Tuesday, March 26 — God Rolls Away the Disgrace
In the brief Old Testament story that follows, after wandering for forty years in the wilderness the Hebrew people have finally crossed over the River Jordan and entered the Promised Land. Moses has died; Joshua is now their leader.
The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.
While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal* they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho.
On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.
The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.
*Gilgal means “roll.”
As the Hebrew people, finally begin their new lives, in the promised land, the LORD declares, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt” – the place where their ancestors were enslaved, oppressed — treated as less than human. God clears away all that pain and suffering and gives them freedom.
God continues the work of “rolling away” the wounds of our past – the experiences that left us feeling in some way dehumanized and disgraced. Are we willing to work with God in this? Can we embrace the new beginnings God offers us in life?
What wounds do you carry with you from your past that with God’s help the time may have come for you to put behind you?
The people at Gilgal shared a Passover meal, remembering the story of their deliverance through the Red Sea. The story of Joshua leading the people through the River Jordan reminds us of the story of how centuries later John the Baptist would baptize Jesus.
Martin Luther, in his times of despair would say to himself, “Martin, remember you were baptized!” We have a story of a savior who lived, died and rose from the death. In remembering our story, we remember that we belong to him, and as Jesus passed through death to new life, so are we called to follow him in the transitions of our lives that involve a kind of death.
With new freedom comes responsibility. The entrance of the Israelites into the “promised land’ involves an invitation to “grow up” and take more responsibility for their lives. In the wilderness, God had provided manna from heaven, day by day. Now in the land of Canaan they begin to plant crops and eat what the fertile land provides.
It’s a little like a child finally leaving home and taking responsibility for the things his or her parents routinely provided. A sense of empowerment is embraced and helplessness left behind.
How is God calling you to grow up?