Summary: A step by step plan to remember the mighty acts of God.
Last month we began a series of messages in the book of Joshua. Joshua was a great leader. He is the successor of a great leader named Moses. Under His leadership the people of Israel had great success. They have just crossed a raging river. God miraculously apprehended the waters of the river of Jordan so they could enter into the land. Everyone made it across. Now in Ch.4 we read about the final instructions given to Joshua and His army as soon as they arrive at their destination. God wanted them to do something very important in order to remember the occasion. And here’s what happen, here’s what God instructed them to do. (Read Joshua Ch. 4)
This was a big day for Israel! God miraculously called back the raging waters so that everybody could cross. The are now safely on the other side. At last, the right side of the river. This is their home! They are right where God wants them to be: in the promised land. As the last person crossed, applause erupted and a great celebration ensued. There were High fives everywhere. Amid the cheers, God whispers in Joshua’s ear, He said, “wait a minute before I allow the water to flow again, there is something I want you to do to remember the occasion.” And this is what God requested, He said “Have the priest go out into the river bed and gather up 12 stones 1 for each tribe, the stones will serve as proof, they will remind you of what happen, so that you don‘t forget!”
Joshua immediately ordered the priests to take action. He sent the biggest and strongest right back into the passage to gather up a collection of 12 stones They each pried loose a stone and rush back up the river bank. In the meantime, the Ark was sitting idle in the middle of the river so that everybody could safely pass. Joshua commanded that it too, be brought back up on shore. And as soon the ark was high up on the bank, God relaxed His grip on the water, and the river again flooded.
So what now? Do the stones mean anything? God commanded the gathering of the stones; the question among the priests and the people is, “What are we going to do with them?” “Where are they supposed to go?“ Since Joshua took His cues from God, then surely He would have the answer. God let Joshua in on a plan. The stones had a meaningful purpose. And here is what they did with them... When they made their first stop to camp for the night, they established a memorial. At Joshua’s command, the took the stones, stacked them up and created a landmark. And then He said to the Israelites in verse 21 & 24, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, what do these stones mean?” Tell them Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground,...(then you tell them) He did this so that all the peoples of the earth will know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
The stones taken from the river bed had a clear purpose. God said they were to be used as a reminder, to serve as a memorial. God wanted to remind everybody of how awesome the occasion was, and how powerful He is. You see, God wants us to have a good memory when it comes to miraculous things, but there is also a sense in which God knows our human weaknesses. He knows that we have a tendency to forget. We’re living so much in the now, that we sometimes look over the past, and forget the progress we’ve made. Forgetfulness is a part of our human condition. God knows that.