Altars of Remembrance
Open Your Bible
Joshua 22:1-34, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Psalm 7:8-11
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.”
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.