Summary: The purpose of memorials in our lives.
A Study of the Book of Joshua
Sermon # 4
“Remembering What God has Done”
God realizes that we often forget what he has done for us. In Deuteronomy. 6:12 Moses issued a final warning to Israel just before they entered the promise land, “beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt…” The meaning of the Hebrew word for memorial (v. 7) is “to remember.” Given man’s propensity to forget it is little wonder then that memorials have frequently played an important role in biblical history. At the foot of Mt. Sinai, Moses built an altar of stones to commemorate God’s covenant with Israel (Ex. 12:14) . Now in tonight’s text we see God command his people to erect a memorial.
Notice that according to verse one, “when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the LORD gave more specific instructions in verses 2-5, “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, (3) 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.’” (4) Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; (5) and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel.”
According to these verses twelve men choose earlier (3:12) were to go back to where the priest were standing in the middle of the river, holding the ark. Each man was to pick up a large rock or stone from the middle of the Jordan and carry it to the side of the river where Israel would camp in the land of Canaan.
Notice with me three reasons that is given for this action.
1. IT IS TO BE A TIME OF REMEMBERING WHAT GOD HAS DONE
“And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” (v. 7)
First, the memorial stones were to be a reminder of their own personal experience. Notice that in verse six this memorial will cause the children to ask; “What do these stones mean to you?” These stones are first of all to be a reminder those who were present of their personal experience, what they saw, heard and felt. “Tell your story, Keep a clear memory of what God did for you. Keep on telling your stories so that you never lose your own sense of awe and wonder of what God has done in your life.”
I want you to consider with me: “What kind of memorials do you have in your life?” Whether you realize it our not we all have memorials in our lives, no not a monument of stones, but one built of memories.
There are memories of places, places that trigger memories just as the memorial stones in Gilgal. There are some significant places in your life that elicit memories. The little church where I was saved is such a place for me. It was there that was saved as a teenager. It was there a few years later that I was called to preach. It was there that married by lovely bride. It is a special place for me. It reminds me of things that God had done in my life. You no doubt have such a place in your life.
There are memories of people. These are memories of people who God has used in your life. For me many of them are the people who encouraged me to pursue the ministry.
But how often do we sit down and think about the memories, and thank God for those people He’s used in our lives?
(Let me share an illustration of drawn from the life of W. A Criswell. Many of you may be aware that the Southern Baptist Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, W.A Criswell, passed away in January. Criswell records an event in his life that I think illustrates this point. “When Criswell was 10 years old, the Texline church his family attended held a revival meeting with Dallhart pastor, Johnny Hicks. Hicks stayed in the Criswell home where he came to know the young preacher-to-be. During the morning service that week (they had services both day and night) …..he walked to the front of the church auditorium where Pastor/Evangelist Hicks met him and led him to Christ….
Years later Criswell was conversing with a friend, a fellow pastor in Dallas. He told of his childhood conversion during the Johnny Hicks revival meeting. Criswell went on to tell the story of how Hicks stayed in his home and enjoyed his mother’s cooking, and his interest in the lad, and how Criswell went forward and was met by the evangelist at the altar.