“Right away, the day after the Passover, they started eating the produce of that country, un-raised bread and roasted grain. And then no more manna; the manna stopped. As soon as they started eating food grown in the land, there was no more manna for the People of Israel. That year they ate from the crops of Canaan.” –Joshua 5:11-12 (The Message)
I woke up this morning with a strong urge to look up Joshua 5. As I read it, these two verses stuck out to me. But I could not for the life of me figure out why. I prayed on it and meditated on it, but nothing came to mind.
I decided to leave it alone for a while, knowing the answer would come to me, somehow. And it did.The Passover represented the time in Egypt when the Lord passed over the land, taking the life of every firstborn. When the children of Israel placed the blood of the lamb across their doorposts, the Lord passed over that home, allowing the firstborns to live. Then the children of Israel were freed.
This is a clear symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus and how judgment passes over us when we choose to be covered by Jesus’ blood. We are freed from our former lives of captivity to the power of sin and death.
What I find interesting about these two verses in Joshua is that they had just crossed the Jordan, on their way to take possession of the Promised Land. God had been fortifying them with manna from heaven—a temporary provision until they had access to the land that had been promised to them.Even though they had not fought yet, the day after Passover, they began to eat of the land of promise.
To me this represents life after the sacrifice of Jesus. Before, God’s people were being sustained by a heavenly (but limited) source of life that was provided for each day (representing the law). After Jesus, however, a system was put in place for sustenance to come from within, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
This is what the Promised Land offers: the freedom to live in grace and favor with God and one another.
However, just as the children of Israel did with Canaan, it seems to me that we take possession of our Promised Land before we ever have to fight for it. By faith, we accept that Jesus’ sacrifice is enough. God's promise is enough…that we will be made alive and whole in freedom. And He has clearly provided completely and perfectly through His Son, Jesus, for that to be so.So why, then, must we do battle?
I believe this is the action that accompanies our faith. Our action says, “I believe what God has promised is true…to the point that I will walk in it and work for it, knowing that the victory was won for me before I ever see it. Trusting that if I go about fighting the way that God instructs me to (and not the way that I think makes sense), that I will be victorious in this life.
I’m sure that it didn’t make sense to the Israelites that they should march around Jericho for days and then shout the last time. But they obeyed without understanding, and they attained victory that day.
Through it all, God didn’t leave them hungry or thirsty like they were for the 40 years that they depended on manna for their food. He sustained them by the bounty and nourishment of the new land that had been promised, even while they were still taking possession. Just as we no longer depend on the unfulfilling law to sustain us, but are nourished and fulfilled in Christ by God’s favor and grace through the ministry of the Holy Spirit as we take possession of God’s promised kingdom on earth.