Summary: This makes for a great message to be given at a funeral as people are considering the thoughts of the memorial stones left on ground at the cemetery!
“What meaneth these stones”
It was the changing of the guard, Moses had departed, now Joshua took the reigns of giving leadership to the children of Israel. In this text, we find them at the Jordan River. It was the time when this muddy, churning river, was at it’s highest peak. It was the season known as “the swelling on the Jordon River.”
Was this a mistake? Certainly not! God brought them to this place exactly to the day in the fortieth year of their wandering. God needed to teach the children of Israel that they could depend both on him, and upon the leadership of Joshua.
After God stopped the flow of the Jordan River, and the two million children of Israel crossed over, walking across the dry river bed floor, God gave the instructions that one strong man from each of the twelve tribes lift and carry a stone from out of the river bed. He was to carry this stone to their new lodging place in the Jordon valley where they would be heaped one upon the other. This would be a memorial from generation to the next.
Let me be sure to place this humorous thought here. You must reflect on the last statement. Men, by nature, are competitive. Can you envision the contest that was taking place between these twelve men? Each must have been doing their male grunts, flexing their biceps, and posing for the crowd as they sought to lift the biggest rock that they could find in the river bed. I can just see the twelve tribes on the river bank rooting and applauding as their man came upon the stage. What a contest!
Now, let us get into the message. After heaping the stones together, Joshua said that generation after generation would come upon these stones and ask this question, “What is meant by these stones?” Let me suggest to you these three things:
(By the way, this makes for a great message to be given at a funeral as people are considering the thoughts of the memorial stones left at the cemetery!)
1. You have come to journey’s end.
Each stone was heaped upon the other. Jesus Christ is the chief corner stone. We are the living stones that are to built upon Christ. (1 Peter 2) The children of Israel had been wandering in the desert for the last forty years. They had to depend upon God every step of the way.
(If this message is being used as a funeral message, consider how many times in the life of the individual’s who has died, that they had to depend upon the help of the Lord.)
This life’s journey is hard. God made life so hard that we have got to depend upon him every step of the way. We too, need water from the rock. We too, need daily bread. We too, need God to lead us with the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night!
2. Our God is a God of miracles.
When the children of Israel looked upon the muddy, overflowing waters of the Jordon River, they surely must have thought that God had made a mistake. But nothing takes God by surprise! God is a God of miracles.
As I meditated on that muddy churning water, I thought of my sinful life. Satan has a lot of mud that he could pile up against me. Thank God for the cross! It is there that Christ stopped the mouth of the lion. He stepped on his head, and Satan lost his accusing power! The guilt of my sin was brought to halt as Christ poured out of his own body the water and the blood that reclaimed my fallen soul.
God is a God of miracles. He alone can take you through the waters of baptism. He alone can bring you through to the other side on dry ground.
Remember that it was the priest holding on their shoulders the Ark of the Covenant that first touched the rivers edge. When we claim the promises of God, it is then that we will see the flooding waters that deeply trouble us, recede!
(Again, for those considering this message for the use of a funeral, press hard the point that our God is the only god who offers this power of resurrection and life. He alone is our hope.)
3. You are now entering into the land of milk and honey.
Milk comes from cows. Honey comes from the nectar of bees. Now that is deep!
In order for cows to produce milk they have to have green fields upon which they can gaze. In order of bees to produce honey, there have got to be flowering trees and lush vegetation. There is your picture of Heaven! Heaven is a better place, It certainly beats this brown dry wilderness world in which we live.