“Then you shall answer them, that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord;…and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel forever.” - Joshua 4:7
As the human race, we commemorate many things from birthdays to anniversaries to less happy events like the beginning of wars. We remember certain leaders by building monuments in their honor. In our own country, we have the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and we visit our local Veteran’s Memorial on Veteran’s Day.
This practice of remembering didn't begin in the last couple of centuries. The Romans erected statues in honor of their leaders. Before that, kings had entire cities built in their honor. We can even see this practice in the ancient biblical world among the Israelites and their forefathers.
To keep His works always before His people, God told them to build memorials to what He had done. As future generations passed by, the stones of the memorial would serve as an opportunity to discuss the Lord and His faithfulness to His people: "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’ then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord….’ "
We, too, ought to remember what the Lord has done for us. Reflecting on the Lord’s faithfulness in the past gives us hope for the future. As the Israelites, there are many things in this present world that seek our attention and distract us from God. However, frequently reminding ourselves of God’s deeds is encouraging, for if God has done one thing for us, what more will He do? We will realize that although we may have differing situations throughout our lives, the solution is the same: trust God. As we look back to what God has done, we gain ability to trust Him, knowing His power to do the impossible. Take a moment right now and think back on a situation in your life where, without doubt, it was divine intervention that caused you to overcome.
In remembering what we have come through by the help of the Lord, let us learn from these lessons. Will our remembrance evoke a response? We may ask as the psalmist, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His many benefits?” (Ps.116:12) Now, certainly, we realize that we can’t pay God for His faithfulness toward us. We simply can’t nor does He desire us to. Yet, when we think of His goodness towards us, we are prompted to want to act. One response we may have may be to worship God. Our hearts may sing a melody of gratitude toward the one who saves. Perhaps we're dedicated to act upon the desires He has placed in our hearts to complete His mission here on earth. Perhaps one of the greatest responses we can have to the hand of the Lord in our lives is to tell others of Him and His love towards us. For sharing what the Lord has done does either one of two things: it either evangelizes and makes known our Lord and Savior, or it encourages another to trust God through their situations.
We can take His great feats in our lives and evangelize and/or encourage others. The Lord told the Israelites that the standing stones would be a sign “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 forever.” What will our testimonies speak to others? According to 2 Corinthians 1:4, it will speak comfort as “the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them by which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Our experiences with God are because He desires to have relationship with us. But perhaps they are also that we may become a great example to those who do not know Him. Perhaps we can encourage someone experiencing the same thing we have already come through by the help of the Lord. I believe as the Israelites were crossing the Jordan, perhaps they were remembering the stories of their fathers and how that encouraged them to believe for this similar task. Now it was their duty to share this story with their children and their children’s children, that the name of God would be remembered forever.
The Israelites, as in so many other passages, serve as an example to us remembering the hand of the Lord in our lives. Truly, we all have so many things to be grateful for and so many things to anticipate as God continues to work in us. If you do not, yet, know God as your personal Savior, you could make today a day to remember. Maybe you know the Lord but have become discouraged by present situations. I implore you to remember God’s hand in your life before. And if He has done that, then He can do this too. God’s deeds toward you have never changed; they have always been and always will be of lovingkindness, always remember that.