Joshua 5: 1-12
“Priority of Life”
February 12, 2017
We are in the field of daily life and meet big things and small things. When you do that, you should be able to judge and distinguish important things and things that are not important well. Sometimes, something really important is considered as a trivial thing. There is a time to waste a lot of time because of the rather minor things that are not important. Think about whether you really know what is important to you and make sure you live your life for it. You should check whether you are working hard for that important thing. You should see if you are not wasting your energy and time on things that are not important. This is the story of The Daily Bread. There was a person who succeeded in a shoe business. One day his pastor asked what the secret of his success was. He answered, “The secret to my success was a clear priority. I set my first priority in all things is God, second one is home, and third one is shoe business, then God helped me to prosper in all things.”
This is the priority of life that God wants. God wants us to win in the world and to be successful and prosperous. But the success is not because of our career or ability, but because of God’s strength. Why? In the world, it can be recognized and succeeded if anyone has a career and ability. However, no matter how smart you are you, will eventually collapse. Why is it so? It is because they do not know God. It is not a man’s words to be foolish if you do not know God. It is the judgment of God who made all things of heaven and earth, and it is the word of God. God said that no matter how much they know of secular things, they would be foolish if they did not know God. Psalms 14 speaks this word. “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”
However, God’s people will succeed. All things will be good and prosperous. There is only one reason. That is because we know God. It is because we set God in the priority of life. This is the truth. The 66 books of the Bible clearly demonstrate. None of the people of the Bible has failed when living in the priority of life. Everyone was victorious, successful and prosperous. There was only one reason to fail. They valued worldly things more than God. Every time they lived in such manner they failed and fell. We should also remember this.
The word that God gives to us today is the same. At this point, God speaks of what should the Israelites should do first. The first thing Israel should do is circumcision. This was the restoration of the relationship with God. God wants to maintain a right relationship with us. God does not want us to be needed for the Lord’s Day only. God does not want to be the One you need only when it is difficult. God wants us to think about Him all the time. He wants us to be at the center of our minds and our lives. He wants to be with us all the time. He wants this relationship to be restored.
This relationship is important for our lives. This Tuesday is the Valentine’s Day. The relationship with a loved one should also be this relationship. All human relationships, family relationship, friendship, peer relationship, employment relationship etc. should be this relationship. This relationship should be restored to all human relations. There will be no joy, peace, and satisfaction in broken relationships. There will be only discord, complaint, resentment, and only dissatisfaction and scarcity. To restore and maintain the right relationship with these people first of all, we must restore the right relationship with God first. As long as the right relationship with God is not achieved, no right relationship can be expected for the relationship with parents, spouses, or friends. We can’t expect the right thing to happen.
Today’s word is given to Israel and at the same time to us as well. By looking closely at these words together, I hope we can restore the right relationship with God Then, what is the way to restore the right relationship with God? (Pause)
1) Trust God entirely.
If we see the situation they face it seems not comprehensible. Joshua, as a soldier, would have believed that it was a lethal strategy. Instead, the situation is the best opportunity for war. Let us understand the flow of the text first. You will remember the four chapters of the last passage. After 40 years of long wilderness life, they crossed the Jordan River. It is the word that they came into the land of Canaan of God. They could not cross the Jordan River unless it was God’s power. With great enthusiasm and surprise, they crossed the Jordan River. Now they entered the land of Canaan. What Israel should do was to go on the march and strike the enemy if they do not prepare for a thorough defense. Because it is also recorded in verse 1. According to the information they got, it was in a situation that they could win if they boldly attacked.
Nevertheless, God said to do circumcision. Circumcision is a surgical operation. It takes more than eight days to recover. It is like suicide to conduct this circumcision with the enemy right in front of them. But God said that this is the right and best time of circumcision. But people thought that it is the best time to fight right now. God said that this is the time to do circumcision. What was the reason for that they had to do a circumcision ceremony first? The ceremony of circumcision was done by Gentiles. They did only for religious, health, or ceremonial reason. But Israel did not do for a health or religious ritual. It was a ritual that seals a person who becomes a people of God. It was a sign that affirms that they are the people of God. In the last hour 12 stones were said to be a sign of God’s grace. Circumcision was a sign that people have become God’s people.
However, this circumcision was not able to do for the last 40 years in the wilderness. The circumcised 1st generation died by disobedience in the wilderness. They were not able to give circumcision to those who was born in the wilderness, the second generation. So, God commanded to be circumcised and to establish a relationship. When this circumcision was taken, the relationship was established. When this relationship was established, God promised to intervene in all wars and take responsibility for all life. It was an impossible thing to do if they did not trust God entirely right before the enemy.
