The word memorial has an obviously sad connotation. We only tend to associate it these days with death and sorrow, but God has Joshua and the Israelites build a memorial to commemorate their crossing the Jordan — an event worthy of celebration.
1 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua,2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe,
3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe,5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites,6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’
7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan.21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over.
24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
Joshua 4:1-7, 20-24 (NIV)
We should all have such memorials in our lives. I don’t mean that we all have a pile of rocks we can go to, but there should be events and milestones (no pun intended) in our walk with Christ where we can say, “look, here’s what God did.” What memorials do you have? In what ways is God’s work evident in your life to you? To others?
I love a good spy story…here’s a really good one.
In chapter 2, Joshua sends spies to scope out Jericho. The spies stayed at the home of Rahab, a prostitute. (If this were a commercial, this is where we’d hear the lame, anachronistic record scratch sound…) She wasn’t a used car salesman or an IRS agent; she was a hooker! Oh, and she was a Gentile too…not exactly a quality in her favor.
The cool thing is that God used Rahab to protect His men, and she was aware of that. Because she allowed God to use her, He protected her and her family. She kept the secret and was rewarded with her life.
I like to think that Rahab repented of her lifestyle and followed God, but I guess we don’t really know…
The thing is, if God can use a woman who used sex and adultery for a living, can’t He use us, even with our failure, foibles, and sin? Can’t we change our ways and allow the sovereign, almighty God to employ us to accomplish his purposes?
The answer is a resounding “yes.”
I’ve joined a group of guys who are sharing wisdom and holding each other accountable in the ECC Daily Reading Plan. I’m excited, because these guys are bright, genuine men of deep faith, and I can’t wait to partake in their wisdom as I share mine along with them.
When I have things to share, I’ll post them here as well. Here are my thoughts from today on Joshua 1:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
God’s command for Joshua is the same command for us. We don’t have to face hostile peoples in order to overtake their land and establish God’s kingdom. Compared to Joshua’s tasks, ours are pretty light, don’t you think? But we have the same charge from the same God who was with Joshua.
God is with us…all the time. He’s the same God who gives us strength to do all things (Philippians 4:13). So why not expect Him to go with us and help us handle our day?
The Complete Jewish Bible uses the word “bold” in place of “courageous.” That gives it a different slant to me. Not only does that phrasing suggest a passive, just-not-being-afraid, but it also suggests an active strength. We should be bold in sharing our faith, standing up for truth, doing the right thing. God gives us that power too, in addition to the power to not fear.