Looking Forward; Looking Back
Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 51:13-19 | Josh 3:1-4:24 | Luke 14:7-35 | Proverbs 12:27-28
Today’s Scripture Focus: Joshua 3-4
And Joshua set up in Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken from the Jordan. 21 He charged the Israelites as follows: “In time to come, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of those stones?’ 22 tell your children: ‘Here the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry land.’ 23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you crossed, just as the LORD your God did to the Sea of Reeds, which He dried up before us until we crossed. 24 Thus all the peoples of the earth shall know how mighty is the hand of the LORD, and you shall fear the LORD your God always” (Joshua 4:20-24 TNK).
The Jordan River was the first big test of Joshua’s leadership. While God was guiding him and the people on a road they had not travelled before, this incident certainly brought to mind another significant crossing: the crossing of the Red Sea under Moses’ leadership.
The Jordan River becomes an opportunity for God to affirm the leadership of Joshua. He had promised that he would be with him just as he had been with Moses. What better way to affirm that than by bringing them up to a barrier that appeared impossible to cross? As Joshua followed the advice of the LORD and did not deviate from it, God opened up the waters and they were able to go across.
The Jordan river was an opportunity for the people to look ahead to God’s continued blessing on their journey as they followed their new leader: Joshua. It was a major reassurance to Joshua that indeed the LORD was with him and was giving him the land.
The Jordan River was also an opportunity for looking back, for remembering what God had done. The first of the “stone piles” is built in this text. There will be others in Joshua–places where stones are built as a memorial of God’s intervention–but this is the first. They were a people who quickly forgot the miracles of God (as we all do). A physical memorial was needed to pass the story on to the generations that followed.
Don’t forget to remember the ways God has been at work in your life. Don’t forget to pass those stories on to the next generation. Allow those stories to be an encouragement to you on your journey as God asks you to take other steps of faith along the way.
Father, help me to be aware of your working in my life. Help me to remember how you’ve been with me in the past so that I might trust you for today and for the days to come. Amen.