Summary: A sermon for memorial day asking what we do to remember our faith and how we need to not place the memorial over what we should be remembering.
-welcome to NewSong on Memorial Day, or Race Day, whatever your fancy.
-so today I want to talk about memorials and some we have as Christians. I know most of these you’ll have heard of, but I want to just take a second and take a moment, take time out while I’m talking, and think about what these mean to you.
-and we’re going to go way back. A couple of thousand years.
1. JEWISH MEMORIALS
-I want us to go back a bit to think about how God’s people handled memorials. I think they have kind of an inside track since they live entrenched in god’s laws and kind of get a little bit of how He thinks.
-so for this I want us to look at a section in history, a time we all know probably some pieces of the story. After Moses died Joshua was left in charge to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. They had finished wandering in the desert for forty years and now they were going to go in and get the land god had given them.
-and I know we all know some of these stories, probably the most famous is Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, there’s even kids’ songs about it. We know the end, God instructs Joshua to walk around the wall for seven days, seven times on the seventh day, then they all yell and what? The wall comes tumbling down and there is much rejoicing for the nation of Israel.
-and most people know the first part of the story. Before they attack Joshua sends some spies to Jericho, they end up staying with Rahab who hides them in return for a promise that they will let her and her family live.
-but there’s a big problem with this wonderful plan of attack that happens in the middle. After the spies get back, they tell Joshua let’s go for it. So now Joshua has to transport about 1.5 million people from the edge of the desert to Jericho for this march. The problem: the Jordan River is in the way. A large, rushing river and you have to get one and a half million people across it. Not easy. But what did God do the last time there was a river in the way?
-so Joshua talks to God about this and God says to do the same thing, kind of. This time the Israelites have the Ark of the Covenant (think Indiana Jones, which came out with a new movie this weekend, just putting it out there if you’re bored tonight). So Joshua has the priests carry the Ark to the middle of the river and hold it there until all the people pass. As the priests step to the water, the water miraculously stops at some point way up river and the water stops flowing, again like before.
-we should also mention the Bible says this was during harvest season when the river was flooded, so we’re not just stopping a big river here, God’s stopping a big river that’s higher than normal, and when the priests get to the water’s edge, it simply stops flowing.
-a huge miracle, over a million people cross on slightly muddy ground to start the conquest of a new land. So what do the people do? We pick it up in Joshua 4.
**Josh. 4:1-9 -> 1When the whole nation was finally across, God spoke to Joshua: 2“Select twelve men from the people, a man from each tribe, 3and tell them, ‘From right here, the middle of the Jordan where the feet of the priests are standing firm, take twelve stones. Carry them across with you and set them down in the place where you camp tonight.’ ” 4Joshua called out the twelve men whom he selected from the People of Israel, one man from each tribe. 5Joshua directed them, “Cross to the middle of the Jordan and take your place in front of the Chest of God, your God. Each of you heft a stone to your shoulder, a stone for each of the tribes of the People of Israel, 6so you’ll have something later to mark the occasion. When your children ask you, ‘What are these stones to you?’ 7you’ll say, ‘The flow of the Jordan was stopped in front of the Chest of the Covenant of God as it crossed the Jordan—stopped in its tracks. These stones are a permanent memorial for the People of Israel.’ ” 8The People of Israel did exactly as Joshua commanded: They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan—a stone for each of the twelve tribes, just as God had instructed Joshua—carried them across with them to the camp, and set them down there. 9Joshua set up the twelve stones taken from the middle of the Jordan that had marked the place where the priests who carried the Chest of the Covenant had stood. They are still there today. (MSG)