Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Significant Stones

Some rocks are just nothing more than rocks. Others have great value. They may be valuable in their natural state - whether it be a ruby or a diamond or some other precious stone. They may be valuable because they were a gift...people receive rings set with stones for engagements, and anniversaries, or just as a symbol of a relationship. They may be valuable because of a special occurrence. I knew a man who once led his girlfriend out on a picnic to a rock on which he had engraved his marriage proposal.

About 3500 years ago, God and Israel were united by some of their own significant stones. The Israelites had just miraculously crossed the Jordan river on dry ground, even though it was the flood season. At God's command, as the priests who carried the ark of the covenant entered the mighty river, the waters stood still. By a mighty hand God had delivered his people from slavery and had brought them into the land that he had promised to Abraham.

Joshua was then commanded - "Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, 'Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests' feet stood firm.'" (Joshua 4:2-3). He later explained - "that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?' Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever" (Joshua 4:6-7).

These stones were significant in their natural state. They were created by God to exist in the midst of an important river. It was the river which constituted the boundary of their freedom. It was the river of Naaman's cleansing through obedience. It was the river where the Son of God was later baptized.

These stones were significant because they represented a gift and a relationship. More than any diamond has ever told a bride that her husband loved her, twelve river stones declared - "Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts" (2 Chron. 6:14).

These stones were significant because of a special moment in time. As the years passed, these stones reminded every Israelite about the goodness and providence of God in their lives. Perhaps this is why just a little while later the prophet Samuel set up a stone during a great battle and said, "So far the Lord has helped us" (1 Sam. 7:12). He understood that God had delivered them, and would deliver them all the way.

As Joshua once did, we should leave behind symbols that remind us of our God. We need to do this for ourselves. We need to do this for our children. After all, God has left a most precious Stone behind for us.

"Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation...'" ~ Isaiah 28:16

"And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." ~ 1 Cor. 10:4

1 comment:

  1. I look forware to new postings.
    This one is easy to remember.
    Tom Stanford