Faithlife Sermons

Never Forget

Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Memorial Day

“Never Forget”
This weekend we observe Memorial Day. We don’t celebrate it, we observe it. People died for our freedom. We don’t celebrate their death, we observe that day and remember their sacrifice for us. A sacrifice is not something to celebrate as much as it is something to appreciate. We are thankful that Jesus died for us. We do not celebrate his physical death. That was horrible. We are thankful for what his death did for us. We remember his death till he comes.
In order to remember important dates and events, we need to have something that helps us to remember. I pity the man who forgets the date of his wedding anniversary! With our smartphones, computers and calendar events, we can be reminded of important things if we take the time to enter them in.
We must never forget the goodness of our God.
There are certain events that we should remember. It doesn’t hurt us to tie these events to some physical, visible object to help us remember.
Many of you write notes to yourself. You make shopping lists, to-do lists, and other lists. The wedding band is a reminder of your wedding day and the vows you took. Birthdays and anniversaries help you remember two of the most important events in your life. The visual reminder helps you not to forget.
This Memorial Day people put flags on cemeteries. My sister, Elaine, has made it a priority to find and identify the graves of veterans in the West Topsham and surrounding area. She mobilizes people and school students to put out flags. We should never forget.

We should never forget the goodness of our God towards us.

Joshua 4 is the story of a good and gracious God. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt. God parted the Red Sea and they traveled out of Egypt into the Sinai desert. They wandered around for 40 years. Now they come to the Jordon River. This is the last obstacle in their passing over. They came in the spring when the snow melting off the mountains caused the Jordon River’s banks to overflow. God instructed Joshua that when the priests carrying the ark of the covenant got their feet wet that the Jordon River would open up and the people would be able to pass on dry ground, just as they did at the Red Sea. We pick up the story at this point.
Joshua 4 ESV
1 When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’ ” 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” 8 And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the Lord told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down there. 9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people passed over in haste. 11 And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the Lord and the priests passed over before the people. 12 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. 13 About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. 14 On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life. 15 And the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before. 19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
This event was worth remembering. God did an amazing thing. He parted the waters of the Jordon River. He did it in part to bring confidence to Israel that he would help them in the battles ahead. Chapter 3 brings that out. He did it to build confidence in Joshua’s leadership, as much as they had in Moses. What he did, God did not want Israel to forget.
Twelve men, one from each of the twelve tribes, picked up a rock from the Jordon as they were crossing over and brought it to them into what would become the nation of Israel. These twelve rocks would be placed in Gilgal as a visible reminder of God’s work and power in their lives.
Joshua takes twelve stones and sets them up in the middle of the river. When the water comes back it covers the rocks. But Joshua knows that the rocks are there. So the rocks on the land pointed to the rocks in the water which reminded Israel that this is where the ark of the covenant was put while all Israel passed through the Jordon River.
The ark of the covenant signified the presence of God in Israel. This box went before them and was a visible reminder of God. It contained the ten commandments and Aaron’s rod that budded.
The purposes for these rocks are given in the text.
Joshua 4:20–22 ESV
20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’

These rocks were for the next generation.

Studies have shown that people who are highly committed to the Lord, their children are less committed and their grandchildren even less so. This is not true in every family, but in many it is.
Even though God asked Israel to pass on the teaching of the law and the precepts of the Lord to the next generation, they often didn’t do it. The books of the Kings repeatedly say that a son came to the throne who didn’t do what was right in the eyes of God.
Our society tells us that we should train our children to be independent thinkers, that we should let them make up their own minds about what they will believe. The reason they say this is because they do not believe in Jesus, they do not believe that God can be known, they do not believe the Bible is the Word of God and true. Why should we listen to the world? The greatest gift we can give our children is to love God and love them and teach them Biblical truth.
Don’t worry! They will believe what they want to believe. But if you don’t give them a foundation, you are not giving them enough information for them to make an informed decision to trust Jesus. I am amazed at how many children of church-going people are so ignorant of what the Bible teaches.
God wanted Israel to have visual signs, these stones, for two reasons.
First, he wanted something to make children ask questions.
Second, he wanted the adults to have a good answer.
Joshua 4:23 ESV
23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over,
Why are the stones there? Because God did a great work! God wanted the children to know it was God that did it.

