A Time for Remembrance
By Josh Petras on July 2, 2023
A Time for Remembrance
By Josh Petras on July 2, 2023
“So I'm here with my friend and our tour guide Shafiq. And will you please tell them what you just told all of us?” “Well, we're standing here at the Jordan River. And you can see it at this point. It is the border between us and Jordan, because on that side, you can see already the Jordanian flag. Some of the churches were not allowed to enter and a Jordanian soldier. So, we are right on the border at this point here, the Jordan River. But when people come and see how the Jordan river looks like they will ask themselves, so how come it was impossible to cross something like this? Well, guess what? In 2013, I was here with my group. And that sign was placed at the level of the water in 2013, which makes it really impossible to cross the Jordan River. So, crossing if it's that high would be like a miracle. If only someone could preach to us about how they were able to cross the Jordan River. I hope you guys have a great sermon.” “Shalom from Israel, shalom.”
Well, we just had a team come back from Israel. And so cool as we are looking at a passage today in Joshua chapter three. So great that we could have a crew get some video footage in so we can actually see in our minds a bit of this story today. Take your Bibles, let's turn to Joshua chapter 3. That's where we'll be looking in God's word this morning. I'll begin with a quote, “We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.” These are the words of founding father and political writer, Thomas Paine, in his pamphlet, the American crisis 1777, in the midst of the Revolutionary War, it was words like these that fueled the American Revolution. These weren't the only words that were written. In fact, these weren't the only words of Paine. In January 1776, in his book, Common Sense, he wrote, “The period of debate is closed. Arms, as the last resource, will decide the contest. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries to his time.” Here's another one, Thomas Paine in American Crisis. This is December 1776. So, this is really the second Winter of the war. He writes this, he says, “These are the times that try men's souls, the summer soldier and the sunshine Patriot will in this crisis, shrink from their service of their country. But he that stands at now deserves the love and thinks of man and woman. Tyranny is not easily conquered. Yet we have this constellation with us that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” I mean, I feel like a bald eagle should just like fly through as I read that, you know, it's just patriotic, right? These are the words, again, that fueled the American Revolution, a war that lasted eight years. Now, wars that we still memorialize, remember today, battles like the battles at Lexington and Concord to Bunker Hill to a stalemate at Monmouth, to surrender at Yorktown, soldiers died battling for the colonies against the Crown in order to gain the independence of the United States. And I bring that up, because this week, America is going to remember, and we're going to remember it with hotdogs, and fireworks and baseball, which then bears the fair question, are we remembering? Well, how do we properly memorialize an event so important? Well, I'm no expert on that. And quite honestly, I don't have interest in getting in all the theory of that. But it is interesting because our passage this morning, Joshua, chapter 3 talks about remembering. We're going to look at two chapters today, Joshua 3 and 4, because it's all one story. And the theme we're going to see is that God wants His people to remember, he wants them to remember him, and he wants them to remember him well. And so that's what we'll see. And these passages today, we will ask ourselves question: Do we remember well the greatness of our God?
So, what I want to do is to read Joshua, chapter 3, and then we'll pray together and look at it. I want you to go ahead and stand if you would, for the reading of God's Word, since this is the Word of God. Just so you know, as some of you know, anytime you see that capital LORD, we've been reading it as YHWH because that's God's name. And some of you have wondered why we've been doing that. That seems like it's not helpful. You'll see why it's helpful today when both Lord show up in this path, so, you'll notice it. Let's read it together. Joshua chapter three, this is God's very Word. Word of God reads:
Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 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. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.
This is God's very Word; you may be seated. And as we begin our time this morning, let's pray together. Heavenly Father, we thank you for the opportunity we have to study your word. God, we thank you that you are a great and glorious God. We ask for your help this morning. Lord, we ask for your help as we consider this passage, we'd understand you better. Or do we want to see your glory in the midst of so much going on, in such a busy week ahead of us? Or do we want this time to focus? We ask for your help that we would hear the Word well. Now we will not only be hearers of the word, but doers also. Give us a glimpse of your glory this morning. Father, we pray these things in Your Son's name, Amen.
Now, before we learn from this story, we need to make sure we understand what happened here. Because this is an amazing story. I don't know if maybe some of you maybe forgot the stories in the Bible, or this is a newer story to you. Usually the book of Joshua, as people know, you know, be strong and courageous, Rahab, Jericho, and then they might ask for me in my house, you know, the Hobby Lobby verse, you know that you can get a plaque with that? Those are usually the four stories we know. This one we forget about some time that is here. This is a big deal. And to understand it, we know the context a little bit. The nation of Israel was in bondage in Egypt for 400 years, God said, I'm going to rescue you, and bring you to the promised land. And so, they're delivered from Egypt through these plagues. They're on their way to the promised land. And in the midst of that, they show that they have hearts that do not believe, They don't trust God, and because of their unbelief, God makes them wander around for 40 years, so that everyone 20 and older who rejected him would die during that time. In fact, even Moses dies at the end of that 40 years. Now the 40 years is up and they're about to enter the land. And the book of Joshua itself is about Israel entering the land. And, and God giving them the land. Now before they then get into the land, there's one last obstacle, the Jordan River. The Jordan River was the border from where they were to get into the land of Canaan in the promised land that they would conquer the River Jordan flows from the Sea of Galilee in the north down to the Dead Sea in the south. This time, it could get up to hundred feet wide, to be anywhere between three to 10 feet deep. Normally, it's not an ocean, but it's an obstacle you can't use. You saw it in the video, it's really helpful. You can't take over a million people across the Jordan in this. And remember, they're traveling with their women and children as well. Like, they're not just going to wait across, they need help getting into the land. Further, if you look at Joshua 3:15, that little parenthetical at the end there. It says the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest, this was the time of year, that was the harvest time, which meant the snow from the mountains in the area would have melted, the river would have been even more full, the current would have been stronger. This is a raging river that they would have to cross. These are the obstacles which is why this is a miracle.
