Much like us, the children of Israel faced a difficult dilemma; after having been miraculously freed from Egypt, they found themselves relegated to wander in a barren wilderness very near the Promised Land for forty years. While they no longer remained in bondage as slaves, they were, at the same time, still unable to enter into the land that God promised them. What kept them from entering in to this land of abundance? The answer is clear: God sent them to the wilderness because of their unbelief. But what did this unbelief consist of? Did they simply not believe that the God who parted the Red Sea and fed them manna in the wilderness for forty years was capable of bringing them in? Or did it have to do with their unwillingness for they themselves to be changed?
Today we will look at the process that God required Israel to go through in order to be transformed so that they could indeed enter the land of promise. It is the same for us. If we are going to experience the abundant life Jesus promised us (John 10:10), we too must go through the process, the process that transforms a believer from a wanderer to a warrior.
1. Before one goes to Jericho, one must go to Gilgal (Joshua 4)
a. Definition of Gilgal rolling, wheel, rolling off, rolling over.
b. This is the place where we decide if we will actually let God be our master.
2. Gilgal is the place of circumcision - vs 2Col 2:11-14; Ro 2:28-29).
a. Circumcision symbolized the cutting away of the flesh in order to distinguish the Israelites from those peoples around them. Today, for us, circumcision of the heart is the cutting away from our hearts, those characteristics of the world that are inconsistent with being the people of God. (Thayer calls them Spiritual Impurities.)
It marked them as different.
At Gilgal not only did it mark them as Gods special possession, but it also indicated a marked change.
- They were no longer wanderers, but warriors.
- They no longer walked in the ways of their fathers, but committed to walk in the ways of God.
- They could not stand on what those who went before them did.
- They had to fight their own battles.
- They had to learn that obedience was a key factor in achieving victory.
The Crux of Issue: We cannot simply add God on to an indeterminate, self-navigating life. We must surrender ourselves to the transforming power of God and allow Him to change us into what He wants us to be in order to actually see the benefit of the life that Christ gives us. We must actually become different from the world around us.
3. How do we understand this transformation process?
a. It is personal.
It involves intimate issues between us and God.
It is individual in nature... God performs this on each one of us.
b. It is confrontational.
It utilizes the knife.
- It includes the pain of surrender and removal of those things in our lives that dont please God.
It is uncomfortable.
c. It is dedicational.
It is an indicator of the sanctification process the believer is taken through by God.
It is voluntary and hence, a sign of personal spiritual growth.
d. It is transitional.
It is indicative of the transforming power of God to change a person from a wanderer to a warrior.
It is typically a pivotal point in a persons spiritual life.
- A decision is made.
- Action is taken.
It is at this point the manna ceases.
- Once a person comes to this point in his/her walk with God, the responsibility for personal growth is placed directly into the hands of that servant of God.
- This is the faith walk.
NOTE: When we willingly give ourselves to the process of sanctification, God comes on the scene. His power to change a person becomes evident as we yield our hearts to divine surgery.
Observations from the Text
1. (v 1) There is great power in the life of a redeemed person, more than we think. But that does not mean that the enemy of our souls will cease from trying to keep a foothold in our lives.
a. While their hearts melted within them, the kings of the Canaanites and Amorites fought the Israelites in order to keep them from taking possession of the land God promised them.
2. (v 2) The Israelites had to be circumcised again... a second time.
a. This process of submitting ourselves to divine surgery may take place a number of times during our life on earth.
3. (vs 4-7) The purpose of the process is to transform us from wanderers to warriors.
a. They wandered in the wilderness until the men of war, who refused to listen to the voice of the Lord, all died
b. Note their twofold purpose in verse six:
They were to listen to the voice of the Lord.
They were to be warriors, not wanderers.
4. (v 9) The outcome of this cutting away is the removal of shame.
a. Forty years after the fact, the shame of Egypt is removed from Israel.
Many Christians continue to carry the shame of their own personal Egypt around inside them.
When the Holy Spirit performs this surgery, the shame from our past can be instantly removed as we surrender ourselves to our Lord.
5. (vs 10-12) The freedom that comes from the removal of our shame initiates in us the faith walk.
a. The act of surrender to the Lord results in the transition from subsistence living to abundant living.
b. Abundant life is worth fighting for.
6. (vs 13-15) Surrendering ourselves to God in this manner leads to a divine encounter. At this point, God directs our path, fights with us and for us as we follow Him.
1. Am I still carrying shame from my past?
2. Am I willing to allow God to perform divine surgery on my inner man?
3. What steps will I take to move from wanderer to warrior?