These rocks were a witness.

Joshua 4:24 ESV
24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
Not only would the children ask, but the “peoples of the earth…” Who did God have in mind?
Joshua 3:10 ESV
10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.
God wanted the countries around to know there was something different about Israel. It wasn’t what they wore or what they ate. It was more than that. He wanted them to see his power.
Yet, they were not there. That pile of rocks would speak to them.
Here’s the question. How did thousands of people cross the Jordon River in the spring time when the waters flooded the banks?
Good question. See that pile of rocks? We got those from the middle of the river. God parted the waters and we walked through on dry ground.
“No way.” “Yes, way…”. You can see the smoothness where the river has worn away the rough edges. God did this for us.
Symbols, memorials, make other people ask questions. “What’s that book on your desk?” “It’s a Bible…” “What is that picture on your wall?” “It’s a picture of my baptism.” “Who is that person in the frame on the wall? That doesn’t look like a family member.” “That’s a picture of the person who introduced me to Jesus.”
Memorials are not only good for passing information on to our children, but they also are openings for sharing the gospel.

These rocks impacted their spiritual lives.

24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
Those who saw the parting of the water knew that God deserved great respect. This God was not some weak harp playing old man who didn’t like it when they did bad and patted them on the back when they did well. This God was not weak, He was strong.
This God was strong enough to help them defeat their enemies.
Warfare is the next stage for Israel. God did this miracle so that they would find strength in the future as they remembered what God did in the past.
David challenges the people in his day as I am challenging you today.
1 Chronicles 16:8–13 ESV
8 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 9 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! 10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! 11 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! 12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered, 13 O offspring of Israel his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

How do we remember?

One way we can remember is to have something physical that can remind us. You might use stones. You might use pictures. It is important that we not forget the times God showed up in our lives. The story is good for our children, our community and for ourselves.
When did you receive Christ as savior? Some people have shown me the memorial they have made. They wrote the date in their Bible. Others go back to that moment whenever they take communion. They remember the Lord’s death till he come.
Have you had any significant spiritual events that you don’t want to forget? Do you remember your baptism? Do you remember when you rededicated your life? Do you remember when the Spirit of God got a hold of you and through His work, changed you and as a result saved your marriage or your job? Do you remember when you cried out to God and he heard your prayer and answered in a powerful way?
I am going to guess that for some of you, these questions are bringing up memories that you have forgotten. Yet these memories, these stories are important for your children to hear, can be helpful to your friends and neighbors, and can encourage you when you are struggling with the battles of life.
David Brainard was born on April 20th, 1718 in Haddam, Ct. He died on October 9th, 1747. He was 29 years old.
He was kicked out of Yale University where he was studying to be a minister. He ended up working among Native Americans for “The Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge” in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He died at the age of 29 probably of tuberculosis. In the process he passed on his disease to Jonathan Edward’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Jerusha, who died in February of the next year.
Why do I tell you this? I tell you this because this expelled student who only served as a missionary from 1742 to 1746, four years, who contributed to the death of a woman who nursed him, wrote a diary. “His Journal” was published by “The Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge” and read by many people. Jonathan Edwards, whose daughter died helping David, wrote a book on the life of David Brainard that John Wesley recommended for every preacher to read. William Carey, the father of modern missions, and Jim Elliot, the missionary that was martyred in Ecuador, both were influenced by these books.
In other words, his journal became a memorial to the work of God in his life.
You may not have a book written about you, but the letters you write, the things you journal, the prayers you pray, the encouragement you give in the name of Jesus will be remembered for generations.
In my time in Palermo, I have had more people mention the godly influence of Lester Nelson more than any other preacher or person in Palermo.
I only know because people have told me stories. Will the next generation know how good God has been to us? They will know only if we tell them.
What are you going to do? What Memorial do you have or will you have to help pass on the goodness of God to your children, to our community and as a reminder to yourself? Let me know. I would love to hear what you do in response to this message.
Related Media
Related Sermons