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May 25, 2021 8:00 am
Pyramids the noblest sculptures and gravestones all serve to focus our memories on a person or event from the past. We need memorials. They help us remember important things in our history today on the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce talks about memorials to the power of God. Memorials, we can see right now. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly.
We all go through discouraging times. Sometimes our troubles go on and on.
Our problems don't get solved.
That's when we need a reminder that our God is powerful and faithful to the end. Dr. Boyce teaches on memorials from Joshua chapter 4 Alfred Lord Tennyson was the poet laureate of England in his lifetime in a one occasion he had the duty that poet laureates have of writing a poem for state occasion the poem he wrote them, from which the title of this message calms has immanence. The couplet Lord of hosts made with this yet.
Lest we forget lest we forget, I'm told that that was not well received by the government and implied that England and the time might well forget God's blessings to our net. It was a good poem and an even better reminder Lord of hosts. Be with us yet blessed. We forget lest we forget, there is a great and tragic tendency on the part of human beings to forget the goodness of our God I were looking at those chapters of Joshua. The deal with the crossing of the Jordan River. Like all good stories. Joshua is written in episodes the ribbon to already. Chapter 1 contains the commissioning of Joshua's first commands to the people focuses on him.
Chapter 2 concerns the sending of the spies in two promise land there meeting with Rahab. Rahab's act of faith in protecting them and identifying with the people in the focus of that chapter is on her and then in chapter 3 we have the beginning of this new episode, which is the crossing of the river. The thing that people and waiting for merely for the 40 years of the desert wandering, but in a certain sense for half a millennium, because the promise of the land goes away back to God's promise to Abraham when he first called them out of the Chaldees and said he was giving him a new land and describe what land that was in the people that were living there and that one day was going to drive out the people of the land in order that Abraham's descendents might go in the people of been waiting all that time and now it last moment, these three chapters of Joshua chapters 3 chapter 4 and chapter 5, except for the last few verses concern that episode has three parts.
First is the crossing of the river.
Second is the erecting of a memorial plaque crossing and the third is the consecration of the people of new commissioning of themselves.
Consecration of themselves to God before the actual conquest. The battles begin to take place. I would look last time. In chapter 3 the crossing itself and we saw that the most important element in that crossing is the emphasis found there on the ark of the covenant ark of the covenant symbolized the presence of God been mentioned much up till now. Not all of the book of Joshua but suddenly in these chapters in connection with the crossing of the river. It is mentioned many many times.
The ark is mentioned nine times in chapter 3, seven times in chapter 4 all of that explicitly and that it's referred to an additional four or five times by the use of pronouns with a very important thing symbolized the presence of God. And when the people cross the river is the story tells us they did.
They did so following the ark.
In other words, God before them was any use crossing that river trying to bring about the conquest of the land that was God when first deliver the land into their hands that has immediate and obvious parallel to our own lives. Sometimes, like the people.
38 years before this.
We refuse to follow God's leading. God says this is what you're doing. We say well I don't want to.
Or then again, as was also true on that occasion God says all right then we are not going to go in that direction.
We sailed out that we think we should each case, there's disaster only proper procedure is that of following God's healing. Since all the people were taught that I pointed out also.
Last week, as we looked at that third chapter that it was not merely a case of God going before the people, but the presence of the ark was also intended to teach that it is the same God who goes before the people. That is the same God brought them out of Egypt.
The same God who had called Abraham out of our the same God created the world and everything we know the very fact that the miracle of the crossing of the Jordan was similar in so many respects to the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea at the time of the Exodus is meant to teach that this is the same God same in power saving holiness and injustice and same in mercy of the ark.
As we saw was a great symbol of God's mercy now after they had crossed and indeed, in conjunction with their crossing.
People were told by Joshua, who had been told by God that they were to set up a memorial. Here's the way Joshua speaks of it in verse four and following delivered before the ark of the Lord your God in the middle of the Jordan.
Each of you, and I was referring to the 12 men that are representing the tribes is to take up a stone on his shoulder. According to the number of the tribes of the Israelites to serve as a sign among you in the future when your children ask you, what do these stones mean, tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord and across the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever about I need to acknowledge that there's a bit of a technical problem at this point, not so much in terms of what I just read it's perfectly evident from any reading of this chapter that the 12 men chosen by the people worked in each lift up a stone from the Jordan and carry it up and place it upon the bank.
These were then arranged in to a memorial and this was a mark of their Guild out of which they often return. There's no question about that. This technical difficulty that I refer to comes from the fact that in the original version of verse nine. The words which we have in the new international version had been met, is the introduction of the past tense or missing. So the text literally says Joshua set up 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant and stood.
