With their adrenalin still running high right after miraculously crossing the Jordan River, Joshua, Caleb and a new generation of Israelites had to make a “pit stop” for three things to take place before moving forward into Canaan.
It happened like this in a little town called Gilgal:
1. Don’t Move Forward Before Building Memorial Stones
God instructed Joshua to choose twelve men, one from each tribe to take a stone and carry it back out into the place where the priests were still standing in the middle of the Jordan River. Pile the stones up as a monument. “In the future, when your children ask you, 'What is this monument for', you can tell them it is to remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the ark of the covenant went across. The monument will be a permanent reminder to the people of Israel of this amazing miracle." (Joshua 4:1-7)
2. Don’t Move Forward in Disobedience
The new generation that had come out of Egypt had stopped practicing the sign of the covenant that God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To be a Hebrew male, that meant circumcision. God is now saying in essence, “don’t move forward in disobedience; get the sin out of your life; get this thing straight before you take another step!” (Joshua 5: 4-8)
3. Don’t Move Forward Until You Remember the Blood Sacrifice
The Hebrew people smeared lamb’s blood on their doorposts to recall the final plaque back in Egypt, when the firstborn of their oppressors died while their own children lived. God had declared, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plaque will touch you when I strike Egypt”. (Exodus 12:13) So, before moving forward into Canaan, God instructed the Israelites to celebrate the Passover. (Joshua 5:10-11)
You might say that what happened in the little town called Gilgal was where God taught the Israelites three lessons that made future victories possible.
Jim Cymbalta, author of You Were Meant for More, suggests that these three lessons are still significant to us today.
When I read Jim’s book several years ago, it occurred to me that it would be interesting for my Sumite Group in Orange, Texas to have what we now refer to as our annual Gilgal Ceremony, the first Sunday in January each year.
Please allow me to share with you our pit stop at Gilgal for 2019.
1. Memorial Stones
Each of the ladies brings in objects as a symbolism of God’s faithfulness to them the past year or in years past. I recall one year a lady brought in a frying pan that still bore the signs of God’s faithfulness during a house fire.
My memorial objects this year were place settings on my dining table. (See image)
- Grandma’s tea picture
- my mother’s first plate when she got married, as well as mine and my two married daughters.
- Also on the table is a devotional book that my granddaughter, Hannah, asked to buy for me when she was three-years-old.
Five generations in my family who have served the Lord. Their Bibles and journals, that have been handed down to me, tell stories of God’s faithfulness to them over the years. What a joy it was for me to serve my SUM group a meal on these place settings from these women of faith.
Our circumcision today is, of course, getting our hearts aligned with God’s word and His will. There is nothing like a small group in which to feel safe to confess our most secret sins. Because of our confessions, we have been able to walk one another through healing and deliverance ranging from bitterness to addictions.
3. Blood Sacrifice
In the center of my table is the platter that held the communion cups and bread that we partake of every month. The platter belonged to my very first Sunday School teacher, who later became my Mother-in-law. Say what? Why, my pre-believer probably ate on that little platter at his mom’s table when he was growing up, and now, I am serving communion from it in our home. Thank God for a praying mom who believed in God’s faithfulness for the salvation of all her children.
As time went on, Gilgal became a base camp in which the Israelites sought the Lord on how to fight their battles in Canaan.
I’d like to think that our annual SUMITE Fast is symbolic of Gilgal’s base camp. It is here that our leader, Lynn Donovan, brings us to the place of seeking the Lord as she did this year with such questions as:
- Jesus, what fruit of the spirit do you want to develop in my life this year?
- Jesus, what are you teaching me in this season?
- Jesus, what are you using in my marriage to increase my understanding and knowledge of the Father?
- Jesus, what area in my life are you making straight?
- Jesus, can I trust you to show me where to walk?
And so, my dear Sumite friends, as we move forward into 2019, let’s heed the words of our fierce leader, Lynn:
“March on Warriors!”