This is something amazing God does. And so, here's how the story goes, God tells the people to prepare. He says I'm going to do a miracle. In fact, if you look at Joshua 3:5, Joshua said, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, YHWH will do wonders among you. That word there ,”wonders” is the same word that's used early in Exodus when God says these plagues are coming, these wonders are coming, I'm going to show you how great I am. And so, when he tells him to get ready, and what was going to happen is the priest, we're going to carry the ark of the covenant, we'll talk about the Ark of the Covenant is here in a little bit. They're going to carry this in this golden box that was holy to God. And they were going to stand at a distance of three thousand feet away. So, here's let's visualize this measuring we hear the nation of Israel, and we're going to cross into the Promised Land going that way. All right, and up river about three thousand feet. Teo thousand cubits are the priests; they've got the Ark of the Covenant, they're going to go into the river, the water is going to stop, which is incredible, it's going to be completely dry, then the whole nation, we're going to cross while they stand there in the middle. And then after they cross, the water comes back. That is the miracle you see the drama of as soon as they put their feet and as soon as they're on the brink of this flooded water, the waters were cut off, and they crossed on dry ground. Look at Joshua chapter 4. If you look at the very end of Joshua 4:10, it gives us the summary of the story it says, The people passed over in haste. They're going quickly, verse 11, and when all the people had finished passing over the Ark of YHVH, and the priest passed over before the people, then they come up out of the water. Look at Joshua 4:18, says when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of YHVH and came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the souls 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. So, there it is, waters overflowing. Ark goes in water stop people, cross, priests come out, waters go back to how it was. That's the story. That's the miraculous event we're looking at this morning. It's a great story, the question we have to think about is, why is this in our Bible? What's it there for? What are we supposed to do with this as God's people we know it's historical, but the biblical authors didn't just write history, so we'd have a history book. This really did happen. But these books are written with a theological bent. That's why these books were classified as amongst the prophets, the God wanted us to learn something from this, these authors are trying to teach us something about God.
Now, what do we learn about this? This story is in the Bible, which makes it a big deal. But we noticed this story is given a ton of attention. Like this is a long story for what seems like it could be a short event. And furthermore, as I was reading it, like some of you notice, and this is like overly repetitive. There are details here we probably didn't need. One commentator said, the story is told in a complex, infinitely slow manner, which I think is really funny, because he's just he gets it. Another one says it's comes to a snail's pace at some point. Why? Because you're ready. God wants us to learn something in this about his character. See, these stories that are in the Bible aren't just like, oh, cool, we have some crafts we could do for children's ministry now. Now they were written, so that people would have their confidence in God increased. The story was written and recorded so that our faith would be bolstered. See, it's hard in this world, to keep living for the Lord. Like it's hard to remain faithful in light of pressure from the culture around us, in light of our own sin to deal with in light of trials and temptations. It's hard for God's people to Like say, I'm going to keep following Jesus, I'm going to keep worshiping him, I'm going to keep an undivided devotion to the one true God. So these stories do as they come in, and they help us. They help us to remain faithful. And what this story is, was to help you understand today is that faithfulness comes from remembrance. Say that again, faithfulness comes from remembrance.
Remembering well is the key to faithful living. If you want to remain godly in this world, what we need are good reminders, a good memory, we have details, we're supposed to never forget that our time today I want to give us three things, three details, three things we're supposed to remember, and continue to remember, so that our faith will remain strong. Let me give you the first one. Number one is this. Remember that God is powerful, and that God is present. Remember that God is powerful, and that God is present. Now we do have to step back. Because sometimes when we read these, we're so familiar with the Bible, that we forget how amazing these stories are. Like, this is a miracle like this, this happened. This is a stunning thing that God has done. And sometimes we forget that it's a miracle, miracle because we've seen movies we have CGI, I think I saw something like this happened in Lord of the Rings once and like no! This is a miraculous event that actually happened that God defied what we call the law, laws of nature and, and stop this river from flowing. And so, some good Bible practices then start saying, Well, what am I supposed to see in this? What? What does Joshua, who wrote this, want us to see from this event? Because you don't get to happen sometimes when we read these stories, we we get some bad interpretation practices. And we think that Joshua wrote this. So, we learned something about ourselves and we read it we start saying things like, oh, man, Israel had the Jordan, this raging Jordan, you know what, I've got some Jordan rivers in my life, too. I've got the Jordan River of debt and the Jordan River of low self-esteem and the Jordan River of bad hygiene. And I've got all sorts of Jordans I have to cross and this is about me crossing my Jordans. No, this is not about you crossing your Jordan.
