Joshua 5:2-12 (Part 1) – Exchanging Polos & Blue Jeans for Power Suits & Power Ties

Posted: May 31, 2017 in 06-Joshua
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Joshua 5:2-12 (Part 1 of 3)

Israel Reestablishes Covenant Ceremonies

Back in January 1984, when I began my professional career, the business world was still very much a suit and tie world. It was the days of power ties and black or charcoal gray pin-striped suits. I had to invest heavily in suits and ties back in those days. Prior to that, I had been a college student, we wore Levis and polo shirts, Nike white leather tennis shoes. It was the uniform of informality of the age. It was the age of Reaganomics. It was the age of Alex P. Keaton on the TV show, Family Ties. It was the age of that girls wore big hair. It was the age of the yuppie. It was the age when it began to be cool to be a Republican. It was the age of mergers and acquisitions. It was the age that being a business man was cool again. So, dressing the part the mark of a businessman. Power suits and power ties. Red ties with small geometric shapes. Yellow ties. Ties. Ties. Ties. And suits.


For me, that first job out of college was with the School District of Greenville Country (SC). I was no longer a college kid, really no longer a kid at all. I embraced my new suit life. Before, suits gave way to full-time business casual in the early 1990s, the suit and tie was the thing. We had cooler suits than our dads’ generation. At least they were to us. In those days, suits and ties days, everything had to be perfect. The handkerchief in the breast pocket had to be just the perfect triangle poking out of your breast pocket. The white shirts had to be perfectly pressed and had to be oxford knit with button down collars. The tie had to be certain colors of red or yellow power ties. You know the ones with geometric or amoeba like designs on them. The pants were not the straight legs of our dads’ days but they were not flare legs either. They had to be just in between. Cuffed at the bottom. Just barely touching your loafers with tassels. That first day on the job after graduation from college, I was ready. By the time the 1990’s rolled in and changed office attire forever, I had ten suits. One for each day for two weeks. So, in the mid 1980s when I entered the business world, I was full-on embracing the business suit craze of the day. It was to my generation that was entering the work force, a mark of passing into adulthood. It was our time to move and shake the world. It was our time to make the deals. It was time that Donald Trump was just beginning to make a name for himself as a wheeler-dealer in New York real estate development. In those days, we admired him because the ideals of our generation was to reclaim America’s top spot in the world in everything (after our hippie dippie parents’ generation had so degraded American power by choice). We wanted America to be all about business. It was trickle down economics. It was what was good for the rich was good for the whole economy. So, being a part of that, was too cool. It was my time to begin my career. Power suits and power ties were the outward evidence that I was a professional man and that I was a young professional. It was the mark of the age. It was the sign of where I belonged. No longer a kid. An adult professional. Not some poor schlub working with his hands but a professional with a college degree. It was leather briefcases with files in them. It was leather briefcases with nothing in them but maybe your car keys and personal items and maybe even your sandwich for lunch, but it was a briefcase, part of the necessary power look of a businessman of the 1980s. We traded in our polo shirts and Levi jeans for power ties and brief cases. We had arrived. It was our time.


That transition from college kid to degreed professional in the workplace is what I thought of this morning when I read about the rite of circumcision that was performed on this new generation of Israelite males. Circumcision meant change to the Israelites just as power ties and power suits and briefcases meant for me and my generation as we entered the workforce in the 1980s. Let’s read the passage together for the first time this morning and then see how those thoughts tie together afterwards:


2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.[a]


4 Now this is why he did so: All those who came out of Egypt—all the men of military age—died in the wilderness on the way after leaving Egypt. 5 All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt had not. 6 The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord. For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land he had solemnly promised their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 So he raised up their sons in their place, and these were the ones Joshua circumcised. They were still uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way. 8 And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed.


9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal[b] to this day.


10 On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. 11 The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12 The manna stopped the day after[c] they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.


The rite of circumcision marked Israel’s position as God’s covenant people. When God made the original covenant with Abraham, He required each male be circumcised as a sign of cutting off of the old life and beginning a new life with God (Genesis 17:13). Similarly, for the Christian, baptism is an outward sign of the change that has already occurred within the believer. Baptism is symbolic of shedding the old life of death and destruction in the tomb of the water and arising clean and new into a new life safely in the arms of the Savior. Circumcision is symbolic of shedding the old skin of sin and taking on a new life of dedication to the Lord.


It was similarly symbolic to those of us who graduated college and entered the workforce in the early 1980s. We were shedding our childhood and taking on adulthood. The power suit and power tie and briefcase were the signs of the new life we were entering and the Levis and polo shirts were the old life of childhood that we were leaving behind. We were ending lives of dependence for lives of independence. We were entering that “promised land” of adulthood that we had been yearning for. Little did we know that adulthood would bring marriages, children, mortgages, loans for cars, and so on. But those early years of the mid-1980s when power ties and power suits were in full bloom, we embraced that lifestyle. It was out with childhood and in with adulthood. And we looked gooooood doing it.


Is it time for you to shed your old life and begin anew? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Is your old life not working for you anymore? Is it time to come to the Lord and say circumcise my soul and my heart? Is it time to shed your old life of blue jeans for the power suit of life in Christ. When we ask Christ to be our Lord and Savior, it means that we have given control of our lives over to Him. We have begged for forgiveness of our sins and He has granted us grace enough to cover us and make us righteous before the Lord. We shed our old lives through the action of the Holy Spirit in our souls after salvation. No longer are we burden with our foreskin of sin. We are made new in Christ through His grace and through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. We take off our old rags of sin and exchange them for the ultimate power suit, the cloaking in the royal robes of Christ. He makes us new like the best power suit of the 1980s. We were once filthy rags and now we are clothed in majesty with everything just perfect. We forge forward into the new world that we have become part of through Christ. He changes us. No longer do we view the world the same. It is a different world to us. It is a world where we want to bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ and to make Him smile as we grow into His likeness.


Amen and Amen.

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