The People Set Up
1After Israel had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua:
2-3Tell one man from each of the twelve tribes to pick up a large rock from where the priests are standing. Then tell the men to set up those rocks as a monument at the place where you camp tonight.
4Joshua chose twelve men; then he called them together 5and said:
Go to the middle of the riverbed where the sacred chest is, and pick up a large rock. Carry it on your shoulder to our camp. There are twelve of you, so there will be one rock for each tribe. 6-7Someday your children will ask, “Why are these rocks here?” Then you can tell them how the water stopped flowing when the chest was being carried across the river. These rocks will always remind our people of what happened here today.
8The men followed the instructions that the Lord had given Joshua. They picked up twelve rocks, one for each tribe, and carried them to the camp, where they put them down.
9Joshua set up a monument next to the place where the priests were standing. This monument was also made of twelve large rocks, and it is still there in the middle of the river.
Certain days change and mark our families forever, sometimes tragically, or sometimes because on that day a new beginning was made. Even if not everything worked out as was hoped, nevertheless nothing was ever the same after it. Sometimes such days of new beginning are days of physical moving, from one city or even from one country to another. When that happens there are also moments that for one reason or another are never forgotten. For the children of Israel stepping across the Jordan River was such an occasion. God led them to a certain spot so that he could show them that they were going to experience what their fathers and mothers had experienced crossing the Red Sea. God would reveal again that he is the living God and that he is directing and acting for them. So the river will be dried up, and to reinforce their memory of this chapter in God’s story of saving them, they are to carry out of the river twelve stones and build a memorial. In future years when a child would ask about that pile of stones the parent would have an occasion to again tell this story of salvation and of promises kept.
Whatever changes you may be facing, remember first what God has done for you in the past. Then open your eyes to his new work today, his work of grace and kindness to you and to the people you love. And then, in some way, set down your own twelve stones as your personal mark of this new work, this new beginning, so that you will not forget it, and so that you will be able to teach it to your children.
Father in heaven, we confess that so often we say we will never forget a kindness, an answer to prayer, and that we will praise you to others, yet the hurry of our lives seems to quickly squeeze out even direct answers to prayer. We confess that we do not always praise you by telling others and we even begin to forget. Forgive us of this lack of remembrance of your mercy and give us a new sense of purpose in remembering your mercies.