This is some bad way to read the Bible. Don't read the Bible like that. No, one of the ways we can learn what the author wants us to see, is like what words are surprising, or what words are repeated. And we actually have a word that in the flow of the story is surprising. And is repeated a ton. It's the word Ark, the word Ark, it shows up in this passage seventeen times. And it's surprising because it's the first time it showed up in Joshua minutes the first time it's really shown up as a main character in Israel in a while and to understand it, we need to get what the Ark is. So, take your Bible, hold your spot here. Go back to Exodus, Exodus chapter 25. Now when we say Ark, we don't mean like Noah's Ark. This isn't a boat because of some same word, but different things. So don't think that some of you are thinking Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark as you hear this, and you got the music in your head. And don't think that either, although they are talking about the ark, and anyway, we'll move on there, we'll leave Harrison Ford to make more movies because Hollywood can't come up with more scripts. Anyway Exodus 25. Exodus 25 is in the midst of the scene where God is talking to Israel about the tabernacle, the tabernacle is this, this huge tent structure that's basically God's house. God has said, I'm going to rescue you out of Egypt, not just so you can be free from the tyranny of Pharaoh, but so that I can live with you. And the tabernacle is all these details for how I'm going to live with you. And the tabernacle has this outer court that anyone can come into. And then it has the holy place which all the priests could come into. But in the very middle inside this very middle part of this tent, is this place called the Holy of Holies that no one could go into except Moses and the high priest once a year in the Holy of Holies. There's only one thing that's in there. It's the ark, the Ark of the Covenant. Let's learn about this thing. Joshua 4:10, of Exodus 25. It says, they shall make an Ark of acacia wood. This is God giving instructions to Moses. You'll make it two cubits and a half, or two qubits and a half shall be its length and a qubit and a half its breadth and a qubit and a half its height. It's a rectangle, it's about four feet by two feet by two feet tall is the structure of it, it's a box, you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside, shall you overlay it and you shall make on a molding of gold around it. So, the idea would be this box that radiates the purest, most precious of metals. In the whole construction of the tabernacle would be right there in the very middle on the ark, there would also have these rings that would go around it that it gives instructions about that you're going to transport it with sticks and put rings on the corners of it. Take a look at Joshua 4:17, we kind of get the idea of this shape, you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold now the mercy seat was going to be the lid of this box. It's called the mercy seat because that's where they would go and make sacrifices once a year. Two cubits and a half shall be insulates and a qubit and a half its breath, and you shall make two Chair of them of gold of hammered work shall you make them on the two ends of the mercy seat? Make one chair of on the one end and one chair up on the other end of one piece with of one piece with the mercy seat? Shall you make the chair beam on its two ends, the chair beam shall spread out their wings above overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces to one another toward the Mercy Seat. Shall the faces of the cherubim beam? So here's the picture. Here's this box, this rectangle, it's gold. And the lid has these two angels facing one another with their wings kind of going over it. That's the imagery we have here. And you're going like Okay, that's interesting furniture. But what's the significance of it? Here it is right here, Joshua 4:22. There right there, there I will meet with you. And from above the mercy seat the lid for between the two Chair of him that are on the ark of testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in Commander for the people of Israel. So here's the picture, Israel is going to travel around. And in the middle of their traveling is this tent where God's place would be in in the very, very middle of that is the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant where God speaks, He speaks to Moses and he speaks the high to the high priests. God speaks them ready, the Ark of the Covenant then become sort of God's throne. Here is God's King, in the midst of his people in a place where His very presence is. That's where he speaks. It becomes not just a symbol of his presence, but of his authority. Fact, this is what the rest of the biblical authors point to in that they pick up on this imagery of God's authority, his kingship from the Ark of the Covenant. Look at this. Now you read it in Scripture today this week if you did, Psalm 80. I think I have it up here for you. So, Psalm 80 says, Give ear, O shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock, you who are in throne upon the cherubim shine forth. Or another one this will be this week, Psalm 99. One, Yahweh reigns the let the peoples tremble. He sits enthroned upon the cherubim, let the earthquake Isaiah himself will say; Isaiah 37:16, oh, Yahweh of hosts, God of Israel, and throne above the Caribbean, you are the God you alone of all the kingdoms of the earth, you have made heaven and earth. God is King, and the place for which he exercises his authority is above the Ark. So now we turn back to Joshua chapter 3. And we see why the Ark’s a big deal, we see why the Ark is holy to God, because it's some picture of his physical evidence presence among them, of his authority over them. It's a picture of his activity. And so, then when we see the Ark doing this, and when we see the water stopping, the picture should be that God was here, the water stopped because God personally did it. And therefore, what Israel is supposed to learn from this and what worse was to learn this from this today is that our God is a God of matchless glory, of unrivaled supremacy, he reigns over everything, there is a there is a vast gap between us and God. He is so great, so transcendent, with so much authority, he is not like us. We see that we read that about the wonders God said He was going to do in Joshua 3:7, when God says I will exalt you in the sight of all Israel. So that what he's saying is, I'm not going to make you great. Joshua is going to say people are going to think you're great Joshua, because they know that I'm with you. And I'm great. And people who understand what a great, terrible, awesome God that I am. And they're going to respect you because of it. That's what it said. They're in Joshua 3:11, verse 11, it says before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth, and again, Joshua 3:13, when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the Ark of Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth, the Ark is a picture God doesn't just reign over Israel. He reigns over everything. There's nothing over which he doesn't rightfully say mine. It belongs to me. And so, it's no surprise then when I read Joshua 3:14. All While the drama builds up, the priests walk to the shore, they dip their toes in the water and the water stops. Why? Because that's who God is. He's powerful, he reigns. And what he says goes.
