Summary: 9th in long series on Joshua, 2nd of 2 on mass circumcision in ch.5. This deals with being a part of a family, using the well-used illustration of a flock of geese.
Joshua 5:1-9 – Family Ties
(Nowheres near an original thought, but good nonetheless...)
Today I’d like to do something different. Today’s a bit different from most, so I’m putting a twist on my scripture today, out of the ordinary for me anyway. Let’s read Joshua 5:1-9.
So the Israelites have crossed the Jordan. They are about to get marching orders as to how to conquer the Promised Land. But there is something that needs to be taken care of first. That’s the issue of circumcision.
You see, circumcision for a Jew carries much more importance than it does for the rest of us. Many little boys are circumcised today because of the health factor. Simply put, circumcision cuts down on the spread of germs and diseases. It’s a cleanliness thing.
But for a Jew, the issue is much more pronounced. For a Jew, circumcision is about the agreement between God and His people. We call it a covenant, a contract or a promise between the Creator and the created. It’s a centuries-old agreement that started way back with Abraham. It was a sign that God chose one particular family to pour out His blessings on, and pour out His blessings through. It was a symbol that His people would remain faithful, and so would God.
In time, circumcision began to symbolize the Law. It came to mean that if you were obedient in this issue, then you were fine with all the other ones. In NT times, some people wanted Gentiles to submit to circumcision in order to be saved. It was like, “Jesus plus the Law.” That was stopped because that would mean you needed more than Jesus to save you. And if you need more than Jesus, why did He die, then?
Well, it’s not that way anymore. Like most issues, it died. Like eating meat sacrificed to idols, which was another hot topic or red flag, it ended. Makes you think that the issues we fight over may not matter as time passes.
But for the Jew, this remains central to their beliefs. Circumcision means being set apart from others. It means being clean before the Lord. And it means being part of a family. Which is where I want to camp out on today. Being together.
At the town of Gilgal, Joshua reinstated the covenant of circumcision. Apparently, in their 40 years of wandering, the practice was put on hold. But now that they are about to fight for a common prize, now that they are about to get the best God has for them, they need to remember whose they are, and who they are. Circumcision means reminding each other they are family.
And here we are today. Today we celebrated the faithfulness of the Sunday school workers. In a few minutes, we are about to welcome Kelli and Wayne as members of Doaktown Wesleyan Church. Truly we are family. As members of the body of Christ, we too are circumcised. Philippians 3:3 says, “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” And Colossians 2:11 say, “In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ.”
You see? As Christians, we have been cleansed. We have been set apart. In fact, the word “church” means “the called-out ones”. Called out from the world, from selfishness and ulterior motives, and called to be His body. And we are family. Circumcised means united as family.
Now, I’d like to take the next few minutes to think of what that means. Today I’d like to look at geese. Maybe you’ve heard this before. Well, it’s worth repeating. And it’s not original to me. John Maxwell, former Wesleyan pastor, included this in one of his books. And I’ve heard it other places as well. But today, I’d like to share with you what we, as a church, as a family, can learn from geese.
1) Geese illustrate the concept of fellowship. Well, what is fellowship? You’ve heard the word from the pulpit before. Most times what we call “fellowship” is “hello-ship”. Saying hi. Which is important, but true fellowship is more than that. Fellowship means “to have in common”, “to share”, “to participate for a common cause”. Acts 2:42 says, “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
As Christians, what are we doing together other than meeting on Sunday? Why do the geese get together before they head south for the winter? Granted, God made them that way, and they don’t think about it. But, the geese get together because together, the journey is easier.