Immediately after crossing over the Jordan…to set their feet on the promised land, God had instructions for Joshua and the people. There were two things he was directed to tell the people to do right away, before they went any further. We would do well to heed these instructions in our own lives, when our Heavenly Father is leading us into our destiny. Life with God is a journey, and nothing is wasted. All along the way, we are learning valuable lessons that will serve us in our future endeavors, tests and trials.
What did He command Joshua to do first?
Joshua 4:1-2 – the Lord told Joshua to take twelve men, one from each tribe, and give them these instructions:
“’take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’”
Then in Joshua 4:5, he said to them:
“cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come saying ‘what do these stones mean to you?’”
So they collected stones to make two memorials, one on the ground, and one in the middle of the Jordan they had crossed over. This was God’s way of making sure that they REMEMBERED what He had done, but also, He wanted them to share their experience (testify) with their children, and their children’s children.
I want to be able to tell others “what the stones in my life mean to me” – every word, interaction, sermon, prophesy, and major milestone in my walk with the Lord..every time I’ve “experienced His presence and was forever changed by it”, I want to remember and be able to pass along to those who need to be encouraged.
We see this same pattern carried out in the Old and New Testament. At the Passover, the children of Israel were told to eat the Passover meal and keep that ceremony from then on, explaining to their future generations how God had saved and delivered them out of Egypt. He tells Joshua to build memorial stones to remember crossing the Jordan, just like the Red Sea. In the New Testament, Jesus celebration of the Passover with His disciples is now known as “the last supper”. When Jesus breaks the bread and passes the wine cup, He commands them to keep this ceremony and do it in remembrance of Him until the Lord’s coming.
So what is the significance of remembering?
“that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” – Joshua 4:24
What happens when people forget what God has done for them?
Let’s look at this verse as a perfect example:
“How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power; the day when He redeemed them from the enemy, when He worked His signs in Egypt, and His wonders in the field of Zoan…” – Psalm 78:40
Forgetting what God has done leads us to abandon His way and begin to do things on our own. We are told not to lean on our own understanding, but in all our ways acknowledge Him (Prov. 3:5-6). That’s because the Bible says that God’s ways are higher than ours (Isa. 55:9). The children of Israel were constantly forsaking God and going back to the ways of Egypt, which represents “flesh” or the “worlds system”. But God has longed for a people that He can show off as His own. He wants to glorify His name through a people belonging to Him.
For this reason, we come to God’s second command to Joshua. Circumcision!
Circumcision was a sign of the covenant God made with Abraham (see Gen. 17). The new generation of Israelites born in the wilderness was not yet circumcised. So in Joshua 5, God instructs Joshua to have them circumcised and symbolically reestablishes His covenant with His chosen people. The old is passed away, all things in this land are being made new. (see Joshua 5:6)
After they were circumcised and healed, the Lord said to Joshua:
“This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.”
Their bondage from Egypt was completely removed! This foreshadows how we are saved through Jesus Christ atonement on the cross and He has declared us FREE! “He who the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36)
The Israelites were God’s chosen people – the ones He decided to make covenant with, to show His favor and protection, and to make a distinction between them and the rest of the world. He did this, not to be exclusive, but so that as others looked on Israel, and saw how God dealt with His children, they would do as Rahab did, and seek Him for themselves. God loves the whole world…but wanted to show His character and ability to and through a people group. Of course after Jesus came, He extended salvation to everyone. Paul teaches that there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female (Gal. 3:28). All believers are sanctified and receive the covenant promises and the inheritance.
However, it is important to remember that while salvation is free, God still desires that we consecrate ourselves wholly to Him. This is no longer done through circumcision, but rather a circumcision of the heart.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9
So the instructions we heed as we get ready to enter into our destiny is this:
- Always remember what God has done for you, His faithfulness, His power, His loving kindness and tender mercies.
- Consecrate yourselves to the Lord – make sure that you are living in a way that others know where you stand and that you belong to Him.
We are in this world, but we’re not of this world. Our citizenship and allegiance is to another kingdom, and Jesus is the King.