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Summary: Joshua #4


Joshua 4-5

How’s your memory? How well do you remember?

No, don’t worry, I’m not going to quiz you as to what the sermon was about last Sunday.

But I would like you to think about your memory this morning.

"A well trained memory is one that permits you to forget everything that isn’t worth remembering."

I believe that most of us have a good memory---

but not a well-trained memory. We remember things we should forget & we forget the things that we should remember.

That cutting remark made to us...REMEMBERED

That lack of kindness............REMEMBERED

That misunderstanding with our friend.......REMEMBERED

That wrong done to you......................REMEMBERED


That thoughtful & encouraging card............FORGOTTEN

That time when someone cared enough to listen....FORGOTTEN

That time when someone forgave you............FORGOTTEN

That excitement we had when we first became a Christian.....FORGOTTEN

We have very selective memories, don’t we?

Well, God knows how easily we forget! That’s why He told Joshua to take the 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan River & to stack them up at Gilgal. They were to be a reminder of God’s great power in bringing the nation of Israel to the Promised Land. It’s like, "Ah, now I remember!"

(Read Joshua 4:1-24 emphasizing vv. 23-24)

God gave symbols to help His people to remember His acts of love & grace. But these symbols are not unique to the O.T.

As we will see this morning, God continues to provide remembrances for His children today.

Our memories are short. God knows that. That’s why He gave symbols to His people throughout history to help us remember what’s important. Let’s see what some of those symbols were for the people of Israel, and then we’ll look at what some of those symbols are for us today. (Read Joshua 5:1)

Now, at this point, you would naturally expect God to tell His people to move in, right? I mean, the enemies were afraid, they had heard how God had miraculously dried up the Jordan River...you’d think that now was the time to take over the Promised Land. But that is not the case.

God is in no hurry! Before moving in to take the Promised Land, God wanted His people to wait.

Wait!?!? Why did they have to wait?! Why couldn’t they just start moving in? What’s the hold up? Why the delay?

Answer: "In order that they might be obedient to the commands they had forgotten." For some reason, the people had neglected the two symbols God had given them as reminders of His love and grace:

1. The Rite of Circumcision

2. The Feast of the Passover

The people had neglected observing these two symbols. They had not been fully obedient to God’s will! And before He would use them He wanted them fully obedient to His will.

What about us? Have we been fully obedient to God’s revealed will? If not, we cannot expect God to bless our lives, our church, or our world through us---not until we have first of all been obedient to what God has asked us to do.

Are you neglecting something that you know God wants you to do? Or maybe you have no desire to learn more of God’s will. You’ve blinded yourself to your responsibility.

Listen: You cannot expect God to fully use you if you are neglecting to do that which God has already revealed to you.

"He that is unfaithful in that which is least,

will be unfaithful in that which is greater."

(Luke 16:10)

So, then, why did God want His people to wait before moving in to the Promised Land? God wanted them to wait because He wanted them to be fully obedient! It’s just as important for us to search our lives for areas where we have not been fully obedient to God---and once we have discovered those areas---then fulfill them.

The people of Israel had neglected two things in particular that God had asked them to do: Circumcision & Passover


Circumcision was a symbol, a sign, given by God to remind His people of His covenant with them. It was to be done as a reminder of God’s promises. Before there was any talk of Jericho, before a word about the walls falling flat, God wanted His people to be obedient to Him. He wanted them to be reminded of His promises to them.

But circumcision was not enough. They also needed to observe the Passover (vv. 10-12).


The Passover was instituted by God while the children of Israel were still in bondage in Egypt. This Passover was a special event connected with Israel’s deliverance from slavery.

Turn with me to Exodus 11 & 12 so we can understand what’s going on here.

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