Summary: Joshua erected 2 pillars from stones of Jordan's riverbed as a memorial of what God had done for Israel. As we look at Israel's memorial stones we too should be remember what He has done for us.
Remember What He Has Done
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. It is observed every year on the last Monday of May and originated following the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died during that dreadful war that claimed more than 498,000 lives. Today Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.
Pastor Craig M. Watts of Royal Palm Christian Church in Coral Springs concerning Memorial Day, "On this occasion we are called upon to remember and respect those who have died, those whose days are gone. It is no surprise to us that many people do not reflect upon the past during this holiday any more than they do on any other day. In our age of ever-accelerating change, we don't tend to look to the past to find our wisdom. We view what "has been" as largely irrelevant to what is now. The ancients are not our models. We place little value in traditions and inherited customs. And so when Memorial Day rolls around, our thoughts do not automatically turn to the past and to the departed." - Watts, Memorial Day: Hopeful Memory
Two elderly ladies had been friends since their 30s. Now in their 80s, they still got together a couple of times a week to play cards. One day they were playing gin rummy and one of them said, “You know, we’ve been friends for many years and, please don’t get mad, but for the life of me, I can’t remember your name. Please tell me what it is.” Her friend glared at her. She continued to glare and stare at her for at least three minutes. Finally, she said, “How soon do you need to know?”
All of us have lapses of memories. I was relieved to find out that I'm not the only one who forgets things. Everyone does at one time or another, according to Karen Bolla, a Johns Hopkins researcher. These are the things people most often forget:
• names 83%
• where something is 60%
• telephone numbers 57%
• words 53%
• what was said 49%
• faces 42%
• whether or not you've just done something 38%.
Sometimes our forgetful is simply the result of neglectfulness and inattention to that which has been done for us by those who have preceded us. When it comes to our spiritual lives it is important for us to never neglect that which God has given to us or forget that which He has done for us.
In our passage, God instructs Joshua to have the people build two pillars, each built from 12 stones from the riverbed of the Jordan River. God knows human nature and that as time passes, memories would fade. The stones would be a memorial to remind their children about what God had done for them in the past. A memorial is something that keeps remembrance alive. As we look at Israel's memorial stones we too should be reminded of what God has done for us.
Romans 15:4 states " For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." While looking at these stones we will see in addition to what they spoke to Israel about they should remind us of what He has done for us and of our identification with Christ.
I. The Stones in Gilgal on the banks of Jordan
A. Joshua 4:1-3, 7 " And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying: “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight... And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”’”
B. Joshua 4:20-24 " And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal. Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”