Friday, December 2, 2011

A New Beginning (Joshua 5)

Josh 5:8-12 And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed. Then the Lord said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." So the place has been called Gilgal to this day. On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. 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 of the produce of Canaan.  

The moment Israel crossed the Jordan, three things happened:

1) All males were circumcised: All the males who were not circumcised after the Israelites came out of Egypt forty years ago were circumcised. They ranged from infants to 60 years-old (the oldest males who were still alive were below 20 when Israel begun the 40 years wilderness wandering.) Circumcision is a type of baptism in the New Testament: "In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col 2:11-12). The Lord told Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." Egypt was a type of the world and Satanic kingdom. When a person is baptized, God removes the "reproach of Egypt" from him so he is no longer under the rule and power of darkness. Baptism sets us free from Satan's claims over us.

2) They celebrated the Passover: The Passover was a celebration of God's mercy when the angel of death passed over the Hebrew homes on the night before they left Egypt forty years earlier. Jesus on the night before his crucifixion was celebrating the Passover with the disciples when he gave the bread and wine a new meaning: "Take and eat; this is my body...Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:26-28). While the circumcision, like baptism, is done once, the Passover like the Lord's Supper is repeated. What these two ordinances of Israel (circumcision and Passover) suggest to us who are in the Church is that Israel was as much a part of God's redeemed people as we are now. Israel has its covenantal symbols (circumcision and Passover) and covenantal obligations to keep Law of Moses while the Church has its covenantal symbols (baptism & Holy Communion) and covenantal obligations to keep the Law of the Spirit of Christ:

Rom 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 

Gal 6:2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Rom 13:8-10 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."   Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law

There are altogether 600+ covenantal obligations under the Law of Moses and there are equally 600+ covenantal obligations under the Law of Christ in the New Testament. Both the old and new covenants were given by grace and received through faith, but their privileges and obligations are different. It's not that Israel in the old covenant has an obligation to keep the laws whereas the Church in the new covenant has no obligation to keep the laws. Each covenant has its obligation to a different set of laws. The old covenant laws of Moses were mostly outward, whereas the new covenant laws of Christ are mostly inward. When Paul says that "Christ is the end of the Law" (Rom. 10:4), he is referring to Law of Moses, not the Law of Christ.

3) The Manna Stopped: When Israel entered the Promised Land and started to eat the produce of the land, the supernatural provision of God (manna) that had kept them alive for 40 years stopped falling from the sky. The manna was a temporary provision and now that the Israelites had access to the produce of the land, the manna became unnecessary. Where there are natural provisions of God, we should not seek the supranatural provision, because the miracle is a temporary provision. Like healing and health: healing is a manna of God when natural means cannot save us. But once we are healed, we should go on to take care of our health through healthy diet and exercise like any normal human being. To expect miracle when God has already provided for us in the natural is to tempt God.

Father in heaven, You are a supernatural and also practical God. You have provided us in many ways - some supranatural, some natural, We want to give You thanks that all blessings are from You and all blessings are supernatural because they began in the supernatural act of God in Creation. May we learn to discern when to expect the supranatural and when to receive the natural blessings from You with equal faith. Amen.

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