Having thought about the moment when God rolls away the reproach of Egypt, enabling the people of God to live in the promised land, the reality of their freedom is illustrated in the very next section of the book of Joshua.
“On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, he Israelites celebrated the Passover. The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan” (Josh. 5:10-12)
For 40 years, God had literally fed the entire nation through the provision of manna. They would collect their daily quota on every morning (any extra would rot in the night) and eat what they needed. God was their literal provider and they would not have survived the first 6 months, let alone the 40 years, had He not been so. The people of God would have been either dead or scattered all over the region had God not fed them and kept them together as a nation.
After they crossed the Jordon, into the promised land, they committed themselves to the plan and rule of God as their King through the rite of circumcision. Then they ate the Passover.
The Passover feast is the feast that remembers the captivity and release from slavery of God’s people in Egypt. Every part of the commemoration contains symbolism that tells the story of their escape and salvation. The Lord “rolled away the reproach of Egypt” (Josh. 5:9), but not the memory and lesson of Egypt.
Don’t forget… God, our Father, saves. He releases the captive and restores them. He promises good things for His people and fulfills the promises.
The Passover feast celebrates the salvation of God for His people and here they celebrated, for the first time, in the land that he had promised them. This is an awesome moment, really fulfilling the incredible, wonderful promise of God.
As if that is not amazing enough, the passage goes on to tell us that the day after the Passover meal, they eat food that has come from the land that God promised them for the first time. Their freedom is not simply a virtual reality, but an actual reality. They are free, in the land that God has given them and eating the produce of the land.
“The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan” (Josh. 5:12).
It is easy to overlook the significance of the end of the provision of manna. It is the proof that God has been faithful and that the faith of the people of God, especially Joshua and Caleb, has been realised. The place where the Israelites are standing is no longer the ‘Promised Land’, it is their land. There is still a great deal of work to do, but Canaan is now, in faith, Israel.
For me, there are many promises that God has made to me. I love the promises and I love the fact that God is, day to day, providing for me and my family as we walk through the wilderness. When I come to the crossing, however, will I be ready to walk through the waters in faith and live and eat in a new land?
The people of Israel had paid for their lack of faith, walking the wilderness for 40 years, but their crossing over this time is no guarantee either. Yet, they have the faith to believe and trust in God, cross over and LIVE in a strange land. The preparation to cross over is not made standing on the banks of the Jordon River, so much as it is made in the 40 years between promise and reality.
Lord, let me have faith in your promise and have the courage to step into the reality.