In this special Father’s Day sermon, Pastor Joe Babij considers Joshua 4 and God’s command to Joshua to memorialize the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River. Pastor Babij explains that Christians, too, need to be purposeful in visually memorializing the great works of God in our lives, both for our own sake and for the sake of the next generation. Pastor Babij outlines three general purposes of memorials:
1. A provision for remembering (vv. 6-7)
2. A provision for reminding (vv. 7-13, 20)
3. A provision for retooling the rising generation (vv. 6-7, 20-24)
I want you to go to chapter 4 of Joshua. Joshua is a book a lot like the Christian life. The Lord has done everything for the people, but they were required to go get the land and possess the land that they were inherited from the Lord. So in a very real way, the people were like soldiers. And Christians are like soldiers in the Lord’s army. If we as God’s people are going to have successful conquest, then we must be fighting with the spiritual weapons at our disposal.
Now from Joshua, those spiritual weapons were believing in the promises of God, all in chapter one. Also meditating on the word of God. And a third weapon was an awareness of the perpetual presence of God. Those were the weapons that they really had to fight and to win. Strength, courage, and success come from these three areas. Also, as we as God’s people press forward on our spiritual conquest as believers, we will want to incorporate visual reminders of God’s faithfulness, being able to see what God is doing, what God has done in our life.
In 1988, just about three years after I came here, we just had a handful of people and half were saved, half weren’t. The mortgage was huge. The property was in disrepair. The building was falling apart. The parsonage was falling apart. The whole property was falling apart. And the bills were way more than we could afford. We just prayed, Lord do something. And three years after that on June 4th 1988, we paid off the mortgage. We had a big bond burning in the back of this building here. We got a big bowl, got the mortgage, and put it in the bowl and lit it on fire. That’s what we did. But you know, that event became a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness. When you trust God, He’s going to do things in your life and for believers and for God’s people as a whole in the church that only He could do. And it’s only the faithfulness of God’s people, praying and humbling themselves and serving him with their gifts in the church, that He does those things.
But when He does those things, we need to have some kind of visual reminder. You know why? Because we forget. And so on that day, we got a plate made, and it said on there to the glory of God, bond burning fourth of June 1988. The Scripture passage was in this case, moreover it is required for stewards, that one be found trustworthy or faithful, in 1 Corinthians 4:2. We put that up. It used to be by the sound booth. When we painted, it got moved around and never got back there, but it was on the wall and every time you look at it, it was a reminder that God did something. Now of course, as people come and go and they don’t understand or realize that or don’t even know what it’s about, you have to sometimes remind them what God has been doing.
So now the people have come out of the desert here in this passage of Scripture. They’re done with the wilderness wanderings. And so the people of Israel experienced a tremendous miracle and saw the mighty hand of God work right before their eyes. Israel’s self-awareness was really saturated with an understanding that their God can do anything. And He could do it for them. And whatever He did, it was by His mighty arm. So the events leading to entering the promised land or the land of Canaan was that the priests and the ark of the covenant remained in the riverbed while the people hurried across.
Now we’ll get to the Scripture in a minute. The presence of the Lord was there when the ark of the covenant was there. While the priest went into the middle of the riverbed, the waters parted and two million strong passed on dry ground. If you look at chapter 4 verse 22, it says,
then shall you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’
Also, the men of the trans-Jordanian tribes were not hampered with families and goods when coming across. Remember, part of the inheritance was on the other side of the journey. But if they wanted that inheritance, they had to go fight with the people till they were all done. Then they can leave and go back home. So they weren’t hampered by families or any kind of herds or any kind of things they had to take with them. So they became in the sense the men who were going to fight, and they promised to fight. When all had crossed and a special mission of the memorials had been completed, the priest left the riverbed and resumed their position at the head of the people. And of course, once they got out from the Jordan, it resumed its flow of water.
