This morning after my S.O.A.P. reading, I found myself looking ahead to tomorrows passage just to see what was coming up and to ask the Lord to prepare my heart for what He would have me learn from it. I skimmed over the chapter and not once but twice a word jumped out at me. That word was Gilgal. I began to think back to a time in my life when this word or maybe I should say the significance of this word became very real in my life and quite significant as well.
Gilgal is first mentioned in the Bible in Deuteronomy 11 where God is describing the Promised land that He will be giving His people. Interestingly enough, it is contains the declaration of God to the Israelites, 26 Today I’m giving you the choice of a blessing or a curse. 27 You’ll be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I’m giving you today. 28 You’ll be cursed if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God, if you turn from the way I’m commanding you to live today, and if you worship other gods you never knew. 29 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you’re about to enter, recite the blessing from Mount Gerizim and the curse from Mount Ebal.
I find that very interesting, considering the topic of my last entry was about choosing blessing or cursing, life or death, so this is the result of something I believe the Lord is trying to say to me or teach me. If it is helpful to someone else that is great, but most of the things I write about are things that I am learning or that I feel the Holy Spirit is teaching me. This is my outlet and if you will since we are talking about Gilgal…my memorial stone to help me remember.
Back to Gilgal. One of the most known and important times in Gilgal is found in Joshua when the Israelites have been instructed to cross the Jordan River to enter the promised land. Here the Lord parts the waters of the river for all the people following cross the river on dry ground while the priests stand in the middle with the ark of the covenant . God instructed Joshua that one man from each tribe be assigned to select one stone from the middle of the river where the priests had stood and take it to the place the Israelites would camp that night. As they did what God asked, Joshua explained, “4:21 He said to the people of Israel, “In the future when children ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 the children should be told that Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry ground.23 The Lord your God dried up the Jordan ahead of you until you had crossed, as he did to the Red Sea until we had crossed. 24 The Lord did this so that everyone in the world would know his mighty power and that you would fear the Lord your God every day of your life.”
In chapter 5, at this same time, all the men who were born in the wilderness were circumcised at Gilgal. Circumcision was a sign to them that they were set apart unto the Lord. Here they remained in this new land until they were healed. Also, at Gilgal, the Lord declared in Joshua 5:
9 The Lord then said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.” Therefore, that place is called Gilgal to this day.
What does all this mean? For me, I am sensing that Gilgal is the place where Israel has come full circle, it is a reminder of God’s salvation of Israel from Egyptian slavery, from the wrath of the Egyptians who were chasing them and were swallowed by the Red Sea; a reminder of His protection and provision for their 40 years of wandering in the desert, where they always had food and water and their clothes and shoes never wore out; it was a place of laying aside the flesh and consecrating themselves to God; laying down false beliefs and false gods that they were exposed to during slavery and being rededicated to the one True God. I believe Gilgal was a fresh start, a clean slate. It was also a great monument and reminder because of the twelve memorial stones. Human beings tend to over time forget or allow all that our God has done for us become a distant memory. These stones stood and still stand as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites, we would do well to note and remember all God has done for us! What a stabalizing factor and comforting peace we could enjoy when the storms of life come blowing us over, if we take time to set up remembrances of the times He has seen us through hardships and difficulties or rescued us from them. When we regularly celebrate His presence and provision in our lives we are much calmer and peaceful when the storms of life blow over us, sometimes blowing us over. I want to come full circle, celebrating fresh starts, rededicating myself to Him, remembering His presence and provision in my life, letting go of the difficulties and pain of the past but remembering His faithfulness and love as a reminder not to return there; choosing life and blessing over death and the curse!