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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.”—Joshua 5:10-12 (NKJV)
King Solomon believed “the end of a thing is better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 NKJV). Here’s why: At the completion of something, there is usually more knowledge and surety to replace the uncertainty and instability of what many beginnings include. The Hebrews of the Exodus experienced this when they camped in Gilgal. For God’s reproach had been rolled away; their wilderness wandering had ended. What they had gained was celebrated as they reflected on all God had done for them in anticipation of the battles and victories to come.
The Gilgal Passover meal was a communion, commemorating God’s faithfulness in preparation, provision, and promise. Their forty-year sentence of wandering in the wilderness was not wasted but used by God as a means of instruction and reliance. In the beginning, they were a stiff-necked people; at the end, a nation of God.
There, on the other side of the Jordan, the manna bread ceased. Alan Redpath noted, “The manna was wilderness food; it suited a wilderness journey. It supplied the people’s wilderness necessities and continued until the corn was available.” In the beginning, this extraordinary provision was enough; but, ultimately, God had so much more for them—the milk and honey of the Promised Land. What they knew of God at the end prepared them for this new beginning.
This event was later mirrored when Jesus and His apostles shared Passover together at the Last Supper. What His friends didn’t know at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry would soon be fully realized. They were taught, prepared, and God provided. Although God removed Jesus, the Bread of Life, from them, He made available the Holy Spirit, filling and empowering them for the battles ahead to proclaim the victory of Christ. The end of Jesus’ ministry on earth rolled away God’s reproach of man. With this new knowledge, they were transformed. In the beginning, the apostles were fishermen; at the end, ambassadors for Christ.
So it is for us. We begin our walk with God from an unsure perspective, wandering with the Lord as He prepares us for what’s to come. Soon, we learn to rely on Him—experiencing His faithfulness, basking in the extraordinary. When that time ends, we are left with the knowledge and confidence that God will complete what He began (Philippians 1:6). From that end, we are better prepared, commemorating the beginning, yet ready for the battles and victories to come. We are transformed, for in the beginning we were blind; at the end, we see.
DIG: Compare Exodus 16:1-4 to Joshua 1:10-18. What growth do you see in the Hebrews from the beginning of their journey to the end?
DISCOVER: Look back on your own walk with the Lord. What were those extraordinary provisions that taught you to trust Him? How has that strengthened your faith and prepared you for what’s to come?
DO: With what you knew then and what you know now, renew your commitment to finish the race strong (Acts 20:24).
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.