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The Covenant People and the Covenant Sign

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
May 26, 2021 8:00 am

The Covenant People and the Covenant Sign

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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May 26, 2021 8:00 am

Joshua's army was poised for the immediate invasion of Jericho. Their enemies were filled with terror and dread. But at the last moment, the invaders pause, not for military strategy or a call to arms, but to be circumcised and observe the Passover. On The Bible Study Hour, Dr. James Boice explains the sacraments - both old and new.

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Joshua's army was poised for the immediate invasion of Jericho. Their enemies were filled with terror and dread, but at the last moment the invaders pause not for military strategy or a call to arms, but to be circumcised and observe the Passover coming up on the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce explains the sacraments, both old and new welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically.

As Americans we like to rush around and get things done. We move fast and achieve a lot. That's one reason why the sacraments are good for us may make us pause rest and consecrate ourselves to God. Dr. Boyce explains the sacraments from Joshua chapter 5 the last few weeks we have been studying this portion of the book of Joshua in which the people of Israel after many many years of waiting 38 years in the wilderness and in the proper perspective. More than 500 years. The initial promised Abraham but the people of been waiting across the Jordan River and enter into the promised land.

We saw that this segment of the book covers several chapters, chapters 3 through five and that in those chapters. There are a number of incidents connected with the crossing of the Jordan that properly belong together. So we've been trying to look at them that way. The first is the crossing of the river itself, as well as a crossing affected by the power of God who went before the people in the symbolism of the ark, the ark of the covenant that contained within it the laws of God, the 10 Commandments and which symbolize the presence of God. It was understood to dwell in a symbolic way between the wings of the cherubim over the top of the ark when the ark got to the river. The priests carrying at the water stopped and piled up upriver. The priest went into the middle of the river and stood there while the people several million strong Passover and then the priest came up out of the water in the Jordan resumed its course. The second part of this is the memorial of stones that was set up to mark the crossing and to be a reminder to the people of the power of God in the ages to come. 12 men selected one from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. They picked a stone out of the riverbank carried it up on the shore and set it up. Gil Goulart became a memorial was a memorial for that generation as they fought their battles they came back to go down again and again.

It was their base camp and they would be reminded there is they saw those stones that God had led them by means of a great miracle across the Jordan River and that this was the same God who had led them out of Egypt because the two miracles were parallel, so he was alike in his power and holiness and justice and mercy and all those things then it was to be a reminder to future generations because, as was the case of many of the events of of the Jewish tradition when the children when I asked one of the stones doing here.

The parents were to say well the stones are a memorial to that day when our God let us cross the Jordan River and Carlos the waters to pile up until we all got across then as I pointed out last week.

The stones were also a memorial to the people of the land because they were testimony to the fact that there is a God and that this God has certain characteristics and that the God of the Old Testament, the God of the Jews, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was also the God of our Lord Jesus Christ is the true God. So stones like things in our lives where God demonstrates his power or testimony of the people around about how tonight we come to the third of the incidents that are connected with his crossing. This concerns the consecration of the people once they had passed over into the land and it set up their memorial story is told in the first 12 verses of chapter 5 and it concerns to acts of consecration what you would call them sacraments.

First is the sacrament of circumcision with a mark of the covenant upon all the Jewish people.

All the male children and the second was the observance of the Passover. These had been in abeyance.

Apparently, during the years of the wandering in the wilderness and now as the land was about to be possessed is this great promise that it been given to Abraham so many hundreds of years before was about to be fulfilled. These important sacraments of consecration were reenacted because it was important for people as they began their conquests to begin. It in a right relationship to God. From a human point of view, of course, this matter of circumcising the Army was a very strange thing restrained. First of all because it meant delay and from any human perspective, the obvious thing to do on an occasion like this was to attack it wants.

This is what is conveyed to us. I'm sure in the opening verse tells us how all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the seacoast heard how the Lord dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, and their hearts sank and they no longer had courage to face the Israelites at was a situation in which the part of wisdom human wisdom at least caused for an immediate advance in the land. Yet God had the people tarry here Gill gal for three days of the circumcision took place in the Passover was observed.

