Study Notes

Joshua 5:1-6:27

Their Their Hearts Melted

God had promised the Israelites,

Deut. 11:25 "There shall no man be able to stand before you; the LORD your God shall lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you."

Rahab confirmed that to the spies, saying,

Josh. 2:9-11 ..."I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And when we heard {it,} our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

After hearing the stories of the Red Sea parting, and the miraculous victories won by the Israelites, the Canaanites were terrified that the Israelites were entering their land. Any thought that they might have had that these things were rumors dissipated when report got around that the Jordan river had stopped up dry during the spring floods for them to cross.

5:2-8 Circumcision

Instead of taking tactical advantage of the Canaanites fresh fear, Joshua obeys the command of the Lord to first circumcise the men at Ghib-AW Or-LAW

You see, all the males that had left Egypt were circumcised, but they had not been faithful to circumcise their own children that were born during their forty years in the wilderness. Indeed, as a parent, circumcision is a difficult thing to have done to your newborn son. Moses himself failed to circumcise his son. Remember back in Exodus 4...

Exod. 4:24-26 Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and threw {it} at Moses' feet, and she said, "You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me." So He let him alone. At that time she said, " {You are} a bridegroom of blood " - because of the circumcision.

God had made the law clear to the descendants of Abraham, and Moses had neglected to perform it. The Lord was actually going to kill Moses for his disobedience, until his wife Tsip-po-RAW figured out that Moses' affliction was because they had failed to circumcise their son. She performed the circumcision, but obviously was not pleased.

In Genesis 17, God had told Abraham, "The sign of the covenant between me and you will be circumcision. You, your descendants, and the people in your house are to do this. Have it done on the eighth day of a boy's life. But any male who is not circumcised shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant."

Physically, circumcision has many benefits, and God's prescription for it to be done on the eighth day of a boy's life is medically superior to any other time. But spiritually, what does it symbolize? Spiritually, circumcision is the cutting away of the flesh to pursue the things of God.

The Israelites had consecrated themselves before crossing the Jordan - they had washed and abstained from physical pleasure. But now having entered into the promised land, before God will allow them to possess it, they must be obedient to cut away the flesh.

This translates into the Christian walk this way. As we discussed in chapter three, it is important that before crossing over into the the Spirit-filled, abundant, victorious Christian life, we should devote a period of time to being washed in the water of the Word, and spend time in prayer rather than pleasure. Then God wonderfully fills you with His Holy Spirit, and you cross through this second baptism into this new land. But before you can continue on and possess the promises, there is a flesh issue to deal with. We must circumcise our hearts (Deut. 10:16; 30:6), cutting away our flesh. Jesus said

Matt. 16:24 ...If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Rom. 13:14 ...Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Denying the flesh, cutting it away, is difficult, but it is also a prerequisite to being victorious in the Christian life.

5:9-10 Passover At Gilgal

During the time that they were circumcising those hundreds of thousands of Israelites males, they started calling the place they were staying, "Ghib-AW Or-LAW," which means "hill of foreskins." God immediately changes the name to "Ghil-GAWL," which means, "rolling," or "wheel."

He tells Joshua that it is because He has rolled away the reproach, the disgrace, the shame from the Israelites. What was so disgraceful? What was a reproach? Their disobedience to the commands of God. They had not circumcised their children, nor had they celebrated the Passover since they were at Mt. Sinai, 38 years before. That was just as well, for the Lord had said regarding the Passover,

Exod. 12:48 " uncircumcised person may eat of it."

Now the reproach had been rolled away from them.

5:11-12 Manna No More

God had brought them into a land in which the miracle of manna was no longer needed. It is not that God had stopped providing food for them, He was simply providing it in a different way. "The cessation of the miraculous supply teaches us not to expect to be furnished directly from God with what He enables us to procure by our own exertions." (Adeney)

Paul the apostle wrote,

Phil. 4:19 And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

This is a true statement. Yet, it does not promise that all of our needs will be supplied in a miraculous manner. Often, God supplies by opening opportunity for us to toil, to labor, to work for what we need. He provides manna at times when there is no earthly chance for our needs to be supplied.

5:13-15 Captain Of The Lord's Host

The word describing how Joshua was by Jericho communicates "being in the immediate vicinity of." I imagine that he was doing reconnaissance - checking out how he might attack the city. As he is near Jericho, Joshua sees a Man with a drawn sword. Knowing that if He is an Israelite, He is a bit premature, and that if He is a Canaanite, He is outnumbered, Joshua approaches Him and says, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?"

The answer is a bit surprising. A simple "no." Even in the original language, it is not clear what He is answering. Is He answering the last part of the question, meaning, "No, I'm not for your adversaries"? Or is He saying, "No, I'm not anybody's ally, I'm the Captain of the Lord's host"?

