What Memorial Can I Share?
Day: 4 | Plan: Joshua-Judges
Today's Reading: Joshua 4
Joshua 4:7b (NIV) “These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
Last summer when our family went on vacation, our youngest son spent much of his free time picking up stones along the riverbank near our cabin and tossing them into the water. It became a delightful game that he still talks about every time we reminisce about that special trip from our past.
In today’s reading we learn about some other stones (much bigger and less likely to be tossed) from the bed of the Jordan River, which held significant meaning for the Israelites and their future generations.
In Joshua 3, God instructed Joshua to have the people cross over the Jordan as the priests stood in the center of the riverbed holding up the ark of the covenant. (Joshua 3:17)
After everyone was safely on the other side, Joshua appointed 12 men to go back to the middle of the Jordan—right where the ark of the covenant was positioned—and retrieve 12 stones that would eventually be set up in Gilgal as a memorial to the people of Israel. (Joshua 4:4-5, 7b, 20). It would represent proof of God’s miracle and be a visual reminder for the next generation:
“He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their parents, “What do these stones mean?” tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God’” (Joshua 4:21-24).
This amazing miracle reveals three principles about God the Israelites needed to remember and teach to their children so they would never be forgotten:
1. Revealing God’s Power: In order for the 12 stones to be collected from the center of the Jordan, the water had to remain still. The Israelites were witnessing the visible evidence of the powerful, invisible hand of God holding back that water. In fact, God even made the ground completely dry (Joshua 3:17) so that each step every person took was on a firm foundation and not shifting sand.
2. Revealing God’s Presence: As the priests held high the ark of the covenant—stationed in the center of the riverbed—it became the central object of God’s presence as each tribe and family crossed over. It was as if God was saying to His people, “Don’t be afraid. I’m right here with you in the trenches and I’ll remain here—making sure you get to the other side.” Evidence of God’s presence was exactly what the people needed as they took one step at a time out of their wilderness living into the abundant living that awaited them.
3. Revealing God’s Protection: I wonder if the Israelites worried that at any moment the waters would begin to move again and sweep them away. Just like what happened to the Egyptian army at the Red Sea crossing. (Exodus 14) The same may have been true for the 12 men who had to go back and get the memorial stones. What if the priests became tired and the ark began to fall from their shoulders? What if the Canaanites could see them crossing and came after them for a surprise attack of annihilation? God was faithful to protect each person as they safely crossed over, and it wasn’t until everyone was safely on the riverbanks that the water immediately began to flow again at flood stages. (Joshua 4:18)
These stones would be a reminder to Israel and the generations which followed that God led an entire nation across the Jordan just like He led their forefathers across the Red Sea. (Joshua 4:23) He was ever present. All-powerful. Their mighty Protector.
Are you taking the time to set aside your own “memorial stones”? As you go through life are you establishing visual markers that become reminders to you and to your children and grandchildren, that God has been ever present, all-powerful and your greatest source of protection in life?
How will the next generation know just how faithful God is in this generation if we don’t take time to teach them and provide the clear evidence He’s left behind for us to display?
Prayer: Lord, You have done great things, and as I look back on my life I can clearly see evidence of Your presence and Your protection. Help me to set up my own “memorial stones” as a beautiful display of Your faithfulness. Remind me to share them with my children and the next generation so they can believe and experience Your goodness in their own lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.
The crossing of the Jordan is not the only story in the Old Testament where we find someone... Read More
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