So for people, for believers today, a crossing of the Jordan is a picture of entering into spiritual warfare to claim what God has already promised you. It is a life lived by faith and obedience. When turbulent waters of life press upon us, we must never lose sight of the God who is able to take us through. Just listen to what the prophet Isaiah said while he was reminding God’s people concerning God’s commitment to them. Isaiah 43 verse 2 says,
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.
So you have to ask yourself a question – do you have any rivers you think are uncrossable in your life? Do you have any mountains you can’t tunnel through? See, God specializes in things like that. God specializes in things thought impossible. He’ll do what no other friend could do because that’s who He is. So when the Lord works in the lives of His people and brings to pass what was thought unimaginable or impossible, then those events are sometimes marked by a memorial so people do not forget.
Now I want you to look at chapter 4 verses 1 through 5. It says,
Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take up for yourself twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.'” So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe, and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel.
Now as they did that, the Lord wanted Joshua to make a memorial about that event. And memorials are important and have really great value to the believer. There are three really general purposes of memorials in our life. First one is that it is a provision for remembering. A memorial has a present, a past, and a future purpose. It shows that the Lord God worked in the past to benefit and protect the people, and that He is working in the present, and thus will continue to work in the future and bring to pass all that He has promised in the word of God.
So the first thing that we see is that the purpose of a memorial is first a provision for remembering. In verse number 6, he says let it be a sign among you. A sign is really a picture, an adaptation of divine presence. It’s like the sign that God gave Noah after the flood, the rainbow, letting people know that God has worked among them and that He will keep His promises. And they are not to forget He is ever-present. Even today, when a Christian looks at a rainbow, automatically your mind should go back to the story of when God did that and remind you God is still working. He’s still faithful. He has not flooded the whole world since that time, and He will not, because the next time as according to Peter, it’s going to be the judgment of fire.
Then I want you to notice he says there in verse number 6,
“Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”
So there it is. These stones are going to be taken out of the Jordan. Actually, there’s going to be two sets, one set set in Jordan and one set in Gilgal. And it was for a reminder. Actually was for their remembering so they would not forget. So there are several things that come together when there is a memorial event in the lives of God’s people. The first one is it is the display of God’s faithfulness to His promises. In verse number seven,
So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.
The last part of that verse. And then it’s going to be a display of the obedience among God’s people. In verse number 8,
Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded and they carried those stones and lodged them in their place and put them down there. So those two things, the faithfulness of God, and then our response is that of obedience to God, to God’s faithfulness. And that’s without having all our questions answered. That’s without having everything that we think we should know about the subject known. It’s trusting God because He’s faithful.
So the pile of stones were to bring God’s people to reflect on what happened on that great event. Now that is to think carefully about something God has done. And then to act reverently toward what God has done and give Him glory and give Him reverence. It includes really trusting God’s wonderful works and His person. It includes trust in God’s trustworthiness and His faithfulness towards His people. Remember, after 40 years of wandering, the reproach had been rolled away. Judgment laid behind them. They past through the place of judgment and they passed from death unto life and they were now in on the resurrection side of judgment, ready to enter the promised land. But then it also reflects God’s incredible, perfect timing. When God does something, it is right on schedule. Look at verse 19 of chapter 4,
Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho.
Well, you know the 10th of the first month, what was that? The tenth of the first month, the very day 40 years before that the first passover lamb was selected in Exodus 12, which lead to the crossing of the Red Sea. Yet remember, God did something great for them that day and He’s done something great for them right here. So surely, they can trust Him for the days that lie ahead. And what does it say back there in Exodus chapter 12 verse 3,
Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, “On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ household, a lamb for each household. Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
And you know the story in the Old Testament, that when the death angel saw the blood, they were passed over from the judgment of God. And so what happens is that that’s exactly the picture that we got. In our mind, it is Christ death on the cross. When He shed His blood and you believe in Him by faith because He’s done all the work, then the judgment of God is passed from you. You don’t have to fear that anymore. He’s taken care of everything for you and I. So that becomes in our mind something we remember that God has done.