I suppose we ought to spend just a little bit of time thinking how terrifying his crossing of the Jordan must've been the Amorite and Canaanite kings. They had been afraid before hand. Of course, because there was this vast host out there across the Jordan in the desert, which when they let their campfires that Mike could no doubt be seeing their vast extremity from walls of Jericho and passed from there onto the other walled fortresses throughout the land, but that was at least somewhat removed were on the other side of the Jordan. The Jordan was at flood stage.

No doubt they intended to invade and outwardly later on when waters receded, they would cross. But there was time time for preparation and yet suddenly for this great miracle passport of people across the Jordan right there in the planes below walled city of Jericho. That was a horror story.

Indeed, I was with my my daughters that lunch today and I was talking to Jennifer who who had seen at a friends house on video. Her first horror film was telling me how scary it was and the that the point of the that the terror we were discussing how horror films operate point of the terror is that you knew what was going to happen and then suddenly it happened in this particular order story. The girl was having nightmares and what made the nightmares so terrifying is that the things she dreamed about happens, she dreamed and one of her dreams that there was a man there and she should grab that M and she knocked his hat off his head and that was all right, that was just a dream.

But in the morning when she woke up. The hat was in the bed at an end and then and then she dreamed that that something happened and there was there was a scary person on the other side of the bed and in the morning when she woke up and began to make her way over to that side of the bed.

Everybody who was watching the film knew that thing she had dreamed about during the night was that Aaron suddenly sprang up all the more terrifying for the expectation I talked to her little bit about the most frightening horror film I've ever seen Alfred Hitchcock's psycho which are those of you who are elderly may re-member that is to say if you survived the shock of seeing the film early in the film there is a murderer and that is terrifying enough, the way it was filmed as a masterpiece of horror, but what was really terrifying is that the end of the film.

The climax was a reenactment of the first scene girl had been murdered in the shower and I hear the end of the film. Her sister who looks surprisingly like her was in the same shower and you knew what was going to happen. I was in the theater. On that occasion and I remember that as this climax got close people in the audience literally screamed in terror.

They were so afraid and then even happened yet say it was the expectation and then the suddenness of the realization that made it so terrifying.

This is what happened here with these poor Amorite and Canaanite kings. It was bad enough to know that these thousands of Jewish invaders were there in the desert on the far side of the Jordan. But then, suddenly, in a moment today waters were stopped masses Passover and they knew it would only be in a short time that the city of Jericho and all the other cities of the land would be attacked and yet in a situation like that when as I say, worldly wisdom would call for an immediate attack upon Jericho people were instructed by God to pause to review their relationship to him to get their sacramental life as it were, in order to be circumcised and to observe the Passover. The other strange thing about this circumcision is that it weakened the Army we know how that operates because back in the 34th chapter of Genesis was a parallel story when nine other daughter of Jacob was violated by the son of the king of Shechem and the brothers who were irate that this treatment of their sister Bob who feigns cooperation with the people said that they would allow her to marry this son of the king and they would marry and enter marry among the people of the land of only the Jacobites would submit to circumcision because they said it's part of our religion. It's not permissible for us to marry among uncircumcised people and so the man agreed to the right and then were told that while they were in pain from the operation. Three days later Simon and Levi, particularly with their swords and hands fell upon the men of the city and slaughtered them all.

They were weak and unable to fight back properly. Now, here is Joshua Motz. We notice the on the river and the safety if you will of the desert but in the planes in front of Jericho circumcising his army incapacitating them for a period of days you would say would you thought that if it was ever something that was utterly foolish from a human point of view, it was certainly that why if soldiers and Jericho and only known what was happening they would've left the city and would've fallen upon the Jewish troops and would've annihilated them as had been the reverse of many years before, and yet Joshua did it because this is what God had told him to do and he was determined not to the park from the law of the Lord, either to the right hand or the left were thinking about these two sacraments.

The first circumcision. This was the sacrament that had been given to Abraham so many years before it was the mark of being a member of the covenant people was accompanied by the promises of God, which is what this matter of the covenant means it's why it's a sign of the covenant. In this particular covenant was a case of God establishing the terms by which he would be the God of the Jews and the Jews would be his people later on their work covenants that in technical language are called bilateral.

