And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’ ” Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 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. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the Lord had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day. (Joshua 4:1-9)
Twelve Stones Of Memorial
A memorial commemorates an event or a person that made an impact on others. Cemeteries are filled with stone memorials honoring the lives of loved ones inscribed with names, dates and short eulogies. Holidays are set aside to recognize an event in history and the lives of great men and women who changed the world. Memorials were not created by man but established by the Creator from the beginning of time. Moses reveals that Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord God as a memorial of worship. Nothing is recorded in Genesis of the origins of the requirement but it is clear God required them to offer sacrifices as a memorial. When the children of Israel prepare to enter the Promised Land, the crossing begins with establishing a memorial. What this great nation was about to do was a monumental journey fulfilling a promise made many generations before to Abraham. Canaan had been promised to Israel and the day had come when this promise was fulfilled. As they were delivered by the hand of the Lord in crossing the Red Sea the entrance into a land of promise would come by the powerful hand of the Lord. The priest bore the ark of the covenant to the edge of the Jordan River and as their feet dipped in the edge of the water, the water stood in a heap very far away and the ground was dried up where they stood. Israel crossed the Jordan opposite Jericho as the priest stood in the midst of the Jordan until all the people had crossed completely. The Lord tells Joshua to instruct the people to remove twelve stones from out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm and to leave them in the place where they would lodge that night. The memorial stones would be a sign among the people in telling the story of the power of God’s deliverance to bring Israel over the Jordan River on dry land. When children would ask the meaning of the stones, the story of the crossing of Jordan would impress upon the hearts of the young souls the power, grace, and mercy of God to bring the people into the land by His mighty hand.
The memorial of stones served the purpose intended by the Lord to remind them how they came to be the nation of God. In the Law of Moses, there were many things that constantly returned the minds of the people to the care and protection of the Lord. When the author of the book of Joshua wrote of the history of Israel he noted the stones remained in the place where they were first taken out of the Jordan many years before. The memorial was still having its impact on the story of how Israel came into the land. A memorial intends to take the mind back to an event and signify certain lessons gleaned from the experience. Israel needed to be reminded of how they came into the land of milk and honey. It was not by their power, their wisdom or their foresight they conquered Canaan. They could not find a way out of Egypt until the Lord delivered them. Israel became a nation through the power of God. Crossing the Jordan, conquering Jericho, inhabiting the land and becoming a prosperous nation came by the hand of the Lord. Twelve stones near the Jordan River reminded them whose power had brought them to victory. The memorial served the purpose to establish the truth. No one could say the people crossed Jordan but by the hand of the Lord. To stop the flow of the Jordan River during the flood season was beyond the power of man. Nothing but the mighty hand of the Lord God made that possible. Joshua told the people the memorial stones let all the peoples of the earth know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that all men may fear the Lord God forever. Gilgal became the place of remembrance as the twelve stones memorialized the victory of God over nations, people and nature itself.
There are memorials today like the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River. The Bible is the greatest memorial given to man. It tells the story of the beginning of the world as God placed a man and woman in the Garden of Eden and the tragic fall that came when they failed to obey the will of the Father. Page upon page reveals the grace of God as men find hope in faith to believe the word of the Lord. Throughout holy writ, the unveiling of the redemption in Christ is unfolded in the divine plan of a loving Father willing to give His only Son as a sacrifice for sin. The Bible tells the story of Jesus Christ who is the divine memorial of grace to bring man back to his God. Contained in the great memorial of scripture are the memorials of worship like singing praise to the Father, offering up memorial sacrifices of prayer and devoting time each first day of the week to remember the memorial of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Obedience is a memorial as faith is necessary accompanied by repentance to change one’s heart. In the waters of baptism, the memorial of the death of Jesus is fulfilled to wash away sins. Disciples of the Lord offer up their bodies as living memorials, holy, acceptable to God as a sacrifice of love. Walking in the light is a memorial to the love of God from the heart of the child of God. The life of a Christian is everything a memorial to God. Their speech, dress, attitudes, hope, and love for others let others see the power of God working in their lives. Joshua told the Israelites the twelve stones would tell the world the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty. Today, the world will know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, when they see the life of a Christian living each day as a memorial to Jesus Christ and Him crucified.