Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 69 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Joshua 5 today and our focus is on circumcising your warriors for victory. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in New South Wales, Australia, Parts Unknown, Norway, Manipur, India, Mpumalanga, South Africa, Westphalia, Germany, San Francisco, California and Denver, Colorado. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan
Let’s begin by talking about war. God wants the good guys to be strong and mighty, right? He will ALWAYS bless and strengthen the good guys and curse and weaken the bad guys, right? Well…no, actually. You see, God’s ways are NOT our ways – His ways are much, much higher than ours, and we see two incredible examples of this in today’s reading. In Joshua 5, the Israelites had crossed the Jordan river, and they are ready to begin the conquest of the Promised Land. They are doing exactly what God wants them to do – in the center of His will. Not only that – but they have a tremendous military and strategic advantage, because the enemy Canaanites and Amorites had heard how God had miraculously enabled the Israelites to cross the Jordan river and they were terrified – rocked back on their heels. The perfect strategic time to strike, right? Actually – no…as it turns out. Because at the height of their strategic advantage, God tells Joshua to circumcise all of the Israelite warriors. With a flint knife. If you don’t know, flint is a type of rock, and circumcision is a kind of surgery done on a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. Oh yeah, and flint is a rock. I need to repeat that. WHY GOD? Why would God call Joshua to do this thing? Here’s all you need to know about circumcision. One time, Jacob and his family was travelling into a new land, and one of the residents of the new land, the son of the chieftain, raped Jacob’s daughter Dinah and then had the audacity to ask Jacob for her hand in marriage. Jacob’s sons heard about this marriage proposal and told the man and his chieftain father that they could have Dinah, but only if all of the males in their village got circumcised, because they could only intermarry with circumcised people. Somehow the chief got every man circumcised, and while they were still recovering from that surgery, two of Jacob’s sons slipped in, and slaughtered every man in the village to avenge their sister. Two men against a village. Why did the two men win that battle? Because circumcision is so painful and debilitating! Why did God call Joshua’s men to be circumcised RIGHT BEFORE A MASSIVE BATTLE? Because it is more important in God’s eyes for His people to be holy and obedient than for them to be strong. Victory comes not from our strength, but His, as Paul will teach much later on:
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10
Let’s read the passage, and while we do, ask yourself whose side God will be on – the Israelites or the Canaanites?
Republican, or Democrat? Alabama or Auburn? Cat or Dog? Presbyterian or Baptist? Cessationist or Charismatic? East Germany or West Germany? All Blacks or Wallabies? Nadal or Djokovic? Sparta or Athens? Israel or Judah? Lakers or Celtics? Orange or Green? Men in Green or Men in Blue? Barcelona or Real Madrid? Men or Women? Who’s side is God on? Friends: We generally think we know the answer to this question, and we think it is so obvious sometimes that it is not even worth asking. Of course God is a Republican – the Democrats are so evil! Of course God is The thing is, sometimes it is just really hard to know who the good guys and who the bad guys are. We are confident we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, as I am sure Joshua was in our chapter today, but imagine his surprise when he encountered the angel of the Lord, and asked him one of the most profound questions in the Bible:
13 When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua approached him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”14 “Neither,” he replied. “I have now come as commander of the Lord’s army.” Joshua 5:13-14
This answer, in what are our verses of the day, should absolutely blow us away. Think about it: Almost ZERO negative is said about Joshua in the Bible. He is one of the most faithful people in the Word of God. A man of obedience, courage and integrity, and there are NO big scandals in the time that he leads the Israelites. God has called the Israelites to conquer the Promised Land and the inhabitants of that land are evil, serving other gods, sacrificing children, and doing all sorts of bad things. Of course God will be on the Israelites side, right? Except…no, He’s not. Does this mean God is on the Canaanites side? Of course it doesn’t. God is on HIS side – He doesn’t appear to choose sides amongst human situations. His answer is NEITHER. I have seen so many people over the past few years assume that God is for their political party or political candidate and adamantly opposed to other side. For hundreds of years, people have assumed that God is for their cause, their country, their team, their side of the war, their position, etc, but I believe we learn today that God does not choose human sides. God is on HIS side, and He calls all to follow Him. Will some parties, candidates, teams, people, positions, alliances or arguments be more godly and righteous than the other side? Of course – the Israelites, at this time of the conquest of the Promised Land, were far more righteous and obedient than the Canaanites, but this did NOT mean that God was on their side. It’s not about which side God is on. It is about whether or not we are on HIS side. Joshua 5 shows beyond question that we must be careful to presume the blessing and backing of God. I know some of you listening might not be convinced yet. But allow me to encourage you to reread Joshua 5 and pause on that answer: ‘neither.’ Ask yourself the question: If God said ‘neither’ to Joshua’s question – how can you be sure that He would say something different to yours?
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for March: Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore, [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them.”
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