I am making my way through Joshua and have come upon Chapter 5. I love how the Matthew Henry Bible Commentary prefaces the analysis of this chapter…”Israel has now gotten over the Jordan, and the waters which had opened before them, to favor their march forward, are closed again behind them, to forbid their retreat backward.” There is no going back with God…only forward.
Joshua has led the Israelites across the Jordan and they are now in the Promised Land. Immediately upon entering Canaan, Joshua is told to have all of the men circumcised. When I first read this, I must admit, it did not mean much to me. However, there was a note in my Bible that linked this verse to Genesis 17:11…
…and you shall be cirumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.
This is when God initiates His covenant with Abraham. Abraham was told to circumcise every male child and it was to be a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham. Webster’s defines covenant as a solemn and binding agreement; a promise. This was not something that either party entered into lightly. God promised in Genesis 17:8 that He would be their God. So…back to Joshua.
A lot had taken place since God had made His promise to Abraham…to be the Israelites’ God. The Israelites had doubted, fallen and sinned. A whole generation wandered in the wilderness until every last one of them died because of their sin. But, now, God has brought this new generation into the Promised Land and He tells Joshua…
At that time, the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again…” –Joshua 5:2
It’s as if God is saying to these weary travelers…I am still your God.
It breaks my heart when my Emily is in trouble for something and she knows I am not happy with her actions. She will come up to me and say “Do you still love me?” Or, one time, she asked me “Am I still your doodlebop?” That is my special name for her. I scoop her up in my arms and look her square in the face and tell her “I will always love you and you will always be my doodlebop.”
I can’t help but think that this is what God is doing. He is reminding the Israelites of His promise. In Beth Moore’s study, A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place, she refers to God as the Covenant-Keeper. He is nothing, if not true to His Word. With this second mass circumcision, God is telling His children, I will always love you and you are still My children.
God has such a tender heart for His children…and that definitely includes us. He forgives our sins and our failures. He picks us up when we have fallen. And when we come to Him wondering how in the world He could still love us…
This is what the LORD says:
“The people who survive the sword
will find favor in the desert;
I will come to give rest to Israel.”
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
I will build you up again
and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
Again you will take up your tambourines
and go out to dance with the joyful. — Jeremiah 31:2-4