What God is trying to do in this chat in these chapters in this story is he's trying to help Israel see, clearly, what he's trying to do is not just help them see, oh, this is a guy who's got some cool tricks about him. But he's trying to help them see that our God is weightier, grander, have a higher magnitude and glory than we've previously realize. They need to know this. Remember, in Joshua 3:10, he mentions all these people, they're going to have to battle in the Promised Land, “the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.” It's a lot of -ites. Many, many -ites they're going to have to defeat. But he tells them, look in your Bible, Joshua 3:10, Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail, drive out all these enemies, right? It's not just Hey, God promised to give you the land. So as promised, He promised it and therefore it's going to come true. When he says, You're going to see that God is powerful, there's no doubt this is not going to be an even match here. God is far more supreme and glorious than all these people and their false gods. Look at the very end of Joshua chapter 4. Look at the very end of chapter 4. And some of you have been wondering something else. I've been reading this the whole time and, and Joshua chapter 2 and chapter 4 is going to answer the question or affirm what you've been wondering. Look at Joshua 4:23. It says, “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.
And some of you as we read this story, we're thinking, well, yeah, water stopping they pass through on dry ground. Feel like I've heard this before. This is biblical deja vu going on here. Some of you as I read, it thought this sounds a lot like the Red Sea. And the answer to that is, yes, they are aware this is the this is like the Red Sea sequel, Red Sea 2.0 going on here, right? Except here's the thing. Anybody that grew up in the wilderness, basically everyone in Israel that's 40 Years and younger at this point. They didn't see the Red Sea. They heard about it. But they never witnessed it for themselves. They didn't see God Parting the Waters in Israel passing through on dry ground. And then the armies of Egypt chasing them down and the waters coming back. And at the end of Exodus 14, in that event, when Israel sees what happened, and they see the body of the Egyptians lying down, it says they did two things. They believed God, and they feared him. What does this say right here at the end of Joshua chapter 4. So, Joshua 4:24, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of YHWH is mighty, that you may fear Yahweh your God, forever. What God wants to press upon his people, is that your view of me is not as big as it should be. I'm far greater than you realize. Friends do we understand that's what it means to fear the Lord. Yesterday, we had a great men's breakfast in here, we got another one a few weeks, men, we encourage you to join us for those. Our topic was if we're going to be leaders and teachers and our families, we need to start by fearing the Lord, fearing the Lord. What does that mean? It means that we have a reverence for him. But sometimes reverence is a word that we say we don't really understand what it means. It's, there's an awe of God, were astonished and overwhelmed by the weightiness of God, it's to see all of who God is and how to respond appropriately. So, fear isn't just Oh, God's out to get me. No fear is I see who God is and his holiness. I see his love. I see his justice. I see his patience and his mercy and all of these things. And I'm stunned into praise and submission and awe and obedience. I'm gripped by who he is, and therefore that now controls everything I do. That's what it means to have a fear of God. It's to have a view of God that's, that's weighty and big. Friends, God is not like us. His throne is in the heavens and this earth, that we seem so big to us. Isaiah 66 says it's just as footstool. God is far greater and more glorious than we can imagine. And the question I have for us today is do we believe this? Do we have a view of God as we go about our day that's, that's transcendent. That's glorious. That regal will say things often like, ah, praise God, when someone shares good news, even though we haven't really thought of God at all that day, he becomes familiar, casual, he's, he's not waiting in our hearts. For several years, I led a summer camp in New Mexico. And I think I've told this story before in a Bible class, one of the things I would always do is I would assign students to pray for the meal students from our group. And the reason I would do that is because if we didn't, there would be leaders that were kind of running the camp for the summer that they would pray instead. And, and the reason I started doing this is one girl prayed one time, and by the way, I'll just kept like, I think this girl was a Christian. I think she genuinely loved Jesus. She loved the Lord. If she stays faithful, she's going to be in heaven one day, but she gets up to pray. And she was Alright everybody, let's pray. And she closes her eyes. She begins by going, “Hey, God,” and my like spine twitched a little bit. This is a sound right? Now, why is that? Again, I think this girl meant well, I think she really loved the Lord. She was genuine. But I think at some point, she was taught like, oh, you talk to God, just like you talk to anybody. And that is true. And we'll get to that. But that's not the way we talk to the Lord of the universe. Like our God is so great. He's not a Hey, God, God. There's a reverence to him. He's not a oh, we just mouthed words on a screen. But we're thinking about what's happening after God or we don't think about him during our day. But what we'll throw in a praise God or spiritual language, no, he's not you. He's not a lucky rabbit's foot that we use as we please. He's, he's God. He's bigger than that. Families, when you pray in front of your kids, it's really cute when our kids are young. And they talk to God, like they, you know, talk to a Santa at the mall, you know, and they're four or five or six. And they're just kind of listing things off that they're thankful for. And it's, it's great. But my question for us is what sort of, what sort of prayer attitude are we modeling for them? Because when they're four or five or six, it's cute. But if they're ten, eleven, and twelve, and they're still praying like that, and they're clearly not seeing God as big as they should, is because they're learning that from us. It's a good question for us to think about. Now, I told you this point right here is that God is powerful, and that God is present. And I want to get into now that him being present that that is an amazing reality that's in this text, but we don't feel the weight of it, too. We think how big God is. We think about how exalted he is. We then are stunned by realizing how close he is. Because the Ark is not only his power, it's his nearness. Notice he's with the people as they do this. And it tells us something about who God is. God is no armchair quarterback. No God leads from the front. And it's beautiful because of his greatness. I mean, think about this psalm, Psalm 8. Psalm 8 says, “when I look at the stars, when I consider the works of your hands, when I think of your grand jury, oh God, Who is man that you're mindful of us.”
