Sermons

Summary: An examination of the importance of memorials conducted through studying the memorials Joshua erected at Gilgal.

“Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, ‘Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, “What do those stones mean to you?” then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So, these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.’

“And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the LORD told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down there. And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day.” [1]

Memorials have meaning. When they are destroyed, the meaning is forgotten for the generations that follow. The monuments of a nation speak of the values of that nation. When a nation begins to destroy that which once anchored it, the foundations are being destroyed and the nation is moving toward insignificance and desolation. To deny the heritage of the nation through disavowal of the past is to ensure a tumultuous future. The people who forget where they came from are a people moving toward dissolution and ruin. For this reason, I fear for the west as we jettison our heritage to embrace whatever the latest fad may be.

Foundational to the heritage that defines the western world is the Faith of Christ the Lord. Though modern politicians seek to deny this truth, their denials are evidence of their ignorance. Obviously, those who would deny our western foundations have never read the founding documents of the nations constituting the West. One cannot read British history without concluding that the Faith of Christ the Lord was woven in the warp and woof of the land. Similarly, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence fairly shout out dependence on the Eternal God as foundational for the United States of America. Canada, arising from a British heritage, is likewise founded on principles of the Faith once delivered to all the saints.

The nations of the west once welcomed immigrants to come with the understanding that those immigrating would learn who we are and adapt themselves to what God had raised up. That welcome has been perverted in more recent days as we invite the peoples of the world to come, remaining who they are even as they deny what we once stood for.

Something akin to this transformation takes place among the churches of our Lord. Our Lord gave us two ordinances, and only two ordinances. They were meant to be memorials, commemorating what Christ has provided for His people. Increasingly, the churches in this day have forgotten the meaning of these ordinances. Consequently, they neglect the truths that flow out of that which the Saviour gave to His people. We are in need of refreshing our memories and doing again those acts that were first given to us as followers of the Christ.

THE IMPORTANCE OF REMEMBERING — “Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, ‘Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, “What do those stones mean to you?” then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So, these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever’” [JOSHUA 4:1-7].

Joshua was motivated by the knowledge that in days to come, children born to the people would see the monument he had erected. Children, being naturally inquisitive, would ask their elders, “What do those stones mean to you?” The very existence of the monument would provide future generations opportunity to instruct still younger generations of God and of His power. God had revealed His love for His people by bringing them to the Jordan at floodtide. The nation had crossed without getting their feet wet, though the river was flooding at the time.

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