Friday 20 March 2015

Bible Book:

“The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land.” (v. 12)

Joshua 5:10-12 Friday 20 March 2015

Psalm: Psalm 126


Today's passage from Joshua marks an end and a beginning. Fortyyears or so before these events the Israelites had celebrated theirfirst Passover (Exodus 12-13): a special family meal involvingspecific food and rituals. It marked the moment when the ruler ofEgypt finally gave in and released the Israelites who had beenslaves in his land. They then began a 40-year journey travellingslowly through the wilderness to the land that God had promisedtheir forefather Abraham so long ago (Genesis 17:1-8). This was the land of Canaan(roughly modern-day Israel), which is also known as 'the PromisedLand' or "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Joshua5:6) because it was so fertile and rich. Now, after 40 long andhard years in the desert, the Israelites have finally reached thatland and are camped at Gilgal (near Jericho) waiting to enter it.Before they do so, though, they pause and celebrate the Passover,remembering how God has travelled with them throughout theirjourney. The passage marks the end of their wilderness wanderingsand so they no longer need manna, the special food that Godmiraculously provided for them each day (Exodus16), and can eat the produce of the land. In this case, theyeat "parched grain" (v. 11) - grain that has simply been roastedover a fire (Ruth 2:14) - and "unleavened cakes" (v. 11) -bread that has no yeast or rising agent in it (Exodus13:3-10). They have ceased to be a wandering nation without aland and will soon become a settled people with homes of theirown.

An important point to note, though, isthat they are a changed people. The book of Joshua carefullyrecords that none of the Israelites who entered the wilderness 40years previously had survived the journey (Joshua5:4-6). Instead, it was their children and grandchildren whoinherited the promises made so long ago and entered the PromisedLand. The Exodus experience had changed the people of God forever:they had learned important lessons about God and themselves. Thiswas their chance to make a fresh start.

To Ponder

  • What hard experiences in your life have taught you the mostvaluable lessons? Have they brought you closer to God, or furtheraway?
  • Is it sometimes useful, and even necessary, for us to mark theend and beginnings of chapters in our lives? What happens if wesimply seek to 'carry on'?
  • The 40 years in the wilderness changed the people of Israel.Many people are currently marking the 40 days of Lent in differentways. If you are one of them, how has your Lenten experiencechanged you so far?
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