The Jews have just miraculously crossed the Jordan River because God separated the waters and dried up the ground. Jericho awaits nearby. Spies from Jericho have seen what happened to the Jordan and the people are scared to death. The Jews are strong in their faith having just seen what God has done. So now would be the perfect time to follow up their advantage and strike Jericho – right? Wrong! God just doesn’t do things the way we would expect. Joshua 5 is no different. What God does weakens and incapacitates all the Jewish men for several days, making they totally vulnerable for a week or more.
Instead of attacking Jericho God has the Jewish men be circumcised. And that is no simple, easy matter for grown men! Why would God do this? Because He demands 100% obedience and commitment from His people in order for them to win their battles. To the Jews circumcision was the outward sign of inner submission and obedience to God. It showed they were God’s special, set-apart (‘holy’) people. Clearly they had ignored this command and now, before they could fight their battles and have victory, this had to be corrected.
If we had to draw a parallel with our lives today we could say that baptism is similar in that it is the way God commands for us to outwardly show our submission and obedience to Him. Still, God clearly demands more than outer obedience but wants inner commitment from our heart. He doesn’t want us to perform a ritual – He wants us! Before we can start to have victory in our spiritual battles we must make sure we are totally committed to God and living a life of holy obedience in all areas. If not we fight alone – and that’s why we are soften defeated.
London businessman Lindsay Clegg told the story of a warehouse property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows, and strewn trash all over the place. As he showed a prospective buyer the property, he took pains to say that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. The buyer said, “Forget about the repairs. When I buy this place, I’m going to build something completely different. I don’t want the building; I want the site.” That’s God’s message to us! Compared with the renovation God has in mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping a warehouse slated for the wrecking ball. When we become God’s the old life is over. He makes all things new. All He wants is the site and the permission to build. There are still some trying to “reform,” but God offers “redemption.” All we have to do is give Him the “property” and He will do the necessary “building.”
by Rev. Dr. Jerry Schmoyer, Christian Training Organization