Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Remembering the victories God has won for us

Remembering the victories God has won for us
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1 Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying,2 "Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe,3 and command them, saying, 'Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests' feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.' "4 So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe;5 and Joshua said to them, "Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel.6 "Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later , saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?'7 then you shall say to them, 'Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.' So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever."Josh 4:1-7 (NASB)

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The works of the Lord are so worthy of rememberance, and the heart of man is so prone to forget them, that various methods are needful to refresh our memories, for the glory of God, our advantage, and that of our children. God gave orders for preparing this memorial.
—Matthew Henry Concise

3) The Crossing Commemorated and Completed. 4:1-18. Before the priests bearing the ark could leave their post, stones for two cairns were collected, and one of these was erected where the priests stood in the river.
5. This verse may be translated, Proceed to the presence (i.e., the vicinity) of the ark of Jehovah your God, to the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder... Joshua and the twelve appointees may have remained on the eastern bank until the multitude had crossed. 6, 7. The heap of stones was to be a witness to God's power and faithfulness in bringing all Israel back to the Promised Land (cf. 4:21-24). Both the OT and archaeology testify to the frequent use of single standing stones (maṣṣēbôt) and cairns as memorials to commemorate theophanies (Gen 28:1835:14), vows or covenants (Gen 31:45-53Josh 24:26), supernatural events (1 Sam 7:10-12), or even relatives or tribes (Gen 35:20Ex 24:4). An altar, since it was built of unhewn stones (Ex 20:25), could serve a similar purpose (Isa 19:19Josh 22:1026-34; cf. Gen 12:726:24, 2535:137Ex 17:15Deut 27:1-8Josh 8:30-35).
9. Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan on the very spot where the priests had stood. This spot must have been on the eastern brink, where they first stepped into the flood waters, for neither 3:17 nor 4:9, 10 indicates that they had proceeded any farther into the river. Hence the cairn must have been readily visible during most of the year. Note that the two sets of twelve stones bore witness to the fact that all twelve tribes were in the wilderness together and entered Canaan at once.
10. And the people hasted and passed over. This statement explains in retrospect (i.e., had hasted) how the priests were able to stand patiently. 12, 13. The men of the Trans-Jordanian tribes, unencumbered by families and possessions, had led the crossing (1:12-18).
—Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The

The significance of what a feat it must have been for the 12 tribes to cross the river, put themselves in the land described 40 years earlier as full of great and large men who were to be feared can be lost if we don't remember the whole story and think about the geography of the land.   Though they had just defeated three kingdoms on the other side of the Jordan,  strategically crossing the Jordan meant they would be putting themselves in a position of no retreat against a potentially powerful enemy.   The difference this time for the tribes of Israel is that their faith in God had been built in the desert and they were now ready to trust in God's strength and  and and claim the promises He had for them.
A -   The application for my life is two fold.  First to follow the wisdom of God's guidance to the people of Israel.   The Israelites had traversed the land between Egypt and the promised land, they rid themselves of their idolatrous and pagan ways from their time in Egypt, they grew their relationship with God, and He proved capable and trustworthy.    Their journey was not over yet though, they still had the not simple task of claiming the promised land, and this too would require great trust and obedience, against odds that seemed that by human standards would seem overwhelming.  So how do you work up a group of people to take this on.  God tells them what to do,  erect a monument to always remember what God has done,  it will act as a milestone to where you have been, how much you have overcome.    I am to do the same thing in my life personally as well as at work with the teams I lead.   The lord has done great things in my life, has saved me, drawn me closer to him and and equipped me along the way for this season of taking the promised land.   The mile markers are clear , my salvation,  my surrender, my growth, my edification, my equipping, my service,  and now my leadership and teaching.     At work in this season, it is about my project team, who has made great strides to build a highly effective and cohesive team, who is doing things different than ever before.   As a team we face a huge challenge ahead of us, but we must mark and celebrate the milestones along the way to remind us of how far we have come.
P - Dear heavenly Father, thank your promises, and being trustworthy to keep them.    I pray for help in remembering and celebrating the milestones along the way in my life, and on the teams you have given me to lead.   I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

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