Stones of Remembrance

Stones of Remembrance

The sermon is based on Joshua 3 & 4 (CEB)
Directions for crossing the Jordan

Joshua took down the camp early in the morning. He and all the Israelites marched out of Shittim and came to the Jordan, where they stayed overnight before crossing. At the end of three days the officers went through the middle of the camp. They commanded the people, “As soon as you see the Lord your God’s chest containing the covenant and the levitical priests carrying it, you are to march out from your places and follow it. But let there be some distance between you and it, about three thousand feet. Don’t come near it! You will know the way you should go, even though you’ve never traveled this way before.”

Joshua said to the people, “Make yourselves holy! Tomorrow the Lordwill do wonderful things among you.” Then Joshua said to the priests, “Lift up the covenant chest. Go along in front of the people.” So they lifted up the covenant chest and went in front of the people.

The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you great in the opinion of all Israel. Then they will know that I will be with you in the same way that I was with Moses. You are to command the priests who carry the covenant chest, ‘As soon as you come to the bank of the Jordan, stand still in the Jordan.’”

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come close. Listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 Then Joshua said, “This is how you will know that the living God is among you and will completely remove the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites before you. 11 Look! The covenant chest of the ruler of the entire earth is going to cross over in front of you in the Jordan. 12 Now pick twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one per tribe. 13 The soles of the priests’ feet, who are carrying the chest of the Lord, ruler of the whole earth, will come to rest in the water of the Jordan. At that moment, the water of the Jordan will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand still in a single heap.”

Marching across the Jordan

14 The people marched out from their tents to cross over the Jordan. The priests carrying the covenant chest were in front of the people. 15 When the priests who were carrying the chest came to the Jordan, their feet touched the edge of the water. The Jordan had overflowed its banks completely, the way it does during the entire harvest season. 16 But at that moment the water of the Jordan coming downstream stood still. It rose up as a single heap very far off, just below Adam, which is the city next to Zarethan. The water going down to the desert sea (that is, the Dead Sea) was cut off completely. The people crossed opposite Jericho.17 So the priests carrying the Lord’s covenant chest stood firmly on dry land in the middle of the Jordan. Meanwhile, all Israel crossed over on dry land, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.

Twelve stones at Gilgal

When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the Lordsaid to Joshua, “Pick twelve men from the people, one man per tribe.Command them, ‘Pick up twelve stones from right here in the middle of the Jordan, where the feet of the priests had been firmly planted. Bring them across with you and put them down in the camp where you are staying tonight.’”

Joshua called for the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one man per tribe. Joshua said to them, “Cross over into the middle of the Jordan, up to the Lord your God’s chest. Each of you, lift up a stone on his shoulder to match the number of the tribes of the Israelites. This will be a symbol among you. In the future your children may ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you will tell them that the water of the Jordan was cut off before the Lord’s covenant chest. When it crossed over the Jordan, the water of the Jordan was cut off. These stones will be an enduring memorial for the Israelites.”

The Israelites did exactly what Joshua ordered. They lifted twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, matching the number of the tribes of the Israelites, exactly as the Lord had said to Joshua. They brought them over to the camp and put them down there. Joshua also set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan where the feet of the priests had stood while carrying the covenant chest. They are still there today.

Crossing completed

10 Meanwhile, the priests carrying the chest were standing in the middle of the Jordan. They stood there until every command that the Lord had ordered Joshua to tell the people had been carried out. This was exactly what Moses had commanded Joshua. The people crossed over quickly.11 As soon as all the people had finished crossing, the Lord’s chest crossed over. The priests then moved to the front of the people. 12 The people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh crossed over, organized for war ahead of the Israelites, exactly as Moses had told them. 13 Approximately forty thousand armed for war crossed over in the Lord’s presence to the plains of Jericho, ready for battle.14 The Lord made Joshua great in the opinion of all Israel on that day. So they revered him in the same way that they had revered Moses during all of his life.

15 The Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests carrying the chest containing the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.”

17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up from the Jordan.” 18 The priests carrying the Lord’s covenant chest came up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of their feet touched dry ground. At that moment, the water of the Jordan started flowing again. It ran as before, completely over its banks. 19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month.[a] They camped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho.

Stones at Gilgal

20 Joshua set up at Gilgal those twelve stones they had taken from the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask their parents, ‘What about these stones?’ 22 Then you will let your children know: ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.’23 This was because the Lord your God dried up the water of the Jordan before you until you crossed over. This was exactly what the Lord your God did to the Reed Sea.[b] He dried it up before us until we crossed over. 24 This happened so that all the earth’s peoples might know that the Lord’s power is great and that you may always revere the Lord your God.”

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