Daily Devotional (6/13/2012) – “Judges”: ‘Gilgal… The Original Rolling Stones’

June 13, 2012

“Judges” Devotional #3               Scripture:   Joshua 3 – 5

‘Gilgal:  Birthplace of the Original Rolling Stones            

I love history!!!  I have often found that many things in life become MUCH more interesting and meaningful when we understand the “back-story” behind them.  This is especially true for me when I study The Bible.  So… in order to better understand some passages in Judges (2:1; 3:19) that I will explore further in my next devotional; I need to give you a history lesson on the important Biblical city of Gilgal.

Quite a few cities are memorable as it relates to The Bible (Jerusalem, Jericho, Bethlehem, Shiloh, Nineveh, etc.); yet not much is ever said about the city of Gilgal.  This is a city that was central during the time of Joshua and is mentioned often during the lives of King Saul and King David.  The origins of Gilgal occur in The Book of Joshua, with us summarizing the events in Chapters 3-5 during today’s devotional. 

Joshua has just taken over for Moses, after his death and the 40-year period of wandering for the Israelites on the edge of the Promised Land.  Because of the Israelites lack of faith in God to bring them the rest of the way, only Joshua and Caleb would remain from that original generation to see God fulfill His promise.  Spies have been sent to Jericho to determine battle strategy, and return with great optimism… the people are in fear of Israel and their God. As God had done for Moses at the beginning of his time of leading Israel (Exodus 4: 1-9), the Lord would now provide a familiar miraculous sign to get the people to trust in Joshua’s leadership.  In a clear replication of God parting the Red Sea at the beginning of their escape from Egypt (Exodus 14), the Lord parted the Jordan River for the people and the Ark of the Covenant to pass by as on dry land (Joshua 3 – 4:18).  Over 40,000 soldiers crossed the Jordan River that day, with a member from each of the 12 tribes of Israel carrying a large stone from the waterbed of the river.  We soon found out why Joshua had the soldiers do this (Joshua 4: 19-24):

19 On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.

As if this wasn’t enough to make the city of Gilgal memorable for the Israelites (and us!); there are a few more important events that occur there in Joshua 5: 1-12.  God commanded Joshua to have all the males be circumcised, which was to be a visible sign of God’s covenant with Israel (beginning with Abraham in Genesis 17).  This new generation had not had this important ritual done for them, and so God has them do it now… not a pleasant experience for all those guys, I’m sure!  God did this to re-affirm His holy purpose to this new generation:  to set Israel apart from the other nations of the Earth, so that eventually ALL the nations of the earth would be drawn back to God because of what He did for them and through them. 

Gilgal actually gets its name from Verse 9:

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal (which sounds like Hebrew for ‘roll’) to this day.”

So…Gilgal =  Rolling + 12 Stones….. Rolling Stones!  Get it?!? 🙂

After this event, the Israelites celebrated the Passover at Gilgal (another important link to the past miracles of God!).  After the Passover was completed, another huge event took place…God stopped providing daily manna for the Israelites to eat.  They were now to start enjoying the “milk and honey” of the Promised Land; living as free men and women!  In light of all of these important milestones events that happened at Gilgal, Joshua chose to make the area his “Base Camp” throughout the final phases of conquering the Promised Land.

A theme that we will encounter throughout our study of the Book of Judges is that when future generations forget the past faithfulness of God and fail to have current encounters with Him; that is a recipe for sinful disaster.  In these encounters, God provided these 2nd Generation Israelites with a link to the past mercies of God and invited them to step into a new future with Him.  May we cling to the miracles in The Bible as sources for encouragement; but also strive to have new and vibrant encounters with the Eternal God who loves us as much as He loved the Israelites!

The next devotional will fast-forward the story to the time of the Judges and the subtle (but important) role that Gilgal has to play in that time period.  Kind of a “cliff-hanger,” huh? 🙂

Blessings,

Pastor Josh Mackenstein

Published in: on June 12, 2012 at 9:56 PM  Leave a Comment  
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