Scripture Reading:  Joshua 5:1-12

“So it was their children, whom He raised up in their place, that Joshua circumcised.  For they had not been circumcised on the way…While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plain of Jericho.”  (Joshua 5:7,10)

God had delivered His people from their bondage in Egypt.  They had been in in the wilderness for forty years.  The time had come for them to take possession of the land that God promised to give them.  They were facing serious opposition and a long period of warfare.  Before they began the conquest of the land, Joshua, under God’s orders, held the people up to celebrate the two Old Testament sacraments — circumcision and the Passover.  This was a time of spiritual preparation.  God gave them this command, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (3:5).  The sacraments are means of grace that God has provided to consecrate and to strengthen His people.

Those born during the wilderness experience had not been circumcised (vs. 4,5).  So before the people began the conquest, God told Joshua to circumcise them (vs. 2,3).  Circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant which was instituted when God made the promise to Abraham that He was God to Abraham and to his seed (Genesis 17:11-13).  Circumcision was a sign that marked those who belonged to the Lord and it was a sign of their incorporation into His covenant community.

The people also celebrated the Passover (v. 10).  The Passover was the feast that marked the deliverance of God’s people from their slavery in Egypt.  God instituted the Feast of Passover on the night before they left Egypt (Exodus 12).  The Passover lamb was slaughtered and the people ate the meal in haste.  The Passover was celebrated as a reminder of God’s work of redemption that freed them from their bondage in Egypt.

When we come to the New Testament era, Christians were given two sacraments by Jesus — baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  These two New Testament sacraments flow from the two Old Testament sacraments.  Baptism is the sign of incorporation into the body of Christ, His Church. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.  Both of these sacraments are means of grace, in that they strengthen us spiritually.  They are God’s designed instruments for us to consecrate ourselves.  When we celebrate them, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness, mercy and love that is found in Jesus Christ.

God has provided several means of grace to strengthen us spiritually and to prepare us for the spiritual warfare we will face on this earth.  He has given us the Bible, prayer, the sacraments, the preaching of the Word, worship, and fellowship with other believers (Christian community) to help us grow in our faith and to prepare us to live in this fallen, sinful world.

Lord Jesus, thank You for providing me with the means of grace to strengthen me spiritually and to grow me deeper in my faith.  Let me be faithful to use them.  Prepare me for the spiritual battles I will face today and everyday.


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