But that's exactly who God is, friends. He's the God who is glorious, and he is close with us. He's above us controlling all things that he's near and present. And he leads us to exactly what God does. That's why we pray things like Heavenly Father, we remember that he's heavenly, and that that he's in the heavens and far above us. And we remember at the same time, he's still our Father, we, we hold both of those things. We hold both of those because if we emphasize God's nearness, without remembering his greatness, well, it's going to lead to a licentious life. We're going to do whatever he want live, however we want was like, Oh, God will just forgive us because he's like, kind of a nice grandpa like that. But if we emphasize his greatness, and forget His nearness, well, then we'll live in a way that we're just kind of not sure he really likes us. Now, the Bible tells us to lean into both, because both are true at all times. We don't pit them against each other. But we always rejoice in and celebrate his exaltation, his glorious nature and the fact that he walks with us. Friends, that's exactly what we see. In Jesus. We see that perfectly in Jesus supremacy and sweetness, magnitude and meekness. So, Jesus will say with a word to the seas, hush, and there'll be still and Jesus with a word will cast out demons and Jesus with a touch will raise people from the dead. And Jesus at the same time, will stop a giant crowd So we can let a woman who just touched him to get healed. Let her personally know “your faith has made you well go in peace.” And Jesus will be interrupted by large crowds and will have compassion on them. And Jesus will say things like Matthew chapter 11/28, he'll say, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” What a mixture. What a mixture of such greatness and such grace.
In fact, take your Bibles if you would, turn to John 13. I want us to see this because I want us to see, the God who rules over Israel and personally leads in the midst of Israel is exactly the God we have today. And we see him in the person of Jesus Christ in a way that is astonishing. John 13, is the night that Jesus is going to be betrayed. He knows he's going to die. And I don't know what you would be thinking about on death row. But I'm, I'm amazed at what Jesus thinks. Listen to this, John 13. It says, “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own, who are in the world, he loved them to the end,” in verse three, Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God. Just think about that Jesus knows he's going to die. He knows that I have existed for eternity with God. He knows he's going back to be exalted and sit on his Father's right hand that all authority in the universe has given him. I mean, you want to talk about exaltation, right? Jesus is aware of these things. And while he's aware of those things, and he's going to die, he also it says, loved his own. He loved them to the end, says, verse four, that he rose up from supper, and laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. He started getting ready to wash his disciples’ feet, this king, washing his disciples see why did why does this happen? So that that we can have a story that we go like, Oh, Jesus served, so we should serve to you. I mean, yeah, that's part of it. But, but even more important, here's why it happened. You're ready. Because that's what Jesus naturally does. See, we try to form the habit of serving others. Jesus serves by nature. It's part of who he is. He is our Exalted King, who serves us and leads us and cares for us. There is a transcendence in Jesus, and there's a tenderness in Jesus. And when we lean into both of these things, we're in awe that this is the Savior we have. One of my favorite songs favorite hymns is a hymn written in 1895, by the name, Johnson Oatman. He writes a song called No, not one. Because like this, it says, there's not a friend like the lowly Jesus. No, not one. No, not one. none else could heal all our souls diseases. No, not one. No, not one. I think verse two hits our point perfectly on the head. It says no friend like him, is so high and holy. And yet no friend is so meek and lowly. It says Jesus knows all about our struggles, he will lead to the day is done. There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus. No, not one. No, not one. Friend. If you're here this morning, you don't know Christ. This is what's offered. A savior who is far greater, far more superior, knows far more about you and has way more control than you ever could imagine. And one who will be close to you like a friend, it will not be ashamed to call you brother who cares and leads for his people. We are reminded that God is powerful and present. This is the God who leads Israel. This is how our Savior leads us today. We need to remember it and we need to remember it.
