When the children of Israel were entering and conquering the Land of Promise, Gilgal became their home base of operations. It was the place where the armies would return between victories.
Joshua 10:43 – “Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal. It was “beside the oaks of Moreh,” near which Abraham erected his first altar” (Gen. 12:6, 7)
All the Lord’s children need a Gilgal. While you are holding on to the promises of God and fighting for victory, you need a place of retreat, a headquarters. Gilgal represents a place of safety. It is a place where people agree with what God has spoken in your life. If the battle gets fierce (and it will), Gilgal is the place you return to for affirmation, instruction, and encouragement. Do you know how to find Gilgal?
There are three reasons that Gilgal was important as a place of centrality during the years leading up to the division of the land between the tribes.
1. Gilgal Represents the Pruning of God
At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. (Joshua 5:2,3)
Circumcision was covenant in action. In simple terms circumcision represented the exchange of self-life for the Spirit life. (Genesis 17:9-11) Circumcision represents:
- To be delivered from self, to the total reliance on God.
- To cut away fleshly attitudes.
- To be Spirit led.
The pruning of God today is a spiritual exercise all believers must allow to happen.
For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh…” (Philippians 3:3)
This is accomplished when God puts us in impossible situations where we have to rely only on Him. Most of us do not want to find ourselves in these places. But the Lord knows what needs to be “cut away” from our lives.
2. Gilgal represents the Promises of God
Then the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. (Joshua 5:9)
Forty years had passed since the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. God’s grace carried them each day. Victory was always a future event. Now at Gilgal they would learn to move from grace to victory.
To commemorate what was about to happen the whole nation observed the Passover meal. The partaking of the Passover brought another major change. They ate food from the land and the manna ceased. The manna was to sustain them in their wilderness wanderings. The fruit of the land speaks of them being an actual participant in the promises of God. The Passover not only looks back to what was accomplished but also looks forward to those things to come! For God’s covenant people, deliverance from Egypt included the promise they would inherit the land, a land of abundance, a land of wheat, barley, fig trees, olive oil, and honey (Deut. 8:8-9).
All of this spoke of their new beginning, of their new life as the people of God delivered from judgment and now living in the place of blessing.
Seeing God’s word come to pass in someone’s life is so exciting. It is a great encouragement to every believer. We all need places like Gilgal where we can recount what God has done and what God is doing. If we fail to go back to Gilgal, we might forfeit our promise and lose sight of where God is leading.
3. Gilgal Represents the Presence of God
It was here Joshua had an encounter with the Captain of the hosts of the Lord
Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” 14 He said, “No, rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15 The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15)
It was not for Joshua to claim God’s allegiance for his cause no matter how right and holy it might be. Rather, the need was for Joshua to acknowledge God’s claim over him for His purposes.
We tend to approach our battles and causes backwards. We turn things around and try to marshal God to support us rather than to submit and follow Him.
The Lord was also reminding Joshua (and us) of both God’s personal presence and His powerful provision. The promise of God’s personal presence always carries with it the assurance of God’s personal care.
Do you have a word or two you are standing on today? Be of good cheer! If you are struggling, go back to the place you originally heard that word. Remind yourself of what, when, how, and where God originally spoke. Go to Gilgal and receive the encouragement you need to battle on into your future.