We must trust God entirely even in any advantageous or unfavorable situation. You must trust God in every situation rather than trusting in favorable situations and relying only on what works. Proverbs 3: 5 says “in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Solomon confessed that he trusted in things with the military and his own wisdom, and lived with regret for the rest of his life. It means to live in the heart of trusting God and to concentrate our mind on trusting God in all things. In doing so, God will give great wisdom, understanding, strength, and power. And we can live in the life wilderness only with that power. And live in the life of Canaan. Then, what is the way to restore the right relationship with God? (Pause)
2) Worship God wholeheartedly.
The Israelites crossed the Jordan and set up a 12-stone monument. They were circumcised and then they had to keep the Passover. The Passover was a festival and a worship service. But during the 40 years of the wilderness, the Passover was not kept. Nevertheless, this was not the situation to observe the Passover. The Passover was a seven-day season. But God said to keep the Passover. God’s reason to keep the Passover was to remember God, the savior. When the Passover was remembered by Israel they remembered, above all, God saved them from Egypt. It was God’s salvation. It was their strength to think about the salvation of this God. So, God knew this and asked to keep the Passover. Keeping the Passover was also to establish a relationship with God. Circumcision was a precondition for participation in the Passover. It was because no one could participate in the Passover without being circumcised. Through circumcision and Passover, they had to establish a right relationship with God.
Here circumcision is a testimony to God’s people. It played the same role as the present baptism. The Old Testament circumcision was a model of New Testament baptism. And in the New Testament, circumcision was changed into baptism. While circumcision leaves a mark on the body, baptism marked spiritual change. The condition to be baptized is repentance.
Repentance is turned from sin and to believe in the Lord. And we must confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What is important is not a surface sign but a inwardly change. Whether circumcised in the Old Testament or baptized in the New Testament is a change of heart. So, Jeremiah said to the Israelites that do not boast of circumcision, but to cut the skin of the heart. The Passover in this state of mind was a festival and worship.
We must restore our right relationship with God through worship. Many people in the Old Testament were circumcised, but they did not serve God rightly. Likewise, we have been baptized, but we have not done the right worship and there are people who do not live rightly. What kind of worship is right worship? It is to worship in any situation. It would not be right when the people of God do not worship and just remain in the world. When we work, we must work diligently. And, when we worship, we must worship with wholeheartedness. If we worship according to the time and circumstances we have set, that is not a worship service for God. The right worship should prepare for the offering but the preparation of the mind is most pleasing to God. Not reluctantly forced out but we should come to before God as bright as possible with expectation. He rebuked worship that is offered with awe free of heart is an act of ignoring God. Worship is to worship the living God. It is to worship God who is present here now. When we do not recognize God’s existence worship is unintentionally ignoring God.
The right worship is a worship that is focused on worship. We must know that that self is the main obstacle to worship. On January 29, I had to chance to worship at the church where my daughter and son-in-law minister. I saw about 300 people in the second part worship. I looked closely at people. The surprise was that not even one person turns his head. All the people concentrated on the preacher without falling. In general, Americans seemed more focused on the preaching than Koreans. Right worship focuses on body and mind in worship. So, we can control ourselves and unnecessary actions. Through right worship, we can restore the relationship. Then, what is the way to restore the right relationship with God? (Pause)
3) Live a life of God ‘s pride.
The Israelites lived with shame until this time. It was liberated from Egypt, but still kept the evil natures of Egypt. Until then, they lived to complain and disobey. So, God made the shame to roll. The shame of the slave remained in their hearts but God has thrown away all through circumcision at Gilgal. Do not live a life of shame. Live a life of pride. We are baptized, and become Christians, but there are still shame in us. We have to get rid of everything. Circumcision is tossing away and cutting out. If we have a shame of disobedience, we must cut that out. Cut out all the old and evil habits. Cut out jealousy, hate, strife, anger, divisive, pride, stubbornness, vain desire, dissatisfaction, blame, judgmental, criticism etc. Cut off everything that is an obstacle and to faith and shame to God and His people.
Live a life of pride not only of God but of your parents. When is the time when parents are most pleased? It’s when parents show off their children. It is the same when God is most pleased. If we keep a right relationship with God, He is most pleased. We must become proud of our parents and of our spouses. We must become proud of our neighbors and to our colleagues. What is way to become proud to everyone? If we live proudly to God, we will become proud of all. If we live in a right relationship with God He will make us to become proud of all. It is not our flesh but our faith that God makes us proud. So, God told us not to boast of the flesh but to boast of faith. Restore the right relationship with God and live a life of God’s pride. (Pause)
Israel has now entered a whole new life. Food to eat has also changed. The manna that had eaten forty years had ceased and they ate the Canaanite produce. This means that they will not return to the wilderness again. It also means that God guarantees their lives. Likewise, we must restore our relationship with God and live a new life every day. Amen.