Well. Let's turn back to Joshua chapter 3. Now Joshua, chapter 3 goes as we head towards our second point, point number two this morning. And these next two points will be more brief. Number two: We need to remember to remember, we need to remember to remember. at this point, as I've read this story, it feels like I very much adequately covered the story worry. Like there's there's a lot of stuff here there's two chapters, it feels exceptionally long, like, I don't know, is the author writing it? Did he fall asleep? Did he wake up? And like, I'm not really sure what I wrote before. So write some more like it like this could have been a tweet, really short done and over. And so you have to ask like, why is this long as it's not because there's a word count he's trying to hit it's when the authors of the Bible do this, there's something extra they want us to see. And what we see here is we get more details in chapter four, verse one, notice here, it says, when all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, you always said to Joshua, okay, so this is, while the priests are still up in the river says, Take twelve men from the people from each tribe, a man in 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. So, what you're going to do is send a man from each tribe of Israel, grab a stone from the riverbed, a big one, bring it up to the place where you're going to make camp tonight. Take a look at Joshua 3:5, Joshua said to them pass on before the Ark of Yahweh, your God into the midst of the Jordan, take up each of you a stone upon His shoulder cording to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel again, this is very detailed, overly detailed, why? Because we can't miss the point. So let's figure it out. Why are they doing this? Why are they collecting rocks here? Over six tells us that that this may be a sign among you. When your children asking time to come? What did these stones mean to you, then you shall tell them that the waters or the Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH. 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. That is God wanted his people to remember this. They wanted to build a memorial with these rocks. And when the kids are like, Hey, Mom and Dad, like why do we have a pile of rocks here? I thought we weren't those kind of people. What are we doing with all these rocks? Oh, let me tell you this scope points back to something God did in the past. That it's repeated again. In verse 19. “Then the people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, they encamped at Gilgal, on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out at the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, when your children ask you times to come, what do these stones mean? And they'll say, again, this is when God delivered us through dry ground across the Jordan River memorialize this event, there's going to be a pile of stone. So, we remember God brought us into this land. Because if we're good Bible interpreters, there's all sorts of questions we're going to ask. You know, there's easy questions like, why are there twelve? Well, that's nice, twelve tribes of Israel twelve stones, God brought all of Israel over. That's what we're remembering there. And we also have to ask like, Okay, why this event? Why memorialize this event? And? Well, I think it's an identity shaping event. And you know, why are we in this land? We're not natural citizens of this land. We're here because God brought us here. And we'll always remember that. But let's ask another question.
Why remember? Like, why do they need to be told to remember this? Right? Like, he says, hey, I never want you to forget it. Like, how could they forget this? Like, how could they forget? Like, oh, yeah, one time God stopped a flooding river so we could go across. It's kind of silly, right? You're like, why would they need to be told, remember what God has done? Who could forget this? Well, apparently, Israel could forget this. Apparently, Israel suffers from spiritual short term memory loss, in this passage teaches us something about memory, that faithfulness to God is dependent on rightly remembering the work in character of God. I'll say that again. faithfulness to God is dependent on rightly remembering the work in character of God. There is a correlation, there is an unbreakable connection between your ability to remember the works of God and your faithfulness to God. Our obedience is going to be on remembering well, and to emphasize this, I want to show you a very short story.
Turn over, if you would, to numbers 11. Go to numbers 11, which is a few books to your left. And if you want to find a story that will make you laugh, almost as much as it will make you cry. Numbers. 11 is your store you got to see the story because some of you are going to learn. I didn't know this in the Bible. This is this is crazy, because it's about memory. And memory is a powerful thing. I mean, have you ever thought about all the things you can remember? Like you can remember specific holidays or specific gifts You got it specific holidays, you can remember certain songs that we're playing at major events in your life. You remember, like friends you haven't seen in years and their middle name and their dog's name. You remember random stuff like phone numbers and song lyrics and your first sporting event and what teams are playing you remember old addresses right? 39969 Candy Apple way, don't go there. I don't know the people who live there anymore. But you remember things and memories, incredible. I mean, scientists can't quite figure out how memory completely works. There's all sorts of things happening in our brain like neurons and synapses. And neurons are communicating by electrical and chemical signals. I looked this up on Wikipedia earlier, information is going something like two hundred miles per hour in our brain. There is if you took a portion of the cortex of the size of a grain of sand, it would hold an estimated two thousand terabytes of information. Some of your going that's not true for me, but even so like, you’ve got to remember things like Augustin in the fourth century talking about memory, says the fact that I can use words like mountains, and ocean and stars, and without seeing them in here right now you have images and sounds and cents associated with those is a testament to memory. Memory is incredible. And our memories can be corrupted. We can miss remember, now talking about Miss remembering our keys, we can forget things far more important. Let me show you this. This is number eleven. Israel's wandering through the desert. This is before the first generation has fully rebelled yet, but look what it says. It says now the rabble that was among them, had a strong craving this is this was like less than two years after they've been delivered from Egypt. And the people of Israel also wept again, they're hungry. And they said, Oh, that we had meat to eat. We remember the fish we ate in Egypt, that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, the garlic, but now our strength is dried up. And there is nothing at all. But this man to look at. Here they are complaining say man, I remember when we were in Egypt, we were living high on the hog in Egypt. We were eating a robust meal, anything we wanted, we could eat it. And now we're just eating this bread that God gives us every day. Friends, that's not how they lived in Egypt. These are the people that did see what happened at the at the Red Sea. And there they are going, man, our life was so much better before God rescued us. Who it's funny, and it's sad. And it's really, really familiar. Because don't we so often forget, we forget all the goodness of the Lord and His faithfulness. We forget His commandments, his grace, his holiness, his purpose is for us in our life. God needed to remind his people in the book of Joshua, he understood their weakness. Brothers, sisters in Christ, we have the same weakness. We forget. And so much of the Christian life is about remembering the truth. Let me show you Peter says this, add this up on the screen. 