Summary: Each time the Lord did great and mighty works amidst the Israelites they built stone memorials. Peter reveals we are the stones. Delivered at the 50th anniversary of the church.
It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea; but there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.
Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five feet. The biggest shark...ten feet long.
But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them and a miracle occurred. In Captain Eddie’s own words, "Cherry," that was the B- 17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, "read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off."
Now this is still Captain Rickenbacker talking, "Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food...if I could catch it." And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.
You know that Captain Eddie made it. And now you also know...that he never forgot. Every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast...you could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushy-eye-browed, and slightly bent. His bucket was filled with shrimp to feed the gulls...to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle...like manna in the wilderness. (Heaven Bound Living)
The people of Israel were a community sustained by the Lord God Almighty. They had been chased by Pharaoh through the sea and been delivered, wandered in the desert living on the Lord’s provisions, seen their enemies conquered by the hand of God, and now, they were getting ready to cross into the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
This was the second time around. The leader is Joshua, not Moses. The first opportunity they had turned back from the land, not relying on the Lord’s promise, and all but 2 had died in the desert. Joshua and Caleb were the 2 who had been promised a return trip.
Before they entered the Lord had commanded them prepare for the crossing.
Consecration - 3:5
Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”
They were told to consecrate or sanctify themselves. The people needed to get ready for what the Lord was about to do in their midst. They needed to get clean before the Lord.
Outer purification or cleansing consisted of washing ones garments and cleaning ones body and abstaining from all impurities of the flesh. I am not sure if they had time to wash their garments given the short amount of time available but I do know the sanctified the inside.
"It (consecration) consisted in spiritual purification also, i.e., in turning the heart to God, in faith and trust in His promise, and in willing obedience to His commandments, that they should lay to heart in a proper way the miracle of grace which the Lord was about to work in the midst of them and on their behalf on the following day."
Why was this so important? They were going to be in the presence of a holy God and they were entering into the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. It is called the Holy Land even to this day. They needed getting ready.