STONES STILL SPEAK!

I. Telling us what Joshua knew

II. Us telling what we know


Joshua 4:1-9 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the

LORD said to Joshua, 2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one

from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of

the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with

you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” 4 So Joshua

called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one

from each tribe, 5 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, 6 to

serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you,

‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 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.” 8 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. 9 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.

In the name of Jesus “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, dear Christian

friends,

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan is how our text

begins. That is a phrase worth looking at more closely! The whole nation of Israel is

thought to have numbered in the area of two million people. Have you ever walked out

of a large stadium and wondered how that many people can be in one place at one time

and exit safely and somewhat quickly all at once? As amazing as that is when that

number is 10,000 or even 100,000, it is even more incredible when that number increases

tenfold or hundredfold!

But the whole nation would have included more than just people! Try to get

your head around how many animals, blankets, supplies, tents and other items they would


STONES STILL SPEAK!

I. Telling us what Joshua knew

II. Us telling what we know


2 have had for that many people! Don’t forget there was also the ark of the covenant of

the LORD and the tabernacle furnishings!

The monumental task ahead was crossing the Jordan! First, it was “at flood

stage” (Jo 3:15), which would have made the fact that God stopped it from moving all

the more spectacular! The banks of the river are very tall and steep normally, and then

when God held the water back, the people would have to walk down another 10 feet or

more to the river bottom. Once they got there, how much mud or rocks did they have to

content with? Of course, we don’t know, but these are yet other things to put into play

when we consider the magnitude of this event.

One more thing to think about: who was on the other side? The children of Israel

were entering into enemy territory. The land was filled with evil, hostile, unbelieving

nations. Even though this land was promised to them by God, the people would have had

the fear of these enemies on their minds.

It may have seemed rather ridiculous that Joshua and the representatives from the

twelve tribes of Israel would be asked to play with stones after having to deal with all

these other things! Of course, it was not ridiculous! It was God-directed! There was a

role for these rocks! There was purpose in their placement! There was meaning in this

memorial!

With so much going on in our lives today, we might think it is ridiculous that God

would ask us to serve like these stones set up on the shore of the Jordan. But, it is not!

God has a role and a purpose and a meaning for us, too! So, please understand and be

thankful that STONES STILL SPEAK! I. Telling us what Joshua knew II. Us telling what

we know.

After God allowed his people Israel to miraculously cross the Red Sea forty years

before, Moses and Miriam and all the Israelites praised God in song. Similarly, after God

allowed his people to miraculously cross the Jordan River, Joshua and the hand-picked

representatives of each tribe praised God...with stones.

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 stood (the priests carrying the ark of the covenant

of the LORD entered the Jordan first and stopped in the middle of the dry riverbed while

the rest of Israel passed them) and to carry them over with you and put them down at

the place where you stay tonight.” 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.” 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.

Those stones were a tribute to God set up by his people in thankfulness that he did

his work just as he promised! Those stones were a testament to Joshua that he faithfully


3 led God’s people and carried out God’s instructions to him. Those stones were a

testimony to the obedience of the Israelite tribesmen who did what they were supposed to

do and then praised God.


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. There is

debate over whether this is yet another memorial or the same one set up by the twelve

tribe representatives. We can understand how it can be a second monument because

Joshua would have been especially excited that God had been with his people and saw

them safely to the Promised Land of Canaan.

As we read about these stones, even though they never spoke an audible word,

still they tell us what Joshua knew. God is faithful! God is forgiving! God is generous!

God is kind! God is protecting!

Stones still speak today, as the Apostle Peter labels us and the rest of God’s

people, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, to be a

holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus

Christ” (1 Pt 2:5).

Here at Grace, stones still speak. Look ahead! Have you ever been told or

noticed that there are twelve fieldstone facing the congregation in the base of the altar?

The symbolism of these stones speaks of the twelve Old Testament tribes and the twelve

New Testament disciples of Jesus, all of whom received God’s gracious promises and

were instructed to speak of God’s goodness to all.

Have you ever walked the new Disc Golf Course on our property? If you do, you

might find a painted stone or two with a friendly message connected to Jesus. By the

way, all the hole signs have Scripture passages printed on them in hopes of speaking

God’s message to member and visitor alike.

But the stones that speak the best are you and me as we tell what God has done

for us and for all people! We are to be like Peter, who gave his good confession about

Jesus (Mt 16:16), as we heard in the Gospel today. That confession— and ours— is the

foundation on which God builds his Church.

Remaining silent about Jesus may cut us off from his blessings (Mt 10:32).

Refusing to offer the comfort and peace of Jesus to others leaves them lost and

condemned.

We need to speak of the love Jesus has for all people as so many see and hear so

much hatred today. We need to speak of the protection Jesus offers as so many worry

about being safe today. We need to tell of the promised land of heaven Jesus won

through his life, death and resurrection as so many fear the outcome of their death today.

And they are there to this day. The stones next to the Jordan River, to which

the inspired writer was referring, stood for a while, but are no longer there. You and I

are! Until God calls us to our heavenly home, let’s keep speaking of the goodness of God

through his Son, Jesus, the Christ, our Savior!

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