2 Peter 1:12. This is right after Peter had given them all these virtues he wants them to walk in. And then he says, Therefore, I intend to always remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are establishing the truth you have. He goes, Hey, you already know these things. I'm going to keep reminding you of them. In fact, verse 13, I think it right as long as I am in this body to stir you up by way of reminder. 2 Peter 3:1. So next verse up there says this is now the second letter I'm writing to you, beloved, in both of them. I am stirring up your sincere mind. By way of reminder, my ministry, Peter says is to remind you of these things, to keep telling you things you already know, but remind you of them. I mean, as you're reading the Psalms here to see how many of them have to do with remembering the mighty works of God, not just remembering that happened, but remembering again afresh the magnitude of what God has done. Friends, we need reminders, because we are so prone to forget. I mean, so many problems in our life come from us, forgetting what God has done for us. So, we forget often the good news of the gospel. Now we sing about the gospel earlier if you're newer to church or learn about this Christianity thing, your heel that you'll hear that word gospel a lot. The gospel is the good news that though that we are sinners against God, and we have willfully and joyfully rebelled against Him. God sent his son to live a perfect life. Jesus said, I came to fulfill all righteousness. He came to live the life obedient to God that we were supposed to live. And then he not only was sent to fulfill riches, he was sent as a substitute of sacrifice, that when Jesus dies on the cross, he's not just dying a martyr's death and as a symbol of commitment, oh, Jesus is dying for sinners. He's dying for our sin. He's dying for my sin. He's dying in a place of your sins so that instead of you having to receive the wrath of God, Jesus takes the wrath of God for everyone who turns from their sin and follows after him everyone who cries out for forgiveness and repentance, that wrath instead of falling on us River Falls on Jesus. And Jesus has perfect life, the life you can read about Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You can actually say like, wow, that obedience he lived. That's now my obedience. It's given to me because I turned to Jesus as my king. And I know it's true, not just because he died, but he rose from the dead. He ascended, he's at the Father's right hand, pleading for his people right now. That's the gospel. It's the greatest news in the universe. And we forget it all the time. We forget it when we have guilt that we won't let go. When we think I know. But I still feel like God couldn't forgive that sin again. I feel like I should have done better. The gospels we couldn't have done better. We needed Jesus to rescue us. At the same time, we've clearly forgotten the gospel, and we're prideful. When we see what's happening amongst unbelieving family and friends are in the culture around us on TV, and we start thinking, oh, man, good thing. I'm not like those people. Now we've forgotten the gospel that we were those people, if we only see those people outward actions, we knew our sinful hearts before we were saved. And Jesus died for us anyway. We forget, we also forget sin. We forget how horrible sin is. You know, some of us when we talk about our sin in our past life, it's almost like Bruce Springsteen's glory days should be playing in the background. You know, it's like, Man, those were the good old days, right. But then I got cleaned up, and now I'm stodgy.
Sin, never once in your life made your life better. Never once, and we forget. So, we need reminders. We forget all the time, our role in this world, that we're not at home in this world, that we're not going to live in this world forever. But we need reminders of who we're supposed to be. So, let's talk application. How do we have sort of our own memorials in life? How do we have reminders for us? What does this look like? Well, thankfully, there are already existing memorials in the rhythms of our life that that God has given us. So, this is why God tells his church to celebrate communion regularly. Right when Jesus, you know, took the bread and he took the cup, he said, do this in remembrance of me, we remember regularly on a regular basis that I was a sinner, but Jesus paid for my sin, that though my sins are separate from me and God, Jesus’ is death made a way, we're supposed to remember that. We remember in baptism, we see people get baptized, as they're so thankful the work that God's doing, we remember Oh, yeah, that's right. That's how God saved me. Also, sermons, sermons, what we do and what Pastor Bobby does on Sundays, really, the big part is a ministry of remembrance. Like once you've learned enough Bible, our job is to tell you, hey, be reminded of the things you already know and keep believing them. Why? Because we forget. Our Bible reading is supposed to remind us of how great God is. Weddings remind us as our roles of our roles as husband and wives. Funerals remind us of death. There's so many existing memorials already. But maybe an application for us to create some more. How can I continue to be reminded of who God is? Build memorials that help you remember the greatness of God? One of those ways is by remembering special dates. You know, so it's hard for me not to be thankful every May 22. My anniversary because I remember God's grace in giving me a wife, or to be thankful that though there are some issues that when they were born, every June and every October, I can be thankful that my daughters are doing great today. Or every January 4, I can remember that I was sitting at a camp, remembering my sin against God and hearing that I could be forgiven of all my sin. Build dates, and you put them in your calendar app. So, you remember God's faithfulness. Other ways you could do it is to keep a journal. Keep a journal you could look back like, man, remember how God answered prayer there? Or go through your photo album every once in a while? look at pictures from the past that you would never ever look at you took All these pictures anyway. And instead of getting depressed that your kids are getting older, look at those things that go like, oh, remember that we are praying for this and God delivered. You know spots in your house, keep a record of praise, memorize verses; get apps on your phone to help you remember I certain verses, but we need to remember because we tend to forget, if we want to stay faithful, we need to remember well.
