Words From The Heart: Special Weekly Reflection #36
“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.”
Joshua 4:6-7 (NIV)
I love our Christmas tree. It is tall and full, and filled with white lights and multi-coloured glass balls that glow as they reflect the lights. The handmade angel at the top adds to its beauty. But what really makes the tree special are the ornaments. Over the 44 years of our marriage, Wendy and I have collected ornaments that have special meaning – family events, places we have visited, favourite moments in our marriage. As we hang the ornaments, always assisted by our children and grandchildren, we talk about where they are from and we remember.
It is a good thing to remember. In the Bible, from time to time God calls His people to build a memorial. When the people of Israel had crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, Joshua 4:1-3 says this: “When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, 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 are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.’
It is estimated that there were some 2.5 million Israelites that crossed the Jordan at that time. Why did Joshua send twelve of them back into the river to pick up stones? The answer is found in Joshua 4:6-7: “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.’”
Life would not be easy for the people of Israel. Even though they had entered the Promised Land there would be pain and conflict, wins and losses. God would have to step into their lives often to draw them back to Himself. There would be times when they wondered where God was in the midst of all they were facing.
The Lord knew that this would be the case, so when they had crossed the Jordan, He had them build a memorial. In the midst of the worst that life could throw at them, they would need to remember God’s faithfulness.
So do we. In the midst of this pandemic, we find ourselves in the midst of Advent, this time of year when we celebrate the Incarnation. In a sense, Christmas is a memorial. It is an annual reminder that God loves us so much that He sent His Son into our world, a world filled with pain and conflict, wins and losses, and pandemic. Christmas is a reminder of all that God has done in the past. But more than that, it reminds us that Jesus is still Immanuel – God still with us.
I’m Bob Beasley, and these have been words from the heart.