Imagine this scenario. Israel wandered around the desert for forty years before they stood on the verge of the promise land again. The generation that God had powerfully led out of Egypt had forfeited their opportunity to possess the land of ‘milk and honey’, owing to unbelief and disobedience. Until every man of fighting age in that generation had died, the people of Israel were stuck in a holding pattern – freed from slavery in Egypt, but unable to enjoy their inheritance.
God provided for them, of course, and did not forsake His people, but He could not give them the land of Canaan. Moses, their leader, dies in the wilderness and Joshua, his assistance, is raised up to take his place. With a new generation of Israelites, plus Caleb and Joshua, God parts the flooding Jordan River and His people cross over into their inheritance. Whoopee!
Joshua sets up a memorial at Gilgal to commemorate the event and to remind Israel what God has done. It was a significant time in Israel’s history. Then we read in Joshua 5 that God wants to re-establish His covenant with Israel, and to do so, requires that the new generation of Israelite men be circumcised (gulp). That must have come as quite a shock to them, as, not only would it be an unpleasant experience, it would also render them in a weakened state before their enemies. Wouldn’t it have been wiser for them to be circumcised on the east side of the Jordon? (See Genesis 34). Yet they did obey God’s command and the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you’ (Joshua 5:9). Another word for reproach is shame. It can also mean scorn, stigma or contempt.
Think about those words for a few moments, as they were significant for Israel and are also significant for us. Shame is an internally, crippling experience that prevents us holding our heads up high. I am not referring to pride, but rather dignity. Israel had suffered shame and reproach because of their slavery in Egypt, and we suffered it because of our slavery to sin (2 Peter 2:19).
We can also suffer shame when others sin against us. Through physical circumcision God rolled away the shame of Israel, and through spiritual circumcision of the heart, God rolls away ours (Romans 2:29). We no longer must bear the shame of our slavery because Jesus bore the punishment for our sins on the cross. He exchanged our cloaks of shame for garments of salvation and for robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). Shame does not have to be our portion anymore. Next time the enemy whispers in your ear, “Shame on you”, rise up and resist him, because your shame has been rolled away. (Or more accurately, washed away).
If you have suffered shame because of what others have done to you, dare to throw off that burdensome cloak also. It is not your shame to bear – it’s theirs and thus their responsibility to carry or relinquish. God wants none of His children crippled by shame, as it’s contrary to the abundant life Jesus came to give us.
Prayer: Father God, I refuse to enter another day cloaked with shame. Thank You for my robe of righteousness and garments of salvation. Where I have suffered shame through the actions of others, please heal and restore me, Lord, and give me the courage to throw off that cloak of shame. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.