Terry R. Baughman
“Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you …” (Joshua 4:4–6).
Time has a way of fading our memories and dimming our recollections. Nothing is quite so unsettling as to be unable to recall events and experiences of the past that brought joy and fulfillment into our lives. Perhaps that is why we enjoy collecting pictures and memorabilia from our past to jog our memories and retain the moments in our minds.
Historians identify geographical locations and erect markers to commemorate notable events from the past. Others create museums or documentaries to preserve the memories of famous people or momentous events for future generations to study and learn, somehow keeping the knowledge of those events relevant.
It was not always so easy to record history leaving a lasting record of past events. Paper was a later invention and quite expensive when it was produced manually. Photography has only been around since the 1800’s and really good pictures for less than 100 years. Video recordings have less than 50 years of common use among people to preserve their memories and archive their experiences. In antiquity they drew pictures on rocks, etched out their stories on clay tablets and recorded history on scrolls of leather.
In ancient Israel Joshua was commanded to erect an altar and take stones from the empty river bed to create a memorial of the awesome event of the crossing over Jordan. God miraculously stopped the flood waters and backed up the river so the masses of Israel could enter the Promised Land on dry ground. While it was common to pass along these stories orally from generation to generation as they retold the miraculous account, God knew how easily we forget the blessings of God and how quickly we begin to doubt His power.
The memorial stones were to be a standing testimony of what had taken place at the river crossing. Every time these twelve stones were seen there was an immediate association with the twelve tribes of Israel and the miracle of the Jordan crossing was brought to mind. It was an opportunity to share the event with others, recalling how the stones were removed from the river bed and placed here as a memorial for all time. The rocks were a visual image that made the story real and impressed the event in the minds of those who heard it for the first time.
As we approach the time of the year when we are reminded of the sacrifice of others who fought for freedom and gave their lives for a great cause, let us reflect on the memorials of our own experiences. Take time to recall where you were when God first touched your life and remember the answers to prayer when you were blessed by God. Always take time to remember!
“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have” (2 Peter 1:12 NIV).