Stones: Signs to Remember
It’s amazing how often we as Christians forget God’s goodness. One moment God does something amazing and we see His faithfulness and then the next moment we completely forget. In Joshua 4 we see the Israelites headed for the promised land. God had shown himself faithful over and over again. He freed them from Egypt. He parted the red sea. He provided manna each day when there was no food to eat. He provided a leader, Joshua, after Moses disobeyed. Time and time again the Israelites saw His faithfulness and yet they continued to quickly forget.
As I read these stories it’s so easyfor me to respond with “how crazy are you Israelites?! God JUST did something amazing and now you are going to completely turn away and doubt His goodness for you?” Then the Holy Spirit puts the mirror in front of my face. How often do I do that? How silly am I to doubt God’s goodness when He reveals Himself constantly in my life?
In Joshua 3 the Israelites yet again see God deliver. They need to cross over the Jordan to get to Jericho. Joshua 3:16- “The waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho.” So here we have God literally stopping the flow of the Jordan river and raising the “water up in a heap” so that all the people could cross over. What a sight that must have been!
Everyone crosses over safely, including the ark of the covenant, and then the Lord commands Joshua to do something. Joshua 4:1- “…”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.””
And… pause. Imagine this right now. The Israelites are headed to the land that the Lord had promised them. There was a big river between them and part of that land (Jericho). God does this mind-blowing miracle of stopping the entire Jordan river and everyone crosses. Then we have God command twelve people to grab stones from the Jordan while the river is still stopped. The people just saw this miracle, why would they need stones? Joshua 4:21-24 reads “Joshua set up [the stones] 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 people of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” vs.7- “So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
God asked them to collect these stones so that in times of doubt they would have something to look back on and remember His faithfulness! God knew in advance that the Israelites were going to disobey and doubt so he gave them something to remind them of what He had done.
I don’t know about you, but this [real] story really drew me in. Oh, how many times I doubt God and wonder if He is faithful. After reading this it got me thinking if I had any stones in my life that remind me of His faithfulness. For me, many of the stones are friendships I had prayed for, courage that came out of “nowhere”, wisdom I didn’t even know I needed, circumstances that could have only been God, seeing people come to know Him for the first time and so many more. It’s hard to see them in the moment, a moment that feels unbearable, a circumstance that seems unforgivable or a dry season that seems to have no end in sight. Whatever you are going through, I promise that the Lord has not abandoned you. Look back on how God has been faithful in your past and allow those ‘stones’ to be a sign that remind you of who He is. A God that is good and faithful.
“When doubt had locked me up in winter’s night, when certainty thawed the cold and sprung new life, in every season Christ in me abides. You’ve always been faithful. I trust you Jesus. In all my days, in every way, you’ve always been faithful. All I have needed, Thy hands hath provided… Now when I’m helpless, watching treasures fade or standing in wonder at the house you’ve made. I know You’re good to give and good to take. You’ve always been faithful. You’ll always be faithful.” (You’ve Always Been Faithful- Mercy Worship)