Joshua – Lesson 6 Joshua Chapter 5:1-15


Last week we saw the Israelites cross the Jordan River to the Promised Land of Canaan. We saw them set up the 12 stones as a memorial of the great happening. No words were on the stones, but God had them place those stones on top of one another where they would be there as an ongoing testimony of what God had done. You and I are living testimonies and witnesses of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This week, we see God setting his people apart from the rest of the world by the act of circumcision.


I. The Circumcision of Israel

Josh 5:1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

Josh 5:2 At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.

Josh 5:3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.

Josh 5:4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.

Josh 5:5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.

We see in verse 1 how that he kings of the people in Canaan were devastated that God dried up the waters for the Israelites to cross Jordan. We spoke last week about how this was the time when Jordan was flooded, and I'm sure they thought they had several weeks, possibly even months, to get prepared for battle. But if God is the one directing and guiding you, what the world thinks and expects is never quite right. If God spoke the earth into existence, stopping some of the water to let his people cross over was not too big a feat for Him to accomplish.

In verse 2, God gives directions to Joshua to prepare knives to perform circumcision on those that had been born in the wilderness, and had never been circumcised. Circumcision was a rite performed since the days of Abraham, and Moses had been slack in having this done to the new male babies that were born in the wilderness.

Exo 4:24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

Exo 4:25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.

Exo 4:26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

We see from this verse that Moses had neglected the ordinance of Circumcision. When God gives His people an ordinance, we are to follow it. The circumcision was an indication of sanctification, of being set apart to be God's people. You and I are to walk circumspectly in this world where others can see Jesus living in our lives.

Eph 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

Eph 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Eph 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

God had given them specific rules about the rite of circumcision in Exodus, and the people had all but forgotten it.

Exo 2:24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

Exo 2:25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.


Gen 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

We see in Genesis that the circumcision was a token of the covenant between God and Abraham. Man made many covenants with God and many times broke his portion. Thank God that God has never broken 1 covenant in the Bible, and like the covenants of promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we can trust God for what He has promised those that know Christ as Savior. Jesus has promised to come back for us and to keep our salvation, and we can believe God.

John 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

John 17:13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

John 17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

John 17:18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

John 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

We know that Abraham received the sign of circumcision which was a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised.

Rom 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Rom 4:12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

The ordinance of circumcision was the mark by which the natural seed of Abraham was distinguished from all other nations as a people in the covenant with God.

Gen 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

Gen 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

Gen 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

By the rules of the Old Testament law, a male child was to be circumcised at the age of eight days old.

Gen 17:12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

On the 8th day, Jesus was circumcised following the ceremonial law.

Luke 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

We see in the New Testament a new kind of circumcision which was much more important than the physical act. In the days of the apostles, they found many Jews who

Were outwardly but not circumcised in the heart which was what was truly important.

Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Acts 7:52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

Acts 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Today, circumcision in the flesh is of little significance to God. But circumcision of the heart, living a Godly and set apart life, if very important.

Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.


Phil 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Phil 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

Phil 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Phil 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Phil 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Paul set the record straight about circumcision. He makes it clear that the fleshly part makes little difference, but of the heart, that is where the issues of life come forth. If we view our lives like Paul did, we too will count all things loss for Christ. What is worth it all down here? Money, acclaim, power, satisfaction of the flesh? Not a one brings long-term happiness. But a life set apart for the service of God, we have it all. May not have all the riches, but God can take a little and make it go a long, long ways.

Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Gal 5:2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

Gal 5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Gal 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Gal 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

What counts for the Christian is not circumcision, it is faith which worketh by love.


II. The testing of Joshua's Faith

Josh 5:6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not show them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

Josh 5:7 And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.

Josh 5:8 And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.

All of the men of war, those that were 20 years of age and upward, wandered and died in the desert after the people came out of the land of Egypt. Only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to live, because they had believed God when they were sent into the land to spy it out earlier. Even Moses, while he got to see the land, he never entered into the promised land of Canaan. To circumcise all of these males was a dangerous thing to do, since they would be sore from this. From a worldly perspective, this would not be wise. Their ability to fight

In battle would be greatly hindered. What general ever entered the land of the enemies and performed something like this to effectively disable his own troops?

Gen 34:24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.

Gen 34:25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.

