Stones are significant in scripture. There are 500-600 references to stones or rocks between the Old and New Testaments. As we start this next series, we will look at some instances stones are used and see what they teach us. This week, we will look at Joshua 4. Forgetfulness is a problem for all of us and we’ll see that the stones in this passage serve as a reminder to remember.
Remember the Moment
“After the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua: ‘Choose twelve men from the people, one man for each tribe, and command them: Take twelve stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests are standing…” (Josh. 4:1-3). The stones were to serve as a sign to mark the miracle for generations to come (v. 6-7). God had set His people free from Egypt 40 years earlier. When their back was against the wall, between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, God parted the Red Sea. The Red Sea is a picture of salvation. God brought them out of bondage and slavery! Crossing Jordan is a picture of the moment God brought them in! God brought them into the Promised Land. We have all had failures. We have all had our wilderness moments. If God had not protected us, we would not be here today. Remember where God brought you from. Remember the miracle moment and let it fuel your faith for the future. This was a miracle crossing. The Jordan was at flood stage during harvest season (Josh. 3). They were facing an impossibility. Maybe you are in a flood season today. You may be facing an impossibility, feeling overwhelmed. Some of God’s greatest miracles and greatest moments are when it looks darkest and hopeless. The Promised Land was not heaven. The Israelites were still surrounded by enemies and had battles to face. That is why it is so important to remember. The miracle moments get us through the hard times and remind us of God’s faithfulness.
Remember the Memorial
“Then Joshua set up in Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken from the Jordan, and he said to the Israelites, ‘In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you should tell your children…” (Josh. 4:20-22). Memorials are important. If you go to Washington D.C., you will see many reminding us of history. The stones were to be a memorial, a reminder of where God brought them from and how they got there. They did not get themselves there. God brought them there. They did not cross over saying, “Look what we did!” No, they said, “Look what God did!” The only reason we are where we are today, is because God watched over us in our rebellion, saved us, fed us, provided for us, cared for us, and in His mercy carried us to the other side. As we remember what God has done, we are to pass it on to the next generation. One of the saddest verses in the Old Testament is Judges 2:10, “That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel.” In Joshua 4:9, we read that they also set up stones in the middle of Jordan. There were two sets of stones total, one for that generation and one for the next. Only that generation saw the stones in the river. The next could see the stones at Gilgal and say, “God did it for them. We need God to do it for us.”
Remember the Mission
“This is so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is strong, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God” (Josh. 4:24). This verse is key in giving us the purpose in the stones of remembrance. They are so that all the people of the earth my know the Lord and fear the Lord. In the Promised Land, the Israelites were surrounded by evil, but God said, “I am with you.” Remember God and He will remember you! Joshua is who told them, “Choose you this day who you will serve but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). It does not matter what the other homes are doing. Don’t be ashamed of God, praise Him, live for Him, glorify Him. God wanted all those unbelievers to know that He is the living God. The Israelites were there to tell of the miracles that He had done for them. They were to make His name great among the nations.
What has God done for you? Keep telling the stories! Give your family and friends stones to look to. What are you facing today? God parted the waters before! He can still do that for you today. He will make a way where there is no way.