Joshua 4:5-9, “And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.”
When the children of Israel came to the shores of Jordon, each of them had already witnessed the power of God in a mighty way. Now that they were ready to cross Jordon they would once again see the greatness of God’s power when the waters of Jordon would be “cut off”. The Lord commanded them to place stones in Jordon, and take 12 stones out to be stones of “memorial”. These stones would be reminders to the children of Israel concerning God’s grace and help that they had experienced.
In 1 Samuel 7:12, it was Samuel who placed a stone between Mizpeh and Shen, calling the name of it “Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.” The children of Israel in 1 Samuel 7 had been delivered by the Lord from the Philistines with a “great thunder”. Samuel placed the stone called Ebenezer in its place to remind them of God’s grace and help provided for them on that day.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you may be like me, and not have a physical stone set in any particular area, but we are able to have stones of memorial in our lives. Times that we can look back on and think, it was the Lord which helped me on that day. I personally have many times in my life when I’m assured it was the Lord who performed a great work for me. Those times of memorial do at least three things for us:
(1) Provides assurance of God’s love for us! In 1 Samuel 17 when David would face Goliath, he looked back on his life and remembered the times when God “delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear…” (1 Sam 17:37). Those times of memorial in David’s life gave him assurance of God’s love toward him. David understood that if God cared for me in those days, He cares for me today. Dear child of grace, if you’ve experienced a time in your life when God has shown His kindness and grace, it’s because He loves you; and if He ever loved you, He always will love you (Romans 8:35-39).
(2) We are encouraged to face the problems of today! In John 16:33 the Lord tells us “in this world ye shall have tribulation…” If you, dear reader, have not faced troubles in your life, be assured one day you will. The children of Israel, after crossing Jordan, would face many enemies, but the memorial stones encouraged them. Our memorials of God’s help encourage us, that if God was a sufficient help in times past, His grace is sufficient for the troubles of today (2 Cor 12:9).
(3) We are strengthened to overcome the worries about the future! Not one person in this world has a perfect knowledge about the future. Our planning for the next day is easily disrupted by common events. Yet, because of the memorials of our lives we can all say, “I don’t know about my tomorrow, but my hope is in Him Who is able to hold me tomorrow as He has all the days of my life.”
The Lord told Joshua in Joshua 1:6, “Only be thou strong and very courageous…” I’m sure Joshua had many concerns about the days after he and the children of Israel crossed Jordan. What a great blessing and encouragement it must have been to look at those stones of memorial and recall all that God had done for them. And we too, in the year 2018, can enjoy a comfort and peace in the Lord, by remembering our Stones of Memorial. Remembering the help, mercy and temporal grace of the Lord that we have experienced. Amen!