Joshua 4 to 5 Spiritual Markers

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I)       Spiritual Markers
A)    File:  Joshua 4 to 5 Spiritual Markers.doc
B)    Audio:  Spiritual Markers
C)    Series:  Victory in the Promised Land
D)    Preached:  June 24, 2007.
II)    The 12 stones:  READ 4:1-10, 20-24.
A)    Actually 24 stones – 2 piles.
1)      One, a visible testimony to God’s work. 
(a)    Location is noteworthy:  Set up at the encampment 8 miles away.  This sign would stare them in the face in the morning when they rose.  Gilgal perhaps a more accessible place to view these. A open space large enough for the 1MM plus people to camp would be ideal for a pile of stones to be noticeable.
(b)   These stones ‘from the midst’ would be obvious.  We know they were large because they were carried on shoulders (v5).   In addition, they made a noticeable memorial – “there to this day.”  They were from the midst and so would be nicely rounded river stones – when told the story, it would be more believable because of the condition of these stones.
2)      The other, an invisible reminder of what was.  Underwater, seen only by God, taken by faith.
(a)    Possibly to represent the old life that was buried and now they were to walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:1-4).
(b)   Old life dead and buried – a break from the past.  Their life was now to be in the land.
(c)    Hebrews chapters 1-6 explains that many Old Testament events point to New Testament truths.
B)    Other stone monuments: Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim (Deut. 27:1–8; Josh. 8:30–35).  Achan and his household (7:25–26); Joshua set up a “witness stone” at Shechem (24:24–28; Jud. 9:6). The two and a half tribes that lived east of the Jordan to remind their children that they were a part of the nation of Israel, (Josh. 22:10ff)[1]
C)    Purpose:
1)      “So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” For the children,
2)      “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty”
(a)    Note in v. 6 “a sign among you” not for you.
3)      “so that you may fear the Lord your God forever”
(a)    The purpose of all the Lord’s memorials is to draw attention to what HE has done and who HE is.
D)    “This memorial at Gilgal gradually lost its spiritual meaning and instead became a shrine where the Jews sinned against God by worshiping there. The Prophet Hosea condemned the people for worshiping at Gilgal instead of at Jerusalem (Hosea 4:15; 9:15; 12:11), and Amos echoed his warnings (Amos 4:4; 5:5).”[2]
III) Circumcision:  READ 5:2-9.
A)    Purpose of circumcision is to illustrate some spiritual truths.
1)      A testimony to the covenant God made with Abraham (Gen. 17).
(a)    Not unique except in meaning.
(b)   Ex. 17:10-11, “10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.[3]”
(i)     Notice:  Abraham was commanded to do it but it was never a condition of what God would do.
2)      Seen by the man EVERY day, several times a day.
(a)    Only meaningful if rightly explained.
3)      Obviously a symbol and not a work meant to accomplish salvation.  A reminder.
(a)    Rom. 4:11, “11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,”
(b)   Rom. 2:28-29.  “28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.”
(c)    Rom. 3:30:  “He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised by faith”
(d)   Acts 15, and explained by Paul in Gal. 2.
(e)    These all speak of circumcision but the principle applies to all symbols given by God:
(i)     The 12 stones are a memorial.
(ii)   Circumcision was a sign. 
(iii) The Lord’s supper is a memorial.  Powerful, reverent, command, but a memorial.
(iv) Circumcision and these 12 stones and other Old Testament signs were commands of God but were not necessary for salvation – they were reminders of the Lord’s salvation.
4)      Why here and now?
(a)    To test their faith.  Just crossed into enemy territory.  It’s awful hard to fight after this surgery!  This will add to God’s glory.  It was the perfect time to attack but God takes a few days for them to heal, they celebrate the Passover before going after Jericho.  (Gen. 34)
(b)   To prepare them for Passover.  Practical – (Ex. 12: 34-44, 48) It was the tenth of Nisan.  The 14th began the Passover which only the circumcised could participate in.
(c)    To roll away their reproach.  5:9  Gilgal:  roll.  An adult male will never forget the day he is circumcised.  Ideal at 8 days:  platelets, pain.  God wants them to remember this day!  Why?
B)    This day, they truly became Israelites.  They trusted God and crossed the Jordan in faith.  This is the day they expressed their faith through obedience and it is this event that the Lord wanted them to remember.
IV) What it means to us today.
A)    Christian’s situation similar.  Entering into promised land
B)    We too have been given memorials:
1)      Baptism
2)      Lord’s Supper
3)      Ordinations, graduations, etc. also are signs for us.  Memorials used to remind us of a spiritual truth.
4)      Memorials in the church okay if it reminds us of what God has done and how He worked through His people to accomplish things.
C)    We must be careful not to misuse.
1)      Gilgal was later the site of idolatrous religious acts.
2)      Some Jews later trusted in Circumcision as a rite that pleased God – like it scored points with God.  Addressed by Paul in Acts 15 and elsewhere.  Indeed it pleases God but only when performed by faith as a sign of the covenant.
3)      We must keep our faith in God, not in the symbols He has given to us.
4)      We must not so focus on the past that we fail to serve Him in the present.  Proper perspective of our spiritual markers should drive us forward in worship and service.
D)    Caution:
1)      Are we trusting in signs?  Works?  Do we think that God will accept us into eternity because of our baptism?  Because we take communion together?  Because someone laid hands on us?  Ordained us? 
2)      Let us look at all these things in light of what God has done – not what we have done.
3)      Baptism not a result of our decision but in response to God’s salvation.  Lord’s supper not something we decided to do but is the result of an invitation by our Lord to remember the blood he shed for us and the body that was given for us.
4)      Are we trusting that attending church, giving tithes, volunteering for works, etc. are ingratiating us to God.  Or do we do these things out of reverence and love for Him?
 
