Summary: Before we can take the land, we will have to go through the pain and discomfort of spiritual preparation.
Cut to the Heart
Text: Joshua 5:1-12
1. Illustration: The Butterball Turkey company set up a hotline to answer consumer questions about preparing holiday turkeys. One woman called to inquire about cooking a turkey that had been in her freezer for 23 years. The operator told her it might be safe if the freezer had been kept below 0 degrees the entire time. But the operator warned the woman that, even if it were safe, the flavor had probably deteriorated, and she wouldn’t recommend eating it. The caller replied, “That’s what we thought. We’ll just give it to the church.”
-A sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice unless it costs you something
2. We have been talking throughout this series about taking the land, and taking the land will require sacrifice.
3. Taking the land...
a. Requires Pain
b. Brings Healing
c. Produces Celebration
4. Read Joshua 5:1-12
Proposition: Before we can take the land, we will have to go through the pain and discomfort of spiritual preparation.
Transition: Taking the land...
I. Requires Pain (1-3)
A. Circumcise the Israelites
1. Now, I didn’t get a whole lot of "Amen’s" on that last statement.
a. We don’t like to hear things like that.
b. We want to be told that everything is going to be easy.
c. We want to hear that everything is going to be painless and trouble free
d. That’s why the prosperity gospel is so popular - everybody wants to hear that they are going to be rich.
e. However, living a successful Christian life is going to require discipline, sacrifice, and yes, pain.
2. Joshua chapter 5 doesn’t start out that way. It says "Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the LORD had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites."
a. Sounds like a piece of cake.
b. All of the Amorite kings heard what the Lord did in drying up the Jordan, and as a result, they were afraid (their hearts melted).
c. Seems like the they were just going to walk in and take it. Right?
3. Not so fast! Look what it says in verse 2: "At that time the LORD said to Joshua, "Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again."
a. Still sound easy and pain-free?
b. Why does God tell Joshua to do this? It doesn’t make any sense. If the land was ripe for the taking, why this?
c. From a military point of view this makes no sense at all.
d. However, "theological concern took precedence over military strategy" (Barnes, CBL, 49).
e. They may have been ready physically, but they were not ready spiritually.
4. The grim reality is that spiritual success requires wrestling with God, and this is often painful. Notice what God tells Joshua to use, "flint knives."
a. Flint is a rock found in abundance in biblical lands, and its use is documented in almost all periods of occupations—(New American Commentary)
b. It wasn’t even a nice clean scouple, but a knife made from a rock.
c. Talk about painful!
d. Gen. 32:28 Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
5. Yet, "Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth."
a. Joshua obeyed God’s command to the letter.
b. God sought a people who obediently carried out what he commanded (Butler, WBC: Joshua, 58).
c. That place would for ever represent their obedience to God as the name itself means "Hill of Foreskins."
B. No Pain, No Gain
1. Illustration: There is an old saying among those who lift weights: no pain, no gain. Initially, working out is painful, but the pain is a sign that muscle is being built.
2. Whoever told you that once you became a Christian all of your troubles were over lied!
3. In order to grow spiritually requires the Holy Spirit stripping off the layers of your flesh that are keeping you from what God has for you, and this is painful.
4. It means:
a. Giving up things you don’t want to give up
b. Doing things you don’t want to do.
c. Surrendering areas of your life you want to hang on to.
5. However, in order to take the land requires the pain of spiritual circumcision, and until it takes place, we are not ready to take the land.
Transition: Taking the land requires pain, but it also...
II. Brings Healing (4-8)
A. Until They Were Healed
1. Now we find out why God commanded Joshua to circumcise the Israelites at this time.