Joshua 4: Stones For Remembering
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When was the last time you forgot something? It might have been yesterday; it might have been five minutes ago. For most people, it will be recently! We have alarms, calendars, and diaries because we forget little things daily.
Sadly, we tend to forget big and significant things as well. This is why we have monuments to commemorate times of tragedy and war, national days of remembrance, and songs and poems which lead us to reflect on momentous events that impacted generations before us. In Australia, a phrase featured on many of our war memorials captures why we need these reminders: ‘Lest we forget’.
It is said that the concept in this phrase is taken from the early books of the Bible, in which the Israelites’ tendency to forget their God, and hence their need to remember his faithfulness and power, is well documented. We read in Exodus that God had parted the Red Sea in a mind-blowing display of salvation, and yet the people soon longed for the very life they had been rescued from (Numbers 14:1–4).
In today’s reading from Joshua, God has parted the waters once more. This time so that his people could cross the Jordan River safely and begin their life in the land that God had promised them. God wanted them to remember this event, and to pass this memory on to their children—and he knew they were going to need help, so he commanded them to build a memorial out of stones!
These stones—taken from the riverbed and carried on the shoulders of 12 men representing the tribes of Israel—would be a landmark that would prompt questions from the next generation. The stones were to remind the Israelites how God had led them miraculously through the Jordan. This memory was to achieve two things: to lead them to have a faithful fear of God; and, to act as a witness to the wider world that “the hand of the LORD is powerful” (Joshua 4:24). Rahab’s words to the spies in Chapter 2 are evidence of the impact God’s acts among his people could have on surrounding nations (Joshua 2:10–11).
These stones were also to be a conversation-starter, leading Israelite children to ask what they meant. The intent was to arouse curiosity and questions, and thus to create the perfect teachable moment. A child would wait eagerly for their parent to explain to them the wonders that God had performed as he led the Israelites to the land he had promised to their ancestors. Almost without realising it, a curious child, in having their question answered, would be learning that the God of the Israelites was powerful, present and promise-keeping. What an amazing way to learn!
It is worth considering the ‘stones’ that exist in our neighbourhoods, churches and households today that can evoke curiosity in our children, lead them to ask questions, and so learn majestic truths about our God and Saviour. Sometimes these ‘stones’ are spontaneous, but today’s reading shows the importance of deliberately planting these reminders in our lives.
Let me suggest that Christian resources are wonderful ‘stones’ which can spark questions in our children that provide opportunities for us to teach them what God has done in Jesus. A good Christian book, song or program can prompt those wonderful questions in our children: ‘What?’, ‘Why?’, ‘Where?’, ‘When?’, ‘How?’, and gloriously, ‘Who?’!
There are many ways in which we can use the objects and resources in our children’s daily lives not only to teach them new things, but also to help them to remember the truths of the gospel. Lest we forget.
The Lift Up Your Hearts devotional series for the month of March 2021 are provided by Canon Craig Roberts, CEO, and his colleagues from Anglican Youthworks in Australia. Today’s devotion was written by Natasha Percy, Head of Youthworks Media. You can find more of Youthworks excellent resources here.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
The Anglican Missions Africa (AMA) was founded in August 2019. Since then, it has organised 74 missions, 67 church plants, training for 634 clergy and evangelists, and 30 meeting tents have been given away. Their major task in 2021 is to complete distributing tents to Kenya and Mozambique. Thank God for all that has been accomplished so far and pray for sufficient resources and energy for the missions in 2021.
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