The Lord is with You: A Stone Memorial – Joshua 3:1-4:9

(I taught 5 lessons at a kids camp recently and wanted to get them online for anyone to use. I’ll try to get them formatted better soon. ~ Anthony)

God had promised to the Israelites a hope and a future. So many promises from God for Israel! God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob this land that they were preparing to take. God had also promised the forefathers that He would make them a great and mighty nation. He did that then, and they still are today.

God had also given Israel some promises right here in the book of Joshua:

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. ~ Joshua 1:3-4, 6

1 And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.
2 And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;
3 And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.
4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.

God was going to give to Israel a land, a promised land. He would have to show Israel where/how to travel in order to get there and He’d have to show them how to root out the inhabitants.

The Lord had given them a promise, but this was all new territory for Israel. They didn’t have a map, a compass, and they had no one on the team that had been here before. This was truly wilderness for them. They had no idea what was over the next hill unless they sent out spies ahead of them.

God will often do that with us today. He will bring us to a place that is all-new territory. How many of you have had to move into a new neighborhood and had to start going to a new school? All new stuff wasn’t it? New neighborhood friends, new school friends, even walking or taking the bus was all-new to you.

Here, God is saying “Follow the ark of the covenant, but don’t follow it too close.” His instruction to them was to stay about 2,000 cubits behind it (that’s about 10 football fields long or just over 1/2 mile if my math is right). Joshua is leading probably 2-4 million people, so it would make sense that it should be way out front so everyone can see it and no one gets lost.

Who can explain to me what the ark of the covenant was?
Right! It was like a big gold box that held the 10 commandments inside and had on it’s top the mercy seat of God. The Israelites had been instructed by God to let the ark lead the way “that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore”. He is telling them to trust Him and let the ark lead. We can follow this same instruction from God today. We can follow His word (symbolized by the 10 commandments), and we can follow the Holy Spirit (who rests on or covers the mercy seat)

The Waters Up in a Heap
5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.
6 And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.
7 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.

God wants to show Israel that they can follow Joshua as their new leader just as they followed Moses as their leader. How does He decide to do that? He’s going to cause the Jordan River to part in two and they will walk over on dry ground. Who does that remind us of?
Right! Moses and the parting of the Red Sea! All through the Bible God uses these kinds of symbols to remind Israel that He is God, He is in control, and He cares for Israel and for us.

In a similar way, all through Jesus’ time on earth He used Old Testament scripture and examples in teaching the Israelites.

8 And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep.
9 And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them.
10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.
~ Genesis 29:8-11

Now look at:

5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
~ John 4:5-19

The first story is from the Old Testament, and it is one of Jacob rolling away the stone and giving a drink to Rachel who was to be his bride. This was the beginning of Jacob wooing her to himself. The second story is of Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman, and here the Lord is wooing this woman to Himself. God uses the whole Bible the same way today to bring us to Him.

God reminds them of Moses and how God took care of them through their leader Moses. Now in the same way, God will use the parting of the Jordan River to show them that Joshua is now the leader appointed by God Himself.

8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.
9 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the LORD your God.
10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.
11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.
12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.
13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.
14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;
15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)
16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.
17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

Time after time after time after time, God shows the Israelites that He cares for them. He shows them that all through the Old Testament and the New Testament. He shows us today that He cares for each of us by taking care of us every day. As God cares for us and provides for us, He is showing us that it is He who cares and provides.

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever.
~ Philippians 4:19-20

The Lord wants us to recognize His provision and be thankful to Him. It’s one of the ways that he draws us to Jesus.

Joshua 4
1 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,
2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,
3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.
4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:
5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:
6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?
7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
8 And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.
9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.

This. Is. Awesome.

Joshua has a heart for the Lord God Almighty. He wants the children of Israel to remember and recognize the provision of God for them. Often in the Old Testament, stone memorials were erected to commemorate a moment in time when God provided. Jacob setup a memorial of stone in Genesis 28, and the intent of these stone memorials was that every time they would pass by, they would be reminded of God’s provision.

Here we see Joshua setup a monument of 12 stones. These were probably large and heavy so as to remain somewhat permanent. And there were 12 of them which represented the 12 tribes of Israel.

I have here a jar full of arrowhead chips. These were created as Native Americans were chipping away at obsidian stones to create arrowheads. These were the parts that fell off or the arrowheads that didn’t quite come out right. I just think they’re cool stones.

I’d like each child of the tribe of Jonathites and the tribe of Joshuites and the tribe of Jeremites to come forward and pick out a stone that you like from the jar. Let this stone be a memorial to you, it is something to remind you of God. That God provides for you and will always provide for you.

20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.
21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What [mean] these stones?
22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.
23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:
24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it [is] mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.
~ Joshua 4:20-24

God reminded them he was providing for the young Hebrew nation. He cared for them, just as He cares for you and me all and people on earth. And God gave us His word – the Bible – to remind and teach us that He cares and He provided His son Jesus for our salvation.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
~ John 3:17

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