The second general purpose of a memorial is it is a provision for reminding. It’s different than a provision of remembrance. The difference would be because reminding usually happens after an event fades from one’s mind and you kind of even forget about it. So you again need a reminder. Visual things will remind us of what God has done. So the stones in the middle of the Jordan, the stones at Gilgal remind the people of that day when the Lord parted the waters and brought the people out of the desert into the promised land. They were never to forget that day and that visual memorial always reminded them. So if they forgot a bit, if that day was kind of distant to them because of their troubles of life and because of warfare, then once they’ve seen that pile of stones, it was to remind them again of what God has done.
So the people are going to walk by those stones. And when they travel back and forth to use the Jordan for various things, various reasons, every time they see those stones, they will be reminded. Whoever looks on them with any sobriety that God did something great amongst His people that historic day, and that event should never ever be forgotten whatsoever. Look at verse number 8 of chapter 4,
Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, just as the Lord spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel; and they carried them over with them to the lodging place and put them down there. Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing, and they are there to this day.
That’s the first pile of stones. And then verse 10 says,
For the priests who carried the ark were standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything was completed that the Lord had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. And the people hurried and crossed; and when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed before the people. The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over in battle array before the sons of Israel, just as Moses has spoken to them; about 40,000 equipped for war, crossed for battle before the Lord to the desert plains of Jericho.
So verse number 14 it says,
On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life.
Now that’s an important verse for Joshua because you know why, it is very hard to fill the shoes of Moses. But when the people saw, wait a minute, God’s doing the same thing with Joshua that He did with Moses, then they knew the hand of God was on Joshua. And so Joshua got elevated by God that day as a leader among the people. He went through all the land and conquered everything. He was able to give them an inheritance. That’s in chapter 24.
So it’s a historical event. This memorial is a visual memorial, but it is also a solemn reminder of how prone our hearts are to forget things. The psalmist writes in Psalm 106. He says,
They quickly forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel.
And then Psalm 106 verse 21, it says,
They forgot God their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt, wonders in the land of Ham and awesome things by the Red Sea.
When Moses was the man of God then and God was working through them. So also these verses show forgetting led drifting far from God’s word and His people begin to take the practices of the heathen nations around them and began to sacrifice their children as a form of worship to heathen gods. Psalm 106 verses 37 and 38. This is a horrible thing when people forget what God has done and move away from Him. In verse number 37 it says,
They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrifice to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with the blood.
So how serious a crime it is to forget the things that God has done and not remind ourselves and have visual reminders that keep pulling us back to the reality of what God has done. We should never think that memorials don’t mean anything. They’re very important to God.
Now, if you’re right there in Joshua, turn to the next book real quick to Judges. Look at Judges 2:7-10. It says,
The people serve the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel. Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, at the age of one hundred and ten.
Look over the verse number 10,
All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.
Now the question would be, why didn’t they know? All these great events that took place with Moses and with Joshua, why didn’t they know? They weren’t able. They didn’t passing down to the next generation what God had done. So in other words, the kids didn’t know. They didn’t know because the people forgot. They got too wrapped up in their inheritance. They got wrapped up in the comfortability of having their own land and their own property and their own livestock. And they were now in the promised land, not waiting for the manna to come down from heaven. They were growing their own crops and they were becoming self-sufficient. And you know what they did? They forgot God.
Could that happen to us? It happens to us all the time. We depend on money. We get to a certain place in our life. I think I can handle it. I think I got it covered. As we do that, we drift away from God. We don’t often say it. We don’t often detect it right away. But I tell you what, if you have a memorial to look at, it will remind you. It’ll pull your back to say, you’re thinking all wrong. You need to get back on track. You need to start serving the Lord like you did at one time. You’re too comfortable in your life. See the people forgot and didn’t think it important to remind their children of God’s works and faithfulness. They didn’t think it was important.
