I begin today by reading the first nine verses from chapter four of the book of Joshua:
"And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, 2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.
4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: 5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: 6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?
7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
8 And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. 9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day."
God gave clear instructions to the Israelites to set up a memorial so that their children, and their grandchildren and their great grandchildren would first ask about the meaning of these stones and then so that the fathers had a ready response to the question.
God wanted to ensure that there was a visible memorial to His miraculous leading and protection of the children of Israel as they crossed the Jordan River to begin taking the land God had promised them. The memorial wasn’t just for the generation that had actually witnessed and lived the miracle; it was for the succeeding generations—with the responsibility put on the older generations—on the fathers in particular—to be sure the younger generations knew Who God is and what He had done.
I don’t think the principle God gave the children of Israel thousands of years ago has changed. God wants us to know Who He is and to remember and rehearse His ways, His blessings, His glory, His miracles, His working in our lives and on our behalf. And He still expects one generation to rehearse those for the next generations.
Just as it was done in the Old Testament, today the place this should be happening is in the family. Dads in particular and certainly moms—and extended family—need to be consciously keeping track of answered prayer, of God’s obvious blessings of provision, healing, and more. Does your family have a 12-stones journal or some other way to record the reality of God working directly in your family’s life?
Are you having regular family devotions where you read and study the Bible together, share prayer requests, and pray together? That’s the foundation for a 12-stones journal or any other way a family chooses to memorialize God’s ways, His wonders, and His goodness to them. A family’s spiritual depth and vitality is the parents’ responsibility. Certainly participating in a solid Bible-preaching and Bible-teaching church is vitally important. But the church isn’t ultimately responsible for your family. That’s on the dad and mom.
What is more encouraging than to see God at work in the individual family members and in the family unit? What should be rehearsed more than how God has answered specific prayers? How He has intervened in a crisis? How He met a seemingly insurmountable need? Talk about getting kids excited to know, love, and serve the Lord! May God grant us more father-led families with 12-stone memorials!
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
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