April 19, 2014.
“When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” …that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
(Joshua 4:1-3, 6-7)
Today we are going to talk a little bit about memorials. I am presiding over the Lord’s Supper tomorrow and I thought I would lay out some of what I am going to say on here. Memorials seem to be a big deal to God throughout the Old Testament. When you think about one of the most important things they did on a regular basis, you would probably think of the passover which they did every year to remember when The Lord brought them out of Egyptian bondage. This memorial was set up so that the children of Israel would have a yearly reminder and so they could teach their children what God had done for them.
The passage that we started off with is similar to other memorials set up in the bible. Many Christians know the story of Moses parting the Red Sea when the Egyptians were hot on Israel’s tail, but I would venture to guess that less know that waters were parted four different times in the Bible. I didn’t know until I set out to read the Bible all the way through. Moses, Joshua, Elijah and Elisha all part waters to cross over on dry land. This instance of Joshua parting the Jordan came as the children of Israel were finally ready to cross over into the promised land. It was a display from God telling his children that just like he had been with Moses (as when he pated the Red Sea), he would also be with Joshua now (as he parted the Jordan).
God knows us very, very well. I believe he knew that his children would not always have the privilege of seeing his power tangibly. They would not always get to see waters parted or a pillar of fire by night. I believe that God knew that we has humans need something to physically experience that symbolizes what He has done for us, so that we don’t forget. Notice what he says about why they took the twelve stones and set them up for a memorial: “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.”
When their children asked. It was a teaching tool, a tool of remembrance. God could have very well said, “Just teach your children what you have seen.” And he does tell his children to teach generations to come. But he also sets up a physical reminder because either he knows his people will forget or because he knows that the children will need a physical evidence to believe what happened (or some other reason that is not nearly as clear to me, but I think these two would be pretty good assumptions). “Mom, Dad, why are those 12 stones set up like that?” “Oh, right, son, let me tell you the story of how God lead us into the promised land.”
So how does this apply to us? We have a similar memorial set up to remember what Christ did for us.
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
When we come together to take the Lord’s Supper, we come together to fellowship with one another and with our Lord, as Christ says in Mark 14 (v. 22-25). We proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. This is very important, so important that Paul said we eat and drink condemnation on ourselves if we do it in an unworthy manner. I will let you do some research about the stipulations on the passover feast and how closely this relates to that. Regardless, the Lord’s Supper is an important memorial that our Lord set up before he was lead to the cross that we continue to remember him. Let us continue to proclaim his death until he comes. Amen.
Suggested Daily Reading: Joshua 3-4, Matthew 26, I Corinthians 11.
All for his glory.