TEXT: Joshua 4:1-24


From time to time when I speak to the children, I will bring along with me some form of visual aid – maybe a personal walkman, or a rubber shoes or a doll or whatever. And of course the aim of using a visual aid is to use something tangible, something the children can see and can identify with in order to teach them some important spiritual truth.

The Lord Jesus during the course of his preaching and teaching ministry often used visual aids to impress spiritual truths upon his hearers. He pointed to field that contained a crop that had reached full maturity, ready to be harvested and spoke to his disciples of the great spiritual harvest that lay before them and of the need for workers to go out into the harvest field of the world. I am sure that each time the harvest season came around and the disciples looked out upon such fields they would have remembered the Lord’s teaching. Every time they saw sheep wandering over the hillside they would have remembered his teaching about the good shepherd. Every time they saw a farmer going out and sowing seed in his field they would have thought about the importance of scattering the good seed of the gospel. Jesus used visual aids in seeking to get his message across to his hearers.

The impact that a visual image can have upon people has of course not only been recognized by, it has also been used with great effect by the advertising world. They will take the message that they want to convey about their product, whatever it might happen to be, and link it in such a way with a striking and memorable image, or picture or famous person so as to create a direct link between the two in the minds of the people they are seeking to influence. Every time that image, picture, or person appears on the T.V. screen or on an advertising hoarding people immediately think of the product associated with them. They get their message across by means of a memorable visual aid.

Joshua chapters 4 could be entitled the Visual Aids of Gilgal. And this morning I want us to consider the visual aids in order that we might discover the significance of each to the people of God then, and their relevance for us, God’s people today.

Consider with me first of all


In chapter 3 we can see how the children of Israel, by faith, crossed the Jordan – that seemingly insurmountable barrier that stood between them and the blessings of the land of promise. Here in chapter four we find them all safely on the other side. However before the waters, which had been miraculously held back by the power of God to enable the people to cross on dry land, returned, God commanded Joshua to send twelve men, one from each tribe, back into the river bed in order to find and bring out a large stone each. The reason they were to gather these stones, so that they could be placed one on top of the other in the land of promise as a witness to and memorial of this amazing event which had just taken place. God wanted them to build a Monument. And he wanted them to build this monument for at least three, possibly 3 reasons.

This stone monument at Gilgal was erected with purpose to provide a visual aid, a view to, first of all,


We see this at the end of v7 – “these stones are to be a memorial to the Children of Israel forever.”

God knew only too well that His people were very susceptible to bouts of amnesia. They suffered from memory loss. They often forgot how good God had been to them. They often forget how he had exercised his power on their behalf. How he had been faithful to His promises. How he had ministered to their needs, how He had been patient and merciful towards them and so on.

The Psalmist identifies Israel’s susceptibility to amnesia in Psalm 78:10,11 where, speaking of the time of their journeying through the wilderness after their great deliverance from the awful slavery of Egypt, he writes “They kept not the covenant of God and refused to walk in His law, and forgot His works and His wonders that he had showed them.”

With their own eyes they had seen the great wonders God had performed on their behalf with a view to bringing them out of Egypt. They had seen the waters of the Nile turn to Blood, they had watched as the Locusts came upon the land of Egypt in their millions and devoured the crops in the fields, they had seen how boulder like hailstones had fallen from heaven upon the land of Egypt killing & maiming people and destroying property while in Goshen where they dwelt escaped the storm.

These mighty works of God and the others he performed on their behalf they had witnessed. But as time went on amnesia set in and they forgot about these things.

The Psalmist takes up the same theme again in Ps:106:7,13 “Our fathers…did not remember the multitude of your mercies…he rebuked the Red Sea and it dried up…He saved them from the hand of the foe…but they soon forgot what he had done…”

Once before in their history they, by the power of God, had successfully undertaken a miraculous crossing of what appeared to be an impassable expanse of water. Once before they had seen the waters being held back and a dry passage formed through those waters to enable them to cross over. But although they had seen this with their own eyes, they soon forgot what God had done. And if you read not only the rest of those psalms but also the historical narrative of the events to which they refer in the book of Numbers you will discover that forgetfulness of the great things God had done for them led to spiritual backsliding and all kinds of disobedient and sinful behavior by the Israelites.

