Joshua 5:1-3 1 Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the LORD had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites. 2 At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.
I was always a big fan of Chris Farley. Whether it was “fat man in a little coat,” or “in a van down by the river,” he always seemed to make me laugh. He was silly and had an incredible knack for physical comedy – especially for a big guy. One of my favorite lines of his was, “that’s gonna leave a mark.” Whether it was getting hit in the head by a 2×4 or knocked off a boat with a sail, this response would come out of his mouth. They left a mark alright! He was always getting hurt – always in some kind of embarrassingly painful situation.
Today in my reading, I found the Israelites in their own kind of painful situation. Here they have just miraculously crossed over the Jordan river and God says that He wants them consecrated before going into the promised land. So they all get circumcised, young and old. You see, all the Israelites that were circumcised in Egypt 40 years prior were all dead and God wanted to re-establish this covenant with them. I wonder how that announcement went over to all the guys. Maybe something like this:
Joshua: Good morning men, today we are going to go on a little hike.
Men: Sounds fun, where are we going?
Joshua: I thought we’d go up to Gibeath Haaraloth.
Men: Wait a minute. Doesn’t Gibeath Haaraloth mean “hill of foreskins?”
Joshua: Sure does.
Men: Oh snap. That’s gonna leave a mark!
So off they went and every single one of them was circumcised. To me this was a horrific tactical error on their part. Mainly because it would mean that the people of Jericho would have a prime opportunity to attack them. They would be down and out for a few days. They certainly wouldn’t be able to fight if an army approached them. Let’s just say they would need some healing time. For this reason alone, I might be a little worried. If I was doubled over in pain, I might wonder if this would be the time the enemy would strike. But it turns out, as it always does, that God had them covered.
We just need to look at verse 1 in the passage. You see, when all the other nations heard that God was doing all the work for them (like drying up the river), they were pretty discouraged. In fact, it says that their hearts melted and they no longer had courage to face the Israelites. God knew this when he asked the men to go get circumcised. He knew that no opposing force would come against them in the midst of their pain. He knew that His protection was already on them even though they would walk through this.
We need to realize that same truth in our lives today. It is inevitable that God will ask us to walk through some things that seem hard. He may ask us to do something that to us, seems painful. But He knows what He is doing. He knew what He was doing when He asked Abraham to take Isaac up on the mountain to sacrifice him. God knew that He would provide a way out. He knew what He was doing when He asked the Israelite men to get circumcised days before they would face their greatest enemy. He has got us covered. He is our protector and shield; there is no reason to fear. David wrote it best in the 23rd Psalm: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.”