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What Mean Ye These STONES

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Joshua 4:1-7

SUBJECT:      Joshua





1. Read the text (Joshua 4:1-7).

2. Regarding the text:

   (1) Biblical period = “conquests.”

   (2) Joshua, following in the footsteps of Moses, now leads Israel.

   (2) The spies have probed the land and brought back a “good report” (2:24).  The land has been “delivered into their hands.”

   (3) Israel received from God instructions on crossing the Jordan (Joshua 3) and of other duties required.

        A. This would be a magnifying (exalting) of Joshua (v. 7).

        B. 12 men were selected.

           a. One from each tribe.

           b. Each one was to take a stone from the midst of the Jordan.

              i.   This is where the Jordan WAS flowing.

              ii.  These stones were of significant size.

              iii. The stones were to be kept overnight in their lodging place.

              iv.  The stones were used to make a monument.

        C. Joshua was instructed to take another twelve stones and stack them where the priest’s who carried the ark stood in the Jordan as they rested with the ark (4:9).

   (4) Joshua said the stones were meant to be a sign (v. 6) among them.

        A. A sign is something that declares or signifies a matter.

        B. Signs are more than just a startling or unexplained occurrence.

        C. God’s people were used to erecting stone monuments.

3. We see in the children of Israel that true Biblical faith is one that is determined to do WHAT God requires, HOW God requires, WHEN God requires.

4. Construction of this stone monument was a significant moment!  We seek to make a spiritual application to New Testament times.




     1. They were to be a sign.

         (1)  Future generations would see the stones and:

              A. Know that something caused them to be stacked.

              B. Know they meant something to somebody.

              C. They would ask someone about their significance

         (2)  Joshua provides the answer to the questions to come (v. 7).

         (3)  The stones were to be a memorial to God forever (4:7).

     2. The purpose was not necessarily apparent but it was explained leaving Israel  the option of obeying God or disobeying Him.

     3. A proper reverential fear of God does not happen in the hearts of men by accident.



     1. God wants faith in Him to be maintained throughout all the generations.

         (1)  The stones would mean a certain thing to the “fathers” and they were to mean the exact same thing to the “children.”

         (2)  Time, wind and weather might mar or decay the appearance of the stones, but the reason for their being raised would not.

     2. Every generation owes it to the next to teach them about spiritual matters.

         (1)  The primary responsibility for such rest in the home.

              A. Deut. 6:6-9.

              B. The home is (or should be) the best environment.

         (2)  You do not have to travel far in Bible history to read of the failure of a generation of parents to pass their knowledge on.  “There arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10).

     3. Bible is full of examples of parents who guided their children as God desired and those who did not. (Cf. 2 Tim. 1:5)).

     4. Poem: HERITAGE OF THE LORD (attached)

     5. Parents will “reap what they sow!”

     6. God expects faith to be maintained from one generation to the next and the responsibility lies square upon the shoulders of each and every man and woman.

         (1)  Younger generations will somehow ask us the question, “what do these stones mean?”

         (2)  Will you be able and will you provide an answer.


     1. We live under a “better covenant established upon better promises” (Heb. 8:6) according to the inspired Hebrews writer.

     2. Jesus stressed that certain things were said by men of God in times past, but He would lift those teachings to a higher level (Cf. Matthew 5:21,22; 28; 32; 34; 38).

     3. Being under this new law there are no stone monuments such as:

         (1)  No feasts.

         (2)  No festivals.

         (3)  No ceremonies.

     4. BUT, There are “stones” erected by God in the Christian system that people need to know the meaning of.

         (1)  The gospel.  What does it mean?

              A. Gospel = good news.  A message for your eternal good.

              B. Gospel = “God’s power to save” (Rom. 1:16).

              C. The gospel means that souls separated from God by sin can be purified and reunited with the Father (1 Pet. 1:22).

              D. Will following generations know what the “gospel” means?

         (2)  The New Testament church.  What does it mean?

              A. Is the church I see today the one that Jesus promised and built or is it a church constructed by man?

              B. Will future generations know about the distinct nature of Jesus’ church (Eph. 4:4)?

              C. Will future generations know that any plant not planted by God will be rooted up and destroyed (Mt. 15:13)?

             D. When future generations speak of the “church” will they know that Christ cannot be separated from His church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18)?

         (3)  Baptism.  What does it mean?

              A. Will future generations know the meaning of the word (cf. Acts 8; Rom. 6:1-3).

              B. Will they know HOW baptism relates to a saved condition (Acts 2:38)?

              C. Will they know that baptism is necessary and happens PRIOR to salvation (1 Pet. 3:21)?

         (4)  Lord’s Supper.  What does it mean?

              A. Will future generations think it was simply what the Lord had for dinner?

              B. Will future generations know the frequency of its observance (Acts 20:7)?

              C. Will they know the true purpose (cf. Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24) or think it is for their entertainment.

         (5)  Vocal singing.  What does it mean?

              A. Will future generations think this was just our personal preference or that we were too poor to buy an organ?

              B. Will they know there is absolutely no authority for mechanical instruments in New Testament worship?

         (6)  The Authority of Scriptures.  What does it mean?

              A. Will future generations view the Bible as the inspired word of God or as an irrelevant piece of literature?

              B. Will they “rightly divide” the word of truth?

              C. Will they be able to show Scriptural authorization for all that they do in life and worship (Col. 3:17)?



1. Joshua pointed out to the Children of Israel that a day would come when men would not have the same clear understanding of the events of their lives as they did.

2. Time has its way of removing us from the past (physically, emotionally, and mentally).

3. The memorial erected in Joshua Four placed a solemn obligation upon the shoulders of the current generation.

   (1) When others asked, “What mean Ye these stones?”  an answer was to be provided.

   (2) We are not responsible just for ourselves.  We have an obligation to others.

4. We are to learn from the O.T. (Rom. 15:4).

5. We do not have literal stones erected in the Christian religion, but there are landmarks (spiritual stones) that must be explained to succeeding generations.

   (1) We must adhere to the principles ourselves.

   (2) We must pass them on to others

6. May we each live in a way (and teach our children such) so that others will not need to ask, “What mean ye these stones?”

7. But if the question is asked, let us pray we are ready to give an answer (1 Pet. 3:15) with meekness and fear.



[1]This lesson is primarily from Bill Jackson’s manuscript, “What Mean Ye These Stones?”  Some adaptations and additions have been made.

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