And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying,…
I. GREAT EVENTS DESERVE COMMEMORATION. In them God is the teacher. Men have always been ready to perpetuate the memory of their own great deeds. By memorial structures, memorial days, memorial observances, they have sought to keep alive the knowledge of their achievements and to foster a regard for the sentiments which lived in them. It has been common for all men in every age to act upon the principle which Daniel Webster stated when the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill Monument was laid: "Human beings are composed not of reason only, but of imagination also, and sentiment, and that is neither wasted nor misapplied which is appropriated to the purpose of giving right direction to sentiments, and opening proper springs of feeling in the heart." But no memorial structure elaborately reared to perpetuate right feeling and sentiment could subserve this end as fitly and fully as did the rude circle of stones set up at Gilgal. It nursed no pride of ancestry. It declared God's "mighty acts." Reminded by this rude memorial, one generation praised His works to another. They were led to speak of the glory of His kingdom, and to talk of His power.
II. GOD EXPECTS THE CHILDREN TO BECOME INTERESTED IN GREAT EVENTS OF THE PAST. It was for the children's sake that the circle of stones was set up at Gilgal. It was to awaken their curiosity. God wishes the children to ask a great many questions. In this way He would have them learn what He has been doing for His people in past ages.
III. GOD EXPECTS THE FATHERS TO BE READY TO ANSWER THE CHILDREN'S QUESTIONS. The stones of Gilgal could be of little use to those children whose parents did not keep freshly in mind the events commemorated. They would become a monument whose inscription had faded away. No doubt the word "fathers" means parents, but it is worthy of remark that it does not mean mothers only or especially. The father who gives over to the mother the religious training of the child fails in the special duty which fatherhood imposes. He shirks the greatest responsibility of life. The father who answers his child's questions by evasion acts unworthily. "My wife takes care of the religion of the family," a busy man said. But this is not God's plan. This father's life, in many respects admirable, failed miserably in a central, essential duty. For this failure no other well-doing could compensate.
IV. THE STONES ERECTED AT GILGAL SUGGEST MORE LASTING MEMORIALS WHICH GOD HAS SET UP.
1. A memorial book. Concerning this book He would have the children question and the fathers give answer. How has this book been made, and by what providence has it been preserved?
2. A Church with memorial rites. What do baptism and the Lord's Supper have to tell us about God's ways with men?
3. A memorial day. Sunday is God's commemoration day. It stands a lasting memorial of the greatest event in human history.
(W. G. Sperry.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,