Joshua 5


Final Preparations Before Taking The Land

‘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 they had crossed over, their hearts melted in fear and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites. At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” So, Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth. Now this is why he did so: All those who came out of Egypt—all the men of military age—died in the wilderness on the way after leaving Egypt. All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt had not. The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the LORD. For the LORD had sworn to them that they would not see the land he had solemnly promised their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. So, he raised up their sons in their place, and these were the ones Joshua circumcised. They were still uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way. And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So, the place has been called Gilgal to this day.’ Joshua 5:1-9

Just as any modern army must make preparations before going into battle, so must Joshua’s army. Back in Joshua 3:5, Joshua instructs the people to consecrate themselves, they were dedicating themselves to holy use and it was only then, that they could cross the river. Now further spiritual preparation must take place before the people can fully move ahead to possess the land.

Joshua is commanded to circumcise the men. Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham, Genesis 17:10, it was to have a spiritual meaning, Deuteronomy 10:16 / Deuteronomy 30:6 / Jeremiah 4:4 / Jeremiah 9:26, it served as a constant spiritual reminder. No male child in Israel could miss this constant reminder that he was different from male children who were not Israelites. No adult male would ever be able to forget God’s covenant. No wife in Israel would be able to forget.

Unfortunately, many today try to make baptism like circumcision and say that it is a sign of our salvation, we are baptised to show that we have been saved.

That would be fine, except that the Bible nowhere makes that comparison, baptism is given for a purpose, in order to be saved, Mark 16:16 / Acts 2:38 / Romans 6:1-4 / Acts 22:16 / Galatians 3:27 / 1 Peter 3:21. The only sign or seal that we are given is that of the Holy Spirit, 2 Corinthians 1:22 / Ephesians 1:13-14 / Ephesians 4:30.

‘On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover.’ Joshua 5:10

The writer tells us the people celebrated the Passover, without circumcision one was excluded from the Passover, Exodus 12:44 / Exodus 12:48. This is the 3rd Passover recorded in the Bible, the first was in anticipation of the deliverance from Egyptian bondage, Exodus 12:1-20. The second was at Sinai just before the people broke camp for Canaan, Numbers 9:5.

The Lord’s Supper marks for us a type of deliverance today. In Christ’s death, we are delivered from the bondage of sin. In Christ’s death, we are delivered from the bondage of death. We remember this in the Lord’s Supper until He comes, 1 Corinthians 11 / 1 Corinthians 5:7.

‘The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.’ Joshua 5:11-12

The day after the Passover the people ate of the fruit of the land, many years earlier the people had tasted of the fruit of the land, but they did not have the faith to go in and possess it, here the people have a foretaste of what they will enjoy.

Now remember at this time, the manna ceased, God had sustained them during this time miraculously but now the people will eat of the land they are about to possess. In such a simple daily routine, they take the first step toward possession.

‘Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.’ Joshua 5:13-15

Joshua was out surveying the city but what was he doing? Was he praying? Was he saying, ‘God, what are we going to do’? Was he meditating? Was he checking out the enemies’ defences?

Whatever Joshua was doing, he had a close encounter of the best kind. He saw a man standing with a sword drawn and so, naturally, Joshua asked him whose side he was on.

Joshua got quite an answer, he was captain of the host of the Lord, 2 Kings 6:8-17 / Matthew 26:53. At this Joshua falls prostrate asking what message there might be. The message is that Joshua is standing on holy ground, this was the same message given to Moses at the burning bush, Exodus 3:5. Joshua’s leadership is further confirmed and God’s presence is confirmed.


God expects us to be His people inwardly as well as outwardly and we must catch the true significance of the Lord’s Supper and the reminder it serves to us. We ought always to remember that we have God present with us for whatever battles we might face.

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