So as soon as they have crossed over the River Jordan into the land of Canaan God instructs Joshua to set up this stone monument so that it would be a permanent visible reminder of what God had done for them in bringing them across the Jordan into the land of promise. Every time they see that heap of stones their memory of that great event would come flooding into their mind. God didn’t want them to forget this amazing event which demonstrated not only his mighty power but also his covenant faithfulness and covenant love towards them.

The words that are inscribed on many a cenotaph up and down our country “Lest we forget” could be written large across the stone monument that Joshua set up at Gilgal.

People are forgetful…they would see it now, then they would forget about it afterwards…that’s why we need visual aids…something that would remind us of something significant that has happened in our lives.


Isn’t it true that we like the Israelites of old, can and often do fall into the trap of forgetting the wonderful things that God has done for us as Christians. We tend to have amnesias as well…

The greatest thing he has done for us of course is to deliver us from our bondage, our bondage to sin. To save us from the eternal consequences of our sin. How did he do that? He did it by sending His own dear Son into the world to bear in his own body on the cross at Calvary, the penalty of sin – the wrath of God that should have been directed against us. And that work of redemption which included The incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was a mighty demonstration of the love of God for his people and of the power of God being exercised on their behalf. It is an event that he does not want us to forget. It is something that He wants us to have at the forefront of our minds. And of course it was with a view to overcoming our forgetful tendencies that God, through His Son, gave us that memorial feast, The Lord’s Supper.

That feast which speaks so powerfully to us and reminds us of all that was involved in our redemption, each time we celebrate it. The bread speaks to us of our Lord’s broken body, The wine speaks to us of his shed blood. And part of the raison-d’etre of The Lord’s supper, and no small part of it at that, was to stimulate the memories of God’s people and cause them to think back to and call to mind the events of Calvary. Jesus said “this do in remembrance of me”

The poet put it like this:

Lord lest I forget Gethsemane

Lest I forget Thine agony

Lest I forget thy love for me

Lead me to Calvary.

But then too, isn’t it also true that we tend to forget and have very short memories when it comes to recalling other blessings that God has bestowed upon us. Other times in our life when He drew near to us and ministered to us perhaps in a time of need. Having come through that particular experience, and put it behind us so to speak, we become so occupied in our thinking with other things that the memory of God’s goodness to us at that time fades from our minds.


An older couple had trouble remembering common, day-to-day things. They both decided that they would write down requests the other had, and so try to avoid forgetting. One evening the wife asked if the husband would like anything. He replied, “Yes. I’d like a large ice-cream sundae with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry on top? The wife started off for the kitchen and the husband shouted after her, “Aren’t you going to write it down”? ‘don’t be silly,? she hollered back, “I’m going to fix it right now. I won’t forget.

She was gone for quite some time. When she finally returned, she set down in front of him a large plate of hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, and a glass of orange juice. He took a look and said “I knew you should have written it down! You forgot the toast!’


Philip Keller writes “Far too often we quickly forget the great achievements accomplished on our behalf by God.”

We, have incredibly short memories when it comes to recalling the blessings of Christ conferred upon us. We so soon let slip from our recollection those special benefits bestowed on us by God’s gracious Spirit. We need to keep some sort of permanent record of the great things our Father has done for us.


The faintest ink is more lasting than the strongest memory – Chinese proverb

Phillip Keller advised: “It is a splendid habit to write them down, to record them in a dairy perhaps, to keep a permanent reminder of all the wondrous ways in which God has granted us deliverance…”

And of course we are not only to call to mind God’s gracious dealings and merciful blessings that have been bestowed on us in the past as individuals, we are also to call to mind his gracious dealings with us in the past as a Church and even as a nation.

Warren Weirsbe makes a helpful comment in this regard when he says “There is nothing wrong with memorials…provided they don’t so link us to the past that we fail to serve God in the present…” The next generation need reminders of what God has done in History, but these reminders must strengthen their faith and draw them closer to the Lord. THAT IF YOU ARE FACING A BIG PROBLEM TODAY, A STRUGGLE TODAY, OR MAY BE A LOSS TODAY, THOSE MEMORIES OF GOD’S BLESSING MUST REMIND US THAT IF HE HAS BEEN GOOD BEFORE, HE’S STILL GOOD TODAY, IF HE’S BEEN POWERFUL BEFORE, HE’S STILL POWERFUL TODAY, THAT IF HE HAS BEEN FAITHFUL BEFORE, HE IS STILL FAITHFUL TODAY, AND IF HE HAS DELIVERED YOU BEFORE, HE WILL DELIVER YOU TODAY…HALLELUJAH!  Somebody praise the name of JESUS!

