Joshua 5 tells the story of the Israelites first few weeks inside the promised land. It is a pause moment; a time of preparation and alignment to get them battle ready!
Testimonies pave the way to new territories
In the very first verse of the chapter, we read about how the news of what God had done traveled ahead of the Israelites, all the way to the coast, and unsettled the opposition. When we tell testimonies about what God has done, those stories have power to stir faith and silence the opposition, preparing the way for us to move into new territories!
What story are you telling?
Faith is the key to covenant
The testimony of God's power put the enemy on the back foot, and just as well, because what came next put the Israelites in a vulnerable place. God required this new generation to go through the process of circumcision - something that had been neglected since they left Egypt. This was a mark of the covenant made with Abraham back in Genesis 17, and was a requirement for celebrating the Passover meal. This would be the third Passover - the first was the original one in Egypt, the second a year later at Mt Sinai, and now this one, some forty years on. Following the circumcision and Passover, God then told them their reproach from Egypt had been removed. In essence, this is a picture of restoration to Divine promise, a mark of the covenant, a reminder of God redemption, and their shame being removed.
For us, the key to covenant is not circumcision, but simply faith in Christ. See Galatians 5:2-6 When we believe in the Lord Jesus, we are moved into covenant, redeemed and our shame is removed.
Do you find your self trying to do things to get into covenant, or simply believing in faith that you are in covenant and your shame is removed? It is by grace through faith that we are saved!
Moving from consumer to producer is a sign of progress
Once the Israelites had been through this process, the miraculous manna that they had been living off stopped, and they ate of the produce of the land. They moved from being consumers to producers. This would have been the first time this generation had eaten anything else, and the first time they would have sowed and harvested. Moving from consumer to producer is a sign of progress in our faith journey. It's something that happens in a response to what God has done for us. Likely, the Israelites would have brought the firstfruits offering, something God had instructed Moses about way back in Leviticus 23. The Lord said to Moses, 10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.
This is why we encourage and teach the principle of the first - honoring God with the first - and the Biblical concept of sowing and reaping. As the Israelites began to eat of the produce, and farm the land, they were taking ownership, and it was opening up options for them - new kinds of food they had never tasted! There is blessing attached to sowing and reaping. In fact, if you go back to Genesis 2, you see in verse 15 that Adam was instructed to work the land and care for it - and this was before the fall. So, one can see that sowing and harvesting is a kind of restoration to God's original plan.
The reasons we sow with time, treasures and talents is in are firstly as a response to God's goodness, secondly their is blessing attached to it for us, and thirdly it aligns us with purpose to be a blessing to others.
Are you a consumer or a producer? What step can you take to make a shift from consuming to producing? Perhaps it is beginning to return the tithe to God, or, joining the Dream Team to sow with your time and talents? Perhaps it is investing time with your family by being fully present with them?
This is God's battle, not ours!
The chapter ends with a strange encounter that Joshua has with the commander of the army of the Lord. There are a few things that we can learn. First, God is committed to the battle. Second, this is God's battle, not ours. The response to Joshua is telling - I'm not on your side, neither am I on your enemy's side. In other words - God is not on the side of one people group (or church), and not on the side of another. Rather, he is on the side of redemption of humanity, and against darkness and evil. And instead of asking him to fight our battles, it's better to ask him where our rightful place is in his army in his battle. It is in that place that we will find purpose and victory.
Whose command are you under? Are you under the command of the commander of the Lord's army, or are you trying to be the commander of the commander of the Lords army?
Testimony. Covenant. Provision. Commander.
When we understand that the testimony of God goes before us, that we are in covenant by faith and not by works, that there is a move to make from consumer to producer, and that we have a commander under whose leadership it is good to submit, we are on the way to being battle ready for what lies ahead!