JOSHUA 4:1-9, 19-24
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day to remember those who have served and died for our country.
There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day.
One story has it that In April 1863, in Columbus, Mississippi after decorating graves of her two sons who served during the Civil War as Confederate soldiers, an elderly woman also decorated two mounds at the corner of the cemetery. An observer asked, "What are you doing? Those are the graves of two Union soldiers." The reply, "I know. I also know that somewhere in the North, a mother or a young wife mourns for them as we do for ours."
There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead"
Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966; it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
I. There is a need for Memorials – We need to remember those that have sacrificed for our freedom and given us directions on the way to live. Memorials are a way for us to remember.
A. Deuteronomy 6:12-16 (NIV) be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.
- I don’t know about you but I have real good memories of things that happened a long time ago but my short time memories are not as keen.
- I am getting to the point that I write down everything that I want to remember.
- But then I have to remember where I put the note to myself.
ILLUSTRATION – At least I am not as bad as the woman at a commuter train station who was noticed by a policeman. This woman driver was sitting on the street outside the train station with her head bowed over the steering wheel in obvious discomfort. The police officer asked her, "Is there anything wrong?"
Half crying and half laughing, she said, "For ten years I have been driving my husband to this station every morning to catch this train. THIS MORNING I FORGOT HIM!"
- What amazes me is how we as a nation have forgotten where we came from and who has blessed us. As a nation we might be best if we would jot down on a piece of paper how blessed we are and how we have come out of a dangerous place. When the danger is past, we often forget the God who helped us.
- In Christ, we can move out of our past into a meaningful present and a breathtaking future. But we should never forget what we were and where we were headed before Christ redeemed us
- We can learn a great deal from the Bible when it talks about memorials. They are used for 2 major purposes:
- One, the Israelites used memorials to teach their children of God’s power and mercy. We should use memorials to do the same.
- Joshua 4:6-7 (NIV) the altar was “to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."
- Joshua 4:21-23 (NIV) He said to the Israelites, "In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them, 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over.
- Memorial stones were to serve as a basis of sharing faith with their children.
- Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
- There are many parents today that feel they don’t need the church or its teachings but believe that each kid should decide on his or her own what they will believe.
- They believe that they have no responsibility to teach their children anything about faith or morals. When a child asks questions about Christmas, Good Friday and Easter – they have no answer.
- The world we live is becoming like an unattended garden where we expect to get a good harvest but we put no effort into tending the garden and removing the weeds. We get what we put in.
- No wonder our children have nothing to remind them of how they should live – because we have no memory. Wonder why so many kids are in and out of trouble; they have nothing to remind them of what is right and good.
- Secondly monuments / symbols of faith reach others with the biblical message of grace, redemption, and salvation.
- Joshua 4:24 (NIV) He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God."
- The purpose of the 12 stones – the memorial was for all people to know about God’s work and power.
- The reason we celebrate Christmas and Easter is to give a message of God’s grace and power. – It is a time for remembering God’s love for the world.
- We actually become the living memorial. One of our main functions as believers is to be witnesses to a lost and dying world. We need to be a symbol to the world we live – our lives should commemorate Christ and His grace.
- Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
- Philippians 2:15-16 (NIV)
so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
- We are the memorial / testimonial / a testament in the world we live
III. The nature of spiritual memorials are:
- First off they are enduring
- Joshua 4:7 (NIV) … tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."
- This was to be a witness forever – that is a long time. Israel forgot about the memorials at different times in their lives. But we shouldn’t be so quick to criticize.
- As a nation we have had landmarks and monuments that should have never been disturbed and that are not lasting because of human interference. We have removed landmarks of our nation and we are being bombarded to remove even more. From a minority in American we have lost some basic landmarks that kept us balanced as a nation.
- Some of basic landmarks are being removed - landmarks and biblical foundations that our country was built on that should remain forever are being called into question and removed from the fabric of our nation.
1. 1962 - Prayer in schools was declared illegal
2. 1963 - Bible reading in Schools was declared illegal
3. There are battles in the state over the placement of the Ten Commandments in the schools, state buildings and court houses
4. Removal of any Christian vestige to our holidays.
- The enduring testimony of those who have gone before us has blessed us. Likewise, we should have a lasting testimony to those who follow after us.
- Secondly memorials should be unmistakable:
- Joshua 4:8 (NIV) So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down.
- The 12 stones represented each of the tribes - deliverance was for all Israel. The stones came from the river bottom declaring the miraculous deliverance and power of God.
- Our testimony ought to have significance and be clearly understood and unmistakable. Our memorial should speak of the mighty salvation of our God and of His mercy to all who will step by faith into His marvelous grace.
- What are the Christian’s Memorial Stones:
- Water Baptism is a symbol of the grace of God working in our lives and reflects God’s saving grace. Our sins have been washed a way and we have become new in Christ.
- The Church and Church Membership – Authentic Christianity is coming under the loving lordship of Jesus Christ and being joined together to a community of imperfect believers what are trying to live a new life in a new way.
- A Christian church is a body or collection of persons, voluntarily associated together, professing to believe what Christ teaches, to do what Christ commands, to imitate His example, cherish His spirit, and make known His gospel to others.
- Our business is not to do something for the church, but to do something with it.
- I Peter 2:9 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:"
- Lord’s Supper - 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NIV) For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
- Through out church history the Lord’s Supper has been a time to remember Christ sacrifice for us and His forgiveness and we are to continue to participate in it.
- Our lives are to be living testimony to Christ – we are a memorial to the Lord.
1 Peter 2:5 (NIV) you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:2 (NLT) The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.