To Arrive- The Monumental Event
Sermon on Joshua 4
Title: To Arrive
Theme: The journey was long, but the arrival will be something to remember together.
Goal: to encourage Christians to celebrate Christ’s arrival as an anticipation of his next arrival.
Need: Christians will continue celebrating Christ’s arrival.
- Hebrew People:
- Amazing Show of Power
- Followed by A Command
- Followed by Acts of Obedience
- For the Purpose of the nations knowing and the nations continued respect for God.
- Amazing Show of Power- Christ’s first coming and the promise of his second coming
- Followed by the Command- LOVE
- Followed by our Acts of Obedience and Remembrance
- For the Purpose that ALL NATIONS WILL KNOW and FUTURE GENERATIONS will respect.
Did anything change for you this Christmas season? Now that crossed over to the other side of Christmas 2008, did life change for you?
I love Christmas movies. Maybe you do to? It’s only during this time of year that you can flip channels on the TV and go from Jimmy Stewart rejoicing at finding LuLu’s petals in his pocket in It’s a Wonderful Life to Donkey teaching his overly gaseous Ogre friend that Christmas is about friends in Shrek the Halls.
I watch the characters during these Christmas movies and they all seem to learn a very powerful lesson during their celebration of Christmas. They learn that the magic of Christmas will melt your heart and rearrange your relationships and make you realize what is truly important in life.
These movies are wonderful because they nail it. These movies that make us smile and warm our hearts touch a place in our lives that we are constantly struggling with. Life isn’t the way we sense it really should be. You sense that too, right? Life isn’t the way we sense it really should be.
Has the magic of Christmas changed you this year?
I ask the question even though I am pretty sure I know the answer to it. No! No, the magic of Christmas did not change a thing for me this year.
The magic of Christmas is something made up for movie goers. It captures our deepest desires: to have the world make sense again. To have the world fit the way we sense it ought to be.
But we have spent the last several weeks in our church here remembering that there is real power at Christmas. There is nothing magical about it. And it really has nothing to do with this time of year. The power at Christmas comes through the powerless, homeless, cribless, clothless little baby. God. The Word made flesh to dwell among us. Like pastor Jake taught us on Christmas Day, God who became empoverished to end our cycle of spiritual poverty through sin.
The Israelites in the years leading up to the events we read about this morning might have felt some discouragement surrounding their most prominent holiday. Instead of the power at Christmas, they remembered the power of God at Passover. The day of Passover was a celebration that started on the 14th day of the first month of their year. It was the day that they remembered how the blood of a spotless lamb saved the first born of their families and allowed the people to go out and do the things that they are going to do. And it was a day that they remembered that God promised them so much more than just being free from Egypt. He promised that they would have a land all their own. They would have a home where they wouldn’t be slaves any more. They were promised by God that life would be back in order again.
One specific date is mentioned in our passage today. Verse 19 says, 19On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho.” This doesn’t mean a whole lot to us. But to the people entering into the promised land this is an important day. Back 40 years ago, when God parted the Red Sea to end their slavery, the tenth day of the first month was the day that the Passover lamb was supposed to be set aside. The lamb was made holy, made separate from the rest of the flock.
This tenth day of the first month,God is coming through even further on his promise. Its not the lamb that is being set aside special. Now the Hebrew people are being set aside. Made holy.
Let’s continue rereading the last part of this chapter. Verse 2020And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan.”
This is a monumentous occasion in the truest sense of the word. This occasion is so incredible. So powerful. So enormously important to the history of God’s people that it needs to be remembered. It is monumental.
The priests with the ark of the covenant, the physical representation of the place of God’s holiness. The priest with the ark put their feet in the water and slam, its like the water hits a wall. Its not going anywhere near the ark of the covenant. It is being held back. And what better way to remember what the powerful hand of God has done than to take some stones out of the deepest, darkest most dangerous spot of the now empty Jordan river. Don’t worry about the water. One representative from the 12 tribes is told to pick up a rock and carry it to the place where they would camp for the night.
