Creating ‘MEMORIAL STONES’ of our life experiences: Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: "Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, 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." (Josh 4:4-7)
The parting of the Jordan River for the Israelites to cross over dry land was the second miracle that they had experienced in their wilderness journey so far. When the Israelites had started their journey from Egypt, God had parted Red Sea for them, and had caused them to walk through dry land some 40 years ago. In order to turn it into an undisputed miracle, God drowned not only Pharaoh, but also 600 chariots along with their horses and horsemen (see Exodus 14:5-9, 21-28) in the sea. However, sadly the Israelites forgot this amazing miracle that God had performed on their behalf, and for building up their faith in their Jehovah God.
Now, when the new generation of the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River, that was actually overflowing all its banks during this harvest season (Joshua 3:14-17), God wanted to immortalize this event and create a memory for the future Israeli generations of the providence and the greatness of God. The stones would always remind the people of this great event of parting the Jordan River, and serve as conversation starters with their children when they would ask what they symbolized (4:6, 21). This miracle was performed for a greater purpose than merely getting the Israelites across the Jordan River. It also was a sign to all peoples that there was no one like Jehovah God!
So, Joshua commanded twelve men to pick up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan River from the very place that the feet of the priests stood with the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders. They would then carry these stones to Gilgal, and set them up as a memorial "...that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you (Israelites) may fear the Lord your God forever" (Josh 4:24).
God’s saving acts are unique, once-for-all events in history. Our faith is inspired by recalling these acts. As parents, it is our privilege and responsibility to educate our children as to their spiritual heritage (Ex. 12:26, 27; Deut. 6:20–23, Prov. 1:8, 9; 22:6; 28:7; 29:15, 17). We need to create 'memorial stones' of our life experiences as visible reminders to coming generations of the power of God, and leave them as ‘thankful remembrance’ so that their faith in God is strengthened. What God has done for us in the past should continue to motivate our grateful response in the present!