Summary: Before beginning the battle for the promised land, God’s people recommit to the covenant
Renewing Your Vows
It has been a wonderful weekend of celebrating our Lord and all He is doing among us. We also want to celebrate fathers today, and I’d like to do that in prayer. Kids, we are very glad to have you as part of this whole service. We wanted you here as we recognized and thanked your teachers, for Kristina’s baptism, and as we said goodbye to Pastor Matt and Dawn. And just before we open the Bible I want you to pray with me that God would bless our dads – so if you are here with your dad, reach over and take his hand, or sit on his knee for a moment and give him a hug, and let’s pray for them.
We have been following the people of Israel into the promised land, seen how God miraculously caused the Jordan river to stop flowing so that the people could walk across dry land. As soon as they got across, they set up a permanent marker to remind everyone of the miraculous thing God had done. We would think it was now time for battle – time to run into the land, break out the weapons and fight for the land that God had promised them. After all, the people in the land are scared, now is the time to pounce on them and take full advantage of the fear they have.
But that is not what happens. Let’s read Joshua 5:1-12 and see what God commands them to do once they have crossed over the Jordan into the promised land.
Read Joshua 5:1-12
It is a fairly simple story, but there are a number of really important things to point out:
1. When God Acts, People Notice (v. 1):
Word of the miracle God had done at the Jordan river got around, and the result was that the kings who had been getting ready to fight the Israelites for the land lost heart – they got scared – the verse says literally that “their hearts melted in fear.”
This is pretty simple, but incredibly important. When God acts, people notice. And I’m convinced that that is the reason why God acts, why He does amazing things in our lives – so that people will sit up and take notice of who God is, and eventually come to know Jesus as their Saviour and Lord.
This weekend we have had eight people take the step of faith of baptism – a public profession of the miracle God has done in their lives in rescuing them from sin and adopting them into His family. Last night, four of the people we baptized were teenagers, and what stuck out for me was how each of them talked about sharing their faith with their friends. They mentioned how excited they were about having God in their lives, and how they desired their friends know this joy also. I know their friends will be impacted by their words, because they will also see it in their lives.
Last week we talked about how God does miracles so that all people will come to know of His power. And at the end, I prayed that we would each have opportunities to share something of God’s greatness with people around us. I have been encouraged to hear a couple of stories already, and I’m anxious to hear the others as well. One that I’d like to pass along: A man in our church had a friend killed suddenly in a motorcycle accident, and took some time off work to attend the funeral. A coworker heard that he was going to a funeral, and said something about how much he hated funerals because they were so depressing and hopeless. Aha – the open door… This man in our church was able to reply, “Actually, most of the funerals I go to aren’t depressing at all; in fact we often celebrate the person’s life, and usually even laugh some.” This was quite confusing to this coworker, leading his friend to explain that with faith in Christ, death is not an end – there is a future, there is hope, there is the realization that there is something more, and something better. God provided an opportunity for this person to share the greatest miracle of all – the miracle that we can be reconciled to God and spend eternity with Him.
When God acts, people notice.
2. Trusting God Makes Us Vulnerable (vss. 2-9):
The next part of the story, verses 2-9, just does not make sense. I cannot imagine any military training school looking at these verses and concluding, “that is a perfect tactic! We have to try this!”
Let’s remind ourselves what is happening. The Israelites have entered the land which they are claiming as their own, with the command to drive out all the inhabitants of the land by force. They have crossed the major barrier and are now encamped on the plains outside the first major city in the land, the fortified city of Jericho. Everybody knows there is going to be a battle. So what does the invading army do? Joshua circumcises all of the warriors in his army. He takes them out of commission, renders them helpless, unable to fight. Verse 8 tells us they remained in the camp until they were healed. The other verses tell us that this was necessary because during the years of wilderness wandering, the nation hadn’t practiced circumcision, and so before taking the promised land they needed to recommit to the covenant with God and express that through circumcision.