Old Testament Reading for the Fourth Week in Lent

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day. While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.
Joshua 5:9-12 (ESV)

'20121217_IMG_0350' photo (c) 2012, Antti T. Nissinen - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/If you look back on your life, what are the moments where you realized everything had changed? What are the points when you started to see your life a new way? Or, when you were forced to? Some examples might be: graduating from college, starting your career, getting let go from a job, marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a close family member or friend, etc. These are just a few examples, and I am sure you could think of many more. Today’s verse describes one of those moments for the Israelites. This marks the beginning of their life in the land God promised to them. God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses are now coming to fruition.

Literally, the children of Israel are now eating, “the fruit of the land of Canaan.”

The day before they were eating manna, provided to them by God as they wandered their way through the Wilderness to the land of Canaan.

After celebrating the Passover and commemorating their freedom from Egypt a new day dawns, the manna stops and they begin to eat, “the fruit of the land of Canaan.” God proclaims that they are a new people, no longer defined by Egypt and the reproach, shame and fear associated with slavery. The Israelites sin is “rolled away” like being packed up, rolled away in a cart and taken away. They have gone from something like this:

“I myself will lift up your skirts over your face, and your shame will be seen.”
Jeremiah 13:26 (ESV)

to this…

“But Israel is saved by the Lord with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity.”
Isaiah 45:17 (ESV)

Or, like how a certain tombstone will be rolled away signaling the end of not just the Israelites shame, but the shame of the whole of creation.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Easter is close, but not here yet, we are still in Lent. As we take the time to look at our lives and see where our “shame” might be showing and preventing an intimate relationship with God, let’s be reminded that we are on a journey towards the elimination of our shame. On this journey God is providing for you regardless of the sin and shame in your life. Every day he pours out his manna on us, as he did for the Israelites in the wilderness, providing for us even when we do not deserve it. That does not mean we accept it without changing. Because God pours out on us regardless of the position of our “skirts”, our response should be to live lives worthy of his blessing.

Let us also not forget that it is God who is graciously providing for us and even when we get to the “land” he has promised us, it is still him who provides the “fruit of the land” that sustains us. It might not be the miraculous manna from heaven, it could just be some unleavened cakes and parched grain, it could be milk and honey, or it could be bread and wine. Wherever you are along your journey towards the “promised land” remember that God is sustaining you, for his names sake, all along the way.

“Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.”
St Ignatius Loyola
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