At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the Lord, to whom the Lordhad sworn that He would not let them see the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua [dcircumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way.

Joshua 5: 2 – 7 (NASB)

Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin or prepuce of the male genital organ. In the Old Testament the special meaning of circumcision for the people of Israel is found in Genesis 17. It occurs within the context of God’s renewed covenant promise to Abraham, following the initial contractual relationship found in Genesis 15. 

A spiritual interpretation was imposed upon the procedure when the Israelites were instructed to circumcise their hearts (Deuteronomy 10:16). This demand required them to recognize that, in addition to bearing the physical mark of covenant membership, they were also under obligation to manifest specific spiritual qualities of commitment and obedience to the Lord’s will. 

As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, they needed to renew their covenant with God. This relationship required that circumcision be performed as a sign of the covenant. Those Israelites who left Egypt had been circumcised, but those males born during the wilderness wandering had not (Joshua 5:4-5). It was now time for the younger generation to take their stand and have the “reproach of Egypt” rolled away.

Israel is camped at Gilgal, having crossed the Jordan River. It is definitely the right time to attack and surprise the enemy. But NOT YET! In this chapter, the Israelites have to first connect with God in the covenant life by being circumcised and celebrating the Passover. Only after these do they get a taste of “the produce of the land.” Then God reminds them that HE is the true Commander-in-Chief of HIS armies, and that therefore the victory belongs to HIM. 

Sometimes deadlines, the feeling of the pressure to perform and accomplish things in order to please people, our own egos, or anxiety can make us be in such a hurry to “get the show on the road.” In God’s plan, however, there are spiritual values, priorities, and principles that are far more vital and fundamental to victory and our capacity to attack and demolish the enemy. Our fellowship with God takes precedence over our victories over the enemy.

Photo by J’Waye Covington on Unsplash


Rev. Mutinda Musyimi and his wife, Jennifer, lead City Church Nairobi in Buru Buru, Nairobi, Kenya.

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