Joshua 5 (4)
So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. Joshua 5.8, 9
1. Have you ever experienced a situation in which some “reproach” or obligation or debt was canceled or taken away? What was that like? How did you experience that? Did you commemorate that experience in any way?
2. Very often in Scripture, names have significance. We’ve seen that in the cases of Moses and Joshua. Can you think of some other examples? Why is this a good thing?
Think about it.
The people of Israel had been living under a reproach for forty years. It’s likely that most of them were not even aware of the reproach. But God was. An obstacle or hindrance existed between God and His people, related to their failure to circumcise their male children. Now it had been removed, and we shall see how this opens up the previously clogged channels in the hearts of God’s people so that now His grace could flow freely and abundantly.
In Revelation 2 and 3 Jesus reproached five of the seven churches to which He wrote. He had something against them, something they needed to deal with, or else the sanctions of His covenant would be invoked. See if you can identify each of these reproaches (Rev. 2.4; 2.14; 2.20; 3.2; 3.15). Do you suppose Jesus could have a reproach against churches still today?
God named the place where they were camping Gilgal. This word is a verbal form that means “rolled away” or just “rolling.” Thus God established yet another memorial to remind His people of His grace and to encourage them to remain faithful to Him. Do you suppose we need more reminders in our daily lives of how good and loving God is to us?
Meditate and discuss.
1. What might be some conditions today that would cause a local church to come under reproach from the Lord? Israel’s reproach cost them forty years and the death of an entire generation. Jesus threatened sanctions against the churches in Revelation unless they took steps to remove His reproach. What should a church do that discovers itself to be under reproach from the Lord?
2. What’s true for churches can also be true for individuals. How would you be able to tell when something in your life had caused you to come under reproach from the Lord? What should you do then?
3. What can we and our churches do to help ensure we do not fall under reproach from the Lord?
“No one, therefore, fears the reproaches of past transgressions, if he has been wholly converted and has repented from the heart, and, by faith, has parted the waters of the Jordan and been purified through the second circumcision of the gospel. You hear that, ‘Today, I have taken the reproach of Egypt away from you.’” Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)
Lord, guide my steps and direct my path, so that I do not come under Your reproach. Otherwise…
Pray Psalm 38.
Here is a psalm from David when he was under some reproach from the Lord. Can you identify with how this was making him feel? Let the Spirit lead you as you pray, so that you become more sensitive to any reproach-worthy behaviors.
Psalm 38 (Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
O Lord, rebuke me not, nor chasten me in wrath!
Your arrows pierce my sinful heart and fill my path.
Your heavy hand weighs down;
My flesh and bones grow weak.
My sins oppress, confuse, confound – I cannot speak!
My sinful wounds grow foul, and fester painfully;
I bend and groan within my soul most mournfully!
Sin fills my every part;
Conviction stings my breast.
Lord, ease my numbed and burning heart and grant me rest!
You know all my desire, my sighs You know full well.
My strength fails and light’s holy fire my eyes dispel.
My friends and loved ones fail;
The wicked do me wrong.
My life they seek, my soul assail the whole day long.
Their threats I will not heed, nor speak to their reproof;
To hear or speak I have no need – I claim Your truth!
Lord, hear my fervent prayer!
Let not my foes rejoice;
Redeem me from their traps and snares – Lord, hear my voice!
My sins I now confess; my anxious soul relieve!]
Though foes are strong, Lord, heal and bless all who believe!
Forsake me not, O Lord!
Repay my foes with wrath.
Stand by me with Your saving Word and guard my path!
T. M. Moore
Where does the book of Joshua fit in the ongoing story of God’s covenant? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you discover the place in God’s work of redemption not only of Joshua but of all the books of the Bible. God’s Covenant is a valuable resource to guide you in all your studies in God’s Word. To order your copy, click here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).