Emily Belle Freeman



What Mean Ye By These Stones?

Deuteronomy 34:1 - Joshua 6:4

I am particularly fascinated with the journey of Joshua.

I love the lessons we learn from the moment Joshua gathered the people together next to the river Jordan.  It was clear that they couldn’t go back where they had come from, and yet there was a huge obstacle right in front of them.

What were they to do?

In that period of waiting, Joshua gave clear instruction of how they would prepare for the miracle that would allow them to journey forward.  He said, “Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:5)

The people knew where they had come from, but they did not have any idea where they were about to be led.  They didn’t know what the end would be.  They couldn’t possibly understand that promise that awaited them.  They had to trust Joshua and believe in a God that would do wonders in their behalf.

Just before the miracle happened Joshua asked the priests to take up the Ark of the Covenant and walk before the people.  Then Joshua told the priests to walk into the water carrying the Ark.  I try to imagine what kind of faith this must have required.  In my mind’s eye I can picture those Priests stepping into the river that was overflowing its banks because it was so full.  Joshua told the people that if they watched what was about to happen they would know that a living God was aware of them, and that he would deliver them “without fail.”  (Joshua 3:10)

I often wonder what thoughts filled their mind in that moment.  Were they apprehensive about the journey they were about to undertake?  Did they contemplate how they would cross that great expanse of water?

The lesson here is so clear ––they had to begin the journey, their faith had to be made manifest with effort, before the miracle would come.  And so they stepped into the brim of water, and then the waters “stood and rose up upon an heap” and the priests “stood firm on dry ground.”  (Joshua 3:16-17 emphasis added.)

My very favorite lesson from this story is found in chapter four.   Once they had crossed the riverbed, the Lord told Joshua to have 12 men find 12 stones from the very middle of the river to use for a monument on the other side. I imagine that the journey across the river was quite a trek.  These men probably had families, young children, and personal belongings they were required to move across this great riverbed.  Now, as if they had not shouldered enough, they were asked to go back and carry an added burden.   I am sure as they walked to the very middle of that riverbed they questioned the Lord.  Could they not set up a monument with stones from the far side of the river and still remember the journey?

But the Lord wanted stones from the midst of Jordan.

Once they had brought the stones out of the riverbed, Joshua had the 12 stones placed together as a memorial.  “And He spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?  Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.  That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.” (Joshua 4:21-24)

These 12 men left a legacy to their families for generations to come of their testimony of the Lord and the great miracle of His hand in their life.  Years from that moment, when their children asked “what mean ye by these stones,” (Joshua 4:6) these fathers would point to the river, full to overflowing its banks, and speak of a time when they had walked to the very middle of the river, on dry ground, and carried those stones to the shore.

In that moment it would be their great privilege to testify of the miracles of the Lord.

What are your stones?

Do you keep reminders of the moments where you have seen the hand of the Lord in your life?

Perhaps today you could consider the miracles in your life and then find a way to remember them, so that in a time to come you might share those experiences with those you love.

Emily Freeman