Joshua: 12 Memorial Stones

Joshua 4

A university professor noticed a student was about
to fall asleep in class. So the teacher asked the
student, “What is the greatest problem in our
society … ignorance or apathy?” The student

“I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Today we are going to see how God establishes a
memorial to help remind Israel of what He has done for
them. We know from a full reading of the Bible that Israel
is going to forget to follow everything that Moses and
Joshua taught them. They turn to whatever seems right
in their own eyes. (Judges)

Turn with me to the 4th chapter of Joshua.
Let’s pray together and ask for God to speak to us as He
always does when we read His word.

Joshua 4:1-5
Joshua Hears and Obeys God

These first five verses confirm that God is in control.
He is using the man He selected.
He is executing the plan that He put in place.
He is fulfilling the promise He made.

This is all God directing Joshua, but kudos to him for
hearing God’s voice and obeying as soon as he heard it.

Joshua had already selected the 12 men, 1 from each
tribe. Verse 4 confirms it and Joshua 3:12 is where God
first directed Joshua to choose the 12 men.

Joshua 4:6-8
Joshua Explains the Memorial

Joshua tells Israel that the stones are to be a memorial –
a physical reminder of what God has done for them.

Oral tradition was the way things got passed down from
generation to generation. By having the visual reminder
it would likely spark the question by the children.

The point was that it would stand forever as a constant
reminder of God’s power, protection and redemption.

I read a story this week about a memorial that a
missionary to Brazil keeps as a reminder of God’s

As I took the old, rusty plug from the knickknack
shelf, the memories returned. As rookie
missionaries in Brazil, we had just completed a
retreat with 15 seminarians in the interior.

Driving down a deserted dirt road, our engine
clunked, then ground to a halt. On inspection we
discovered an oily trail snaking its way all the way
back to the site of the retreat. Our wounded car
had been slowly bleeding to death, the victim of a
cruel mechanic who had changed the oil but failed
to secure the plug. It was gone. When we reached
town, we needed to replace the plug, add some oil,
and try to coax the car back to civilization. We
found a store, where the auto parts manager told
us, “Sorry, sir, but I haven’t got that part.” Back in
the street, a voice called from behind. It wasn’t the
Lord, but He couldn’t have spoken louder in an
audible voice. Reaching in the back of his car, a
man pulled out a familiar, rusted, old plug. “I live
far out of town. I saw this plug on the road. I don’t
know why, but I threw it in the back of my car, and
forgot about it-until now, when I heard you talking
to the parts manager. ” Not only had we found a
replacement part-we found our missing plug. Once
again, God reminded me of His faithfulness.

It’s good to keep spiritual markers in our lives.
Every Christian has them. It’s the events throughout our
lives where we have seen God do something that only He
can do.

Salvation, Miracles, Answered prayers,
Comfort through trials

God wants us to remember what He has done.
The word remember is found 168 times in Scripture
The word remind is found 7.
God has done incredible things since He created the earth
He knows that we tend to forget things over time.

As parents, we must make sure to share with our
children what God has done in our lives.
Telling the story gives God the glory!!

Joshua 4:9-11
Joshua Erects the Memorial

Joshua set up 12 different stones right in the middle of
the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who
carried the ark of the covenant were standing.
Remember, the ark was a symbol of God’s presence.
Once again, this was God’s plan from the very beginning.

This memorial signified the place where the miracle

The memorial that the 12 men, one from each tribe set
up signified the fact that the miracle did happen. And it
was to be a visible reminder like we talked about earlier.

The Patient Priests

Let’s go back and look at v.10 for a moment.

The priests were just patiently standing in the middle of
the dried up Jordan waiting for everything to be

Remember, they had to put their feet in the water and
wait until God stopped up the river.
Now, they are patiently waiting for everything to happen
just as God had spoken to Joshua and how Moses had
spoken to Joshua. They were the first in, last out!
Joshua 4:12-13
V. 11 says that the priests crossed with the ark after all
the people crossed. This would have included the two
and a half tribes and the 40,000 men armed for battle.
We know this because the Scripture tells us in v. 18 that
when the feet of the priests who carried the ark reached
the bank of the river the water went back to flowing, or
overflowing as was described.

Joshua 4:14
God Exalts Joshua

Back in chapter 3:7 God promised that He would exalt
Joshua in the sight of Israel so that they would know that
God was with him.

Now it has happened. God has done another miracle, this
time through the obedience of His servant Joshua. The
Israelites had promised to follow him as long as there
was evidence that God was truly leading him.

After this incredible event of crossing the overflowing
Jordan they are convinced.

Joshua 4:15-18

Here we see more obedience by Joshua.
And we see the importance of the ark of the covenant.
It’s mentioned 7 times in this chapter.
It’s important because it’s a symbol of God’s presence.
As long as the ark was in the midst of the Jordan the
people would be able to cross. As soon as the ark
reached the other side and the feet of the priests were on
dry ground on the bank, the water went back to flowing.
God was in control of this whole situation!

Joshua 4:19

Quickly we should note that the day mentioned here is
the day of the selection of the Passover lamb.
cf Exodus 12:3.
The Lord told Moses and Aaron about this very first
Passover before He led them through the Red Sea and
delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians.

Joshua 4:20-24
Lessons from the Memorial

This chapter ends with a nice bow on it.

The purpose of the memorial is a visual reminder for the
Israelites to teach their children about God’s power and

God’s power is unmatched
There is no one who can dry up a river and allow herds of
people to cross on dry land. Only God can do that.
Under Moses’ leadership God showed His power through
the plagues against Egypt.

Here God shows it again under Joshua’s leadership by
stopping up the Jordan and allowing them to cross.

Israel Should Fear God Forever

God wants Israel to have a healthy reverence for Him.
He has done so much for them, and they still end up
turning from Him.


Remember what the Lord has Done

Keep track of what the Lord has done in your life and
share it with others. Give God the glory for all He has