Wednesday within the Octave of the Feast of the Holy Trinity
Scripture: Joshua 4:1-24 (NKJV)
1 And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: 2 “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.'”
4 Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; 5 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, 6 that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”
8 And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the Lord had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. 9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day.
10 So the priests who bore the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua; and the people hurried and crossed over. 11 Then it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over, that the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed over in the presence of the people. 12 And the men of Reuben, the men of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses had spoken to them. 13 About forty thousand prepared for war crossed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. 14 On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they had feared Moses, all the days of his life.
15 Then the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, 16 “Command the priests who bear the ark of the Testimony to come up from the Jordan.” 17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, “Come up from the Jordan.” 18 And it came to pass, when the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord had come from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet touched the dry land, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks as before.
19 Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal. 21 Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; 23 for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, 24 that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
Joshua has a representative man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel take a large stone from the bottom of the Jordan River and take it to Gilgal to make a monument of remembrance. It was a sign of the Lord’s strong hand to save His people. It was erected so that all generations could see and be reminded that God saved His people through the midst of the water. There is wonderful typology in this.
Joshua is a type of Christ here. Joshua leads his people down into the water, and through it, to the promised land. He compares this to the crossing of the Red Sea with the same significance. Fathers would tell their children this story when they saw the stones. But many miss the second set of twelve stones in verse nine. Joshua sets up a cairn of twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan River. Why? They would not be remembered as a memorial once the river began flowing again. They would be lost. Passing through the water is the path of life for God’s people. If one rejects the way of the Lord, the water is a symbol of judgment. Pharaoh’s army was destroyed in the water. The sinner is lost in the depths of the waters until he is caught in the net of the Gospel. The waters sweep away the rebellious people and they are remembered no more. But the people of God are remembered forever because their God remembers them.
Lord God make us to remember Your mighty deeds for us so that we may always be a part of your eternal family. Amen.