Stack the Stones | Joshua 4:1-24
Date: May 28, 2023
Series: Stand Alone Sermons
INTRO> This coming Monday has a history in our nation as “Memorial Day”. Some history says that it began in Waterloo New York on May 5th, 1866. Congress has recognized Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day. They did it in May so the roads would be dried up enough to travel. In 1868, General John Logan, then president of the Grand Army of the republic, declared that May 30th would be a day to “decorate with flowers the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”
- The OED defines a Memorial as “a statue, stone or ceremony that is built in order to remind people of an important past event.”
CONTEXT> This is a beautiful thing. Memorial Day is not a Christian holiday in anyway but the principle of REMEMBERING is one of the most frequent commands in the Bible. Actually the word remember and it’s variants are used over 550x in the Bible! Wow! “The notion of remembering in Hebrew is more than a calling to mind. It involves a remembering with concern; it also implies loving reflection and, where called for, a corresponding degree of action.” -Martin Woudstra, Book of Joshua
*ILL> We do this in a number of areas of our lives. One of the most meaningful and moving acts of remembering and celebrating is what is known in hospitals as “The ringing of the bell” This happens in the cancer ward, when a patient has completed treatment for cancer and is in remission. This is a picture of a cousin on my wife’s side, Grant Currington.(PIC) This is a pic of him a few years ago (PIC) Grant was 17 when he was diagnosed with cancer, a week before his 18th birthday. He went through treatment for a year and on October 11th of 2021.. he rang the bell! (VIDEO)
CONTEXT> The same way that we understand the phrase “Ring The Bell”… The OT equivalent of that is “Stack the Stones” We see all through the Bible an event takes place and a person or the people make a memorial right there, just like in the passage that was read to you today in Joshua. Why is this so important? Why does God literally command us to Remember? Easy, two words. “Spiritual Amnesia”
The Side-Affects of Spiritual Amnesia:
- Pride and Arrogance
- Fear and Doubt
CONTEXT> In order for us not to end up in one of these two places, the Lord knew that what we needed was to Remember. In Joshua 4 he gives us the WHY behind the WHAT. The WHAT was “stack 12 stones” The Why is much deeper. The context is Mosses has died, they have fought so hard and they end up facing the Jordan River, Impossible. The ark passes in front of them and when the ark is in the River, God’s drys it up. Amazing!
- Remembering recruits the next generation.
- v6-7 “that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” Notice the “when your children ask” because they will! We see later on in the story of the OT, King Hezzikiah finds the Torah, that’s how far they have strayed.
- 1st Chair- “The Committed” these people are pioneers in the faith, Joshua, David etc. They stack stones.
- 2nd Chair– “The Compromised” Known as “the elders” born in the wilderness. They Knew ABOUT what God had done. They “pass by” stacked stones.
- 3rd Chair- “The Confused” This generation all out REJECTS God, the “worthless sons of Eli” They throw stones.
APP> Which one are you?
2) Remembering restores the worlds hope.
- v23-24 “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.”
*ILL- Being at JT’s funeral and meeting a man who said, “I’ve never met this kid and don’t know anything but I had to come see today.” APP> The point of your life is to point to Jesus.
3) Remembering refuels our faith.
- v9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day.
- v18 “And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lordcame up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.”
APP> Now follow me with this, God told him to stack the stones in the middle of the river, then the waters covered the stones? Why would God do that? Think about it… when would be the only time they could see the monument of stones? When the River was dried up… River drying up = warship and famine.
APP> Intentionally remembering God’s faithfulness in the past refuels our faith in the present.
“Never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light.” Charles Spurgeon
- Take a stone today for each of your family members.
- Gather around the kitchen table or a common place tonight.
- Recall and retell a specific way that God has been faithful to you this year and place your stone in the center of the table. (stacking the stones)
- Leave the stones stacked as a memorial to God’s faithfulness.