Day 18

Altars of Remembrance

from the Joshua reading plan

Joshua 22:1-34, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Psalm 7:8-11

BY Kaitlin Wernet

Text: Joshua 22:1-34, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Psalm 7:8-11

“I’ve never been asked to play Dixie® Cups before!” said my grandmother… and, well, most people.

It was my favorite childhood game: stealing the box of mouthwash cups from the bathroom, then dumping its contents onto the table and standing the paper cups to attention.

It was like playing a game of “Memory”—the object was to find the cup that matched the one in my hand. Except my game was better, because instead of only one possible match, there were probably twenty. Once a match was made, I’d add the pair to my prized, yet toppling, tower of cups.

Clearly my game did not require superior memory skills, but that little tower was a comforting sight nonetheless. I loved to remember that the odds were stacked in my favor. I needed to remember that.

The eastern tribes of Israel needed to remember, too. They’d wandered in the wilderness—twice!—but their journey was also bookended with two miraculous water crossings. As they crossed the Jordan River, they came across giant stones—ones they never would have seen without God making a way for them in the river. Marking each as a promise kept from the Lord, they began to stack them, creating an altar of remembrance. Each river stone said, God brought you out of the wilderness and carried you through this river. Remember this.

They were just rocks, and yet, they were so much more. Unlike an altar built for idol-worshipping, this was a token shouting out the one true God’s faithfulness, created in His presence and stacked high for all to see.

“It is to be a witness between us and you, and between the generations after us, so that we may carry out the worship of the Lord in His presence with our burnt offerings, sacrifices, and fellowship offerings.”
-Joshua 22:27

A witness. The rocks their feet had walked across in obedience also bore witness to the grace of the Father, who makes small things significant and significant things small.

My Dixie cup towers were small yet significant, too—filled with joy, yet paper and disposable. It would’ve been easy for anyone to assume that my toppling tower was begging to be thrown away, when that wasn’t part of the game at all. Small and significant things are also easily misunderstood.

When the western tribes of Israel encountered the eastern tribes’ altars of remembrance, they mistook them for a sign of aggression. They even began preparing for civil war! Oops. They couldn’t have known what the rocks meant. They couldn’t have seen their mistake. The Israelites, like you and I, were trying the best they could! But they were confused.

Don’t worry—the tribes came together to discuss the matter, and fears fizzled as they recalled the Truth they held in common. “Yahweh is the God of gods! Yahweh is the God of gods!” (Joshua 22:22). They remembered what we are learning: The humans in the story may be confused, but the God of the story is sovereign and good.

Where there is human confusion, Christ is our resolve. Where we build towers, He seals hearts. While we build temporary remembrances of God, He has already created a permanent remembrance within us. “He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Whether we walk in wilderness, or find a miraculous crossing, or build towers in His name, may we continue to put our trust and hope in God alone.

Post Comments (34)

34 thoughts on "Altars of Remembrance"

  1. Emily Winslow says:

    Lord give me eyes to see what is not yours, boldness to stand against anything that worships idols, and yet remind me to ask first what my friends or children or students are doing. I do not know their hearts like you do. Help me to treasure what they treasure for Your glory. Help me to pause remember that Christ unites us.

  2. Keri McCue says:

    “judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness” – I love this passage of Psalm. I so often forget to pray for the Lord to judge my heart, to sift out the bitterness and selfishness and to replace it with love and servanthood. Lord, judge us today and show us the error in our ways. Remind us of what we have been learning!

  3. Amen says:

    Joshua 22:5 is such a timely and powerful reminder for our lives, individually and collectively.
    Joy comes from knowing we are a few who bravely type out our thoughts for others to read, while many others remain silent but observe and agree or disagree.

    Yesterday I read in chapters 20 and 21 of the designation of five different cities of refuge. I began to wonder if these were the first “jails” in our world – places where accidental and unintentional killers (AAUK) may find protection until they were given trial by local assembly and rendered a judgement for their actions. These AAUK remained confined in these cities of refuge until the high priest in office died. So were these also the first places where “assylum” became available?

    And then today, reading of the beginning of a seeping distrust within Israel’s society based on the physical and visual actions of those east of the Jordan river as they built an alter because they feared in the future their descendants would be prevented the worshiping of God. We see Israel showing they begin (again?) relying upon physical evidence for proof of faith and worship of the one true God.

    It is so interesting to me how we continue to require physical evidence as proof of our faith. How we count our successes and achievements in life by the physical things we have done, and how difficult it becomes to quantify our worth when our contributions are less tangible or in fact intangible.

    It all points back to remembering to love one another, and not succumbing to hate. Love always. In clear and easy times, love. In cloudy and difficult times, love. Just love.

  4. Aimee says:

    The rocks their feet had walked across in obedience also bore witness to the grace of the Father, who makes small things significant and significant things small. – there is soooo much in that statement. This devotional today was a balm for my weary soul. God is in control and the things that looks significant to us are small to Him!

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Yes, yes, yes. So grateful for this truth, Aimee. Thanks for reading along!


  5. Diane Huntsman says:

    The humans in the story may be confused, but the God of the story is sovereign and good.

      1. Mae says:

        Amen to that thought-I am highly confused this week but He is not, so I must rest on that.

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