-When all the nation of Israel had finished crossing over the Jordan River on dry ground, the LORD spoke to Joshua on this unique and special day saying, “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man each tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight (Joshua 4:1-3).” Joshua obeyed the LORD’s command, and the twelve men heaved these large stones upon their shoulders and carried them over as a memorial sign in perpetuity for generations to come as to the LORD’s greatness in caring for His people. When future children of Israel ask, “What do these stones mean to you?” the Hebrews are to say, “Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off (Joshua 4:4-7).” The twelve sons of Israel carried out this command and laid the stones down at Gilgal, where the Israelites lodged on the eastern edge of Jericho in the desert plains of this valley region. Then, from the text, it appears that Joshua set up twelve more stones in the middle of the Jordan River exactly at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the Ark were standing. Those stones remained there until the completion of this text was written according to Joshua 4:9. The priests remained steadfast at their place in the middle of the river until all was completed that the LORD had commanded. The people did hurry across, and then came the 40,000 men of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh who were ready and equipped for war. “On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered (yare' – to be feared, honored, to be in awe of) him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life (Joshua 4:8-14).”
-Now the LORD spoke again to His servant Joshua telling him to command the priests who carried the Ark to come up from the Jordan. When they did this, the waters of the Jordan returned to their proper and natural place, and “went over all its banks as before.” On the tenth of the first month, which is Nisan, or Abib, and is the same exact time of the first Passover when they were leaving Egypt (Exodus 12:2-3), the people came up out of the Jordan and camped in the Promised Land (Joshua 4:15-19)! This monumental day ended with Joshua taking the twelve stones and setting them up as their memorial stones for future generations…”For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may KNOW (emphasis mine) that the Hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever (Joshua 4:20-24).”
-*Application* Do we easily remember the great and mighty things God has done for us in this life, or are we quick to forget the miracles He has performed? We need memorial stones ourselves often to set aside and reflect on when we have those times of doubt in God’s sovereignty in matters. We all should probably admit this. Memorial stones also give us opportunity to pass the goodness of God’s grace on to the future generations so that they may know and fear the LORD who does incredible things. What are the monumental moments of our lives? How are we memorializing the things that He has taken us through? Think about these things and resolve to remember the awesome deeds of the LORD our God.
Verses to Memorize: Joshua 4:14, 24