Summary: The hope of the future is based on the memories of the past, and this hope gives meaning to the present. That way of living will give us hope for the future that is based on the memories of the past and present.
How many of you have memories of things that happened years ago?
Memories can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Memories such as those of our families can be good or bad. Memories of loved ones who have died can be good or bad.
In the reading we heard from the Book of Joshua a few minutes ago, God brought the Israelites to the banks of the Jordan River at a time when he could miraculously demonstrate his power. The miracle happened during harvest time, when the river was filled to overflowing. The priests bearing the ark came to the water’s edge and stepped forward, obeying Joshua’s command. It was just a step, but the waters parted and the people crossed over on dry land. Like he did at the Red Sea, God brought his people through a crossing that they could not undertake in their own strength. Every big act for God begins with a small step of faith.
Joshua wanted the people to remember their entrance into the Promised Land. That’s why he asked each of the 12 tribes of Israel to choose a representative. That’s also why he asked each representative to choose a stone from the Jordan River. These stones were used to build a monument. It was a memorial to the significance of the people crossing the Jordan and entering the Promised Land.
Memorials help us preserve memories. God memorialized many important things and events in the Old Testament. The stones were to be a memorial and a reminder to future generations that the people of Israel crossed the Jordan because of God and not because of their own ability. There are times in our own lives that God does not want us to forget. How will we remember these events?
Some people live in the past. They want to return to the “good old days.” The problem is that the “good old days” usually weren’t as good as people think they were. Other people want to change everything. They always look to the future. Both views involve escaping into a fantasy world. The Bible tells us that we are to live in the present and claim God’s memory and struggle for today.
Joshua chapter 4 presents the dynamic truth that the hope of the future is based on the memories of the past, and this hope gives meaning to the present. That way of living will give us hope for the future that is based on the memories of the past-specifically, the memory of what God has done for us in the past, what he does for us today, and what he will do in the future.