Yesterday we looked at the first seven verses of Joshua 4 and today we will look at verses 8-13.
Joshua 4:8-13 – 8 Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, just as the LORD spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel; and they carried them over with them to the lodging place and put them down there. 9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing, and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests who carried the ark were standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything was completed that the LORD had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. And the people hurried and crossed; 11 and when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the LORD and the priests crossed before the people. 12 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over in battle array before the sons of Israel, just as Moses had spoken to them; 13 about 40,000 equipped for war, crossed for battle before the LORD to the desert plains of Jericho.
Something in this portion of Scripture to see is that the sons of Israel did all that God and Joshua asked them to do which was to get the stones and carry them so that a memorial could be built. We see that they were obedient to God and that is certainly something that we should be. Then in verse 9 we see something else that is interesting and that is that Joshua then makes a memorial in the middle of the river himself.
So think about this, you have a memorial on land which I believe is there to help them celebrate what God has done for them in holding back the river and to celebrate the new life in front of them in the Promised Land. Then you have the memorial set up in the river. This memorial that Joshua himself makes will not be seen by people because it is in the river but it has great meaning being there. It is there to represent their old life was left behind. The long and painful journey through the desert had ended. They have now entered the Promised Land. The past was behind them and it was buried in the river and now as Romans tells us they were walking in newness of life in the Promised Land.
I think that there is some application here for us and that is that we must leave the past behind us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if anyone is in Christ Jesus they are a new person. Their old lives have ended. And their new lives have begun. We need to be those walking in newness of life and letting those things from the past go completely. A couple of things here – one is too many of us live in the past and in the hurts of the past. We allow the hurts of the past keep us the best that God has to offer today. Put the past behind you and allow it to be buried. The second thing is do you have memorials set up to remember your past before Christ, not in a good way but in a way to make it sound like how great life was before you really started living for Christ? Maybe a picture of you that is not the most flattering but you keep it and show it and fondly remember those days before you choose to follow Christ? We need to leave the past behind and walk fresh into what God has for us today and in the future.
Think about the symbolism that the Israelites had here. Their children would ask about what the one pile of stones set up for as memorial meant. The Israelites would respond to them and then tell their children of the faithfulness of God. How God provided for them to cross the Jordon in a miraculous way to enter into the Promised Land. Then the parents could tell them that there was memorial built that they cannot see that sits in the middle of the Jordon River. Imagine the children would say, why is there a memorial built there? The parent would respond, it is there to remind us that our old lives have been buried and now we are living in newness of life and in obedience to the Lord in a new and wonderful place. What great symbolism there is set up in these two memorials. We need to be living memorials that show God’s grace and mercy.
So let me ask you, do you have memorials in your life? Do you have things that you can point to and teach others about what God has done in your life in the past? Do you understand that you are walking in a newness of life and that the old things need to be done away with and buried like the memorial Joshua built in the river? Let us begin to live in the freedom that Christ has given us.
What is a memorial in your life?