What does it say?
The time is approximately 1406 B.C. Tradition holds that Joshua wrote this book, although that is not directly stated. Joshua means Jehovah saves and is the Hebrew version of the Aramaic Jesus. As such, this book will suggest many ways that Joshua is an image of Jesus to come. This book covers the first 35 years or so following the Jordan crossing.
The first two chapters (Jos 1-2) give us the background information we need to understand how Israel entered the land and conquered it. First, God instructs Joshua, who then instructs the people to prepare for the conquest. Joshua sends two spies to scout out Jericho. Imagine his memories having been on such a mission himself! Perhaps he sent only two since only two were faithful before.
Finally, Israel crosses the Jordan River (Jos 3). And, they cross on dry land in much the same way that God previously opened for them the Red Sea. Memorial stones were common at this place and time in history. To commemorate the miraculous crossing, Joshua commands 12 stones to be place in the riverbed and 12 on the shore that would stand as a witness to God’s faithfulness and power.
What does it mean?
Moses constantly emphasized hearing and obeying God’s word. Now, God himself commissions Joshua (1:1-9), repeating the same message. Especially notice 1:8’s command to meditate constantly in God’s word with the corresponding promise of good success. Far beyond daily Bible reading and devotional thoughts, the implication is a lifelong commitment to scriptural thinking in all phases of life.
We have seen the importance of remembering all God has done in order to move forward in our mission with him. Here, Joshua commands setting up these piles of stone that will remain for many generations as a reminder of God’s mighty power in this watershed moment. We can begin our faith walk by laying down the stones of baptism and engaging in the Lord’s Supper, both of which are to remember our new life in Christ.
How will I respond?
What are the other piles of stones in my life to remember God’s mighty power? Are they events, places, people that have greatly influenced me? How can I better use these stones to remember, because I am learning that the more I remember the better I grow? For example, a man with whom I had the joy of sharing life-transforming faith writes me a yearly thank you note on the anniversary of his new birth in Christ, a striking reminder to both him and me.