I see three reasons that are given in Joshua 4:1-9 on the action of building a memorial. If you haven’t read part 1: “You and Me Have History” you can do so here.
It is to be a time of remembering what God has done.
“And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” (v. 7) First, the memorial stones were to be a reminder of their own personal experience. In verse six it says, this memorial will cause the children to ask; “What do these stones mean to you?”
These stones are first of all to be a reminder to those who were present of their personal experience, what they saw, heard and felt. Tell your story, Keep a clear memory of what God did for you. Keep on telling your stories so that you never lose your own sense of awe and wonder of what God has done in your life.”
What kind of memorials do you have in your life?
Whether you realize it or not we all have memorials in our lives, no not a monument of stones, but one built of memories. There are memories of places, places that trigger memories just as the memorial stones in Gilgal. There are some significant places in your life that elicit memories.
There are memories of people. These are memories of people who God has used in your life. There are memories of significant events that trigger strong emotional reactions from you. There are memories of experiences, of God answering prayers and of God’s marvelous hand of provision.
Certain songs can also trigger memories. I have so many wonderful memories of when we were in China to adopt Lily, our youngest daughter. One that is always brought to my mind involves the song “How Great is our God.” Every time I hear that song, I’m instantly taken back and vividly remember sitting on the floor of the hotel room in China, holding Lily in my arms, rocking and singing that song to her. That song instantly sparks that memory and I can’t help but think what a great God we serve and how much He cares for each one of us.
Along with thinking about that trip to China, and on a little lighter note – we were so excited when we found a Papa John’s pizza! We had been craving familiar american food. So now, any time we eat Papa John’s I think of China 🙂
It’s fun to remember and talk about those memories. But how often do we sit down and think about the memories of what God has done in our lives? How often do we gather our friends or our kids to talk about those memories of His faithfulness?
The Memorial stones were to serve as a basis of sharing faith with their children.
In two places in this chapter, parents are reminded of their responsibility for the communication of God’s Word and his calling on their children, generation to generation.
First in verses 6-7, “that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ (7) Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”
And again in verses 21-23, “Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ (22) then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; (23) for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over.
As with other memorials in the Old Testament, the intention of the memorial was to provoke questioning especially from future generations. We have a responsibility to keep telling these stories. To keep them alive in our memories. To invoke the awe and wonder of the Lord from generation to generation.
IT WAS TO BE A TIME OF RENEWING PERSONAL COMMITMENT
The remembrance of the works of God, will be a powerful remedy against distrust of his promise and goodness; for he is God, and changes not. God’s way is in the sanctuary. We are sure that God is holy in all his works. God’s ways are like the deep waters, which cannot be fathomed; like the way of a ship, which cannot be tracked. God brought Israel out of Egypt. This was typical of the great redemption to be wrought out in the fulness of time, both by price and power. If we have harboured doubtful thoughts, we should, without delay, turn our minds to meditate on that God, who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, that with him, he might freely give us all things.
These verses say if you are having any doubtful thoughts, then without delay, begin meditating on what God has done for you.
What are some events that you can look back on as a pile of stones marking a defining moment for you? A moment when God showed his power in your life? When he was guiding you in a very clear way or when he answered a prayer, fulfilled a promise?
“I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:12).
I can look back and see so many memorial stones in my life. When Maddie was a baby she had a hemangioma on her ear, which was essentially a birthmark that grows over time. It was concerning because of the location where it was growing and the doctor said if it went it into her ear canal, it could cause hearing loss.
We were first time parents and didn’t have much experience at that point in praying for healing over our child (oh how experienced we are now!), but we prayed for her ear and also had prayer for her one Sunday morning at the altar.
That very week after she was prayed over here, the hemangioma dried up & disappeared. A true miracle!
For us, that was the first healing stone of the healing memorial in our lives. Then, we adopted Lily and began the journey of all of her medical diagnoses and surgeries and we saw God heal her over and over again.
And so we added another healing stone and another healing stone.
Then, I became pregnant with Jude after 5 miscarriages – and another healing stone was placed on the memorial for my womb being healed. Then, we walked through the intense time with Jaidin after he had his stroke. And during that time with him when he was literally hovering between life and death. We were able to look back at our memorial and see where God healed time after time after time
He healed Maddie.
He healed Lily over and over again.
He healed my womb.
and so we prayed with that established history that we had with our Savior.
And Jaidin was healed. And so we added another stone to our memorial. And while the healing memorial was being built. We were also building a memorial of hope. Because with each prayer that was sent up, hope was also building in our hearts and we placed a stone. And along with that I was building an Expectation Memorial.
Because with each stone of hope I laid down – I also laid down a stone of expectation.
Hands down, the biggest memorials in my life are memorials of healing, hope and expectation. I have an established history with my King. I know that He heals. I know that He doesn’t dash my hopes. I know that I can expect fully to see His goodness.Even in situations and circumstances that aren’t good.
What memorials are you building in your life?
I remember and because of that I can’t help but hope with expectation.