There’s a few historical examples that I could share with you about our recent history right here in the United States. On September 11th 2001, you all know what happened, right? But not everybody knows what happened because some kids weren’t born yet, right? Some kids may never know what happened. I don’t know, they may be living under a rock, but they’re not being taught certain things in places they ought to be. After 9/11, many towns across the globe raised money to put up memorials in their towns, often in very busy and central places so people would have a visual reminder of the great tragedy and loss of life that occurred on that beautiful September day in 2001. Probably everybody who was alive at that time knew exactly where you were and what you were doing on that day.
if you go to Somerville, some towns built their memorials from pieces of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Right there in Somerville, there’s a pillar, a part of the beam from the World Trade Center that they made a memorial around. And you go to many towns and they have these things there. And why is that there? So when somebody walks by that wasn’t born then and maybe don’t even know about it or somebody who’s visiting the country and they say, what’s this about? Then they can read the plaque, or somebody near can tell them what happened on that day. I would say most of the world knew what had happened, that were alive anyway.
So we have to let the memorials God has given us speak loud and be passed down accurately. And let us not go on living as if memorials God has given has no significance for the present and the future generations. They have tremendous significance.
So there’s a third general principle of a memorial and it’s a provision for retooling the rising generation. In verses 20 to 24 of chapter 4 of Joshua, it says this,
Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
If you notice there, the responsibility was given to the fathers. Not only the fathers who led the nation, but the fathers who led their families. And fathers, it is father’s day, right? So fathers, what memorial events do you have in your life, that’s you’re going to pass down to your kids and you’re going to pass down to your grandkids. Now it may not be as significant as the crossing of the Jordan and God parting the waters. But there are going to be events in our life that are going to be events that we prayed about and that were impossible and God did it. In other words, have something to tell your children concerning the faithfulness of God. The memorials were for the upcoming generations. When the children would ask, what do these stones mean to you? It was the job of the father to tell them what they meant. And he better had known himself what they meant. See, that was the job of the fathers. Their fathers would recount in detail the great story and thus children would be caught up in the reverential awe and begin to relate to God with faith that they had not known before, to really say that God is involved with our lives. God is doing something in our life. He’s not far away. He is near us. He’s near us to work on our behalf.
So fathers, we are to inform our children and grandchildren from the stories of Scriptures, yes, but also from personal experience. God is still working in our life personally. He’s still answering prayer. Some of those prayers we need to mark as memorials and tell them to our kids and let our kids know. Listen, this is what God did for us. This is what God did for Israel, but this is what God did for us in our life, in our family.
But then again, if you noticed that there’s two things in verse 23 and 24. He mentions the dry ground that the recent people went over led by Joshua, and then he mentions the Red Sea led by Moses. He goes back. You know what that means? History is important. Getting history correct is important. They would not know unless someone told them. And what are they to know? Verse 24,
that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.
That’s an evangelistic passage of Scripture, that when you relate to these memorials and these visual things of God’s faithfulness to your kids, that they will know something of God’s greatness and they may come to fear God because of what you told them. So let’s get serious about building memorials, about making conscious attempts to preserve the memory of the great things that God has done for us.
I mentioned that plate at the beginning because that is something that God did that was impossible. If you did the math, there’s no way you can pay off that mortgage in three years, but it was paid off. I don’t even know how. I couldn’t even tell you how. I was just surprised as anybody else when we did that. But see, that was a memorial event.
One memorial event that the church as a whole should never forget is the ordinance of the Lord’s table. Why did the Lord leave us the Lord’s table? Because the Lord’s table acts like a stone of remembrance. Those who partake are the ones who once were lost sinners under condemnation, and that event is a testimony that they have been passed over because of the blood of Christ and they have been given rest by God. When God the Father saw the blood and all those who have faith in the death of Christ, He free them from the judgment of God. And now being on the resurrection ground, God’s children can look forward not to judgment, but are united to the risen Christ and are alive onto God. So the Lord’s table points forward and anticipates Christ’s return. It looks backward to the cross and all it entails. And it looks to the present and reminds us that we His children are at peace with God through the blood of the cross. That’s what it reminds us of. And that’s the memorial He gave us. Do this as much as you do it as a church in remembrance of me. Remember.
