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Joshua Chapter Four, Remember The Source

In our study of Joshua chapter four, we will look at the importance of remembering what God has done in the past. We will look at another example of God telling His people to mark either a day or a location to help them to remember His work on their behalf.

Joshua 4:1-3

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 'Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.'

After the people had crossed, God had the leaders take stones from the dry riverbed and carry them to their camp for the night. We see that each tribe was supposed to be represented so that they would all have a witness to share with the generations to come. We are reminded that, throughout the Bible, the number twelve is associated with divine power. These memorial stones would remind the people that it was the power of God that stopped the waters.

Joshua 4:4-7

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, 'Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, "What do these stones mean?" tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.'

In chapter 3, we looked at walking in the power of God. Here we see the fact that God wants us to remember that He is the source of all power. The danger for us, as mere men, is that we can get so caught up in the power that we have that it can go to our heads. This can open the door to pride which separates us from God just as it did with Satan. We also see that we have to tell others that it is God at work and not ourselves. This is especially true for our children and grandchildren as we see that these stones were to be a reminder for the children of those who crossed the Jordan. This testimony is how we overcome the schemes of the devil as we see in Revelation 12. There is power in remembering and sharing what God has done and that is why the devil tries to keep us quiet.

Joshua 4:8 & 9

So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.

The people did as Joshua had told them and the stones were laid as a memorial at their camp (Gilgal). That makes us ask the question: Where is Gilgal today? The short answer is that nobody knows as Gilgal refers to places that Israel camped. We can be sure that the stones are still there but we just don't know where that camp was located other than the fact that it was east of Jericho. The stones themselves were not important as they were only a tool that God used to help His people remember what He had done for them. They were a reminder of the fact that God had made a way for them through His power and not by anything they did. These people were going to face many challenges especially in dealing with the false gods of the people of Canaan. The only way for them to overcome those challenges was to remember that there is only one God and He takes care of His people. The same thing is true for us today as there are so many distractions that we can easily lose sight of the fact that God is in control and He is able. When you are faced with a struggle, stop and go back to your Gilgal. This is the point in your life where you accepted Jesus Christ and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Remember what He has done and you will have the strength and courage to face whatever is ahead.

Joshua 4:10 & 11

Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched.

We see that the priests and the ark of the Lord stayed in the middle of the Jordan holding back the flood waters until all the people had crossed. This standing in the gap was a picture of what Jesus did on the cross as well as what we are called to do as Christians. Today, we stand in the gap between God's righteous judgment and a world that does not know Him. Only God knows when the last of His children will accept Jesus and judgment will begin. We must remember the importance of sharing our testimony so that others can get to their own "Gilgal".

Joshua 4:12 & 13

The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.

We see that the Israelites crossed over prepared for war to take what God was giving them and we are reminded that we are to do our part here in this world. We have been given authority by Jesus to walk in victory now as well as in the future. We also see that those that had their home on the other side of the Jordan went out ahead to fight for their brothers. This reminds us of the fact that we are to fight for our brothers and sisters. The Israelites had physical battles to look forward to but ours is more a spiritual battle. We struggle against the deception of the devil to show people the truth which is only found in Jesus Christ.

Joshua 4:14

That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.

After seeing the favor of the Lord upon Joshua, the people respected him and what God was doing through him. It is a crucial point to see that it was the Lord that exalted him and not the number of college degrees or certificates that he had. The same is true for us today, in that a true leader is prepared by the Lord and not a course, lecture, or any other man made thing.

Joshua 4:15-18

Then the Lord said to Joshua, 'Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant law to come up out of the Jordan.' So Joshua commanded the priests, 'Come up out of the Jordan.' And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.

At his command the priests carried the ark out of the river and the waters went back to flooding. In this, we see the necessity of remaining in the will of God and directed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our hope, provision and protection from the things of this world are all in Him and where He is. When we choose to do things that are outside of what is best for our lives (outside the will of God), then, we may be flooded with the consequences. We will still be saved for eternity but the effects can make it seem like a hell on earth. The best way to stay in His will is to remember that we are in a spiritual battle. A good soldier for Christ only follows the orders of His Master and doesn't go off on their own.

Joshua 4:19 & 20

On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan.

The tenth day of the first month was the day that was set aside for selecting the Passover lamb. This lamb was to be taken care of for four days until its sacrifice (see Exodus 12:3). We are reminded that, throughout the Bible, the number four is associated with trials and this was a reminder to the Jews that God would take care of them during their struggles in the Promised Land.

Joshua 4:21-23

He said to the Israelites, 'In the future when your descendants ask their parents, "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 what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over.'

Joshua told the people what they were to tell the future generations. He also reminds them that it was equal to what He had done when He brought them out of Egypt. We notice that it was all about remembering what God had done on their behalf. That was their testimony; what is yours?

Joshua 4:24

'He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.'

As we see, God's purpose in doing this was for all mankind. As Christians, we all benefit from Israel's testimony of deliverance as it builds us up in our faith. For those who do not accept Christ, it is a warning that lets them know that it is not a good idea to mess with God's people. For Israel, it was a reminder to them that there is no other god like the Lord. They had entered a land where there were all kinds of idols and they were to remember the difference between an idol and the Lord God.

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