This has led many commentators and deed. The vast majority of commentators because that's the way the text has been translated in the older versions of the Bible supposed that there were two memorials there was a memorial composed of stones were taken out of the Jordan and set up upon the bank and there was a second memorial of stones were taken from the bank and set up in the middle of the Jordan so that raises the question. Was there one memorial or two great deal of very ingenious commentary has gone on around that subject as to why there should be two memorials the way it's handled and so what they say that is perfectly possible that there were two. I suppose that is the literal reading of the text and there's a very good reason for taking it that way. And yet I I must say that as I study this and think about it, it strikes me that the new international version is right, in its thinking reflected in its translation when it assumes that the past tense is just presuppose this is not altogether uncommon in Greek and Hebrew writing. And if that is the case then the text really should read something like the new international version has it. Joshua set up 12 stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan that the spot with the priests had stood. I think there are several reasons for preferring that one thing when you read the commands of God concerning this memorial. The commands are for one memorial, not to someone might argue with that point.
Well, Joshua might well have decided, quite on his own to make another memorial I've read that in some of the commentaries that is possible. Of course Joshua wasn't that kind of a man Joshua was a soldier was used to carrying out orders in the essence of Joshua's obedience was to carry out orders precisely the that's the way God had talked to him.
Originally he had said that if he was to be blessed he was to obey the law of the Lord, not the part from a turning aside out of the right hand or to the left. I think it is in Joshua's character to carry out exactly what God said. God said as C is recorded as having set in these chapters set up a memorial of stones taken out of the Jordan we can suppose that's precisely what Joshua did. Secondly, there is a natural sequence heater.
If first-line is referring to the same memorial sequences. This verse eight tells us that the man who had been appointed by the Israelites picked up the stones carry them up to the bank and put them back then were told in verse nine.
What happened to them.
Told Joshua knocked the man who would carry the stones with Joshua arrange those stones into a memorial it's a memorial that is referred to when it says in the stones are there to this day I notice also that I think this is perhaps also part of the picture that at the very end of the chapter when it begins to talk about the stones again. It doesn't refer even their two sets of stones refers rather verse 20 to the stones were set up Guild down on my judgment the new international version is right in the way it renders this and were talking about one memorial was there in the Jewish Ideal gal their base of operations. During the years of the conquest, which they frequently returned and which were to bear testimony to the people of God's blessing as C led them across the Jordan. Now there are three specific reasons given for the erection of this memorial and that's to say it pertains to the three different groups of people. The first reason is that it was to be a memorial to the generation and living the generation that it crossed the Jordan you find that in the early statement of this verse six, namely these stones are to serve as a sign among you.
We can readily understand that there were people who had witnessed the great miracle of God and dividing the waters of the Jordan, in order that they might cross on dry ground, but who in the sequence of the years of fighting in their attempts to drive out the Canaanites and the battles spread out over a period of at least seven years. Once quite naturally tend on occasion, and perhaps on many occasions to become discouraged.
Just as we become discouraged, might be for a number of reasons. Occasionally there were defeats that was true. Today I were going to come to that story.
Perhaps it was simply the duration of the fighting, not so hard to have a spring campaign or a summer campaign, but I have the battle of one year after year after year.
That in itself can be discouraging. Furthermore, as we read on the book of Joshua we find that there were strongholds of the Canaanites that they were able to overcome.
It's a simple confession there. There were places where they could not drive the enemy out and so that might've been discouraging while it was important in circumstances like that that that people are doing the fighting. Be able to go back to Gill gal their camp and see those stones that were in evidence of the power of God as he led them out of the desert into the land that same God who had delivered them at the time of the Exodus and hope because he is the faithful God would be with them to the end. We need reminders like that we go through discouraging times in our lives. We have battles that seem to go on and on her problems that we can't seem to solve. We need to be reminded that our God is that God our God is a faithful God. The powerful God and if reasons known only to himself, certainly not the us is strong right arm is later held back in some particular circumstance of our life, it's not because he's weaker because exchange because it pleases them to do that for his own purpose. We need to know that in the second reason for this memorial and the second group of people to whom it applies is the generation or generations that would succeed. The generation of fighters D this is emphasized, is referred to twice, once at the beginning of the chapter and once at the end when your children ask you, what are these stones mean you're to say God stop the flow of the Jordan and these stones are a memorial to that fact. And again you find it at the end. Joshua said to the Israelites in the future when your descendents ask their fathers what these stones mean you tell them Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you into your crossed over very important to say that we set up memorials in that way for the sake of our children. We ourselves are inclined to forget God's goodness, you know that if you look at your own heart.
But if that's true of us are much more true. It is another generation. Once removed our generation removed generation beyond lateral generation.
