Read: Joshua 5
With their feet now firmly inside the land of Canaan, and their enemies completely disheartened by their miraculous incursion, the Hebrews had begun a new chapter in their history.
All the commands that Moses had given over the past forty years—the Torah instructions that would guide and protect the nation of Israel must be obeyed—including that of circumcision, which had been ignored during the wandering years. Now all the Children of the Wilderness, those whose parents and grandparents had flouted that law, must submit to this important physical reminder of the everlasting covenant between Yahweh and Abraham (Gen. 17:11).
This procedure would be painful and days required for healing, leaving the Hebrews vulnerable in the midst of enemy territory. Looking back to the story of Jacob’s sons and their vengeance on Shechem—after tricking the men of that city into the same ritual and striking when the men were weak (Genesis 34)—it would have been quite simple for the Canaanites to take advantage of the Hebrews’ recovery period. But regardless of the danger, every man obeyed the law. They completely trusted Joshua their commander and they trusted Yahweh that victory was still theirs, in spite of their weak and vulnerable state.
After this mass circumcision, the people then celebrated Passover to remember how Yahweh had brought them out of Egypt forty years before, and the next day the manna they had subsisted on during the wanderings no longer appeared on the ground. It was time to partake of the bountiful produce of the land of Canaan. Yahweh had fulfilled his promise to bring them to a land rich with milk and honey. It would now be up to them to obey his laws—which would ensure that the new nation of Israel would prosper for countless generations as a testimony of God’s provision and greatness to all the surrounding nations.
The interaction between Joshua and the Commander of Yahweh’s armies—who no doubt was Yeshua himself, due to his willingness to allow Joshua to worship him and his demand that Joshua remove his sandals in holy reverence (Rev. 19:11-16 and Exodus 3:5)—is a reminder the upcoming victories were not for the glory of Israel, but for the glory of Yahweh and for the purposes he put into motion before the foundations of the earth. Joshua’s forces were fighting on the side of the Heavenly Armies, not the other way around.
We have been invited by the Great High Commander to fight the enemy by being a living witness to the Truth and there is no higher calling. Take some time today to prayerfully consider ways in which you can engage in the fight for God’s Kingdom and put aside pursuits whose only profit is your earthly gain.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
We all struggle with sin, even after being saved by the grace of Yeshua’s death on the cross—but on the whole does your life stand as a testimony to God’s greatness? If not, what hinderances do you need to throw off in order to freely pursue righteous living by God’s standards?
Do you see God’s laws as burdensome, or do you view them as loving instruction (2 Tim. 3:16) by a good father whose plan (Jer. 29:11) is to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future? In what ways does the story of the Exodus, the wilderness wanderings, and the entrance into Canaan highlight this truth?
When do you feel the most vulnerable to attack from the enemy, or from your own sinful desires? How have you handled these times of weakness in the past? What would change if you fully trusted your High Commander to encircle you with protection even when your guard is down and you are at the end of your strength? How does the history of the Ancient Hebrews encourage you to trust Yahweh even in the midst of temptation, fear, or trial?