Scripture: Joshua 3:14-4:7
Key verses: (4:6-7) “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the LORD.”
Reflection: The text for this morning is epic, the Israelites crossing the Jordan river into the promised land. As soon as the priests’ feet touch the water of the Jordan, the river stops flowing, “the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap” (3:16). I’m guessing we’ve seen depictions of this event, a wall of water hovering over the Israelites as they cross on dry ground to the other side. Pretty amazing right? And before the priests let the water flow again, they were sure to grab some souvenirs from the experience, twelve rocks to serve as a reminder of what happened that day.
I wonder, however, what was it exactly that the rocks were supposed to remind the people of? Were the rocks a reminder of the awesome event of the river stopping? Were the rocks a reminder of the holiness of the priests? Or perhaps, the rocks were a reminder of the faithfulness of God and the gift of new life.
What struck me in reading this passage recently was God’s continued calming of waters throughout scripture. In Genesis God calms the chaos of the waters in creation, separating them to provide dry land for life to flourish. In Exodus God creates a way for the Israelites to cross the Red Sea, escaping the Egyptians and entering new life. And in the Gospels we hear of Jesus calming the sea while on a boat with the disciples, bringing peace out of chaos. Again and again, God brings peace and new life out of chaos.
Perhaps you are feeling swamped by the waters of chaos right now. Or maybe you have just crossed dry land and entered a time of new life. Wherever you are, may you remember God’s desire, God’s will, and God’s habit of calming the waters of chaos in our life. May we not forget the provision of God in the past, as it provides hope and faith for the future. May we look for the “signs of the stones” all around us, reminding us of God’s faithfulness leading us through peril and into peace.
Prayer: Ever faithful God, we give you thanks for your care for us. Instill within us a faith that remembers your actions throughout history and throughout our lives. In times of chaos may we hold fast to Christ’s presence which leads us into new life. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].