Here we see a three step pattern that you will find all the time in Scripture. Perhaps if we watch, it plays out the same in our own lives. First, a momentous event done by God’s power. WHAM! The waters of the Jordan, stopped. Immediately after that or during that, you have an expectation laid out. The second part is a command. The last part of the pattern is the playing out. How do the people respond to the command. Do those who benefited from this momentous event of God’s power follow or fail at that expectation.
For the Hebrews crossing the Jordan. God holds the water back. Then the command comes to them to take twelve stones with them so that they never forget. And the command continues. Vs 21-23 21He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over.
For this momentous event set up a monument and tell the generations to come about the power of our God.
Last June we had Rev. Dirk Evans come in for several weeks. One of the things he told us that struck me. He said that it only takes 40 years, really 2 generations, for a community to go from faithful to faithless. God didn’t want the Israelites to have that happen to them. The monument was supposed to be a constant reminder of the power at Passover and the power of God to transform the slaves of Egypt into the People God made special.
The last thing we hear in the passage we read is the reason, what is the purpose of God doing these monumental events? How does he expect this event to play out, making real life different than it was before? Two things it says in verse 24. 24He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
Look people of the world. You see what God can do. He is the God of all power! And look, Hebrew people, this God who chose to love you, he is a powerful God. A God that can eliminate the power of a rushing river and a swelling sea. Respect that power in God. That is the power of God.
It isn’t any different for us today. God hasn’t stopped doing monumentous things. That’s what the real power of Christmas is right, right! The power at Christmas is that in our spiritual walk with God we have failed. Our spiritual walk with God is so much like the spiritual walk of the Hebrew people through the wilderness.
We are set free. The Monumental event at Christmas is that we have been set free. Christ came into the world to be chop off the chains of sin that hold us back. But is this world all we are living for? No, we have a promise that the kingdom of God has come into the world already, but it is not yet here completely.
We live past the time of the monumental event of God’s rescue. Its done. Its accomplished. The light has come into the world. We are redeemed.
The river has been parted. We now live in the time of the playing out the command. The Israelites were to remember by setting up stones taken from the deepest places of the Jordan river and claim the land God promised to them.
How about us? We are set free. When you come into a new job, what is it in your life that the people will see as a monument remembering what Christ has done for you. Some have stories of the additional miracles of God’s power that they have to tell about.
The parents of a new born went through their own version of the deepest places of the Jordan in a different way. Their child was born with intestinal problems and needed to have sections of the intestines removed. After the surgery the doctors told the parents that the child would need so many feet of intestines in order to even survive. They weren’t sure if they had accomplished that. When the doctors checked to determine what was left of her intestines they found something truly miraculous. She wasn’t even close to boarder line with the amount of her intestine. She had more than double what the doctors expected her to have.
The parents have this child yet as a constant reminder of God’s help through trouble. And they have the story to tell.
What story do you have to tell? I know my story is nothing like that. If I told you a miraculous event like that I would be making it up. And, God, I fine with it being that way. But we all share in a common story that is monumentally miraculous. When we were still sinners, when we needed God’s help the absolute most. Jesus came as a baby. The first advent. He came and wiped away the darkness that the devil wishes to cast over our hearts.
We have something to tell about.
The monument that we put up, the way we fulfill the expection of God is that we are living monuments of love. In the time after we have been saved by grace alone. And the time that we will be blessed with full position of our inheritence in Christ, we are supposed to tell of what Christ did by living out one command. LOVE. LOVE. Be a lover of God. Be a lover of people.
In your new job, “why are you like that. Come on.” That’s the monunment of love.
In this time between the two advents, LOVE!
Love is what will allow this world to play out the way God planned and purposed for it. And it’s the same as it was for the Hebrew people. LOVE. And all nations, all people, everywhere will be able to see that it is GOD who has held back the waters of death and hell. All nations will see by our love that God is powerful in his love. And as we love we as believers will be reminded over and over again of God’s love.
I love my child, broken-love. But God loves me perfectly. I care for my friends. But God cares for me perfectly. I give to a person who is in desparate need. God is the shepherd I shall have no unfulfilled needs.
What changed this Christmas? Did you experience magic of Christmas. Humbug. Don’t be silly. Did you experience the monumental saving power of God through Jesus Christ? YES!! What power that is. Now let the world remember that monumental power by telling your story and being someones story of the love of Jesus Christ in the world.