Transitions are no joke. Even good transitions can be hard. I myself am walking through a wonderful transition – from owning a home and working full time, to downsizing to a small beautiful rental and pursuing full time ministry. It’s good and right, but it’s still hard. I’m learning how to hold space in my heart and for good and hard, and letting both be true.
Joshua was the leader of Israel during a good and hard transition. He stepped into leadership right at the moment when they were crossing into the promised land. First of all, can we take a minute to notice that Joshua was 78 years old when he first stepped into leadership? Seventy eight. I am way ahead of the game! It was 38 years earlier that Josh spied out the land of milk and honey, that he saw the enemy and knew that God would give them victory. From the age of 40 to 78, Joshua held that in his heart. He was in limbo, trusting that what God showed him was real, probably getting frustrated watching other people screw it up, and yet making the most of his time by learning from Moses and doing his part. What a great God, that He honours His promises. He doesn’t forget the promises He’s made, big or small. He’s the God who remembers.
So Joshua takes the people across the Jordan, right in view of the city of Jericho. This fortified city is the symbol of what they’ve come to do. 40 years they’ve been waiting to take down Jericho. They’re finally here, within sight of it, and instead of launching an attack, God instructs Joshua to set up camp and then… circumcise everyone. The very act that would put the nation at great risk, making them completely vulnerable to their enemy for multiple days, within the enemy’s sight. It is no mistake that God didn’t do this back on the other side of the Jordan, where they would be safe and protected. You see, God was not worried about the enemy. God is never worried about your enemies. God was more concerned that Israel learn to fight from a place of rest. God wanted them to be confident of their identity as His Beloved, as His covenant people. He wanted them to have no illusions about their own strength, and instead be confident in Him as their defender. In the Kingdom, it’s better to do what looks foolish to the world, if it means you’re getting your priorities straight. In the Kingdom, it’s ok to rest before you need to. That’s wisdom.
In fact Israel continued to rest, after they were all healed. They took time to celebrate as a family, as a nation, before the victory. They enjoyed Passover together – before embarking on this long awaited battle, they stopped to remember what God had done for them and the generations before them. Here’s one of my favourite things about this transition:
“The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.”
The manna stopped the day after they began to eat off the land. Not the day before, not a week before, the day AFTER. What does that tell us about God? It says that He always provides more than enough for His people. The overlap is a sign of His lovingkindness. It also tells us that we need to know our season. To be honest I’m really curious to know if there were some kids in that camp who were whining for manna and turning their nose up at the roasted grain of Canaan. You know there had to be some! The truth is, it was God’s hand that provided for Israel through the produce of Canaan, and His hand that provided the manna from Heaven. Both were God, but He only gave them in season. If we go looking for what worked in the last season, we will unintentionally turn our noses up at what God is providing in this season. We have to be so closely tuned in to the Father that we can let things go when it’s His time.
What a great story – there’s so much more to unpack but I hope that’s of some encouragement to you today. One more thing about this transition for Israel – the place they were camped at when they took this rest was called Gilgal. And if you’ve read your Bible at all, you know the names of places are important. God told Joshua that this place should be named Gilgal because it means “roll”. And just as God had rolled away the water of the Jordan for Israel, He was rolling back the shame of Egypt from them. That’s what the circumcision was about – He was separating them from the shame of their past, so they could move forward in their true identity as His Beloved.
And so wherever you find yourself – on the east or west of the Jordan, waiting to enter your promised land, fighting an intense battle, or resting in transition, I pray that God would provide for you with great lovingkindness, and that He would roll back the shame of your Egypt. If you’re wanting to increase your intimacy with God, or try something new in your devotional time, I just released a short eBook that I believe can point you in the right direction. It’s $5, and you can download it here. Thanks so much for being part of this community!