Point number three. Point number three, we need to remember that we're almost home. Point number three, we need to remember that we're almost home. You could turn back now to Joshua, chapter 4. As we come to this, to this end of this chapter, or at the end of the story here, we need to remember that that this story is the conclusion of a story that's been in progress for a while. Like way back in Genesis 12, God made a promise to Abraham said, I'm going to make you a great nation. And you're going to dwell in the promised land, in the land of Canaan. And then in Exodus chapter 3, when God said he was going to deliver them, he said he was delivering them in order to bring them to the promised land. I think I have it up here. Exodus 3:8, God says, “I have come down to deliver them, “the people of Israel, “out of the hands of the Egyptians, and up, bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land,” I'm going to deliver you from bondage, in order that you might dwell in the Promised Land. He's going to bring them home. You know, some of us, some of us before have had to deal with homesickness, because we know what it's like to have a home. There's something nice about having a place to call home, where you have the friends and family that you love, the comforts that you know, a schedule that you understand. And when we can get nostalgic about home there's even with our memory, there's, there's it's very sensory, like you remember your house or maybe your grandma's house and you can like, you could see the kitchen, you could feel the tile you can you could smell different parts of the house that are familiar to there's something sweet about they're like, Yes, I'm back here again, I'm, I'm home again. But Israel has never really had a home. These people have never known what it's like to really be home. And hear God is bringing them to where he had promised he would bring them to Joshua 4:19. says, this is where we're going to learn something about our God, it says, The people came up out of the Jordan, that is this, they exited the Jordan River, they come into the promised land. What day on the 10th day of the first month. You're thinking 10th day what why does that matter? And again, we think I was just random history to fill the page. Well, well, no, he hasn't really been dating anything. For us. It's, this is supposed to be significant. Why is that? Well, because way back in Exodus chapter 12, God told the people of Israel, hey, I'm going to bust you out of here. Finally, I'm going to get you out of Egypt. And what you're going to do is you're going to take a lamb, and you're going to keep it in your house, and you're going to raise it for a few days, then you're going to kill it, and put its blood over the doorpost. And when the angel of death comes, he's going to kill the firstborn of everyone who doesn't have the blood over the doorpost. And by the way, you're going to pick the lamb on the tenth day of the first month. You see, 40 years earlier to the date is when the Passover began. But the Passover wasn't just about getting them out. It was about bringing them home. And God 40 years the date reminds the people by doing it on the same day, I did exactly what I said I was going to do. If you reind people, I'm not just rescue you. I'm going to bring you home. Isn't that great for us to know that God doesn't just make promises. He fulfills them. And God doesn't just start work. He completes it. Christian, if he led you out of sin, he will bring you home. And it's not just because that's what he's promised.
This week we read Psalm 87 in our scripture of the day. It's a psalm about Zion, that eternal Jerusalem, and it's talking about how even people from the enemies of Israel, the nations that oppose them, were going to get saved and rejoice in who God is. But I love this verse, Psalm 87:2, it says, “YHWH loves the gates of Zion, more than all the dwelling places of Jacob, like the reality of their eternal place isn't just something that God knows about. He loves it. it and he loves to bring it about, and God is going to bring his people home, not just because he promised, but because it's his passion, he wants to do it. It's something that he delights in. John 14:3, Jesus Himself said, “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again. And we'll take you to myself, that where I am, you may be also.” Christian, very soon, we will be home. Soon the fight for holiness will be over. No more tears, no more pain, no more falling into that sin. We never say it. We said we never do again. No more suffering. No more faith, just sight as we get to be with Christ for ever. It's coming soon. I know our life has all sorts of surprises. Even now, if you think about where you live, or the job you have or the family you have, or even the fact that you're sitting in this church, I'm sure some sort of past version of you would be very surprised how your life has turned out. You wouldn't have expected it like this. But we don't always get to know what's happening in the future. We don't know what sort of pain is coming, what sickness awaits future births or future deaths, triumphs and trials. We don't know what's coming next for us. But we know our God. And because we know who our God is. We know how it ends. We're going home. It's going to happen very soon. That helped bring us there. Let's remember it. Let me pray.
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