Joshua And Baptism

Joshua Baptism

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives for himself and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way after they had come out of Egypt. For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord — to whom the Lord swore that He would not show them the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way. So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. (Joshua 5:2-9)

Joshua And Baptism

The apostle Paul declared in his letter to the saints Colosse that baptism was the spiritual covenant of circumcision. In Christ, all men are circumcised but not by a physical procedure. Paul said that Christ performed a spiritual circumcision when a person is buried in baptism by the cutting away of sinful nature. Then a man is raised to a new life because they trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Before baptism (like circumcision) a man is dead because of sin and their sinful nature is not yet cut away. God makes a man alive with Christ when He forgives all sins. In other words, He cancels the record of the charges against a person nailing it to the cross. Baptism (like circumcision) establishes a covenant with man and God through the grace and mercy of the Lord.

After forty years the children of Israel arrive at the land of promise. Joshua prepares to lead God’s people across the Jordan River and take possession of Canaan. When the Hebrews first left Egypt all the people had been circumcised but those born in the last forty years of wilderness wanderings had not been circumcised. The new generation of Hebrews stood before God uncircumcised and they would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land until they had entered the covenant established with Abraham. Circumcision was the sign of promise and without it, there is no promise and no hope. The Lord told Abraham any man who refused to be circumcised would be cut off from the grace of God and has broken the covenant. Now the whole of Israel stood on the brink of salvation but they could not enjoy God’s blessings until they obeyed His command.

Return to the story of Joshua and the command to circumcise the people with a modern eye to how most religious people view baptism. Replacing circumcision with baptism the student of scripture can see God’s will has not changed in the obedience required of man. The story begins: “At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make pools of water for yourself, and baptize the sons of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made pools of water for himself and baptized the sons of Israel at the hill of the fountains. And this is the reason why Joshua baptized them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way after they had come out of Egypt. For all the people who came out had been baptized, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been baptized. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord — to whom the Lord swore that He would not show them the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” Then Joshua baptized their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were unbaptized because they had not been baptized on the way. So it was when they had finished baptizing all the people that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were dry. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of SIN from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Jerusalem to this day.

I believe if Joshua were standing before a group of religious people today and told them God required baptism for salvation they would mock and scoff at his teaching. More than three thousand years ago Joshua told all the men they had to be circumcised and they willingly endured the incredible pain involved in the procedure. No one refused. There were not rebellious. Everyone obeyed because they believed God. A religious leader did not try to convince the people that if they just believed God would allow them into the Promised Land. No preacher tried to convince the men standing with sharp flint knives in their hands that a sinner’s prayer would save them. Those who obeyed had to take the flint knife and cut off their foreskin and wait to be healed. And they all did so obediently. And yet today men are asked to immerse in water (not painful) for the remission of sins and they refuse.

All those who would have refused to be circumcised would have not been allowed to enter Canaan. When a man refuses to be baptized for the remission of sins God will not allow him to enter eternal life. Joshua proves that baptism is necessary for salvation because it is not a matter of a flint knife and a piece of the foreskin; or today a body of water and immersion. The men who were circumcised that day had hearts that were willing to obey God – no matter what was asked of them. If a man refuses to be baptized for the remission of sins his heart condemns him. The Holy Spirit declared in the word of God that baptism is spiritual circumcision. To deny baptism is to deny a covenant with God. No circumcision – no hope. No baptism – eternal damnation.

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