06(Joshua 04) Memorials
Tomorrow we will celebrate Memorial Day. For most it is the beginning of the summer season, which ends on another holiday, Labor Day. It is a time of lake trips, barbeques, and visits. For some, it will also be what it was set-aside for, a day to remember.
This holiday grew out of the post-Civil War days, when confederate graves were decorated at the end of each May. Soon, this Decoration Day caught on in all regions of the country, especially following WWII. In 1971, it was officially recognized as a holiday.
Our focus in the national holiday is to remember those who died in the struggle for our country and its freedoms. Unlike Veteran’s Day, when we honor all veterans, living and dead, Memorial Day is especially to honor the fallen, and the remember the sacrifice it has taken to enjoy this Republic.
When we study God’s Word, we find that memorial is to be an important part of our spiritual lives. The Passover meal was to be celebrated each year as a memorial of the Lord’s deliverance of His children, and the slain lamb’s blood on the doorposts, so that the death angel would “pass over” their home.
In our text today, God once again commands His people to establish a memorial. They were to erect a stack of 12 stones, to remind that and future generations of God’s deliverance of Israel over the Jordan and the beginning of its trek into the Promised Land.
I. Remind us of what God has done (Joshua 4:6-7)
A. They might never forget – children would not remember.
B. Stones help to retell an important story – story of deliverance, salvation, sacrifice.
C. Lord’s Supper is exactly to remind us of deliverance: 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.
D. We must experience the memorial to have it impact us.
Memorial Day reminds of the sacrifices made only when we visit them. You can’t watch a ceremony on TV, cook a hot dog, and experience the sacrifice. You have to walk the cemetery. Go to where soldiers are buried in neat rows; see the names of real people, by the hundreds, to experience the gravity of what we are to remember.
It doesn’t mean you aren’t patriotic, or that you aren’t thankful; but until you go to the cemetery, you can’t comprehend what sacrifices were made – and you won’t remember.
The same is true of the Lord’s Supper. You can’t study about communion in Sunday School, read about it in the Bible, and experience the sacrifice. You have to handle the bread, drink from the cup. It has to become physical. You have to see the elements passed to all the people, to understand how that one body covered sins for so many.
It doesn’t mean you are not a Christian, or that you are not for the Lord, but until you participate in the Lord’s Supper, you can never fully comprehend what He wanted you to remember about that night, and you won’t remember.
II. Renew our commitment (Joshua 4:10-14)
A. Nation was together as one (12)
B. Leadership was strengthened (14)
C. Problem of 1 Corinthians was losing sight of memorial’s importance.
1. It was to discern the body – it had become a social gathering.
2. It was to unify the people – it had caused division.
3. Result: no longer the memorial, just something else.
III. Revere our Lord (Joshua 4:24)
A. Through testimony.
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
B. Through thanksgiving.
What are the stones of remembrance in your life? Think back to those times when God was mighty, when He delivered you, healed you, or overcame an impossible obstacle in your life.
Can you remember? Have you told your children? Memorials are for remembering, and they are also for sharing.
How do you answer that child who doesn’t share your hope that Christ will get them through? How do you show them faith that has been tested and proven?
These are milestones in our life – times when we know God was at work; times when He set our course to a new direction.
None of us are the generation that saw Jesus offer his body on the cross. We did not see the side pierced, or watch the blood flow from his hands and feet. We did not share the horror of the crucifixion.
But we enjoy the benefits of freedom in Christ. God calls us to always remember that sacrifice.
If you have never experienced that freedom, Christ invites you today. Make this a memorial day in your own life, when you accepted his gift of liberty and life.