Growing up, my family had the same meal on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. My wife and I have chosen to continue several of our family’s traditions while creating new ones for our children. Traditions help us honor and remember the past. As this new generation of Israelites was about to enter the land they had been promised, Joshua made them pause to look back at what God had done and to honor important traditions.
Notice the connection between verses 1 and 2. After hearing about the timidity and fear of the Amorite and Canaanite kings, the Lord and Joshua commanded the Israelites to be circumcised (vv. 1–3). Verses 4 through 7 detail the rationale behind this command—“Now this is why he did so” (v. 4). The place was named Gilgal (a word which sounded like the Hebrew word for “to roll”) because the Lord told Joshua that with this important tradition He had “rolled away the reproach of Egypt” (v. 9). In the Hebrew language, this could also be translated, “removed the shame of Egypt from you.” It had been 400 years since God promised the land to their forefathers, and 38 years since they left Egypt. The tradition of circumcision was the Lord’s reminder to them that they were His covenant people. And this obedient generation would enter the land.
They could not eliminate what had happened in their past. With God’s help, however, they could remove the emotional and spiritual burdens they had carried on their flight from Egypt. Verses 10–12 describe another important tradition, the Passover. The next day, they tasted food from their long-awaited Promised Land.
>> Just as tradition played an important role for the nation of Israel, traditions hold an important place in our lives today. What traditions do you have that are special to you and your family? Do you have any that remind you of what the Lord has done in your life? If not, now is a great time to start a faith tradition!