Teaching Your Children to Fear God

Joshua 4

Jerry A Collins




*               What value is there to memorial stones?

*               Do we have memorial stones to the Lord today?

*               What role do these memorials have for our children?


I have a recurring dream that I have forgotten something. One dream relates to seminary where I am approaching graduation and preparing to receive my degree when I am informed that I have not completed a course or forgotten to sign up for it or attend it or complete the required assignments. There I am one class away from graduation but have forgotten to complete it. Then I am attending a meeting where I where I have been invited to speak but I never quite get to the speaking part because I have not prepared anything to say. I have forgotten to get ready for the opportunity so usually the MC is delaying things so I can get prepared but usually the people wait around too long and finally when I am ready either very few are left or I begin and they have no time to listen. Forgetting like this can have serious consequences. Joshua is leading Israel into Land of Promise and as they enter the Lord uses an event to assist the people in not forgetting who led them, God, and how he did that, Jordan river. Like Israel we have a tendency to forget God. This chapter teaches us to remember not to forget that! But how can we do this?


One way we do not forget God is taking what he says seriously enough to follow it specifically. After Israel crosses, God gives a specific command to Joshua. They were to take 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan and put them on the shore where they were staying for the nite. This is their first nite in the land. God gave Joshua a mechanical command without assigning any application to it and Joshua did it literally. There are many things we are to do and not do today simply because God said so. For instance, God gives us many specifics about praying, like do it without ceasing, do it instead of being anxious, do it in a closet, do it because God hears them, understand your wife so your prayers are not hindered. We must follow what God has said specifically. This is true of many things like not forsaking assembling together, study the Word, make disciples, obey govt authority, or walk in the Spirit. None of these are ever up for discussion but to be followed specifically because God has told us to do so. Dont ever argue with God about what He has already specifically told you to do. We may want to negotiate with God but His commands are never up for discussion. Dont compromise. Ignore or change His commands. Here, then, was a tradition God gave Israel. Notice what they did not do with it. They did not keep piling stones all over the place for generations to come. It was not the piling of stones that was significant but what this taught. (1) Traditions do not have their own foundational authority. What is lawful/unlawful dictated by Gods Word. (2) Traditions valuable when they create teachable moments. (3) Traditions help bring chaos to order (devotions in AM). (4) They are limited in what they teach and can compete with Bible. (5) Tradition keeping dulls the senses, makes people dull, complacent and unmovable. (6) Following Christ inevitably breaks traditions. Christs commands mature-traditions order.


We decide how to best apply what God has commanded us to specifically do. The stones become a teaching aid 6-7 Joshua applied significance to the stones as a memorial to the people for a teaching aid to their children to believe in God because of what happened here historically. God never told him to do that but what he knew of Gods character as revealed through Moses in the past motivated him to attach meaning consistent with what he already knew about God in the past. Notice four things about this application also in vss. 21-24: (1) They are to start with their own personal experiences with God that they saw, heard, felt and impacted them (like John in 1 Jn 1:1-4). They were to tell their own personal story. (2) Their memory should trigger memories of Gods miraculous activity in others lives too. There are others who can verify the work of God like those in 1 Cor 15 who could testify of Jesus resurrection. (3) Reason you tell is so others will be impacted as with Rahab or the woman at the well. (4) Reason we tell is so God is never trivialized in our lives and our fear of Him increases. The OT is the story of Israels forgetfulness of God and it eventually invited their destruction. There are consequences to forgetting God. Parents teach Gods ways and works. Jewish father was not to send his child to a Levite but was to answer himself. How should we teach our children & grandchildren so they will not forget God? How do we teach them to apply prayer or loving enemies or walking in the Spirit in way that reflects character of God? (1) Be with them. Quality comes from quantity. You impact close up. (2) Do things they can reproduce. Point is for them to take ownership of the truth about God. They will reproduce the moral and theological values you live by (Deut 6:1-2). (3) Create a context which encourages discovering truth. Parenting sets boundaries. Discipleship encourages discovery. Children need both. (4) Make them a priority--not over God or spouse but willing to pay cost to make them a priority over your job, social agenda, in-laws and hobbies. Cost of discipling is time. Your children join your schedule--with teens you join theirs. (5) Give to them expecting nothing in return. Main thing keeps us from giving cheerfully is when we expect a return. Thinking our children will pay us back with respect, gratitude or accomplishment we are proud of. When omit payback from giving motive, we are free to enjoy giving itself. (6) Teach them to obey God. Just like your money and possessions your children do not belong to you. If your kids have eternal perspective they will probably make it if not they wont.

8-18 Details reviewed in lite of Jordan flowing again First, while they pick up the 12 stones from the Jordan, Joshua takes 12 more back into the Jordan 8-9. Apparently, he participates on his own initiative to express his desire to have a personal reminder of Gods faithfulness at the very beginning of this conquest & mission. Second, The priests remained while the people hurried across the Jordan 10. Third, armed men from the tribes on the east side of the Jordan led the way not hampered by family or possessions 11-13. We know the population of males in these tribes was nearly 137000 (Num 26:7, 18, 34). Rest left to protect the tribes in territories. Fourth, God exalted Joshua in site of all Israel as He did with Moses so the people would obey God thru Joshua and this would be tested very soon with the way God wanted Joshua to conquer Jericho vs 14. Notice Jericho mentioned twice in context (vs 13, 19) revealing ominous and dangerous mission ahead. Fifth, priests left riverbed, 1st in and last out and resumed place at head of people 15-18. The Ark now called Ark of Testimony or sign or reminder and even the Ark having prominent place in worship serves as reminder of what God had done at Jordan river. Sixth, the Jordan immediately returns to flood stage 18. So God closed the back doorthere was no going back across the Jordan. The past and its consequences are behind them. New exciting dangers await them but with God and with His leader they can trust and follow. The stones are a testimony that the crossing was not because of their abilities but God did it. Their self-awareness is saturated by understanding that God is able to do anything. No matters what lies ahead, Jericho is just ahead, confidently they can follow God. However, if you flee the stones, both on the shore and in the river will testify against your fear and unbelief. They camped at Gilgal 19 The 10th day of 1st mo is same day 40 yrs ago that 1st Passover lamb selected and a permanent memorial was establisheddeliverance from Egypt and red sea. Another deliverance on same day is powerful reminder of continued work of God. (1) Purpose of Bible study is to learn what God specifically commands us to do not satisfy our curiosity. (2) Then we must decide how to apply that specifically.