Summary: A Memorial Day Message. Joshua commanded that stones be set as a memorial at the crossing of the Jordan River. As "living stones", we also are a memorial to what Christ has done for us.
“Lest We Forget”
Joshua 4:1-9, 19-24
INTRODUCTION: Tomorrow isn’t just a holiday … a day set aside for picnics, family fun … a day off from work. Tomorrow is Memorial Day.
The holiday was officially recognized in 1868, as a day, May 30, to honor those who died in the Civil War. Later, it was changed to honor all those who died in wars, and was changed to the last Monday in May. It is also called “Decoration Day”, because of the custom of decorating the graves with flowers and flags. Today, it is a day set aside to honor any individual who has an impact on our life.
The blood of many soldiers has been shed, to provide us with the freedom that we enjoy today. Since the Revolutionary War, there have been over 1,180,000 wartime causalities. Over 2,300,000 have been wounded in American wars. That’s in 228 years.
In the last 31 years, there have been over 35,000,000 babies aborted. That figures out … to every soldier killed in a war in the last 31 years, there have been 40,000 babies aborted. Blood has been shed, not only on foreign soil, but on American soil as well … Americans killing Americans.
In our text this morning, we see how God instructed Joshua to set up a MEMORIAL of stones, as a VISUAL REMINDER to all who passed that way. It was a VISUAL SERMON … like the Children’s Sermons I teach every Sunday. We remember it better if we have a visual aid. Jesus used visual aids when He talked about the sparrow, the olive branch, the vineyard, the fig tree.
• The Priests stepped foot in the Jordan River.
• God departed the waters … they marched through on dry land.
• After everyone had crossed over, Joshua sent 12 men to the middle of the dry river, to bring 12 large stones to where they were … 1 stone for each of the 12 tribes.
• They were to build a MEMORIAL to God.
• When the 12 men had brought their stones to the bank, the Priests came over, and God let the water loose.
WHY DID GOD WANT THEM TO PUT UP STONES AS A MEMORIAL?
1.- TO SHAKE THEIR MEMORY
We tend to forget. All of us are susceptible to bouts of memory loss. A friend of mine once told me that he had a photographic memory. The only problem is … he keeps running out of film!
Our lives & our world is filled with “memorials”, to help us remember.
• Plaques, to help us remember accomplishments.
• Wedding band … tombstones …
• Priscilla B.C. … Lincoln Memorial …
• The Lord’s Supper … Baptism …
Israel had a PROBLEM remembering. Moses WARNED them about forgetting - Deut. 6:12 – “Then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”
This heap of stones would be a visible reminder. Every time they passed that way, it would remind them of what God did at Gilgal. It was a common practice to erect a monument of stones to God after a great event took place. We, too, have memorials in our life. They’re not built of stone, but of MEMORIES.
• MEMORIES OF PLACES – Sometimes I go back to Wellborm … or places in Gainesville where I grew up. I relive childhood memories.
• MEMORIES OF PEOPLE – We remember those whom God used in our life. God placed them there at the very time when we needed them (Gardner’s, Keislings).
• MEMORIES OF EXPERIENCES – I can remember how God met my needs in some very difficult times in my life … my days at Trinity College. These lessons can’t be TAUGHT … they have to be EXPERIENCED.
• MEMENTOS OF THE PAST – We collect souvenirs, T-Shirts, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets … to remind us of what a great time we had on vacation.
These walks down “Memory Lane” serve a purpose … to remind us of something special that happened in our life .. a special blessing from the Lord.
We tend to forget? WHY? There are several things that cause us to forget.
1.- When We Get In A Hurry – I once forgot my suitcase when I left to go to a conference. I had traveled for an hour … had to come back. Abraham was in a hurry to have children. He forgot God’s promise, and ran ahead of God … and conceived with Hagar. That’s what we do when we get in a hurry. We forget God … run ahead of Him … get out of His will.
2.- When We Feel Helpless – Then, we wonder where God is. God must have forgotten us … SO … we forget about Him. These stones were there to remind them that the power of God was available BECAUSE they were helpless.