Beyond that, he gets increasingly hard for human beings to remember the acts of God, when time intervenes and so we need memorials like this so that when people say well what does that stand for and say that is a memorial to the way God acted in the past, church history, and is in a certain sense that Ross today when we talk about the great whites of church history, and like St. Augustine or Martin Luther and John Calvin John Wesley or any of the other great figures of perhaps even our more recent past and our children say well were those that know who was Martin Luther were able to say well he was a man in whom God did a great work in Europe begin to describe a little bit what God did in the time of Martin Luther or John Calvin or John Wesley or whoever it may be generations need to be reminded of these things. Memorials are achieved way of reminding them then thirdly, toward the end of the chapter. There's a reference to the peoples of the earth. And here is 1/3 reason for the memorial verse 24 says he did this so that not merely the Israelites. I was the chief frame of reference, but not merely the Israelites. He 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 say memorials to the power of God are important for the world in which we live because even though that world is not Christian and is in its unregenerate state of rebellion against our God. Nevertheless, it's important for them to know that there is a God and that the God of the Bible is the true God. That is a powerful God and that he does intervene in history in the lives of his people. I asked the question at this point, where does that leave us the point I want to make is the one I have already been alluding to. Namely that we all need memorials like this in our lives. The people of Israel needed there memorials and we need our memorials because we need to be reminded of the reason we need to be reminded, as we are so prone to forget I recall that even the Israelites needed other memorials than these that we've been mentioning in first Samuel the seventh chapter verse 12 were told of the prophet Samuel setting up a memorial which he called Ebenezer the occasion of a great victory in which God intervened in a supernatural way to defeat the Philistines. They were driven out says that in the remainder of his lifetime.
The listings didn't invade the territory of Israel, ever again and Mark that great victory. Samuel set up the stone, which he called Ebenezer means the Lord helps and he said were naming it Ebenezer because hitherto at the Lord helped us to suggest is that we did many Ebenezer's in our lives. Many things that we can look back on and say well here is a place where God intervened in my life and what he did something important in which I can look to be reminded of the character and presence, holiness and power of our God. But if you have things like that in your lives. For some people it's a place people often when they give their testimony will refer to the place where they were when God first broke through with the light of his truth to them and they can see that in their mind. I suppose there are times in their lives when they revisit the place where an experience like that happened and they say yes.
Here is where God spoke to me where he brought me out of darkness and the light where he opened my eyes to see his truth. That's really important.
That's encouraging. That's the kind of place to which we can bring our children and say I was sitting right here, right was standing right here. When God made himself clear to me, my own mother has a place like that.
That places near at hand. It was right here in one of the pews of 10th Presbyterian Church, Ray Barnhouse, one of my predecessors was preaching and my mother is Solomon. This church that she isn't reminded of the way God was gracious to her. In those days. For some it's like that for others it. It's perhaps a place of deliverance and for that reason, this word Ebenezer is perhaps most important, you can remember that you are in difficult circumstances and did something to break through and solve the problem for you.
Important for you to hold that memorial up before your eyes.
The eyes of your children and your children's children, because you know there are times in life when it seems that we need deliverance or we need a special intervention of God. God, for one reason or another doesn't intervene or doesn't speak specially and were inclined in times like that to say well maybe God is silent sometimes and great discouragement where inclined to say well maybe God has forgotten. Even Martin Luther had circumstances like that yet. You see if you can go to a place inside look here is where God work. This is what God did, and that memorial becomes important for you and it helps keep you on the track in the difficult times.
Some people may say, especially if you're young in the Christian life. Well, I don't have anything like that. At least I can think of anything precisely like that now. So let me suggest that for people like you and for all of us. Indeed, the Lord Jesus Christ himself gave two great memorials we call in the sacraments baptism first, which is the memorial of our initiation into the Christian life doesn't save us. But that is that outward sign that testifies that we are by God's grace made a portion of Christ's body and the Lord's supper where periodically and regularly throughout the Christian life. We gathered together as Christ's people to partake of those elements that represent his shed blood in his broken body and reaffirm our discipleship and our desire to be obedient to him.
I find that interesting that the Jesus whom we might suppose to be so above us that in a spiritual way that he might well have said, well, now just be spiritual just believe just go on have faith in a certain sense is a work came down our level and said yes that is what I want you to do, but I know you need help and so I give you these great helps baptism, which if you look back to that as a sign of the fact that you have been incorporated in the my body saved from sin and the Lord's supper regularly throughout your life to remind you of my presence, my blessing yet. You know I I guess we could say there is a sense in which the memorials we have as Christians go even beyond that, because the same God who told these Jewish people who crossed the Jordan to take out the 12 stones and set them up on the bank is our God, and if that's true, then those stones are our stones and the same God who told Samuel to set up that memorial, which he called Ebenezer is our God, and that that's the case then that's known as Archstone. We can look back to that memorial, or any other memorial, and we can say is Christians have all down through the ages, that God is our God. This God is our God. This is the one I wanted serve. I don't know about you but I need that kind of encouragement and I'm glad God Almighty has provided me. Those memorials accomplish their purpose in office. May we be found faithful and may we not forget Lord of hosts. Let us pray father give his grace, but only to remember to act on the basis of what we remember and to be found faithful, but merely for a moment. For a week or for the year but to be found faithful to the very end of life for Jesus you are listening to Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes that Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution.
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