But the Gilgal Stones were not erected solely to Influence Their Memory, as though God simply wanted them from time to time to call to mind what He had done for them, they were also erected to


Look at the very last phrase of the chapter in v24 “…so that you might always fear the Lord your God” God is referring here to the drying up of the waters of the Jordan, the very thing that the heap of stones commemorated, and he says that the calling to mind of this event should cause Israel to “…Fear the Lord their God” Now the word fear there is not to be understood in the sense of being seized by an overwhelming sense of dread or apprehension. That is one meaning of the word fear. But it’s not that sort of fear that is in view here. Rather the word fear here means to regard with reverence, to be filled with awe, a reverence and awe which finds tangible expression in worship, adoration and praise. Every time an Israelite walked pass this monument he would have cause to reflect upon not just the event it commemorated, but also upon both the nature and character of the God who performed this great miracle and the fact that He in Love, had done this for them. And the realization of these things should have had the effect of moving them to worship and praise God.

And just as the monument at Gilgal was set up not only to influence the people’s memory but also to inspire their praise surely brethren as we by means of our various memorials, personal, sacramental, ecclesiastical or national, are caused to reflect upon God’s gracious dealings with us in the past, such recollections should inspire our praise. Such memories should cause our hearts to be filled with adoring wonder and grateful worship.

Illustration:  (Looking at Lei and Nia’s pictures and looking at them when they are sleeping)


“Praise is boasting about what you enjoy!” – C.S. Lewis


And isn’t that exactly our experience on an occasion such as for example a communion season, when having spent time recalling and focusing our minds upon our Savior’s dying love for us, we find do we not our hearts filling and overflowing with thankfulness, adoration, love and praise to God.

3. TO INTRUCT THEIR CHILDREN (vv. 6,7 21) – read it

We all know how inquisitive children can be, always asking questions about any and every subject. Well in ordering the establishment of this Gilgal Monument, God was providing a teaching aid for parents that they could use; and which He expected them to use to instruct their children about Him.

You can imagine how perhaps some years later a family of Israelites might be travelling through this area and one of the kids pointing to this monument asks “daddy what’s that over there” “Over where son?” the daddy replies. “Over there look, see all those stones set one on top of the other” “Oh that, that was built by Joshua at the time when our ancestors first came to this land. It was set up to commemorate a great miracle God performed for them. Did I never tell you the story of what God did that day? Well this is what happened – and so the dad would tell the story of how God dried up the waters of the Jordan to enable the Israelites to get into the Promised Land, no doubt emphasizing as part of his story those important points he wanted his children to take note of. Emphasizing perhaps some of the wonderful characteristics of their great God that were demonstrated that day and which these inquisitive children needed to hear about – His mighty power, His faithfulness to His promises, His love for His people and so on.

The stones served as “handles” to communicate what God had done.

God saw it as important that the rising generation be taught about the mighty works of God and the Gilgal Stones provided an occasion for such teaching.

God knew that only those who saw the incident would remember it – and He wanted to leave a legacy for the next generation, born long after the miracle occurred.  God wanted to find a way to communicate God’s greatness to the children of Israel yet-to-be-born.

This of course is an important theme that one comes across time and time again in Scripture – the teaching of our children the Word and the Works of God. You find it in Deut 4:9 where the people of God are told “Take heed to thyself and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life; Teach them to thy sons and thy sons’ son’”

And of course that same responsibility falls to us who are Christian parents today. We are to train our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and part of our fulfilling of that responsibility will be to instruct them and to answer their question and to give them information regarding the things of God.

And just as Israelite parents used this Gilgal monument as a teaching aid to instruct their children about the greatness and the goodness and the love and so on of God so too we as Christian parents are to use our memorials to teach our children.

For example we have at least one memorial established by God that we can use – The Lord’s Supper. Most of us as parents have had the experience of our children whispering to us during communion “what is that? Why are you taking that shortbread? What does it mean? Why can I not have some?” and their natural inquisitiveness provides us with an opportunity to teach them, when we get home, the truths that lie behind the symbolism of the sacrament they have just watched.

