Joshua's leadership was "magnified" in the sight of all Israel. They knew that he was God's mighty leader in the will of God. The miracle of crossing the Jordan was just a token of what God was going to do in their midst in the coming days. Joshua had said, "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that HE WILL WITHOUT FAIL drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites...etc."
Imagine as a father walks with his son by the river Jordan. Looking into the water, the boy saw a neatly piled marker of 12 stones. To his surprise, he stumbled upon an identical pile of stones on the bank. With curiosity aroused, he asked his father, "What do these stones mean?" The father, an obedient son of Abraham obeyed the word of the Lord and related how Jehovah had delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and across the Jordan into the Promised Land. In detail he would have described how God had stayed the waters of the river as the priests held the Ark of the Covenant in the midst of the riverbed. He reported how at that very spot the priests had brought the Ark over into Canaan after all the people had passed through the Jordan. God, he told the lad, had commanded that the two piles of stones should be placed there to remind each succeeding generation of this miraculous deliverance.
I. The Establishment of the Memorials.
A. In accordance with God's command.
1. God has previously stated that they were to set up memorials of stones.
De 27:2-3 And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaister them with plaister: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee.
2. These stones were to stand to remind them of the crossing over of Jordan.
3. One was to be in the water and one was to be on the land.
B. The fulfillment of God's command v1-8
1. One man of each tribe (12) were to carry a stone to the place of encampment.
2. There they were to take the stones from the riverbed and build a memorial to what had happened in that place.
3. This was to be a sign to their children of God's miraculous work that day in cutting off the waters of Jordan.
4. Joshua then set up a second memorial in the midst of Jordan. v9
5. This was where the priests' feet rested as they bare the Ark of the Covenant until all the people had crossed over.
C. God Was Leading Miraculously v10-14
1. This was the final act of separation from the bondage of Egypt and from the past.
2. All the people, including 40 thousand of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and ½ the tribe of Manasseh, were 'clean passed over'.
3. No one who was supposed to cross over was left behind…it was complete!
4. Only God could work this miracle!
5. it was clear that they were being led by the powerful hand of God.
Ps 107:7-8 And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 6. Joshua was magnified in the sight of all the people. v14
D. The power of God is seen in the completion of this wonderful work. v15-18
1. God instructs Joshua to bring the priests out of Jordan.
2. As the soles of the priests' feet touched down on the other side…God released the waters of Jordan.
3. As it began…so it ended.
4. The waters flowed again even over the banks and it would have covered all evidence that they had crossed over except…
5. The memorials stood as witness to what took place.
II. The Importance of Memorials. v19-24
A. We are prone to forget.
De 4:9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;
1. God had warned the nation to be careful not to forget, but they did.
2. The Scriptures record for us the fact that they soon forgot the covenant they had made with the Lord.
Jg 3:7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.
3. Of course the ultimate result would be their captivity at the hands of the Assyrians and the Babylonians.
De 28:49-50 The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:
B. Their act of putting up the stones, (12) for each tribe, was in obedience to the will of God.
1. Memorials are placed to remind us.
2. Consider the Lincoln memorial, or the Vietnam wall in Washington.
3. Along with many other memorials they do two things.
4. They get our attention…and the attention of succeeding generations and they cause us to ask why?
5. Then they answer the question as we are reminded of what they memorialize.
C. The two-fold purpose of these memorials.
1. To cause their children to ask "what mean these stones?"
2. To stand as a reminder to 'all the people of the earth' that God is an awesome God who does mighty and wonderful works on behalf of His people.
3. That we, His people, might fear or reverence Him forever!
III. The Memorials of Christ.
A. Two Ordinances.
1. One in water and one out of water.
2. Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
3. Both are similar in that they serve to remind us of the mighty work of God in our salvation.
4. They remind us that we have crossed over from darkness to light…from death unto life.
Joh 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
B. Memorials are reminders not originators.
1. The stones stood as a testimony to what God had done for His people.
2. In the same manner, baptism and the Lord's Supper stand as reminders of what Christ has done for the believer.
3. There are those who would make them the way of salvation.
4. But that makes as much sense as saying that Israel crossed over Jordan on the stones!
We need memorials to remind us of what a mighty and wonderful God we serve. We are so prone to forget His wonderful works in our lives. It would be easy for us to look at Israel with disdain and shame them for their forgetfulness, but we are just as guilty! The Lord initiated the memorials for us because He knew us! "As oft as ye do this do it in remembrance of me…"
Perhaps you are here tonight and you do not have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The memorials will not mean much to you. May I invite you to come tonight and let us share the gospel with you? Jesus died on Calvary to pay the debt of our sin…we can be forgiven as we accept Him by faith. Will you trust Him today?
Christian, do we remember what God did for us? How He gave His Son that we might have eternal life? Let's not forget. Let's live for Him!