Summary: Message 7 in our journey with Joshua into the Promised Land. This message focuses on
Joshua Series #7
The Amazing Race to Rest & Reward
“Declaration of Connection”
Review / Introduction
After the people crossed the barrier to possessing their inheritance, they took the time to prepare themselves to purge the occupiers of their promised inheritance.
Chapter five records two particular ceremonies intended to solidify the people’s identification as special people of God. These two symbolic practices have parallels for Christians in our day.
I. Purge the Land 1-12
A. God Prepared Joshua for leadership 1
B. Joshua prepared the people to possess the land 2
1. Joshua commissioned spies and God saved Rahab 2
2. Joshua led the people through the Jordan 3-4
3. Joshua reinforced the people’s connection to Yahweh 5
Why should anyone pay attention to today’s message? Is there anything from this portion of the Bible that can help me in my everyday life? Before we can engage the enemy there is one thing that must be absolutely clear. We need to be certain of our connection to the Captain of the Lord’s army. Unless we are certain as to our identity by reason of our connection to Jesus we will be devastated by the enemy. Most belief systems, including Christianity, adopt particular rituals or ceremonies that symbolize commitment to certain spiritual truths or realities. It helps keep those truths in the forefront of our thinking. The problem is when we begin to engage in the ritual without really contemplating the reality.
Later in Israel’s history, the prophets communicated God’s displeasure in ritual without reality.
"What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
"Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. "I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them. "So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Isaiah 1:11, 13-15
"I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. "Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. "Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. Amos 5:21-23
Why would God react so vehemently to their worship practices? They had become mere ritual; hype without heart. Those celebrations were to symbolize intimate connection with and dedication to God and yet their practice did not correspond with their proclamation.
A couple in the early church tried to symbolize absolute surrender when the reality was they were only looking for public recognition and it turned out badly. Rituals are not evil. Evil hearts and motives nullify the meaning of the ritual. People may practice certain things like attending church services, listen to Christian radio, read their Bibles once in a while and pray before meals but the true indicators of their devotion to God may be missing.
Jesus scolded the Ephesian church because they had lost their first love. They were only going through the motions without the meaning. He called them to repent and do the deeds they did when their first trusted Jesus.
God prescribed many rituals practiced by Israel to keep them focused on Him. Two such symbols were circumcision and Passover. This morning I want to briefly explore the intended reality of these two rituals and then see if there is any New Testament practice that corresponds.
After Crossing the Jordan, the people set up camp at Gilgal.
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.
God had already been demoralizing the enemy as we heard from Rahab. They were aware of their defeat.
If Egypt couldn’t withstand them…
If the kings on the east couldn’t stop them…
If the Jordan River couldn’t stop them…
Then what chance do we have against their God (Yahweh).
Their hearts melted and diminished their spirit to resist. They had the fight drained out of them.
At that time the LORD said to Joshua, "Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time."