At that time Jehovah said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives, and again circumcise the sons of Israel, the second time.” And Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins…
…And it happened, when all the nation had finished being circumcised, they remained in their places in the camp until they revived.
And Jehovah said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled the reproach of Egypt off of you.”
And he called the name of that place Gilgal to this day.
The fruit of the promised land will not be partaken of by the double-minded; nor its cities conquered by an army whose trumpet makes an uncertain sound. Yet these are the hindrances which the reproach of Egypt produces.
The devil would have us still be ashamed and ever-conscious of the cities we once built for Pharaoh, convinced that his kingdom still holds the right to our bondage. “For you ran away like a foolish and unknowing child,” he calls, “Don’t you owe Pharaoh for all that he fed you and the shelter which he provided you? You ought to at least still live as one fearing him!”
Double-mindedness and uncertainty of heart produce compromise and cowardice.
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” (Prov 29:25)
But in this passage we see victory over this achieved simply by allowing God to take His knife to our hearts, cutting away the veil which He has opened so that we may joyfully walk before God in a good conscience in the light. The Lord intends that His people would be so circumcised in heart, so that being of a single-minded and sincere faith before Him, they might be able to mind the things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh; and therefore walk unwavering in the freedom of obeying His word unashamed. He even went so far as to say to the stubborn ones, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart…” (Deut 10:16)
“And he called the name of that place Gilgal to this day.”
It is only fitting that the location at which they were circumcised was the location where the twelve stones of memorial had been placed (Joshua 4); where we meditate in thanksgiving upon His wondrous works in times past, and may be spurred to the obedience of faith in the hope of His promise. When David’s brothers sought to hinder him from facing Goliath, he recalled to memory the power which God had given him through faith to overcome the lion and the bear. And the same David sang, “Through God we SHALL do valiantly: for HE it is that shall tread down our enemies.” These are not the actions or words of a man ashamed before his God, nor of one wavering in faith due to circumstances; but of one who knows and trusts in the Lord whom he confessed before all men.
Those who are circumcised in heart have nothing left to lose before man, since they count all things loss for the sake of knowing God. Those who seek to follow Him very far must allow Him to take away the reproach of Egypt which covered them so that they may with a clean conscience partake of the blessing of the land of rest, being prepared in confidence to fight the good fight of faith unto every victory. The true sacrifice which pleases the Lord is the one offered in an undefiled conscience; and the obedience that will stand in the day of judgement is that which flows from a heart beating unashamedly with the Father’s pure and holy love: jealous for HIS glory and rich in mercy. But the heart and mind clinging to the reproach of Egypt are working against faith and therefore cannot please God. The works of faith reveal the Light; but the works not proceeding from faith keep men in darkness.
Despite his personal failures, David remained a man after God’s own heart because He always returned to abide humbly before God, obtaining such a good report from Him because he lived in “the end of the commandment,” which is “love out of a pure heart and a good conscience, and faith not pretended.” (1Tim 1:5)
So let us humble ourselves under the double-edged sword of His word that we may be made to clearly hear the voice of our Shepherd and be filled with the heart of the Father for keeping in step with His Spirit. To so walk in the Spirit, without the reproach of the former things having to limit the depth and nearness of our communion with Him, is the cultivating of that rest in which He desires us to abide.
For having passed through the veil of His flesh by crossing the Jordan, we may now “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts having been sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body having been washed in pure water…” In contrast, the uncircumcised heart, trapped in minding the flesh and living in the flesh, is a heart easily given to shrinking back; like the servant who faithlessly buried his talent in the ground, failing the Master who gave him all that was required to fulfill the calling.
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,
but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
And the sons of Israel camped in Gilgal, and prepared the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening, in the plains of Jericho.
And they ate the old grain of the land on the morrow of the Passover, unleavened bread and roasted grain, in this same day.
And the manna ceased on the next day after they ate of the old grain of the land.
And there was no more manna to the sons of Israel,
but they ate the produce of the land of Canaan in that year.
Here we see that the people’s own true fruitfulness in the land began at the aforementioned place of memorial and circumcision: Gilgal.
For even as the manna from heaven was good for those who had just been brought out of Egypt, so is the pure spiritual milk good for those new babes in Christ who have just been newly translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His light. But those who will keep themselves in His love must seek to walk in ALL of His Truth by the Spirit; and the fruit of the Spirit is found ever-increasing those who enter His rest and abide therein, unashamed to partake of it. It is in this posture that they themselves become fruitful and thereby a revelation of He who dwells in their midst.
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, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
And He said, “No; but as Captain of the host of the Lord have I now come.”
The Captain became very present to lead them in battle after their reproach was taken away; for they were now truly able to be lead by Him in unwavering faith, being of a single eye towards Him in a clear conscience. Notice how our Captain said to Joshua that He now had come to lead them in battle.
His ability to lead them on in victory depended on their ability to render themselves HIS vessels. As it was said to those who escaped Egypt, “the LORD will fight for you.” Those who surrender themselves as living sacrifices to His will may become the very vessels of HIS warfare. And by the continued experiences of His victory through faith, we more and more readily surrender and fully trust Him to be our rearguard and the shield around us when He commands us to war. As the children become sons, they develop a seasoned faith in the Lord as being their very strength, who can now “teach my hands to war and my fingers to fight,” with weapons of warfare that are “not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him,
“What saith my Lord unto His servant?”
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.
“What saith my Lord unto His servant?” – The true worship of God is seen in the acknowledging of and obedience to He who is the true and only commander that can lead His people to inherit the kingdom.
“…for the place whereon thou standest is holy.” – There is no lasting victory upon the ground which God has not set apart and dedicated to Himself; and He will not devote even that ground to our conquering if we ourselves will not also be set apart to Him. Without holiness, no man will see the Lord (Heb 12:14). His kingdom shall only be taken by those spiritually violent in faith under the direction of the Captain of the host of the Lord. For the warring of a holy people is spiritual, not against flesh and blood; but a people who always war according to the flesh – seeking the worldly things and trusting in the wisdom or devices of man – are evidently a profane and a faithless people. The true kingdom consists in the power of God working mightily in those who take to it’s borders and beyond with a holy violence; and holy violence is only seen in a faith which renders its loyalty exclusively to ONE Captain. For having the reproach of Egypt taken off of them, they are being renewed in the spirit of their mind and putting on the new man, “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
And by so partaking of the divine nature, they become fruitful in the knowledge of Christ, whose qualities they begin and continue to show forth; which they are able now to do without reproach, since they have not forgotten that they were cleansed from their former sins. And regarding such faith which increasingly practices these qualities, the apostle Peter said, “in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
This is the holy spiritual ‘violence’ of those who count all things loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus:upon whose revelation they become ever more poor in spirit, knowing that except He lead them and they abide in His way, they will not taste of the greater glories of His fullness. It is for HIM that they hunger and thirst.
“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”
“My hearer, have you ever been one of these violent men, or are you so now? Blessed be God if this holy violence is in your spirit: you shall take heaven by force yet; you shall take it by storm, and carry the gates of heaven by the battery of your prayers. Only persevere with importunity; still plead, still wrestle, still continue to strive, and you must at length prevail. But ah! my hearer, if thou hast never had a strong unconquerable anxiety about thy soul, thou art as yet a stranger to the things of God. Thou dost not understand that violence victorious without which the gates of heaven never can be stormed.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”