You know why? These things up here, very leaky. And as you get older, the holes get bigger. Hey I don’t know how many times I go into a room and say – why am I here? I actually have to look around and think, I know I came here for a purpose. But I just can’t, and then finally it comes. Sometimes it doesn’t come actually. You know where I left my keys. You’re working, you lay them down to go up there to do that. You get distracted and all of a sudden, where’s my keys. And then you’re looking, and it takes another hour to find your keys. And then somebody else finds them and gives them to you. So this verse here is given as really to bring people to reverence the Lord and not forget.
So do you have any stones of remembrance? All of us have stones of remembrance. Some less concrete, some more, some more dramatic, others less. And God has given them to us to look back and rejoice, that we might reverence Him and serve Him in devoted faith.
There are several stones of remembrance in my own life. I will tell you one of them. I’ll mention a few of them, but I’ll tell you one of them. One of them was a trial that the Lord brought me to, where my friend died. That was a significant memorial event in my life. And then the second one would be that of my father’s conversion after witnessing to him for twenty-five years and seeing him trust Christ and then baptizing him. It was a memorial event. I’ll never forget that. A memorial event is not just an event. It’s an event that remind you of God’s faithfulness. Do you know how many times I gave up in 25 years witnessing to my dad? I gave up a lot. But you know what, I kind of pick it up again and I used to pray, Lord just let my father ask me a question. I’m not going to bring it up, and he always did. So I brought the Bibles and he ended up getting saved.
And then there were other events, when God spared me from the car accident which I flipped over my Jeep, landed on the roof. And if it wasn’t for the Jeep, I could have been crushed in there. But the jeep has a roll bar. And the thing about it is, when I flipped over and I opened the door, the door is lodged against the mountain. There’s a little bit space to get out. I crawled out and I shake myself off, and there’s like 30, 40 people walking around my Jeep already. I’m shaking myself off and I look at them. There’s nothing wrong. I didn’t even have a scratch. So when that happened, I asked my daughter Elizabeth to paint me a picture. When I was leaving the Jeep, I picked up one reflector, a turn signal reflector, and I stuck it in my pocket. Later on, I pulled it out of my pocket, and I said I’m going to make a memorial event out of this, and I had her draw a picture and put that reflector right in the middle of it. And she did. You know what, every time I see that picture, you know what I think of? God’s faithfulness. He protected me that day. He let me know life is short and I’m still going to allow you to serve Me a little bit more longer. Every time I see it, that’s all that comes to my mind. Nothing else comes to my mind, not even the accident comes to my mind. That comes to my mind.
See that’s a memorial event. And then when people walked in the room, my nephew walked in the room. He says, what’s that picture? and I told him the whole story. I related to him God’s faithfulness to me on that day and His protecting me. So that became a memorial event in my life in which I have shared with others to testify of God’s goodness and faithfulness.
So you have events like that. You’ve got to think about them. You’ve got to think, what did God deliver you from? It could have been a sickness. It could have been the birth of a child. It could have been you couldn’t have a child, and now you have one. It could have been buying a house. There’s no way you could have afford it, and now the mortgage is paid off. It could be anything. Of course, it could be witnessing to a family member for years and all of a sudden they come to know the Lord. And you know what? You may have not been the one leading them to the Lord, but they came and you were part of the process. That’s a memorial event about the faithfulness of God, keeping you on the track so you live for Him and give Him the glory and praise that is due His name. I told my daughter Elizabeth after she did this painting that you should start a business calling it event art or memorial event art, but she didn’t get that yet. Maybe one of these days, I don’t know. So we need a pile of stones of remembrance and share them with our children and with our family. A memorial posted down properly and responded to correctly can inform a generation of people who may eventually fear God and honour His name. Because when you have that, it may lead to sharing the gospel, so you can have an evangelistic event because of that memorial.
