Summary: The preists always led the children of Israel in praise of the living Lord. In chapter 4 they lead in praise to His glory. We are called and challenged to set up memorial stones so that children, and others will ask what does this mean in your life.
Intro: It was always the priests who led in Praise to the living God of Israel. In chapter 3 the priests were the first to step foot into the turbulent waters of Jordan. What do the waters of the Jordan represent to the followers of Joshua or Jesus? It is apparent as God commands Joshua and Joshua commands the priests and people that it is death to self. The dry ground of the Jordan is the firm footing of obedience. Obedience is the sweet smelling aroma of praise to the living God of Israel. Is obedience the only form of praise? No but it is what God desires of those who live by faith.
Micah 6.6 (HCS) says “What should I bring before the Lord when I come to bow before Him on High?”
This is the context of the often quoted Micah 6.8 “He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Here in Joshua we are given the way that we can meet God’s requirements of obedience. God must do a work for us. Grace is defined as giving someone something they don’t deserve. Through our baptism into Jesus’ death we die ourselves. We are then resurrected to walk in newness of life. 2 Corinthians 5.17 Tells us that if we are in Christ the old life passes away, new life comes.
The twelve stones that were placed in the middle of Jordan and at Gilgal should remind us of the twelve apostles in the Gospels, the 24 elders in the book of Revelation. It should also remind us that we are to be living stones raised up with Jesus to the praise and glory of God.
We have not only the responsibility but the privilege of telling others about God’s active presence in our life.
I. The stones are a reminder
People are quick to forget. It is said that we forget about 92% of all the information that we come into contact with in our life. Deuteronomy 4.9 “Only be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you don't forget the things your eyes have seen and so that they don't slip from your mind as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren.”
A) Of God’s active hand on His people (Joshua 4.2, 16-18)
There was no way that the Israelites could cross the Jordan. There is no way we can live the Christ life on our own. Christ in us the hope of Glory. Before a resurrection and new life there must be a crucifixion of the old life. We cannot live in the presence of God and pursue the pleasures of the old life.
B) Of our responsibility to make disciples (Joshua 4.6-7)
It was not the responsibility of the Levites to teach the children about the active faithfulness of God. What memorial stones have you set before your children and grandchildren so they will ask what do these mean?
C) Of the reality of warfare that faces God’s people (Joshua 4.12-13)
The stones are never to be pillows to lie on. We are not called to live in the past but live based on the past faithfulness of God. God’s faithfulness should push us to press closer to Him in our present relationship with him and others.
We have two memorial stones that stand alongside the two cairns of stones. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of Christ’s death as we fellowship together in His broken body and shed blood. Baptism reminds us that we have died to our old life and are called by the trumpet voice of God to walk in the Christ life.
II. The stones are evidence (Joshua 4.24)
A) Of God’s Power
There is much that modern Christianity has missed in our orthodoxy. We must have right doctrine. Yet if that is not balanced by right practice you have a dead religion. When was the last time you experienced the power of God to transform your life?
Our life is to be the evidence of God’s activity to the world. As living stones we are to proclaim that God’s hand is mighty.
B) Of God’s Love (fear the Lord)
Apologetics and arguments give facts to people. But God told them to tell what happened at the Jordan and Gilgal. The fathers were to tell what God did. This is a call to share the experiential knowledge of God.
1) A call to experience the real and living God
Psalm 34:8 “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.”
2) A call to trust God despite the apparent reality (Hebrews 12.1)
3) A call to tell others of what God has done in your life