Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Joshua 4

It was time for the Israelites to cross over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan. God told Moses to put the ark of the covenant out in front of all the people. Usually the ark was carried along with the tabernacle and its furnishings in the middle of the procession with tribes in front of it and tribes behind it to protect it. But this time the ark was going to lead the people.

Of all the Hebrews over the age of twenty who left Egypt, only Caleb and Joshua remained. They were the only two who were adults when God parted the Red Sea and allowed Israel to cross over on dry land. Even as Israel was safely delivered out of their bondage through miraculous waters, so Israel would be delivered into their new land through miraculous waters.

For this reason, to show that God was going to lead them and go before them, the ark was to go first. As soon as the priests who were carrying the ark stepped into the flooding Jordan, the waters backed up at some distance to the north and the people crossed over on dry land.

God commanded Joshua to choose twelve men, one from each tribe, to carry a stone from the middle of the bed of the Jordan River. This they did and when the Israelites encamped at Gilgal the twelve great stones were set up as an ebenezer, a monument. Joshua said to the Israelites, In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, “What do these stones mean?” tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the people of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God. (Joshua 4:21-24)

The stones formed a monument which was designed to pique the curiosity of the generations to come. Fathers were charged with the responsibility of telling their sons the story behind the stones. The stones themselves were not important. They were just stones from the middle of the river. It was the story that was important! It had to be told so all the people of the earth might hear about the power of God. It had to be told so God’s people would always remember what he did for them and never wander away.

We celebrate sacraments which are acted out ebenezers. We tell our children what baptism means and why we do it. We tell them about the grace and love of God. We tell them about the bread and the fruit of the vine so they will be familiar with the story of Jesus and his sacrificial death on the cross. Our children and all peoples of the earth must know these stories of God’s power, grace, and love.

But there is more. We each have a story. What is that story? What are the ebenezers, the monuments, in our own lives? What piques the interest of our children and grandchildren and causes them to ask us why we do this or that or what does that mean? We must tell our stories. How did you start being Christian? Why did your life change when you were twenty-four? Why do you wear that cross around your neck all the time? We have stories and they must be told. Every single one of us Christians has a story that tells of the power, grace, and love of God. Telling that story is the work of the kingdom of heaven!


At 12:21 PM, Blogger Anne of The House said...

Your post today reminds me of the importance of telling our stories not only to others but back to ourselves. While walking on the beach dealing with a heavy issue... when we come to a conclusion with the Lord we grab a unique-looking rock and keep it and remember what you came to understand. I once bought a little vial of glitter to remind myself (after a great disillusionment with church elders and leaders) that God doesn't sprinkle fairy dust on us in order to magically sanctify us... that leaders are brought along and learn by mistakes as well as the rest of us! I don't think I have nearly enough of these tokens. Oh that I would have filled our home with these reminders of truth instead of things like fake stuffed pheasants! I wouldn't have minded breaking them so much as cracking up the fake feathers!
When I die, I will love to have collected a great deal of very strange things!

At 9:47 PM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Dearest Anne,

And that's why I love you so much!

At 2:28 PM, Blogger Craver Vii said...

I am driven to always tell the story, but it a special treat when someone feels prompted to ask for it. For that reason, I encouraged the children in my Sunday school classes to ask questions.


Post a Comment

<< Home