Joshua 4 & 5


Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which lives and abides forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.  The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away, but the Word of the LORD endures forever.  And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you (I Peter 1:22-25 KJV).

The Eternal Gospel of Salvation through Christ and Him Crucified… It not only regenerates the lost soul but revives the weary one as well… Where would I be without the LORD? The old songs “At the Cross” and “Because He Lives” have been going through my mind lately… I sometimes get lonely for the “old days” of church fellowship… I don’t know why everything about life in Christ Jesus had to be re-defined… I miss the Good Old-Time Gospel… I think the young generation is missing out on a whole lot of good stuff from prior generations… and don’t even know it… Someday, maybe there will be a revival of what was Good, Godly, and True in the “Old Time Religion.”  It didn’t have to be all thrown out… Did it?

Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, 2 “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight’” (Josh 4:1-3 NASB).

Jehovah God was always insistent with the Israelites that they make memorials of His Faithfulness and Deliverance. This memorial would consist of twelve stones.

So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; 5 and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. 6 Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever” (Josh 4:4-7 NASB).

These stones were “taken,” and they were “carried,” and then they were “laid down,” and finally they were “set up.” The origin of the stones was the deep bed of Jordan, and their purpose was to testify that Israel owed her entrance into Canaan only to Divine Grace and Power.  In the Baptism of Christ, of which the story of the crossing of the Jordan was a type, the Believer dies to the old and rises into New Life in Christ Jesus.  As to ever man’s moral origin, he is buried beneath the water of the Wrath of God, but once Saved by the Blood of Jesus, he is set upon Resurrection ground and testifies to the Glory of Salvation through the Cross of Christ.

Jesus said to the Pharisees that if the children were silent, the very stones would cry out. And these memorial stones set up at Gilgal cried out day and night!

Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, just as the Lord spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel; and they carried them over with them to the lodging place and put them down there. 9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing, and they are there to this day (Josh 4:8-9 NASB).

These twelve stones buried on the bottom of the Jordan River where the feet of the Priests had stood, signify the death and burial of Israel’s forty years of unbelief in the Wilderness. Now that time is over and buried.

For the priests who carried the ark were standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything was completed that the Lord had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. And the people hurried and crossed; 11 and when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed before the people. 12 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; 13 about 40,000 equipped for war, crossed for battle before the Lord to the desert plains of Jericho (Josh 4:10-13 NASB).

This would have been quite the scene indeed! The Ark of the Covenant, held on the shoulders of the priests, all in the midst of the Jordan, with the waters held up by the mighty Power of God, that the people could walk across on dry ground.

Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho. 20 Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22 then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; 24 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever” (Josh 4:19-24 NASB).

The name “Gilgal” actually means “rolled away.” The Israelite encampment in this place typified that the unbelief of the Wilderness had rolled away.  Thus, this was a great place for these twelve memorial stones to be set up as a symbol of a new beginning for Israel.

The Miracles of the past which the LORD had given Israel were to be related again and again to future generations. The “Hand of the LORD” is indeed mighty to save.

Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel (Josh 5:1 NASB).

Even though the hearts of the kings of the Amorites melted with fear before Israel, still, they would oppose the Israelites, as we will see in a future narrative.

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” 3 So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. 4 This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. 5 For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised (Josh 5:2-5 NASB).

Israel was about to smite the Seven Nations of Canaan with the Sword of the LORD. But before they were fitted to use that Sword on others, they had to feel its sharpness.  This was illustrated in Circumcision.

For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the Lord, to whom the Lord had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way (Josh 5:6-7 NASB).

An entire generation died because of unbelief. The only two, of the nearly three million who left Egypt, who finally reached the Promised Land were Joshua and Caleb.

For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our Faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (I John 1:4-5 KJV).

Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9 Then 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 (Josh 5:8-9 NASB).

In the face of the enemy, Joshua rendered the entirety of the male population helpless, but their weakness would be their strength.

And He said unto me, My Grace is sufficient for you; for My Strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the Power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong (II Cor 12:9-10 KJV).

The reproach of Egypt was dual. So long as Israel wandered in the Wilderness, Egypt reproached them with the taunt the Jehovah could not bring them into the Promised Land, and also, all of Egypt that attaches to a Servant of God is a reproach to him.  That double reproach was “rolled away” at Gilgal.

While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. 11 On the [g]day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year (Josh 5:10-12 NASB).

This is the first Passover in the Promised Land! The eating of the Passover proclaimed Redemption out of Egypt and position in the Land of Promise, both due to the Blood of the Lamb.  Spiritual victories can only be won where there is this Testimony to the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” 14 He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15 The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so (Josh 5:13-15 NASB).

This was an Pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, Whom Joshua didn’t recognize at first. The demand that the shoes be removed from Joshua’s feet, and the removal of those shoes, guaranteed that He Who now spoke to Joshua was a Divine Person.  And further, in removing his shoes, Joshua gave up all ownership and leadership to Christ Jesus.

And, as we will see in the next chapter, Jehovah God will lead the Israelites into Jericho!

Almighty Ruler of the skies, through all the earth Thy Name is spread, and thine eternal glories rise above the heavens Thy hands have made. To Thee the voices of the young, their sounding notes of honor raise; and babes, with uninstructed tongue, declare the wonders of Thy praise.  Amidst Thy temple children throng to see their great Redeemer’s face; the Son of David in their song, and loud hosannas fill the place. – Isaac Watts