God is just as trustworthy to His children today as He was to the people of Israel in the past, if only they would surrender their hearts to Him, a noted minister says.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, in an article in the Christian Post, described how God Himself declared some places holy like Gilgal to the people of Israel in the early stages of human history. In principle, this biblical landmark has spiritual relevance in today's contemporary Christianity.
According to the account in 2 Kings, prior to Elijah's ascension to heaven, he and Elisha traveled to Gilgal, where they spent time together before saying their last goodbyes.
"If we allow it, this New Year may become a Gilgal in our own time," he noted in his piece for December 30. "Gilgal was important to the people of Israel for three primary reasons" namely, "commemoration, "purification," and "restoration."
According to Rodriguez, it was during Joshua's journey to the Promised Land, which began after Moses' death, that this moment of commemoration happened. Gilgal was constructed as a memorial marking their crossing of the Jordan River.
Gilgal, he added, was named after an important incident that happened soon after the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and established camp there.
After 40 years of roaming the desert, the Israelites finally arrived in the Promised Land, Moses had died, and God had chosen Joshua to lead the people. Because they had disobeyed the Lord, "all the men who were of military age at the time they left Egypt had died." This account in Joshua 5 signified that the Israelites had to first be purified before they could enter the Promised Land, as directed by God through Joshua.
This, according to Rodriguez, was the second reason why Gilgal was so significant to the Israelites.
Additionally, Gilgal serves as a marker for a third key event in Israel's long and rich history. The Israelites lingered at Gilgal long enough to heal and celebrate Passover after crossing the Jordan River and rolling 12 stones together to construct an everlasting monument as instructed by the Lord. Rodriguez said this is where restoration comes in.
Arriving in Canaan, the promised land of milk and honey, the Israelites experienced another maturation process at Gilgal.
Despite their disobedience, idolatry, and bitterness, the Lord had provided for them at every turn. As promised, the Almighty had ultimately led His people to Canaan.
"We all need a place like Gilgal on our journeys of faith," Rodriguez noted.
"Gilgal is God's way of allowing us to come clean before him and start anew. When we establish a metaphorical Gilgal in our lives, we not only create an altar to praise and thank God for getting us to this point; we remind ourselves that God has wholly separated us from who we used to be. We are no longer covered by the reproach, shame, guilt, fear and punishment of the past."
However, getting to Gilgal will need time and faith in God. One might pause and reflect on everything that he has gone through and how God has miraculously supported him at each stage of his life. One's spiritual Gilgal, then, is a reminder of God's faithfulness, kindness, and provision. It demands guts and a greater faith in God.
"As we enter the New Year, we rest at our Gilgal then leave to take the first step toward the exciting adventures awaiting us around the next bend. Let this annual marker become the foundation for a future forged by mature faith," Rodriguez proclaimed.