It was a very important day. They were about to cross the Jordan River, without a bridge or a boat. God would provide a way, a completely miraculous way. The priests (carrying the Ark of the Covenant) would lead the way, and when their feet touched the water of the river, the water would part and the priests would walk on dry ground.
You may remember that the previous generation also passed through a body of water on dry ground. However, even after they saw that and many more miracles, they were doubtful and disobedient. That disobedience cost them the privilege of going into the Promised Land. Now, the next generation was about to do what they could not. It was a very important day for them and a very important day for future generations to remember.
God told them exactly what to do and how to do it. The priests were to go into the river Jordan first, carrying the Ark of the Covenant. ( click here to read Joshua chapter 3 ) When the soles of their feet touched the water, the water would "be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.” So while the priests stood firm on dry ground, bless their little hearts, they were obedient and did just as God commanded! The entire nation of Israel, thousands of them, began to cross the Jordan on dry ground! What a glorious experience it must have been to walk on a dry riverbed; watching the water piled up in a heap, obedient to the hand of God!
Considering their parents and grandparents had been witness to miracles and still disobeyed, the LORD gave them an interesting additional instruction. Twelve men were to go into the (dry) river bed where the priests were standing and gather twelve stones to bring with them to the place where they would lodge that night.
Why? “Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”
“When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ “For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” click here to read all of Joshua chapter 4
Not only were they to take a tangible reminder of a miracle with them, but did you notice the purpose of the memorial? So they would remember, and teach the following generations and all the earth will recognize the hand of God and revere Him forever.
It is a good thing to remember major events of the past and recognize those who contributed to it. We celebrate our independence from tyranny, honor our veterans, Presidents, Mothers, Fathers, and on Memorial Day, those who died in service to our country.
While those are worthy of our remembrance, it is far more important that we never forget all authorities are established by God (click here to read Romans 1:13)
Who gave our founding fathers the wisdom and foresight to establish this republic and
Who allows our existence according to His will. We are thankful He continues to give wisdom to those who defend and protect it, but understand that if we forget Him, He has no obligation to defend us. Every day we must remember that the source of all these blessings is God alone. We must take with us whatever necessary as a memorial, a reminder of the source of very lives. We must diligently teach our children, because just like those who crossed the Red Sea, we are always one generation away from forgetting.
What then can you and I do to remember what He has done for us? It could be a stone from a path where you and God had a special visit, or a verse of Scripture that you have marked in your Bible, or maybe even have framed in your home. Perhaps you wear a cross or have Christian music playing…we must do whatever we can do to honor Him, lest we forget, and the world will not hear.
In our humanness, we are quick to forget all You have done for us. Thank You for giving us Your Word in which we see Your works from the beginning. It is a powerful memorial of all You have done (and are still doing) so that we can stand firm in You. Thank You for such a precious reminder that You are working for our good.