V)    Notes:
A)    Proposed outline:
1)      Explain all this in Jewish terms
(a)    They were put in a physical position of no turning back – and total vulnerability.  They could only rely on God.
(b)   Likewise we must put on an attitude of no turning back (crucified with Christ, dead to sin, etc.) and understand that we are in a position of helplessness with only God to protect us (Eph. 6).
(c)     
2)      Explain how our situation is the same as believers entering into the promises of  God.
3)      Explain what our spiritual markers are and how we are to use them.
4)       
B)    Purposes of the 12 stones:
1)      The Christian has the Holy Spirit of God.
(a)    Only meaningful is consciously addressed.
2)      Circumcision of the heart – New Testament.
(a)    Heart of stone to heart of flesh.
C)    Spiritual markers should:
1)      remind us of what God has done in the past.
2)      Strengthen faith
3)      Draw us closer to the Lord
D)    Spiritual markers should not:
1)      Become religious idols.
2)      Make us focus so much on the past as to neglect the present.
(a)    Glorifying the past can rob us of our present power.
3)      Be trusted in:  like some Jews trusted in their past we trust in Baptism, Communion, Confirmation, etc.  We need to trust in God, not His symbols.  These rituals must not be substituted for saving faith in Jesus Christ – Rahab had neither of these signs but only the word of God’s people and faith.
E)     Other stone monuments: 
F)      
VI) Verse by Verse
A)    1:  all the nation finished crossing over – God’s concern that not one be lost.
B)    2:  from each tribe a man – wanting all people involved.  Establishes a corporate ownership – unity.
C)    3:  These stones ‘from the midst’ would be obvious.  Large rounded river stones – when told the story, it would be more believable because of the condition of these stones.
1)      where the priests’ feet stood firmly – adding to the scope of the miracle.  The water was not just cut off but the river bottom was stable enough to stand upon firmly.
2)      ‘in the place where you lodge tonight.’ 
(a)    According to Wiersbe, this was an eight mile journey.  Stones from the midst of the river would be large because of the high and constant flow and would need to be large to make a noticeable monument ‘there to this day.’  Indeed, they were large enough to be carried on their shoulders (v5).
D)    5:  ‘pass on before the ark’  When in the midst of a miracle – a work of God, we pass before His presence – this is the place we choose a marker. 
E)     6:  ‘That this may be a sign among you.’  Here is the purpose – not just a sign for them but a sign among them
F)     9:  Only God would be able to see this pile of stones in the river.
1)      Possibly to represent the old life that was buried and now they were to walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:1-4)
(a)    Supported by Dt. 6:23 – God brought them out so that He might bring them in.
(i)     Likewise He saves us from our sin that we may receive riches and glory in Christ.
2)      As later generations were told that it was there, it would have to be taken by faith by the testimony of God’s Word.
G)    24:  Israel was to be a witness to the world.
 
June 23, 2007,  Spiritual Markers.
 
Joshua Chapters 4 and 5. 
I)       24 Stones, 2 piles.  4:1-10, 20-24.
A)    One, a ___________________ testimony to God’s work.
B)    The other, an _____________________ reminder of what was.[4]
C)    Some other stone monuments:  Jacob at Bethel (Genesis 28:18-19).  Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim (Deut. 27:1–8; Josh. 8:30–35).  Achan and his household (7:25–26); Joshua set up a “witness stone” at Shechem (24:24–28; Jud. 9:6). The two and a half tribes east of the Jordan, (Josh. 22:10ff).
II)    Circumcision.  5:2-9.
A)      A ____________ of the covenant. (Ex. 17:10-11)
B)    Romans 4:11:  a seal of the righteousness that he had                                                                                                   by _______________________. (See also Romans 2:28-29, 3:30; Acts 15; Galatians 2;)[5]
III) Conclusion: 
A)    We must keep our faith in God, not in the symbols He has given to us. 
B)    We must not so focus on the past that we fail to serve Him in the present.
 
June 23, 2007,  Spiritual Markers.
 
Joshua Chapters 4 and 5. 
I)       24 Stones, 2 piles.  4:1-10, 20-24.
A)    One, a ___________________ testimony to God’s work.
B)    The other, an _____________________ reminder of what was.[6]
C)    Some other stone monuments:  Jacob at Bethel (Genesis 28:18-19).  Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim (Deut. 27:1–8; Josh. 8:30–35).  Achan and his household (7:25–26); Joshua set up a “witness stone” at Shechem (24:24–28; Jud. 9:6). The two and a half tribes east of the Jordan, (Josh. 22:10ff).
II)    Circumcision.  5:2-9.
A)      A ____________ of the covenant. (Ex. 17:10-11)
B)    Romans 4:11:  a seal of the righteousness that he had                                                                                                   by _______________________. (See also Romans 2:28-29, 3:30; Acts 15; Galatians 2;)[7]
III) Conclusion: 
A)    We must keep our faith in God, not in the symbols He has given to us. 
B)    We must not so focus on the past that we fail to serve Him in the present.
 
 
 
 

 
——
[1]Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996, c1993), Jos 4:1.

[2]Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996, c1993), Jos 4:1.

[3]/The Holy Bible : English Standard Version./ (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ge 17:10-11.

[4] A) Visible; B) Invisible;

[5] A) Sign; B) Faith;

[6] A) Visible; B) Invisible;

[7] A) Sign; B) Faith;

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