That's to say there are agreements on both sides of you do this I will do this by doing this you are supposed to do that. That's a bilateral covenant.

This covenant was not bilateral it was unilateral, which meant that God establishing labor have been nothing to do with the gods and I'm going to be your God and I'm in the be the God of your descendents after you. And because I'm your God and the God of your descendents, you're going to do certain things and Abraham said yes sir, because that's the only thing you can do when God establishes a covenant like that. And God said is a sign of the covenant you're going to circumcise all of the males in your family, your son, Ishmael yourself service and this is going to be a mark upon you and your descendents forever. When Abraham obeyed that he indicated the proper response to God he he obeyed. That was one thing he showed faith that was another thing because faith is receiving the promises of God and acting upon it. That's what Abraham did. You may recall that this particular case also involved the change in Abraham's name.

He had been called Abram before this equipment father of many had no children.

It must've been a great source of embarrassment to him to have to explain again and again with people asked how many children do you have that he actually didn't have any all it's true he had had Ishmael by Hagar sometime before by this point of the story had one child, and he could've said perhaps well I have one is only one left by his great, strong following he's going to have many many children. I suppose he could've done that but it was still in embarrassment. And God said in the context of the establishing of the covenant and the covenant sign you are to change your name from Abram to Abraham which is a form of intensifying edits. It's like saying and instead of your name being father of many people it's going to be father of a vast vast multitude.

And Abraham did, it doesn't tell us they are, how we did it, but we suppose be same today. Probably more so in that time that it was a matter of some formality. Abraham would've gotten his great group of people together there the oasis in Hebron would've announced the change of his name, and I suppose some of the servants when I heard he was in a do that will laughed about it when I first heard it, they said no wonder they might father many had all that ridicule all those years.

Wonder what is going to change it to maybe going to change it to the father of one but instead of that Abraham changed it to the father of a vast, vast multitude, and it indicated his faith in God's faith in God to keep his promises, his faith in God is the God of the covenant say when we come to God in faith, initially as we do, that's what we're believing.

We're believing that the God who has revealed himself in history. In our case, primarily in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a covenant keeping God just as Abraham changed his name in his response to that covenant, indicating his obedience to what God said to do and and indicating his faith in what God was going to do so in a sense that we change our names as we take the name of God upon us, we become Christians know our initial sacrament is not to circumcision.

The letter sometimes generally practice today, especially in the West, but not with religious overtones are sacrament of baptism and in baptism, you know, especially in the baptism of children. We have a remnant of what that means because in some forms of the back to small ceremony the child is actually given what we called his Christian name and that's for the carryover of the idea of the child is named as a Christian that is belonging within the covenant people of God. Whether that happens when we are infants.

As this practice in the majority of the denominations of Christendom, or whether it happens. As an adult. Perhaps when would not have to Christian upbringing and we become a Christian later in life that are baptized. What really happens.

There is a change of name. The name Christian is. Added us before you were Johnson or Mary Senter apart from God, and now your John Christian or Mary Christian whatever it may be indicate you see your belief, your faith in God. This is what was happening there guild out on Western bank of the Jordan, the people were saying again by obedience to God and in faith in God and his promises that they were his people and they were trusting him now to do what he promised to do the way back to Genesis 17.

God not only said I will be your God and you will be my people. But God said because I'm your God, and because you are going to be my people.

I'm going to lead you, and I'm going to bring you into a new land. Land of your own.

And here they were, for the first time now since years in Egypt actually in that land. God was beginning to give it to them and they said we are God's people and we take that sign of the covenant upon ourselves and others a second sacrament is matter of the Passover.

The Passover is observed here in the fifth chapter of Joshua only for the third time in history the first time is set the occasion of the Exodus.

That's what gave the Passover, its meaning a year later at Sinai.

The people observed in the data commemoration of that event, but it had not been observed in the 38 years since and now the third time in history the Passover is observed Passover on this observance was a memorial that was looking back it was a remembering what got it done.

You see the difference circumcision is identifying with God in the covenant and receiving by faith. The promises of what God will do the Passover is looking back and a remembering what God has done what got it done in the case of the Passover course was to deliver the people out of Egypt.