Someone suggested to me, I think it may be my reading years ago, that we should take as God’s people two large index cards and two small stones, and then bring to memory at least two memorial events and write them on the index cards. And then glue one stone to each card, and then frame at least one of them and put it on a wall or at a place which you walked by often, to be reminded. Then someone visiting your home may say to you, what is this card and this frame and this stone? And you can give to them the great goodness of God. That’s not a bad idea actually. Then you can tell them of God’s great faithfulness and goodness in your life, and how His presence was significantly experienced in this event at that time in my life.
Now saying all that, let’s turn to Joshua chapter 24. Joshua chapter 24, last chapter of Joshua, so he’s summing things up. And Joshua, what does he do? He reviews the faithfulness of God. Dave read this morning, don’t have time to read all those verses now, but he reviews the faithfulness of God to God’s people, so God’s people would not forget and have really a good and continued success in their walk and their faithfulness to the Lord. So Joshua reviews what the Lord has done for Israel in giving the land to the tribes. He demonstrates His loyalty. And He says to them He will continue to be with His people so the enemies cannot come against them and win. He will fulfill every outstanding promise, even as He has already fulfilled His promises.
So, the Lord has been faithful. So in this last chapter, the challenge is for His people to persevere in their loyalty to Him now. God has been loyal to you, now you be loyal to Him. That’s what he says. Loyalty to the Lord is not apart from loyalty even to the law of Moses because the law tells us what pleases God and how it brings the hearts sin so you can repent and turn from it.
So the address ends with a covenant renewal at Shechem. Look at verse one of Joshua 24:
Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel and for their heads and their judges and their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
Now in the ancient near east, it is common when marking a tree or a covenant to give a brief historical summary of the relationship of the parties involved to God. And so he does that. Verses 2 to 4 he talks about the patriarchs. In verses 5 to 7, he talks about the Exodus. In verses 8 to 11, he talks about the conquest. So he talks about all these things and in doing that, he uses I, meaning referring to God, the pronoun I 17 times. I did this. I did this. I did this. I did this. I did this. In fact, look at verse 11 through verse number 13 of Joshua 24. It says there,
You crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho; and the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Girgashite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Thus I gave them into your hand. Then I sent the hornet before you and it drove out the two kings of the Amorites from before you, but not by your sword or your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.
God did everything for them, everything. So the point is the victories were God’s alone and not military power or by anything that the people could do in their own power. So, that brings a response from the people because God was faithful. What about you? Are you going to be faithful? Are you going to keep remembering? Are you going to have more memorials of reminders that are there in your life so you don’t forget?
So the last thing is that it’s really our response to God’s faithfulness. That’s the visual reminders before our minds point to that God is worth committing ourselves to. He’s worth committing ourselves to. And so Joshua asked the people to commit yourself to the Lord. That means a choice on the side of the people. You have to make a choice. You have to make a choice. Look at verse 14. It says,
Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.
So three things that are manifested in one’s life when they are choosing to be faithful to the Lord. They’re going to be devoted totally to God in worship. They’re not going to have other things on this side. They’re not going to have other loves beside the Lord. Then also in verse number 14, they’re going to put away the worthless idols, the gods. It says,
put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.
And then of course, here’s the choice – choose whom you will serve. Look at verse number 15,
If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
There’s that famous passage of Scripture. That famous passage of Scripture can be very helpful to us. We can put something like that on our door, and it could remind us of God’s faithfulness. But it also should remind us of our response to God’s faithfulness, that I chose on a certain day to serve God wholeheartedly. I came to Christ, I believed in Christ and I know that the Lord has done all the work for that to happen. From that day, I began to put away my sin. I have began to put away my idols. I began to put away everything that would hinder me in serving the Lord. And I make a conscious choice every day to serve the Lord.
The goodness, the presence, the loyalty of the Lord was unquestionably evident among God’s people as he is today. So the Lord expected faithfulness from His people in the form of wholehearted allegiance without any form of idolatry. Can’t have Jesus and add-ons. It’s got to be Jesus alone. And you know it reminds us also that there’s no in between. Either you serve God or you serve something else. There’s no in between. There’s no neutral place. So you are either going to serve God or going to serve someone else. So the question is in Joshua 24, who are you going to serve? Because you have to serve someone. In verse 15, the leadership says we’re going to serve the Lord. In verses 16 through 18, the people respond, we will serve the Lord for He’s our God.
