The Way Back
Joshua chapter 5 tells how a new generation was circumcised in Gilgal. The older generation who came out of Egypt and died in the wilderness, had neglected to circumcise their children. In the Old Testament, circumcision symbolized God's covenant with his people. In the New Testament, Paul talks about those in the body of Christ having a circumcision of the heart, a inner commitment to our covenant with God through Christ. Reading this passage I thought about how many times one generation fails to lead the next generation into a deep and lasting relationship with God. We get caught up in life and focus our eyes on the seen instead of the unseen. The generation of Israelites who came out of Egypt lost their way. They saw giants and obstacles to the promises of God and couldn't lead their children into a future they could not see.
The circumstances of this passage are sad, but hopeful because God always makes a way. He give us a pattern to follow that lead to restoration and a renewal of our covenant with him. First we need to listen for God's voice. 5:2 says "...the Lord said to Joshua". God's voice invades our reality and brings light, hope, and creates a opportunity for us to walk in newness. Second, we must obey what God has spoken, act on it, move into it. Third, a pruning must take place. The circumcision cuts away a part of our flesh, who we are in the most intimate way. A circumcision of the heart will require no less. Renewal requires the personal and intimate pruning work of the Holy Spirit to take place. Fourth, there is waiting, rest, and healing. I like how 5:8 tells us that Israel remained in their place until they were healed. We must give ourselves over to the work God desires to do in our lives, wait on him, let the healing come. Fifth, we see them engaging in spiritual disciplines as they participate in the Passover traditions. For us, spiritual disciplines ground us in Christ, they help s grow roots in the new place God had created for us. And sixth, they were able to move on from the old things, the old place where they were living outside a covenant with God. They were now able to move into the new things God had in store for them, they were able to walk into the promises and provision of the Lord. They had to leave the old things behind and walk forward. By definition, the only new path is God's path. He is the creator of all things, he is true existence and life for humanity.