In Joshua 4, after decades of wandering in the wilderness, the children of Israel had finally stepped foot into the Promised Land.
When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. 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 before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (Joshua 4:1-7)
“What do those stones mean to you?” For the people of Israel, these stones were more than a lifeless, meaningless memorial. They represented a tremendous teaching opportunity—a lesson from history that needed to be passed from generation to generation.
Do you realize that we have similar teaching opportunities on the first day of every week? We don’t stand with our children, grandchildren, or the children of our church family on the banks of the Jordan River looking at twelve literal stones. But we are blessed with tremendous teaching opportunities:
- “What does the Bible mean to you?”
- “What do these hymns mean to you?”
- “What does prayer mean to you?”
- “What does the preaching of God’s word mean to you?”
- “What does the Lord’s invitation mean to you?”
- “What does this unleavened bread and fruit of the vine mean to you?”
- “What does the opportunity to sacrifice for the Lord and his work mean to you?”
But we don’t have to wait until Sunday mornings for opportunities to teach. We answer similar questions by our actions, interactions, and reactions every day.
- “What does marriage and family mean to you?”
- “What do your brothers and sisters in Christ mean to you?”
- “What does hospitality mean to you?”
- “What does patience mean to you?”
- “What does forgiveness mean to you?”
- “What does love mean to you?”
- “What do the poor, the hurting, and the lost mean to you?”
Those twelve stones were more than a memorial. They were an ongoing opportunity to teach the next generation, “Here is what those stones mean to me.”
Little eyes, ears, and hearts continue to notice, learn, and ask questions. “What does ________ mean to you?” Are you ready for that question? Ready or not, you’re giving an answer. Does the answer you’d like to give harmonize with the answer you’re actually giving? Will you live in such a way that you can unashamedly, easily, and naturally point the next generation to the God worth remembering and serving this week?