RememberOur reading for today is part of a bigger section (4:1-9) which deals with a fairly simple matter: That God wanted a representative from each of the twelve tribes to pick up a big stone from the middle of the Jordan and they were to place these stones in a memorial pile at their first camp site.
The passage describes it in three parts: God giving Joshua instructions, Joshua giving the people instructions and then the people actually doing it. (Our reading is the middle part)
This repetition gives a fairly simple action a lot of gravity. It is important to remember what God has done. It is important to be able to pass these significant events on to the next generation.
The number twelve is important because it signifies the whole nation by their ancestral tribes and also reminds us that this was the fulfilment of God's promise to Jacob, the father of the twelve.
It's also important that these stones come from the river-bed - their smoothed shape would make it clear where they came from. This pile of unusual stones would signify the miraculous nature of the event.
Placing the pile of stones at their first camp site was helpful too. Previously their camp sites had been marked by the pillar of fire/cloud, but their journey through the wilderness was a transition and so no permanent record was kept. Now they are here to stay and so this stone pillar was their first building, the first sign of permanence.
Remembering is important. We do well to document important moments, to take photos and to set up plaques and memorials. The "pillars" aren't the important thing though, what's important is that we tell our children and their children what the Lord has done.
Parents, have you told your children about how you came to faith and why you love the the Lord? Grandparents, have you told your grandchildren how you came to faith and why you love the Lord? Don't assume they'll get it by some kind of osmosis - show them your Bible (many of us have underlined verses or have a date written in the front or the back), tell them about that Youth camp where you prayed that special prayer, share with them why you've been going to church for so long. Talk about prayers that were answered and how you have been witness to God's faithfulness.
|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." (Joshua4:4-7)|