I was reading in the book of Joshua this morning. Chapters four through six, to be specific. And what is recounted there is an event that took place immediately after the entire people of Israel, hundreds of thousands of them, had been miraculously brought through water yet again (this time the Jordan River) to enter into the land that God had promised to them.
And I was struck by what God told Joshua to do after the event.
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.’” (Joshua 4:1-3, ESV)
Hmmm..what is that about? Seems a weird request to make of Joshua after such a stunning event. Ah, but there is great wisdom in this command from the Lord – he is telling Joshua to do this as a sign of remembrance. Later in the story, he explains…
The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”
Do you see? God wanted to make sure that they didn’t forget how good and gracious and mighty he had been. So everytime a father was passing by this pile of stones with his son, and his son asked, “What are those there for?”, the father would reply, “Son, wait until you hear this! Do I have a story for you! It is about how great, and mighty, and generous our God has been to us, and our fathers before us. Listen…”
And it got me to thinking – we should do this.
Consider – how many times has God come through remarkably for you? Maybe in answer to a request you made of him. Maybe because he just did, without you even asking. What have you done to remember that? Imagine what it would be like to create something – as simple as a note in a journal, or as detailed as some object you made to represent the occasion of blessing. Then, every time you looked at it, you would be reminded of how great, how mighty, how loving, how gracious God had been to you.
And imagine if you placed it in a very public place, so that if your family, or friends, or a guest asked you, you could share the story. “Oh yeah, wait until you hear this! Do I have a story for you! It is about how great, and mighty, and generous our God has been to us, and our fathers before us. Listen…”
All this, so that your children, and all those around you, would know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, and that we would fear the LORD our God forever.