Perhaps some of you have something in the house that is your own personal memorial to some past experience of God’s gracious blessing and you can use that as a visual aid to tell your child of your experience and teach them something of the being and character of God.


On three separate occasions, God told parents in Israel how to answer the serious questions of their sons and daughters (see Exodus 13:14, Deuteronomy 6:20, and Joshua 4:6,21). This would indicate that God wants us to take the time to answer our children when they ask us about spiritual matters. How we respond can either greatly help or terribly discourage them.

Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy told of an aunt who hurt him deeply when she didn’t take time to answer some questions that were troubling him. She stirred his emotions by telling him of Jesus’ crucifixion, but when he cried out, “Auntie, why did they torture Him?” she said simply, “They were wicked.” “But wasn’t He God?” Tolstoy asked. Instead of explaining that Jesus was indeed God, that He had become a man so He could die for our sins, she said, “Be still—it is 9 o’clock!” When he persisted, she retorted, ““Be quiet, I say, I’m going to the dining room to have tea.” This left young Tolstoy greatly agitated. Commenting on this scene, Calvin Miller said, “Tolstoy found it incomprehensible that Christ had been brutalized and his aunt was not interested enough to stay a little past teatime and talk about it.”

Do we allow our own interests—a television program, a sporting event, a hobby—to keep us from taking time to listen, admonish, and instruct our children, or anyone who may ask us about God? If we pause long enough to explain His truth, He will use it to change lives. -H.V.L.


Here is the sad confession of one father. “I took my children to school but not to church.  I taught them to drink but not the living water.  I enrolled them in Little League but not to Sunday School.  I showed them how to fish, but not to be fisher of men.  I made the Lord’s Day a holiday, rather than a holy day.”

Ang Cellphone Ang Bible

–          laging hawak ipinapakita,                                           laging nakatago at ayaw ipakita.

–          binibili kahit libo-libong halaga,                                                ayaw bilhin, kahit isang daan ang halaga.

–          laging pinapalitan ng case,                                         hindi man lang mabilhan ng case.

–          ayaw magasgasan,                                                        hinahayaang maalikabukan.

–          bihirang makaligtaan kung saan iniwan,                              madaling makaligtaan kung saan naiwan.

–          mahirap ipahiram, baka masira,                                              madaling ipahiram, kahit mawala.

–          laging binabasa kung may bagong message,     hindi binabasa kaya hindi makita ang message.

–          message masarap i-share.                                          verse nakakalimutang i-share.

–          pinapakita ang lifestyle ng tao,                                 nagpapabago ng lifestyle ng tao.

–          mabilis maluma,                                                              hindi naluluma.

–          message kung minsan ay late,                                   laging on time ang message.

–          kailangan magload para mag-message,                              laging fully loaded ang message.

–          ay mahalagang gamit ng tao,                                   ay mas mahalaga kung gagamitin ng tao.


Many godly men of the past have been richly blessed by what they learned from their mothers. Consider the biblical characters Moses, Samuel, and Timothy. The maternal influence experienced by these spiritual leaders bore rich fruit in their lives. Think too of men like Augustine, John Newton, and the zealous Wesley brothers. Their names would probably never have lighted the pages of history if it hadn’t been for the godly women who raised them in homes where the law of love and a Christian witness were their daily guide and inspiration.

Susannah Wesley, for example, spent one hour each day praying for her 17 children. In addition, she took each child aside for a full hour every week to discuss spiritual matters. No wonder two of her sons, Charles and John, were used of God to bring blessing to all of England and much of America.

Take every opportunity to teach your children about God’s Word and God’s work.

Illustration:  Hand Print on the Wall

One day as I was picking the toys up off the floor,
I noticed a small hand print on the wall beside the door.
I knew that it was something that I’d seen most every day,
but this time when I saw it there, I wanted it to stay.

Then tears welled up inside my eyes, I knew it wouldn’t last,
for every mother knows her children grow up way too fast.
Just then I put my chores aside and held my children tight.
I sang to them sweet lullabies and rocked into the night.

Sometimes we take for granted, all those things that seem so small.
Like one of God’s great treasures…. A small hand print on the wall.

–          Source unknown



The stones at Gilgal – they served as something to Influence the People’s memory; To Inspire the people’s Praise; To Instruct the people’s Children.




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