The Lord's host is a reference to the army of His angels, for example,

1Kgs. 22:19 And Micaiah said, "Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.

Ps. 148:2 Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!

This Man is their Captain, but He is not an angel. How do we know? Because angels are not allowed to receive worship. Remember in Revelation, John twice fell at the feet of angels to worship them.

Rev. 22:8-9 ...And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. And he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book; worship God."

So this Captain of the Lord's host is not an angel. It must be the Lord Himself. Remember that when God called to Moses from the midst of the burning bush, He said,

Exod. 3:5 ..."Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."

So this is most certainly the Lord, in an occurrence called a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ - Jesus appearing as a man before being born to Mary in Bethlehem.

6:1-5 Instructions From The Lord

It is unfortunate that the chapter division is placed here, because I believe that the narrative continues on with Joshua's conversation with the Lord. In chapter five, verse fourteen, Joshua asked,

Josh. 5:14 ..."What has my lord to say to his servant?"

After being told to remove his shoes, the Lord answers Joshua's question. He tells him how this city will be conquered: not by military might, not by an attack of the army, but rather in a way that only the Lord will receive credit for. Seven priests carrying trumpets, the armies of Israel, and the ark of the covenant are to circle the city in silence once a day for for six days. On the seventh day, they are to circle the city seven times, then make a lot of noise. The Lord promises that if they do this, the wall of the city will fall down.

6:6-7 Go Forward

Now, it was one thing to be Joshua in God's presence, hearing the instructions and saying, "Yes, Lord." It is quite another thing to be in the Israeli army, and taking Joshua's word for it that this is what's going to happen. Can you imagine being in headquarters that night, listening to this plan? Without faith in God, none of these men would have agreed to it. That is why the book of Hebrews states,

Hebr. 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days.

This was going to take a lot of faith.

6:8-14 Six Days Of Marching

The people are obeying, marching around the city for six days. This gave them plenty of opportunity to examine the wall - 30 feet high, 15 feet thick - lots of time to lose faith. But they kept marching, they kept obeying, they kept trusting.

How long have you been marching in obedience to a promise of God? Or maybe you've already given up. Let me tell you this - God has never broken a promise to a single person, and you're not going to be the first. If He's given you direction, take it. If He's given you instructions, obey them.

6:15-25 Jericho Is Taken

Joshua reminds the people that Rahab and her family have been protected by a promise. They are also not to take any spoils of the city - the silver, gold, bronze and iron belong to the Lord as an offering of firstfruits.

But then we read this difficult verse:

Josh. 6:21 And they utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.

The people and animals are killed, the city is to be burned. How could God be responsible for ordering the death of women and children?

God is a God of love and mercy, but He is also a God of justice and judgment. His judgments are always righteous and true.

Many people, including women and children, were killed during the flood in Genesis 7. That's because God saw that mankind's wickedness was great - that their every intent and thought was continually evil.

Many people, including women and children, will be killed when He pours out His judgment upon the earth during the Great Tribulation. Why? Because He will see that mankind refuses to repent of wickedness, worship of demons, the beast, and the devil.

There is a limit to mercy. A time when sin reaches its full measure. God endured the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah for a long time before saying to Abraham,

Gen. 18:20-21 ..."The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know."

God could have also judged the Amorites way back in Genesis 15, but He told Abraham, that his descendants would be in Egypt for a long time.

Gen. 15:16 "Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete."

The Amorites were given mercy - given another 400 years to repent before they were judged. God will be merciful, but not to the destruction of justice.

And of course, He is also a God of grace - giving grace to those with faith. Remember that everyone in Jericho was killed - except those who believed, those who repented, those who placed themselves at the mercy of the Most High God.

The inhabitants of the land of Canaan had filled up the measure of their sin. That is why God gave the commandment to utterly destroy.

You may think, however, "Why can't God just wait until the wicked die natural deaths, and then judge them eternally?" The problem was, He was bringing His children to live in this land. Would you bring your children into a house infested with snakes before killing all the snakes? Would you give your child a rabid dog for a pet? Would you leave your child home with a criminal, a pornographer, or a rapist? Of course not. That is why the command is given,

Deut. 20:17-18 "...You shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you, in order that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God.

To leave these blasphemous, sinful people among the Israelites would mean certain death for God's children - physical and spiritual.

6:26-27 A Curse Pronounced

Joshua pronounces a curse on any man who would attempt to rebuild Jericho - that his oldest and youngest sons would both die. More than 800 years later, it happened, just as Joshua had spoken and written. Ahab becomes king, doing evil, marrying Jezebel, and erecting idolatrous altars.

1Kgs. 16:34 In his days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho; he laid its foundations with the {loss of} Abiram his first-born, and set up its gates with the {loss of} his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.

When there is a curse in the Word of God, you would do well to pay attention to it. Conversely, when there is a blessing in the Word of God, you would do well to walk in it.

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