Gen 34:26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out.

In this story in Genesis, because of circumcision, the men were unable to fight and all were killed. But Joshua looked not on the ways that man looked, but looked to God and trusted Him to protect them from the enemy. God's way may not always look the best but in the end, the ways of God bring life were Satan's ways bring death.


III . The reproach of Egypt

Josh 5:9 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

What was the reproach of Egypt? During the 38 years when Israel was in the wilderness there appeared ground for Egypt to sneer and say they would perish in the wilderness.

Exo 32:12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.


Num 14:13 And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)

Num 14:14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.

Num 14:15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,

Num 14:16 Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.

J. Vernon McGee in his commentary said that the reproach of Egypt spoke of how the people had failed to perform the rite of circumcision and that was followed on into their wanderings in the desert. Now all the males were circumcised and delivered into the promised land. No one could question God's Word now.


IV. The Passover

Josh 5:10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.

Josh 5:11 And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.

The word Gilgal means "A rolling" I thought of how they had rolled away the reproach of Egypt from them this day. Instead of taking the city of Jericho immediately, God has the people set up their tents and tarry thee for a season. Here they kept the passover. This was an act of obedience to God. Like they remembered the Lord saving that first born of each family during that night when the death angel made his rounds, we remember to Lord's death on Mount Calvary each time we partake of the Lord's Supper.

Exo 12:24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.

Exo 12:25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.

Exo 12:26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?

Exo 12:27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD'S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.

There were rules about who could partake of the Passover, and no uncircumcised person

was to eat the passover.

Exo 12:48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

Some criticize our church for having what is called closed communion, but I say that if a

stranger could not eat of the feast, how much more would God not want a non-believer

partaking of the Lord's Supper. The typification forward is very clear I believe. Like the

Fact that the feast was remembered once per year, that is how often we partake of the Lord's Supper.

We see that they kept the passover on the 14th day of the month according to verse 10 which was the appointed time.

God is most pleased with us when we obey Him and follow the rules he has laid down for us. The Bible says there are no grievous commandments, which means they were all written for our good and benefit. When God says we shouldn't do something, it isn't that he doesn't want us to have fun. He wants us to have an abundant life, but some things in this life are harmful. God sets the bounds, and man needs to stay within those bounds. If we don't, we pay a price.

Mal 3:16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.

Mal 3:17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man sprat his own son that serveth him.


John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Was it important to keep the Passover? I believe it certainly was. Jesus went down to the feast of the passover.

Luke 22:7 Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.

Luke 22:8 And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.

Exo 12:11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover.

NOTE – The passover was called the Lord's passover. We observe a passover today, which is when God forgave us and passed over our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ. When we partake of the Lord's supper, we partake of the passover.

1 Cor 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

1 Cor 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


Josh 5:12 And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

It says that the Manna ceased. No longer would they be fed by the manna that came down from heave. Manna was a picture of Christ we are told in the New Testament. Jesus said

John 6:49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

John 6:50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Manna represents Christ in His death. He is the one who came down to earth "to give his life a ransom for many."

Note in verse 12 that the people did not eat of the old corn until they made it unto unleavened cakes. This was used in the worship of God. Leaven in the Bible speaks of sin, and God wants us to take out the leaven in our lives and be pure and holy in our walk before Him.

Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.


Prov 3:9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:

Prov 3:10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.


V. The Captain of the Lord's Host

Josh 5:13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?

Josh 5:14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?

Josh 5:15 And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

We see Joshua lifting up his eyes and looking. Many today never look up and see the realities of what is going on around them. Like Joshua was about to be in a battle, you and I are in a battle every day. Our enemy is prepared and ready to attack. Are you ready? Only if you have read your Bible everyday, been in church at every opportunity.

Sought God's will in all things.

Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day,

As Joshua looked up, that is the way it is with you and I. Only when we look up will

We see the Lord. And when Joshua got a good look, he realized this was more than a man. Since Joshua fell on his face, I believe we are safe to say that this was Jesus who came to him. If this had been an angel, the angel would have rebuked him for worshipping him.

Rev 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.


Rev 22:8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things.

Rev 22:9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

No doubt that the man Joshua saw was the same man John saw in the book of revelation, the same God that appeared unto Moses.

Exo 3:5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

Exo 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.


Josh 5:15 And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.


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