SERMON TITLE: “What Are These Stones?”

SERMON TEXT: Joshua 4:19-24

OPENING JOKE: “Somebody stole the tent.” A Platoon Sergeant and his Platoon Leader are bunking down in the field for the night. The Platoon Sergeant looks up and says, "When you see all the stars in the sky, what do you think, sir?" The LT replies, "Well, I think of how insignificant we really are in the universe; how small a piece of such a grand design. I can’t help but wonder if what we do truly means anything or makes any difference. Why? What do you think of, Sergeant?" "I think somebody stole the tent."

INTRODUCTION: On May 5, 1866, the residents of Waterloo, NY held the first complete, community-wide observance of Memorial Day. And in 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress.

Memorial Day occurs every year on the last Monday in May as a day dedicated to remembering those who gave their lives in the armed forces.

We recognize their courage, their character and their conviction to bring freedom and democracy to oppressed peoples.

We decorate grave sites, host parades and sing songs in remembrance of those who died that we all might be free.

Quote: And if you are here today, and you have fought for the freedom I have to stand here and preach God’s Word freely – I humbly thank you

***Today, we are going to study the importance of Memorials

BACKGROUND: The text we read shows the Israelites having just finished their wilderness wanderings

- God parted the Jordan river in similar fashion as He had parted the Red Sea for Moses

The Bible says that the people of Israel walked through on ‘dry land’ (Joshua 3:17)

This is even more incredible when we consider that Scripture tells us that the waters of the Jordan were at flood height during that time of year (Joshua 3:15)

- The Israelites were now ready to enter into their inheritance – The land of Canaan

They were about to go into battle against the Canaanites at Jericho

They were preparing to take back the land God promised to Abraham

- But before they enter they were given a task by God:

They were to take 12 stones (one for each tribe) out of the dry river bed which God opened for them to walk through and set them up as Memorial Stones

The number 12 represented the 12 tribes of Israel

These would service the coming generations to cause them to remember the great works God performed for His people, Israel

As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day, I want us to study this passage of Scripture to see how it relates to us…

I. The Reason for Memorials

a. People have very short memories

i. Joke: I’m only 25 and I already have to write down everything that I want to remember

1. Now instead of trying to remember what I wrote down

2. I just have to remember where I put the paper!

ii. Often during times of disaster we put up signs that say, ‘We will never forget’

1. These signs soon get painted over or exchanged for others

2. Names and faces of those who have lost much are forgotten

iii. Illustration: “9/11” Think back to 9/11, the worst tragedy ever on American soil

1. Everyone carried and brandished American flags… for about two weeks

2. Then they started becoming less and less frequent

3. Now there are communities that outlaw the flying of the American flag because they say it might offend someone

4. People really do have short memories

b. God knows we have a problem with memory – and the nation of Israel was no different

i. He knew that all of the miracles that He performed would soon be forgotten if His people did not have some kind of constant reminder

ii. So He made sure they would have these 12 large stones to remind them of His miracles

1. This goes along with the command given to Moses in Deuteronomy:

2. Deuteronomy 6:12 “Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage”

c. Memorials give us something present to bring to remembrance something past

II. The Reach of Memorials

a. Memorials are not just for those who experience the event, but also for those who are to come

b. Illustration: “I was not alive”

i. “Pearl Harbor” I was not alive during the time of pearl harbor – but I can go to Hawaii and see the memorial stones and plaques and can produce a mental image of what it must have been like

ii. “JFK” I also was not alive when John Kennedy was killed, but I can imagine the chaos and sadness when I see a memorial

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