The beginning of the journey: Gilgal
Some time ago, I visited my friend’s church and the sermon that afternoon was based on ‘journeys’ – spiritual journeying. It struck a chord that afternoon because, at the time, I felt like a ‘lost Christian.’ I’d been on my Christian walk for a long while but I felt like I was just drifting, floating, a ‘where-do-I-go-from-here?’ feeling.
This post has been influenced by that sermon I heard that afternoon but everything written is my own interpretation. Hopefully, you’ll have some kind of idea of ‘where you are’ on your walk with Christ.
Note: All scriptures are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) or The Message (MSG) bibles.
Set the scene
In the events in 2 Kings 2:1-14 Elijah and Elisha went on a journey from Gilgal to Bethel to Jericho and then to Jordan. Do these places hold any significance?
Let’s take a look in the bible.
8. After all the males had been circumcised, they rested in the camp until they were healed.
9. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this day.
In the book of Joshua, we read about the Israelites recently appointed leader, Joshua (no surprises), a man who was being led by God to lead the people to the next stage on their journey. Simply put, the big move – taking the Promised Land that had been assured to the Israelites since God told Abraham way back in the book of Genesis (check out Gen 17 about that). These Israelites, this whole nation, was prepared to enter into the Promise Land but there were a couple things they had to do firstly; one was to deal with obstacles, the other one was to remember their attitude.
Obstacles had already defeated the previous generation as all but two people from that generation survived; Joshua and Caleb. (Check out Numbers 14:26-30. For the whole story read from13:1-14:1-45). This new generation had obstacles, one being Jericho (we’ll take a look at that in the next post) but their dependence on God was more resilient than their predecessors. Maybe because they saw first-hand what happens if they disobeyed God? or maybe because they had seen who God is and wanted to be the generation that stood on His word… Whatever their reasoning’s this new generation had to have a different attitude –a willing one and they were prepared to take what God promised them. But, before they could ‘claim their land’ (or do the work) they had to be circumcised.
Now, circumcision was a sign of renewal – cutting off the old sinful life and starting a new life. The removal symbolised the previous life of sin, purifying or cleansing the heart (spiritually) and a sign of dedication. Once the Israelite males had been circumcised, they rested. During that time of resting, the Israelites renewed their commitment to God ‘until they were healed.’
How it relates
Gilgal was a ‘turning point.’
When we reflect over our own lives, there are times when we notice the need to turn from the thing that’s been familiar to us but at the same time restricting or destroying us. Firstly, we have to be aware of who God is, what Jesus did for us and how much we depend on Him in order to get the full experience of this ‘turning point.’
The Israelites stayed where they were until they were healed – they rested. Our lives are busy and so it’s a little difficult at times to stick with a daily routine – but isn’t that an excuse? I should find time to spend with Jesus. After all, watching an hour long T.V. show, studying for endless hours, playing games excessively but finding no time to read my bible shows where my priorities lay and how distracted I am.
These Israelites firstly had a change of attitude. How do we see Jesus? Do we place Him on our list of priorities? or the things-to-do-for-later list? Only when we’ve come to a stage where we’re going to take our walk seriously – making time to spend with Jesus, renewing our minds by reading the word for ourselves, spending time with our Christian friends (the list is as creative as you want it to be) – will our attitude begin to permanently change and the turning point will be focused on Christ.
Personally, I came to a crossroads during my Christian walk. The crossroads was more like a giant interchange. “Do I stay on the fence and be lukewarm? or do I jump off the fence and start walking with the Man whose been waiting for me?” I asked myself.
‘So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so he can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help’ Isaiah 30:18. This scripture was a nudge in the ‘walk with Christ pathway.’
With the idea of being spat out (Revelation 3:16) for my indecisiveness or acknowledging the continuous gentle tugging on my heart to fully recognise Christ, I reached my “Gilgal” and turned my attentions, effects, strengths – everything to Christ. But, my friends, that was just the beginning…
Stay tuned for the follow up post on Bethel. 🙂