The people finish crossing the Jordan on dry ground but God has one more task He wants done before the waters return to their bed. He wants tangible proof of what just happened.
God has done SO MANY miracles for the people of Israel over their time with Him. He started His miracles with Abraham by giving him and Sarah a son in their old age. We move on from that beginning miracle to the one we are witnessing today; the Jordan rolled back and Israel crossing over. There are too many to list or even number! But God wants to commemorate this one with something physical.
Joshua is instructed to have one man from each tribe retrieve a rock from the area where the priests stood with the Ark while the people crossed over. These twelve men are the only ones who are allowed to come within the 2,000 cubits of it. This was the safety and reverent zone God had established for this journey.
The Ark is the most holy article of furniture in God’s Tabernacle. NO ONE is to touch it except the high priest when he applies the blood of the annual sacrifice to it. He can’t even go into its presence but that one day each year. Whenever Israel starts out on another leg of their journey the Ark is covered with a protective covering and carried by the poles attached to it. So my last picture of the Ark in the middle of the Jordan is wrong. It should have been covered. But maybe because of the miracle God was providing He had it uncovered. I don’t really know.
Back to our stones. These stones will be a reminder, a memorial, for ALL the people to see. They will remind the people of this great miracle God just accomplished.
I was thinking about the other miracles that God had Moses gather proof for and what happened with that proof. God had Moses put a jar of manna, the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments, and Aaron’s rod that budded into the Ark. The manna was God’s constant care of Israel. He cared for ALL their needs, including giving them food from His own table. The stone tablets were His finger writing a love letter to them. And Aaron’s rod was confirmation of His calling of the tribe of Levi. All these miracles set the stage for Israel’s new beginning.
These items were tangible proof of a few of the miracles God had done for Israel but they were kept out of sight from the people. Not even the priests would see them again as they were inside God’s Ark. But this miracle, a reminder of God’s faithfulness, would be openly displayed. It would be significant enough to inspire questions. It spoke of the AMAZING power of the Lord and the beginning of a national presence in God’s Promised Land.
This is NOT an altar to the Lord. It is NOT a place of worship or sacrifice. It is a marker to inspire the people. It marks a once in a lifetime miracle that God did for this group of people. It is a testament to His power as these rocks came from the bottom of the river. It reminds the people of the faith they had to follow His lead. And it unifies ALL the tribes in its presentation. Reuben, Gad and Manasseh would live on the other side of the Jordan but they came with their brothers to take the land. Twelve tribes united together as one nation under one God.
The stories of Israel crossing the Red Sea on dry land were word of mouth and passed on down the years. We honestly aren’t even certain the exact location of that crossing. But this crossing was clearly marked for remembrance. Never could someone say, “That’s an old wives tale”, because the marker stood as witness. I doubt it is still in existence today but who knows. Maybe God had them rebuild it periodically so its witness stood the test of time. But then again, with our world it probably would have become a “sacred site” and inspired people to worship it instead of the Father.
It is good to have memorials but it is important to keep those memorials in their proper place. They give a tangible reminder of important events. They don’t represent any power or specialness in themselves. They instead focus our attention on the Author of those events.
The same holds true with the items we use as memorials. The cross. The grave. A pictorial representation of Jesus. The bible. The altar in the front of a church. These are all items that are intended to focus our attention of God and ALL that He has done for us. They inspire memories or initiate questions that bring us closer to God. They do NOT replace Him or relationship with Him.
When I was a child I was taught NEVER to place ANYTHING on top of my bible. I was told that this was disrespecting God. I have since learned that the bible is simply a book that reminds me to look to Jesus for real relationship. IT is not sacred but what its words draw me towards is. My bible may disappear someday because of changes in this world but my relationship with the Father, His Son and their Holy Spirit won’t. NO MATTER HOW HARD SATAN TRIES!
Yes! Build reminders. Look at them and talk about what they symbolize. But build even stronger relationships so that when those reminders finally fade away the memories and reasons they were erected to begin with still stand firm.
Father God, thank You for tangible reminders. I don’t have any that have survived from Jesus’ days on earth but I have some that speak of our journey together. My “pain book” is one of them for me. It is where I poured out my heart to You in my darkest hours. And from that pain came some of my greatest growth. I also have stories and poems that You gave me that speak of what You carried me through, both good and bad. Thank You for those! Thank You that I can look back and see where You have taken me on this journey. Along with where I have wandered and You brought me back from. THANK YOU LORD that You were there to catch me EVERY TIME!
It’s been a long time since I looked back to remember. Should I sit a while with the memories again? Funny I should be contemplating this because I just stumbled over the Love Letter I wrote You regarding the caterpillar today. That was a good memory. Thank You that those lessons are still going on today, and for the rest of my life too. The major change happened but I’m learning new “flight maneuvers” all the time, thanks to Your instructions.