Summary: In Joshua, the children of Israel set up 12 stones at Gilgal to remind them of what God had done. How do we remember the blessings of God?
It is a time of transition. Of uncertainty. Moses is dead. Joshua has stepped into the leadership void; just as a new generation of Israelites are ready to cross over the Jordan to take possession of the land promised to Abraham. God understands the feelings of his people. The anticipation, the anxiety...so he brings them to the waters edge. Then just as he did at the Red Sea he parts the waters so that Israel may safely pass. And so "On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho..." The temptation is to rush over this verse and the ones that follow and get on to the story of Jericho and the walls that come tumbling down. But if we do we rob ourselves of a source of great spiritual riches. For Gilgal is more than just a spot upon a map, more than just a place passed along the journey. Gilgal was important to the people of Israel - their life and their faith. And in the symbol of Gilgal we today can find God's truth for his people today.
I. What is "Gilgal"? (A Place Of...)
1. Rest: After 40 years of wandering - physical, emotional, spiritual rest needed before they were ready to take the Promised Land. At Gilgal God refreshed his people.
2. Remembrance: 12 stones - history of God's blessings...At Gilgal God reminded his people that as he had blessed them in the past - so he would do again.
3. Rededication: Circumcised males - renewed the covenant made at Sinai. At Gilgal God called his people to a renewed commitment.
4. Redirection: Base camp for conquest of the Promised Land. At Gilgal God gave his people marching order for the Promised Land.
Gilgal meant much more to Israel than just a place on the map. It was a place where they met God. And periodically, when Israel needed to find its heart and soul again - it would return to Gilgal to seek rest, to remember its blessings, rededicate itself lives and find redirection for its journey. Israel needed a place like Gilgal...do you? That's the real question this morning....
II. Do You Need A "Gilgal" in Your Life? (Four Questions to Ask)
1. Am I weary? emotionally, spiritually tired, worn-out? burnt-out?
2. Am I critical/forgetful? Do I think that God has left me? Neglected me?
3. Am I cold? Do I care more for the things of this world than I do about the things of God and the world to come?
4. Am I confused? Do I lack direction in my life?
III. Where Can I Find "Gilgal" Today? ("Gilgal" = "Church")
God has graciously provided a place for us. A place where all our questions can find a hearing and our concerns addressed. For you see the Church has become the new Gilgal of God. Here is where weary souls can come and lay their burdens down. Here is where in songs, sermon and sacrament we remember the blessings of God. Here we offer ourselves
as living sacrifices to the service of His kingdom. And here is where we receive our marching orders as we go forth to claim our heavenly promised land.
This morning Ryan Larson made a public commitment. A commitment that included the promise to "return to Gilgal" to return to the church to find rest, remembrance, rededication and redirection - I want to offer you the chance to renew your commitment to God and his Church...Perhaps you have moved away from the Church - maybe not physically - you still occupy a pew - but mentally, emotionally, spiritually you have wandered away. Maybe you feel that the Church, it leaders or its people have let you down. Admittedly this is still an imperfect reflection of God's intention - but it is still the only place you can find the rest you need, the only place where God's blessings are remembered regularly, the only place where one can rededicate themselves to God and the only place to find true direction for living in these last days. Today is the day to return to Gilgal. To return to the Church. To return to God....