“We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future, your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a permanent memorial among the people of Israel.” — Joshua 4:6-7
The Vietnam Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington remind people of the men and women who lost their lives in service to their country. In the same way, the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, brings to remembrance those whose lives were summarily cut short in the cause of protecting and serving their homeland.
Sculptures in lands around the world are designed to help people remember the heroes of the past.
But it’s all too easy for succeeding generations to become so familiar with the memorials that their significance is lost. In most people’s minds, Memorial Day in America has nothing to do with foreign wars and everything to do with the beginning of summer! But in forgetting our history, we not only overlook the great cost of the benefits we enjoy, but we also may repeat the mistakes of the past which we failed to learn.
Memorials have a major purpose.
God told His ancient people to build memorials at significant times. He wanted them to be able to recall significant events. Few events were more significant to the Israelites than the crossing of Jordan. It marked the end of 40 desperately sad years and the beginning of a new era—life in the land of ancient promise.
So the Lord told Joshua to organize 12 men representing the 12 tribes, who would each take a stone from the middle of Jordan and “use these stones to build a memorial” (Joshua 4:6). The memorial was built to be a reminder: “In the future, your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s covenant went across’” (4:7).
The Lord insisted that succeeding generations not be left in the dark about His dealings with His people.
Good parents not only learn the meaning of memorials and pass the meaning on, but they also know the value of creating memories in their own families so that children will not grow up ignorant of their heritage. Good parents go out of their way to stimulate the curiosity of their children in the direction of things the children need to learn. And nothing is more important than children growing up to know the Lord!
So good parents thank God for divinely-ordained memorials, like Sunday (the Lord’s day to begin each week), and the simple memorial of bread and wine that commemorates the greatest of events. And they pass on the memories to those who, one day, will pass them on again.
For further study: Joshua 4:1-24
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.