But I want you to notice something in our passage. In verse number 20, look at what Joshua says. He says,
If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.
He also said to them in verse number 19,
Then Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the Lord,
You’re not able to do this. Why aren’t you able to do it? Because God is holy. Verse number 19,
He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.
And why is that? If, that big word if,
If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.
In other words, we need the Lord’s help. We cannot live the Christian life without the Lord’s help. The Lord has been faithful and he will remain so. Will you be faithful? A stone of witness is one that gives regard to the faithfulness of the Lord. I want you to notice in verse 22,
Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the Lord, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel. The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and we will obey His voice.
So then what is Joshua do? Look what he does in verse 25,
So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, so that you do not deny your God.” Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance.
Now this is not a stone of remembrance. This is not a memorial stone here. This is the stone of witness, that when a person commits themself to Lord, will they be faithful to that commitment? And that commitment is the rest of your life. The rest of your life until the day you die, to the day you die.
Now here’s the sad events though. If you notice in verse 31 of Joshua, 24, it says,
Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, and had known all the deeds of the Lord which He had done for Israel.
Joshua died. The whole generation died. And what’s the outcome? Look at Judges 2:11,
Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the Lord to anger. So they forsook the Lord and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
and then Judges 6:10 it says this,
and I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.
So could the people keep their faithfulness? No, they couldn’t. Of course we have a different day here. We have the Spirit of God. We have the word of God, right? It’s different than them in that sense and the Lord. But it’s also our responsibilities to have memorial events in our life that we can point ourself to to remind us of what God has done so we don’t forget that and then pass those things down to our kids.
So men this morning, when you leave today, we have a visual reminder, a reminder really of God’s faithfulness but also specifically of your commitment to Him. And every time you see this little plaque it should remind you who you need to serve. So men, I want you to take one of these. It says, as for me and as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. I put this on my door when I first came here and it’s been there. It’s been there the whole time. And every time I see it, it reminds me of this passage and of my own commitment to the Lord. I think I have it in other places in the house too. I need a lot of reminders. So do you. So just take it and just put it somewhere that you see it all the time. Maybe your front door. Maybe the door that you come in your house, maybe on the wall right there. And maybe you want to take a memorial event, write it down, put it in a plaque right there by the door, so when people come to your house and say, what’s this, and you can tell them of God’s faithfulness.
Let’s pray this morning. Lord, thank You so much. Lord, You’ve been kind to us. You’ve been gracious to us. Lord, You have given us memorial events, one of them was the day we trusted You as Lord and Savior. And Lord, other times where we fell off the wagon and got involved with things we shouldn’t and we had to repent of our sins and we had to come and rethink and repent and give our life back to You, Lord. And I pray, Lord, that we would continue that, that we would be faithful people. Whatever we’re doing, wherever we’re at, we would be faithful to You, no matter what happens. And the reason for that, Lord, is because it is worth serving You. It is worth serving our God who’s taken care of everything for us. The very things that can separate us from God, You’ve taken care of for us by sending Your Son Jesus to die in the place of sinners, to take the judgment that was due us, to pay the full price that was supposed to be ours, and to then turn away His wrath, shed His blood to wash away our sins, and then to defeat satan and death and rise from the grave and now You’re ascended into heaven, interceding for us, preparing a place for us to come to be with You someday. And Lord, I pray as we think of those things, we would not forget that through our lives there are events that we prayed about it and only You could answer and You answered them. I pray, Lord, that You would always bring those things to our memory. Even if we don’t have something visual in our mind, it would spark something in our mind that we would not forget and that we’d constantly recommit ourselves to being faithful to You. Don’t let us get distracted by the things of this world, but let us keep our focus upon You. And Lord, make us faithful. And I pray this in Christ name. Amen.