April 21

Joshua 5:8-9 (NIV) 8And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed. 9Then 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.

Upon crossing the Jordan, Joshua was commanded to circumcise all the males, all those who crossed the Jordan that had been born during the wanderings in the wilderness. For some reason, they waited until they arrived in the Promised Land to be circumcised.

This was a great act of faith. They are in their enemies' territory, and the pain makes them unable to fight. All 40,000 armed men would be lying helpless until they healed. They knew the story of their forefathers who had slaughtered a village that was unable to fight because all of their men had just been circumcised. But in their present situation, God was ordering them to be circumcised. By faith they obeyed and trusted God to protect them. I think the Lord does something similar with us, asking us to make ourselves vulnerable to our enemies, and yet trust Him to keep us safe.

All through this wilderness wandering we had heard whining about how good they had it in Egypt. There were numerous plans to return. Once they even had a vote to elect someone to guide them back. God had taken them out of Egypt but would not get Egypt out of their hearts. They needed to cooperate but would not. Now that that generation had died and the new generation was circumcised to God, the reproach of Egypt was finally gone. Egypt was finally out of their hearts. Is the world out of you? Gilgal sounds like the Hebrew word for "roll". Let God roll Egypt out of your life so that all your desire is toward Him.

Consider: God may take you into precarious situations to teach you to trust Him.

April 21

Mark 14:65 (NIV) 65Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, "Prophesy!" And the guards took him and beat him.

Though most historians believe these to be Roman guards assigned to a temporary service of the High Priest, I do not think the text implies this. Instead, I think they were a group of Jewish thugs that were in service to the High Priest. This abuse took place after the mock trial before the Sanhedrin.

The spitting in the face is an act of declaring the shame upon the one spit upon (Numbers 11:24). It is interesting to note that the Lord used spit to heal, but man uses it to insult. The blindfolding of Jesus seems to be directly related to His claim of being the Messiah. Roman soldiers would not have come up with this idea; it is purely Jewish. The Messiah was prophesied to judge correctly without hearing or seeing (Isaiah 11:3). When they struck Him, they asked Him to judge who it was that had committed the crime. If He was the Messiah He should know their name. He could have told them their name and that of their entire lineage back to Adam, but He remained silent. He was determined to endure this to the end for you and me.

Then the guards took Him and beat Him. These men were trained fighters. They knew how to inflict pain. The rabbinical laws forbid the abuse of a condemned man, but this was no ordinary prisoner. It was envy that caused the religious leaders to murder Him. They were convicted by His words, and shamed by His increasing number of followers. They were being exposed for what they really were. No abuse of Jesus could have been enough for them. The Scripture says, "Jesus endured for the joy that was set before Him." He endured because He knew you would one day come and find the cleansing that He would provide through the cross.

Meditation: Treasure your salvation. Never forget the high price paid for it.