“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, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain.” (Joshua 5:9-11 NIV)
On this Holy Thursday, my Bible reading came from Joshua 5, where after they crossed the Jordan River, they camped at Gilgal, circumcised the men (ouch) and celebrated a Passover Seder. The NIV phrases it, “taken away my disgrace” because the Lord said it’s a disgrace for my people to be slaves.
This was a momentous thing for them to finally occupy this land. Whoop! Consider how you’d feel after trudging for YEARS by foot, sleeping under the stars, enduring all kinds of weather and finally arrive at your destination. No GPS, no vehicle or other electronics. Guided solely by the voice of God.
Christ is our promised land– life in Him has moments of milk & honey (sweetness) amidst the aggravations & adversity of normal, twenty-first century Christian life. As we recall the events of Holy Week leading to Sun morning, we celebrate each aspect of His lordship. The Last Supper, the meal Jesus shared was actually a Passover Seder. Good Friday’s horribly violent execution, the burial — all holy, sacred and significant events leading to the biggest supernatural act of all — the executed man, now entombed, has come back to life and walks, talks & eats with His friends. No other religious god can claim this fact.
Power Behind the Scenes
What Jesus accomplished in the unseen realm that weekend is what lends significance to our lives today as believers. The cross was the beginning. When He arose, Jesus ascended into heaven and applied his blood to the mercy seat in Heavens throne room (Hebrews 9:11-15; 9:24 NKJV). His blood is still there 2000 years later, speaking on our behalf. It says: “Father, all humanity that are mine, are not guilty. I took their disgrace upon myself. All accusations against them are nullified, silenced by my blood. This is the covenant I made with them, their sins are remembered no more.”
Oh I love what his blood says!!!!!
Hebrews 10:12 reminds us, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.”
Even in 2017, many people are still slaves. I’m not referring to sexual trafficking, though that surely applies. We are enslaved to fear, worry, physical and emotional illness, sexual lust, anger, negativity … you know the list.
Can I call you Gilgal? Has Jesus taken away your sin, shame and disgrace? If you answer no, you can be free just by asking Him. He is listening, ready to make you clean.
Charge to Modern Christians: Hold Fast to Your Beliefs
In this culture that attempts to eradicate Christianity from the face of the earth (bombings in Egypt), let Hebrews 10:19-23 embolden you:
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
Additional Bible facts for nerds like me: There are three places to which the name, GILGAL is attached:
(1) The first camp of Israel after crossing the Jordan (Joshua 4:19; 5:9,10; 9:6; 10:7; 14:6; 15:7; Deuteronomy 11:30). According to Joshua 15:7 it lay to the North of the valley of Achor, which formed the border between Judah and Benjamin. Here 12 memorial stones taken from the bed of the river were set up by Joshua, after the miraculous crossing of the Jordan; and here (Joshua 5:5) the people were circumcised preparatory to their possession of the land, when it is said in Joshua, with a play upon the word, “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.” Whereupon the Passover was celebrated (Joshua 5:10) and the manna ceased (Joshua 5:12). To Gilgal the ark returned every day after having compassed the city of Jericho during its siege (Joshua 6:11). Here the Gibeonites came to make their treaty (Joshua 9:3), and again (Joshua 10:6) to ask aid against the Amorites. Gilgal was still the headquarters of the Israelites after the battle with the Amorites (Joshua 10:15); again after Joshua’s extensive victorious campaign in the hill country of Judea extending to Kadesh-barnea and Gaza (Joshua 10:15); and still later upon his return from the great battle at the Waters of Merom (Joshua 14:6). At the conclusion of the conquest (Joshua 18:1), the headquarters were transferred to Shiloh on the summit of the mountain ridge to the West.
(2) According to 2 Kings 2:1; 4:38, Elisha for a time made his headquarters at Gilgal where there was a school of the prophets (2 Kings 4:38), and where Elijah and Elisha, who resided here, “went down” to Bethel (2 Kings 2:1 2 Kings 2:2). It is mentioned also in Deuteronomy 11:30 . It is now known as Jiljilia, a place 8 miles north of Bethel.
Sources: M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.