Then a series of 10 great plagues upon the Egyptians through the hand of Moses, in which the hand of God bore down in a stronger and stronger measures upon the recalcitrant rebellious nature of the Pharaoh. The Egyptian king and still again and again and again he refused to let the people go. He would not acknowledge the authority and sovereign will of God and then finally there was the last great judgment angel of the Lord passed over the land of Egypt and is the angel of the Lord, which in this case was the angel of death passed over the firstborn throughout all the land were killed from the highest ranks of the Egyptian government, the son of the Pharaoh himself who was the next payroll which in the religion of Egypt meant the next God madman who died all the way down to the firstborn of the most humble peasant in the land that even the firstborn of the cattle were slain but marked in Goshen, not in the land where the Israelites were dwelling because what the Jews were instructed to do was to take a lamb and keep it in their house and observe it for three days to make sure it was perfect without spot without blemish.

Those of the words were used and then on the third day, the time of the Passover, they were to kill that land.

They would roasted and needed together in a communal meal that night, but the blood of the lamb was to be spread upon the lintel of the door posts of the house is a sign that the Lamb had been killed for those who were within that dwelling that night is the angel of death passed through the land.

Whatever he saw blood upon the lintel and the doorpost of the house he Passover those within did not die. That's what they were remembering.

It was a remembrance of God's great deliverance. Yet at the same time.

I'm sure we understand that it may be that some of them understood time we don't know but in addition to be a remembrance of what got it done at the Exodus 40 years before.

It was also in anticipation of what God was going to do when he sent his son to die on Calvary's cross. The angel of death white Passover us because you see Jesus as the Lamb. That's what Scripture says, the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world is the Lamb who poured out his blood for the sins of the whole world.

All should believe on him and it's because of back death, our death we deserve it, but because of that death is death for us that the angel judgment passes us by. So we look at these two sacrament circumcision on the one hand, we find a parallel in the matter of our baptism when we look at this matter. The Passover on the other, we find that a parallel therein are communion service which looks back to the death of Christ and has the elements of the broken bread in the wind would signify Christ broken body and poured out blind and we see that we do the same thing because the God who operated with his people and that way is operating with us today, and he sustained on the same gospel of the circumstances in history are different and we need exactly the kind of consecration, but these people had on this occasion, you know, I suppose the easiest parallel to make here, one that I have been assuming all along is that parallel the sacraments parallel between circumcision and baptism in the Passover and communion. I just suppose that's obvious. I want to say that there is this other parallel and that is the fact that Ed Gill go where these things were done.

The people were to pause rest.

Take time sure they really were the Lord's, and they really were determined to serve him and were consecrated to him before they began wars would lead to victory. One of the problems in our lives, especially in America where were Saul activist Dick is a we want to rush on the course we want to fight the battles we want to achieve the victory, but we do it without first of all yielding up ourselves. God all. I guess in worldly terms, sometimes we achieve things that way possible to build a great religious empire in the energy of the flesh, but it's not of God's not the kind of thing that endures. It doesn't really produce spiritual vitality and change what God wants before he wants our warfare is our hearts wants to have us. I'm sure their battles for us to fight. We live in a world every bit as secular as this world of Canaan. There are cities figuratively for us to attack and the walls every bit as high and impregnable walls of Jericho's battles are out there either battles you to fight this week before you fight battles. Make sure God has yourself that you're his because it's only when he has you that he works through you and it's only when he's working through you that anything of any real value spiritually is achieved) father so many things for us to learn from the stories about their symbolism, but just in the reality of what these people lived through and terms of their relationship to yourself which was all-important grant that we might be in the same situation find ourselves with the same measure of understanding obedience and faith and for those who have battles about nature this week and grant that we all may have battles to fight your service grants that we might first of all be found. Have you been resting you understand that we really are your people. Members of the covenant feeding upon your drawing upon you for our strength, remembering what you have done it in faith. Looking forward to what you will yet accomplish, then father we pray people like that grant that we may be among people like that. We ask you when race victories in our day. For the sake of our Lord and Cmdr. the Lord Jesus Christ, amen. You are listening to Bible study hours with a Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview.

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