshua 4:8) and the other in the middle of the river (Joshua 4:9). Their purpose was to elicit questions from future generations and to provide a forum for presenting a testimony about God (Joshua 4:7, 23-24).
    • God dried up the Jordan River so that our ancestors might pass over.
    • God did a similar thing to the Red Sea for a previous generation.
    • This is to be a testimony to all people of the earth.
    • Men should know that God is powerful.
    • You should fear the Lord forever.

Circumcision and the Captain (Joshua 5)

10  This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11  And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
12  And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
13  He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14  And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. (!Genesis 17:10-14)

24 ¶  And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.
25  Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.
26  So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. (!Exodus 4:24-26)

  1. Why hadn’t anyone been circumcised the entire time that Israel was living in the wilderness (Joshua 5:5-7)? Wasn’t circumcision a perpetual obligation? Didn’t Moses realize the serious consequences of failing to keep the commandment? Thinking a bit more about this, why would their unbelieving parents have observed the commandment when disobeying God was normal in their lives? We don’t expect the children of unbelievers to have learned anything about God from their parents, do we?
  2. Did you notice that this crossing of the Jordan and the circumcision of the new generation took place in the first month, in preparation for the annual passover celebration (Joshua 4:19; Joshua 5:10)?
  3. With their arrival in the promised land, Israel had no more need of the miraculous and regular provision of manna, so the miracle ceased (Joshua 5:12). Too many people keep looking for miracles when they should be attending to God’s normal means of providence.
  4. Joshua’s interview with the Captain extends through the first five verses of chapter 6.
  5. The Amorites and Canaanites were afraid of the Lord and His people (Joshua 5:1). So afraid was Jericho, that it had locked itself in (Joshua 6:1).
  6. The Lord appears to Joshua. Who else could this be but the Lord?
    • He is called the LORD (Joshua 6:2)
    • He is worshipped by Joshua (Joshua 5:14)
    • He speaks like the LORD did to Moses  (Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15).
  7. Joshua, no doubt mindful of the military task before him, sees a man with a drawn sword (Joshua 15:13), and asks a perfectly normal question of the suddenly appearing soldier, “Are you for us or against us?” Everyone should ask this question of the LORD: “Are you for me or against me?”