And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt…
Gilgal was the first camp of Israel after Jordan was actually crossed; it was at once a goal and a starting-point. To Christians it represents that position of vantage, that excellence of endowment whence they go forth in obedience and faith to subdue their spiritual foes. Had Israel been wise, they would have abode in Gilgal until their work of conquest was complete and the land all their own. Doubtless the angel first appeared in that deserted camp, doubtless he followed the people thence, in order to remind them that he ought to have found them there. But they had not been wise; they had not extirpated the nations, but had mingled with them and learnt their works; they had abandoned Gilgal, from whence, under the strong restraints of religious and military discipline, they might have carried through the work of conquest, and had settled themselves in some place of their own choosing: therefore, the angel of the Lord followed and found and reproached them; then they wept, and named the place Bochim — "the weepers." "From Gilgal to Bochim?' In nature it is an ascent, but in grace it is a tremendous fall; the one named from what God did, the other from what they felt. And surely it is very expressive of a great deal amongst ourselves; surely many of us are settled in a place of feelings without acts, emotions without results, reproofs which only produce tears. "From Gilgal to Bochim." How often is the story repeated in our spiritual life! Canaan is our kingdom — that kingdom of life and immortality, of light and holiness, which is already ours; not, indeed, for quiet and absolute possession, but for steady and victorious occupation. The seven nations of the Canaanites, alien intruders on the sacred soil, are the seven deadly sins which, with all their evil kith and kin, withstand our entry and dispute our enjoyment of that holy land whereof God hath made us kings and priests in Christ. It is our duty and our charge, as well as our interest, to extirpate these sins — to make a clean sweep of them, great and small. But we do not; we gain some splendid victories, we lay some threatening strongholds low, we deliver some large territories from the dominion of the foe, we do enough to show that we could do all; and then we cease. Because we would not be at the trouble, relying on the grace of God, to cast out all the sins which He detests; because we held our hand and allowed some of them to remain in their old places in our life and character; therefore hath God also restrained the working of His grace, and hath allowed those very faults to become our constant plagues, thorns in our sides, unfailing causes of irritation, self-reproach, and weakness. What we want is to be up and doing, to make a vigorous move, to get back to Gilgal, and from thence to go forth patient and resolved to complete the conquest of our own spiritual realm. Let us occupy once more that place of vantage to which God hath brought us by election and by grace; let us realise the invincible strength which is assured unto those Christians who wait upon their God in prayer and sacraments; let us rely upon that strength not to be the substitute for our own efforts, but to inspire them with supernatural ardour,to crown them with supernatural success.
(R. Winterbotham, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.
WEB: The angel of Yahweh came up from Gilgal to Bochim. He said, "I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you to the land which I swore to your fathers; and I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you: