Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Watching for Signs
Pastor Frank Greer
Joshua 4:1-24
Where does history fit in to what and where we are living today? It is easy to forget today what may have taken place previously. We can simply deem events as not relevant or not worth remembering by relegating them to a “that was then, this is now” perspective and fail to learn from the experiences of others. We don’t want to be accused of living too much in the past. Consequently, we may find ourselves duplicating the mistakes from “then” because we refuse to or are unable to learn from them. What’s more, we may even put aside our own experiences and life lessons and then find ourselves having to re-learn a previous lesson, simply because we had nothing to remind us of what God had done. In short, we forget.

Today we will look at the Scriptures and see the importance and purposes of signs and memorials. These are more than just a person, a special day, a plaque on a wall or a headstone in a cemetery. A memorial is a marker, a milestone, a sign along the road of our life, something to remind us of someone or some event that took place that we should remember, hold on to and learn from. It helps us to see the hand of God as we enter in to possess the land of our own lives that God has promised us.

1. Sign — ‘ôth — a signal (literally or figuratively), as a flag, beacon, monu ment, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.: - mark, miracle, (en-) sign, token.
2. Memorial — zikrôn — memorial, reminder, remembrance
3. Pillar — matstsêbâh — pillar, as monument, personal memorial, with an altar

1. Crossing over the Jordan marked a transition in the life of Israel. (4:1)
a. This was a new chapter in their life as a nation.
b. They were no longer relegated to wandering in the wilderness.
c. Now they were to begin a systematic advance in taking the land God promised them.

2. God instructed them to mark this transition well. (4:2-8)
a. Set up a memorial.
b. Give yourselves something to talk to your children about.
c. Provide a reminder of how God powerfully brought you into the Promised Land.

3. Note that there are two memorials. (4:9)
a. The Visible – those reminders that everyone can easily observe.
b. The Invisible – those reminders that only you are aware of.
- These are personal.
- They are right where God showed up.
- In many cases, no one can see them but you.
- Others cannot see or perhaps even understand them, but you know they are there.

4. Remember that they did not embark from here alone. (4:12-13)
a. A Christian walks alone only by choice.
b. God gives us those who have already fought and won the same kinds of battles and they will fight along side us to help us achieve victories in our own battles.
c. These are living memorials, reminders of God’s faithfulness to us.
d. If we are to let others help us, then we must trust them and be vulnerable.

Other Examples of Memorials in Scripture
1. Jacob – arguably the most prolific memorial builder in the Old Testament.
a. Genesis 28:10-22 — As a young man God appears to Jacob at Bethel and gives him a powerful promise.
b. Genesis 31:13 — God reminds Jacob of the pillar and the vow.
c. Genesis 31:45 — Jacob sets us a pillar as a reminder of an agreement between him and his father-in-law Laban.
d. Genesis 35:7 — Jacob builds an altar at Bethel.
e. Genesis 35:9-15 — God appears to Jacob while he is still at Bethel and changes his name. Jacob sets up a pillar as a memorial.
f. Genesis 35:20 — Jacob sets up a pillar over Rachel’s grave.

2. Jesus — established memorials for us to remember.
a. The cross (Jn 19:17-20; Gal 6:14; Heb 12:2; 1Pe. 2:24)
b. The cup and the bread (Mt 26:27-28; 1Co 11:25-26)

Principles from Joshua 4
1. Memorials remind us of the greatness of God.
a. They depend more on God than they do on us.
2. Memorials remind us of God’s call on our lives.
a. They cause us to remember what God has spoken to us personally.
b. They tell us that God will not abandon us. (Mt 28:20)
3. Memorials provide us with an anchor for our faith.
a. They encourage us to hold on even when things are all going wrong.
b. They provide us with a light at the end of the tunnel.
c. They tell us that we confidently trust God, even in tough times.
4. Memorials assure of us of the future.
a. Jacob at Bethel
5. Memorials remind us that we are in process.
a. Exodus 23:30

Remember, it is from this point on that the serious battles take place and the faith walk demands our complete and utter surrender and obedience. Nonetheless, there is, by our Jordan, a simple pile of rocks that is a powerful reminder that God has brought us this far …. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” Phillipians 1:6.

Discussion Questions:
1. What are some of the signs or memorials that I can recall from my own experience in my walk with God that encourage me to keep going?
2. Do I allow them to speak to me of the faithfulness of God?
3. Do I need a fresh reminder at this point in my life?

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