(Background Reading: Numbers 27:15-23; Deuteronomy 30-31; Joshua 1-5)

Joshua 1:1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,

2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.

4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.

5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

Joshua 3:7 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.

8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.

11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.

12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.

13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;

15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)

16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

Joshua 5:1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

2 At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.

4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.

5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.

6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

7 And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.

9 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.

11 And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.

12 And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

MEMORY VERSE: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. — Romans 12:1-2

CENTRAL THOUGHT: When the wilderness journey had ended, God miraculously parted the swollen Jordan River for the new leader, Joshua, and the new generation of Israelites, and brought them safely and triumphantly into Canaan where, on their first stop, God gave them the covenant of circumcision as a spiritual foreshadowing of how He purifies the consecrated soul and takes away the reproach of “Egypt.”


Joshua 1:1 “Moses the servant of the Lord”: originally, a slave; “a closer and more familiar relation than the word minister, below. It suits well with the special and peculiar mission which Moses had above the rest of mankind. He was, as it were, the household servant of the Most High, His steward and representative, ruling over the family of God in His name, and giving to them the directions of which they stood in need” (Pulpit Commentary). “Joshua”: originally, “Hoshea,” which meant salvation. But it was changed—either when he entered Moses’ service or when he went to fight the Amalekites—to “Jehoshua,” which meant GOD is my salvation. “Moses’ minister”: assistant; personal attendant; minister of state; minister of religion; servant.

Joshua 5:9 “Gilgal”: a circle. “In Hebrew, gal signifies to roll; and the doubling of the root, galgal or gilgal, signifies rolling round and round, or rolling off or away, because, in circumcising the children that had been born in the wilderness, Joshua rolled away, rolled off completely, the reproach of the people” (Clarke’s Commentary).


Today we will visit the Israelites as they make the transition from the wilderness to Canaan, from Moses to Joshua, from manna to the grain of the land. Much has transpired between where they were in our last lesson and now. Aaron has died, 123 years old, in Mount Hor. Moses now readies the people for their entrance into the promised land. The book of Deuteronomy records his analysis of their wanderings, failings and victories; a review of important commandments and ordinances; his final instructions, blessings, curses, and warnings; and a farewell song full of reminiscing, prophesy and judgment. The last chapter tells of his death at age 120, his secret burial by God, Israel’s thirty days’ mourning, and the introduction of Joshua as the new leader.

An entire book of lessons could be written about Moses and the unique place he filled in history. Let us never forget his passion, his intimate communion with God, his humility and the example he gave us of always falling on his face before God in times of trouble.

Next, we will look briefly at Joshua. In today’s lesson, God visits Joshua and reassures him of His Presence. He gave him commandments concerning the passage over the Jordan River. Joshua sent two spies into Jericho, their first and very formidable city to conquer. A woman who harbored the spies extracted a solemn promise from them that she and her household would be saved when their city was destroyed. The third and fourth chapters of Joshua give the account of the crossing of Jordan. Chapter five tells of the rite of circumcision God instituted for the Israelites and the heavenly visitor Joshua had prior to the battle of Jericho.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. What was the encouraging promise given to Joshua in Joshua 1:5?
  2. Who were the first to enter the water of the Jordan, and what were they carrying?
  3. What was the condition of the Jordan River at this time?
  4. What was the reaction of the Canaanite kings to the miracle God did at Jordan?
  5. What is the significance of Gilgal?
  6. What change in diet occurred at this time?


I hardly know how to express the magnitude of Divine truth that has come from a closer study of this journey, its people, and its significance to all the world and all time. Both Moses and Joshua point us to Jesus Christ. That I had known, but to see the comparisons in a new light has been personally impacting. Moses, as deliverer from Egypt, points to Christ as the deliverer from sin. In Hebrews 3 the two are put together in contrast, with Moses being a “servant” who was faithful in all his house, and Jesus being the One who built the house, and is a Son over his own house. Both were considered “faithful,” oh, praise God!

In the form “Jeshua—Jehovah saves,” Joshua’s name was the same as our Lord’s, by which he is actually called two times in the New Testament (Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8); and in the sense of what he did, bringing the children of Israel into the promised land, so also has Christ, who only is our rest-giver. Also, consider how that his leadership began at Jordan, as did our Lord’s, when He was baptized. As Joshua chose twelve stones out of the Jordan for a memorial, so Jesus chose twelve disciples, foundation “stones” for the New Testament church (Ephesians 2:20; Revelation 21:14). Joshua was the triumphant leader of the Israelite army; so is Christ (Revelation 17:14; 19:11-16).

Very inspiring is the comparison of the literal circumcision at Gilgal to the spiritual circumcision given by Christ. Several New Testament passages explain this: Romans 2:29 and Colossians 2:11-17. Even the Old Testament shows God’s true meaning of the rite: Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6 and Jeremiah 4:4. Our memory verse is key to how God does this for the believer.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


In the passage of scripture referenced in Colossians 2:11-17 we read, “… ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism ….”

For many years I read this scripture, but its depths eluded me. I thought “baptism” here was referring to water baptism. But I couldn’t quite see how water baptism connected with spiritual circumcision. It wasn’t until recent years that the Holy Spirit illuminated my mind regarding this. It is Holy Spirit baptism that buries us with Christ and thus circumcises our hearts by putting off the body, or substance, of the sins of the flesh. That substance is our self -oriented, carnal nature with which we were born. Just as all men are born uncircumcised in the flesh by nature, so all are born uncircumcised in heart by nature. Only the Holy Spirit can remove that self-oriented nature with which we were born and replace it with supreme love for God, as Deuteronomy 30:6 so beautifully says. Love, as also described in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, is the opposite of selfishness.

“Entire sanctification,” or “perfect love,” as it has also been called, is the deeper aspect of Christianity. It is only attainable by grace, through faith, as is justification, or pardon from committed sins. It is a deeper work of the Holy Spirit relative to believers. Defined in a nut-shell, it simply means committing yourself and all that pertains to your life in complete consecration to God and letting God fulfill all His purpose and desire concerning you. When we so dedicate ourselves to God, putting our faith completely in God’s operation, the Holy Spirit takes it from there. And there is a spiritual baptism that accompanies this grace which completes our burial with Christ. “In regeneration the Holy Spirit baptizes the believer into Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13]; in sanctification Christ baptizes the believer with the Holy Spirit [Matthew 3:11-12; Acts 1:5; 2:1-4, 16-18, etc.]” (J. W. Byers, The Gospel Trumpet, December 29, 1910 issue, article “The Holy Spirit Life”). Charles Wesley wrote,

Adam’s likeness now efface, Stamp thine image in its place:

Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in thy love.”

This is that “circumcision made without hands.”

—Bro. Harlan Sorrell