JOSHUA 4, 8, & 24
Remembering at Jordan
God performed a spectacular miracle for the Israelites as He parted the waters of the Jordan River to make crossing into the Promised Land possible. Joshua commanded the Israelites to take up twelve stones, according to the number of tribes of the children of Israel, and place them before Jordan as a memorial. He said that this would be a sign for future generations. As a result, children would ask their fathers, in time to come, “What mean ye by these stones?” Then it would be told how the mighty hand of God parted the waters of Jordan so that the Ark of the Covenant and the Israelites could pass over.
Remembering at Mount Ebal
After crossing over into the Promised Land, Joshua and the Israelites miraculously conquered the city of Jericho. As a result, they expected to win other battles because God was with them. However, because of SELF confidence and sin in their family, they were defeated at Ai. The people were devastated. In dealing with his grief, Joshua learned there was sin in the family because someone had not followed God’s instructions about spoils of war. After the sin was forgiven, the Israelites fought again and won. Because of this, Joshua built a stone altar on Mount Ebal and called his family together. He wrote God’s laws on tablets of stone as if to say, “Remember who you are. You are God’s people.” He read them all of the law and reminded them of the blessings of obedience and the consequences of disobedience. He reminded his people that they had a choice about the quality of their future. At the altar, the Israelites pledged themselves anew to being God’s people.
Remembering at Shechem
Joshua was old by the time the Promised Land was mostly conquered. Knowing he would not be around much longer, he wanted to make sure that his people would continue living for God. He invited them all to Shechem for a family reunion. Joshua traced their history all the way back to Abraham’s father. Stories outlined Israel’s journey from slavery to the Promised Land. Although the people had heard these stories before, Joshua felt they needed to hear them again if they were going to live godly lives. In light of their stories, Joshua asked his people to make a choice about whom they were going to serve. Choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua made a covenant with the people and wrote it in the book of the law. He set a great stone under a great oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. Afterwards, Joshua said, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us…”
Joshua believed that family gatherings were essential for remembering all the works of God. Without periodic pauses to remember we unintentionally tend to forget how God has worked in our past. If you're celebrating Memorial Day with family and friends, read God’s word, remember His blessings, and choose you this day whom ye will serve. Looking back, we need to realize where we have been and what we have experienced as individuals and as a family. We have seen those who could have died still here with us this day! We have seen how God restored family, restored strength, increased faith, supplied our needs, protected us, forgave us, and blessed us. In other words, God has parted the waters for us and we are standing on dry ground. Where are our stones? What will we remind each other of? What will we tell our children about? Will we care to share what the Lord has done? Have we been worthy of such grace? God has intervened in all of our lives in some way. Yes, we still have trials and we still sin and need forgiveness, but God’s mercies are new every morning. Are we warning our loved ones about the consequences of sin as Joshua did at Mt. Ebal? Today, Memorial Day 2014, I encourage you to go outside and find a special stone or several stones. I am going to place a stone in our living room for my family and friends to see. Just as Joshua used stones to engage God’s people to embrace the future and commit their life to God, I pray this stone, or group of stones, will remind each of us that we are purposed to be God’s people through Jesus. Let your own stone be a "memorial" for all God has done and is continuing to do for you and your family. Keep a stone in your pocket or set one or more up in your house.
“Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us.”