The Bible Connection – Joshua’s Memorial
I don’t know about you, but I’m forgetful. I forget where I set my keys. If I don’t put dates on my phone, I forget appointments I had scheduled. I often leave items in the office instead of bringing them home. I forget a lot.
Sometimes, when life is really hard, we forget what God has done for us. God’s presence seems distant and it feels like he has forgotten us. When this happens, we can forget all the times he came through for us. We might cease to remember all the answered prayers. We can lose track of the blessings in our life. It’s easy to forget.
If we don’t want to forget an appointment, we put it on our calendar. When we need to remember everything for vacation, we write a packing list. When we are trying to recall what happened last decade, we might look back at old pictures. So what do we do if we are having a hard time remembering God’s goodness?
After crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land, Joshua directs the people to build a memorial.
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.”
Here’s the basic idea. God knew there would come a day when people would forget everything God had done. They would be too busy, or too distracted, or overwhelmed with fear. When that day came, they were supposed to retell the story. The rocks would serve as a reminder of what God had done. He had brought them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. He had proven his love and his power over and over again.
In other words, don’t ever forget who God is. Remembering what he has done for us in the past, can help us wait with hopeful expectation in the present.
The Object Lesson – Making a Stone Memorial
Although this can be done from the stage, it’s probably best used as an interactive prayer time. Give each participant their own stone and a Sharpie marker. Challenge them to remember all the ways God has blessed them and watched over them through the years. When did God comfort them? What prayers has he answered for them? What blessing has he put in their life? Have them write these memories on the stone as either individual words or a more cohesive prayer.
When everyone is done, you can build a memorial together (mimicking Joshua 4) for your youth room or family room. Alternatively, you could have each participant take the rock home and place it in a meaningful place for them. One allows your group or family to remember together, the other allows you to each remember individually.
Scriptures to Study and Use
The Bible is full of calls to remember what God has done. God gives his people several activities and memorials to help them remember what he had done for them. Here are a few other examples.
The Passover meal was meant to remind the Israelites of the ways God has provided for the Israelites in the past. Each year they would sit down and remember the story of God’s goodness.
God establishes a law that requires each firstborn son to be redeemed. He foresees a day when someone will ask why this act is important, and that question is meant to trigger a retelling of the Exodus story. In other words, each time a firstborn is redeemed, the people are to remember how God rescued them from Egypt.
When Jesus instituted communion at the last supper, it came with a command. Remember me when you do this. It was intended to be a regular reminder of how Jesus had shown his love for us. This way, even when we don’t feel loved, we have a reminder of all he has done for us.