And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying,…
Memorials! What are they? For what do they stand, and what do they teach? They are special signs of Divine interposition in human lives, and commemorate some event or circumstance claiming special remembrance and study.
I. THIS MEMORIAL WAS COMMEMORATIVE AND SUGGESTIVE.
1. It commemorated a new departure. They had not been this way before, they had never stood so near the fulfilment of hope as they did now. This is typical of every life. We all have our new departures, times of marked and decisive change, when some sudden bend in the road completely changes the track, leads us into new scenes of activity or rest, giving us new revelations and new experiences, and are truly periods of deep interest, epochs, red-letter days in our lives; we cannot forget them, and have raised memorials marking them as points to be remembered and studied.
2. It commemorated a signal mercy. Every Christian life has its seasons of peculiar need, which are often made special means of grace. And should he not raise memorials to mark both the trial and the mercy?
3. It commemorated a remarkable deliverance. What a sublime spectacle! When all human aid is unavailing, and nothing can save but direct Divine intervention, then Jehovah commands the waters to stand up upon a heap, again showing His salvation to His people. Some such memorial you have in your life. Some time of pressing need, when human help failed, and God came to your deliverance by opening up a path through the deep waters for you. And have you made no mark, no sign, put up no lasting reminder?
II. THE VALUE OF SUCH MEMORIALS.
1. They witness for God. They stand at different points on the ways of life, bearing silent but telling testimony to the power and grace of the Infinite Father in some time of sore and pressing need, confirming our faith in the doctrine of the conscious, abiding, personal presence of God in the lives of His people.
2. They remind us of mercies received in the past. We are consciously faulty in memory, are apt to forget the blessings already received, and to grow impatient and fretful when things are a little contrary; then it is of service to us to go back a little in our history to some of these times of God's special nearness to us, when He gave us such unmistakable proof of His presence and grace by some marked deliverance, some special blessing, or some signal answer to prayer; when we can refresh our faulty memories by putting our hand upon some place, or time, or event in our life that we had marked by a stone of memorial, as a record of faith in God and gratitude to Him.
3. They inspire confidence and hope for the future. Much was before them to perplex.
4. They check despondency and gloom.
5. They supply precious lessons of Divine faithfulness. God would have us raise these memorials by the way to remind us of His covenant engagements. The past shall repeat itself in our future.
6. These memorials are of service to others. The pillar at Gilgal was not only to be a memento of the sovereign mercy of God to those who had actually witnessed the cutting off of the waters of Jordan, blot it was to supply to posterity some precious lessons of Divine majesty and love. Much so it is with the memorials of Christian lives — they exert a helping influence on other lives.
7. These memorials supply incentives to increased devotion, and stimulate to loftier praise. In this day of scepticism, coldness, indifference, and practical infidelity, when the actual presence of God in individual lives is more or less ignored, it is both refreshing and reassuring to take up Christian biography and hear how the holy men and women who have passed into the Father's house accounted for similar events in their lives. I have sometimes seen family Bibles marked with peculiar hieroglyphics which a stranger could not read or understand; but ask the husband or wife to tell you what these marks mean, and you will find that each has a history precious and sweet to the marker. They are pillars that have been raised to remind them of some special answer to prayer, when they pleaded that promise; or When some extraordinary light broke upon the mind, on a certain day, as they pondered and prayed over that verse; or perhaps it was a literal fulfilment of another promise on which they had rested in a time of distressing calamity, and they have placed these memorials there to call to mind the signal mercy of God in their time of urgent need, and they would as soon doubt the need as they would the source of supply. "God did it for us," they say, "as surely as He divided Jordan for Israel to pass over to Canaan." I have also heard matured Christian men converse together on God's dealings with them, and have felt a strange thrill pass through me as one of them has put his hand upon some pillar in his life and said, "Here God met me, and I communed with Him. It was a time of bitter pain and need, and I was bowed down to earth with the burden, and was fainting by the wayside, but the Lord drew very near, and I seemed to hear His voice speaking to me, and asking me to tell Him about the pain, and I was drawn out to tell Him all, and He blessed me there, by giving in a way marvellous to me just what I needed; I rose up a strong man, and the grace was so like a miracle that I put up this memorial, and this spot is very dear to me, for here I saw God face to face and my life is preserved."
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,