Josh 5:2 – At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.
Ever since the patriarch Abraham, the Jews were required to circumcised all male children. But since leaving Egypt they had failed to perform this sacred token, and the Lord wasn’t going to let them go any further until they stopped at Gilgal for surgery!
The purpose of Gilgal is clear. There is a removing. They were out of Egypt, but now it was time to get Egypt out of them. The foreskin of the heart as well as the flesh had to be removed if they were going to move beyond the wilderness stage to war stage of the journey. There was also a reviving that would take place after they healed that would enable them to go into battle.
There is a price at Gilgal however. The pain and the penitence go together. The pain is a reminder how bad sin is. But it is also a pruning process. Jesus taught that the Father would prune the vine “that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2). A.W. Tozer once said, “Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience. The cross must kill our ‘self’ to set us free.”
Finally there is profit at Gilgal. They had to have faith (vs. 8) that God was going to protect them until they were healed. They could now have fellowship (vs. 10) around Passover lamb and really appreciate their salvation. Their food (vss. 11-12) also changed. You can’t live off of John 3:16 for ever! The manna is a type of Christ dying, the “old corn” (vs. 11) the risen Christ.
Will you stop at Gilgal? Joshua did, and he met the “captain of the host” (vs. 14): the real captain of the army. Are you willing to let Him operate on you, to get you ready to go into the land of Promise and victory? You will never make it to Jericho until you go through Gilgal. Stop at Gilgal; you must!