Summary: The significance of the Stones at Gilgal.
Studies in Joshua
Study 6 – Ch 4 & 5
From time to time when I speak to the children on a Sabbath morning during the children’s address, I will bring along with me some form of visual aid – maybe a personal walkman, or a hiking boot or a doll or whatever. And of course the aim of using a visual aid is to use something tangible, something the children can see and can identify with in order to teach them some important spiritual truth.
The Lord Jesus during the course of his preaching and teaching ministry often used visual aids to impress spiritual truths upon his hearers. He pointed to field that contained a crop that had reached full maturity, ready to be harvested and spoke to his disciples of the great spiritual harvest that lay before them and of the need for workers to go out into the harvest field of the world. I am sure that each time the harvest season came around and the disciples looked out upon such fields they would have remembered the Lord’s teaching. Every time they saw sheep wandering over the hillside they would have remembered his teaching about the good shepherd. Every time they saw a farmer going out and sowing seed in his field they would have thought about the importance of scattering the good seed of the gospel. Jesus used visual aids in seeking to get his message across to his hearers.
The impact that a visual image can have upon people has of course not only been recognised by, it has also been used with great effect by the advertising world. They will take the message that they want to convey about their product, whatever it might happen to be, and link it in such a way with a striking and memorable image, or picture or famous person so as to create a direct link between the two in the minds of the people they are seeking to influence. Every time that image, picture, or person appears on the T.V. screen or on an advertising hoarding people immediately think of the product associated with them. They get their message across by means of a memorable visual aid.
Joshua chapters 4 & 5 could be entitled the Visual Aids of Gilgal. In Chapter 4 we have the visual aid of the Heap of Stones and in chapter 5 we have the visual aid of the Holy Sacraments. And this evening I want us to consider both these visual aids in order that we might discover the significance of each to the people of God then, and their relevance for us, God’s people today.
Consider with me first of all
1) Gilgal’s Stones;
Last week we saw how the children of Israel, by faith, crossed the Jordan – that seemingly insurmountable barrier that stood between them and the blessings of the land of promise. Here in chapter four we find them all safely on the other side. However before the waters, which had been miraculously held back by the power of God to enable the people to cross on dry land, returned, God commanded Joshua to send twelve men, one from each tribe, back into the river bed in order to find and bring out a large stone each. The reason they were to gather these stones was so that they could be placed one on top of the other in the land of promise as a witness to and memorial of this amazing event which had just taken place. God wanted them to build a Monument. And he wanted them to build this monument for at least three, possibly four reasons.