Summary of sermon by Alpheus Mdlalose, 25 May 2014
(There was a funeral in Rorkesdrift and last Saturday there was a funeral at Mhlaba. It shook my heart. A certain girl came to the Lord for two and a half months. Before that she was a wild girl but then she met the gospel. She did her own thing and worshipped the ancestral spirits. When she met the Lord she went up and down being reconciled to people. She gathered her family and told them she had given her life to the Lord Jesus. Suddenly the Lord took her and they asked Kwasizabantu to take her funeral. I told the brethren that if a person who has only been converted for two and a half months could be so on fire for the Lord, what should it be like for us who have been converted for years but have grown cold. If on your Christian journey you have grown cold, this girl far out shines you.)
‘Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.’
Some translations say I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you. For so many years the children of Israel travelled in the desert and finally they were at the Jordan River and all they now needed to do was to cross into the promised land. The bible says it was the season for rain and the river was very full. God spoke through Joshua. Joshua said, “Tomorrow we cross the river.” He said to all the people of Israel, “When the priests take the ark, you must follow them. You must follow them because you have never travelled this way.” He spoke to the priests, “You priests, when you take the ark, hold it high so that it is visible for all the people to follow.” None of you here today know the way. You have never walked it before. If you follow the commands of the Lord, you will be on track. You must follow. If you do, you will know the way.
None of us really know the way to heaven. How can we know the way? If we follow the word and the Lord Jesus, He who is the way, truth and the life, then we can find the way because He is the way. But if as a congregation we lose sight of His commands, we will lose the way. It is only if we follow Him who is the way. Hold the ark high so that all the people can see it. The preachers hold the word high so that all the people can see it. You who are converted, hold the Lord Jesus high. Jesus spoke to his disciples and said they are the light of the world. You put a light on a hill top so that all the people can see it. Hold your light high so that everyone can see it. The priests held the ark high and went to the flooded river. When their feet touched the water, the water parted and they could go through. God spoke again and said, “Take twelve stones from the Jordan and put them on the other side so that they would be a reminder to you and so that your children and children’s children will know what God did for you.” Then God told Joshua to take all the men and circumcise them. Why? They were born in the desert and hadn’t been circumcised except for two of them. There were thousands of men who were then circumcised and then God said, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt.” There was a risk to circumcise the men. Jericho was close and they had to attack Jericho. Despite this Joshua didn’t rely on his logic, he just did what God had said. The problem with Christians is we bring in our own logic. Maybe the Lord is prompting you to make an apology to someone and you say you can’t do it because you will lose face. But this man was in charge of the Lord’s army. The Lord said that the men first had to be circumcised. Then God said, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.”
Let’s look at what they were doing in Egypt. When Moses was on the mountain, God gave him the commandments. When Moses came down the mountain, he heard a noise in the tents. He said, “What is this noise?” All the children of Israel were worshipping the golden calf saying that it was the calf that brought them out of Egypt. They were noisily busy with worship. They were worshipping the things of Egypt and said, “Why did you take us out of Egypt? It was better in Egypt where we had our fill of food.” They rose up in rebellion against Moses and there were discussions as to which leader would take them back to Egypt. They are in a congregation but their hearts are far away from God and their hearts are in the world.
They noticed the Moabites went up a hill to worship Baal-Peron, so called because they went up the mountain. After some time the children of Israel joined them to go up the hill to worship a foreign god. While the Moabites were worshipping their god they saw the children of God were worshipping with them. In psalms 105 and 106 when the children of God did this an epidemic broke out among them. The children of God do their best to copy the people of the world. Girls in Christian congregations copy the girls of the world. You’ll find that Christians copy the world but only a holy life will help. There is something that must be removed. The Bible says, “Today, not on the other side of the Jordan.” Their burden was taken away and so it was called Gilgal.
In 2 Corinthians 4 it says therefore we have this worship and service because we have cast off disgraceful things and we have true worship. We throw away these things of shame for we have received mercy. Some won’t part with their cell phones where they are looking at disgraceful things or they read books and magazines in the corner. Some practice the occult in the night. A certain Christian said they only have to pay R2 and get holy water and all the problems will disappear but true children of God have cast off everything that is shameful because of the ministry they have received from the Lord. Have you brought the disgraceful things to light? Since we have obtained a ministry, we have cast off things of shame. So the children of Israel found themselves at Gilgal, where their reproach was cast off and they got a work to do.
At Gilgal the manna came to an end. They were close to the city Jericho. They were now faced with the giant wall of Jericho. They could never conquer Jericho by themselves. Now they were ready to conquer Jericho with God for they had cast the things of shame off. Joshua walked out of the camp and when he lifted up his eyes, he saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword. Joshua full of the spirit of God went to the man and asked, “Are you on our side or on the side of our adversaries?” The man said he was the Lord. He told Joshua to take off his sandals which he did. God gave his plans as how to conquer Jericho. God told them to march around the walls. They didn’t say, “We want to climb into Jericho immediately.” Then God told them to blow the trumpets and shout and then the walls of Jericho collapsed. This happened because they walked with the Lord.
You have your own Jericho. It may be a family problem or some sin. It’s your own Jericho. It’s true you must conquer your own Jericho. Some look lustfully at women or they are stubborn. You are at home with worldlings rather than with real Christians. The walls of Jericho came down and the children of Israel conquered. Great was their rejoicing. Then they returned to Gilgal.
On the way there was a small village called Ai and they recommended that only a few soldiers be sent. They went full of confidence thinking that Ai was nothing. But the men of Ai attacked the Israelites and they fled. Joshua fell on his face and God said, “Get off your face and sanctify yourself and the camp.” When the man Achan came, they found that he had cursed things in his camp. He hid it away so that other children of God would not see it. They conquered Jericho because all the things of shame had been rolled away but now they had things of shame with them and had hidden it. Maybe you are bewildered and Satan attacks you. The big things you have overcome but small things defeat you. The men of Ai didn’t say, “We have heard of your reputation so we will not attack you.” When Achan and his whole family was destroyed, God was with them again. We are at war until our soul departs. The enemy of our soul wars until the end. We must start at Gilgal. When God says, “Today I remove your disgrace”, then we are in the victory mode.
One day they were worshipping God. People came dressed in rags and they had old, stale food. They said, “We come from a distant land and that is why our sandals are old. We have come from so far to make a peace treaty with you.” The people of Israel made a decision by looking at the evidence instead of looking to God. Here were people who wanted to make an alliance and the leaders of Israel didn’t look to God and accepted the alliance. They made an oath and contract with them. But the men were from close by, even from their enemies. The leaders of Israel were in a mess and in an irreversible contract.
We are vulnerable to deception. It’s like when a girl forsakes the gospel for a man whom she falls in love with and marries him, and then when she is abused she finds herself in an irreversible contract. The man then mocks her and says, “You have forsaken the gospel to come here”.
The children of God can fall into that deception if we are not before the Lord. It is good if we hear the words, “I have rolled away your reproach.” That girl who had repented could walk in great joy. She had cast off her disgrace. We will face the enemy. It would be good if our reproach is rolled away. May God be merciful to us.