What Are the Stones of Remembrance in the Bible?
- Emma Danzey Contributing Writer
- 2022 10 Feb
Have you ever had a picture or a special item that brought back a memory of something? The sight of a certain flower or a recipe your mom always made can easily trigger a memory of another time in your life. Throughout the Scriptures, there were stones set up by the people of God. Today, we will explore what are the stones of remembrance.
The Context of the Stones in Joshua 4
Joshua was the successor of Moses. He was a gifted leader and warrior. Joshua led many battles, including the battle of Jericho. Most importantly though, Joshua was the leader who led the Israelites into the promised land. In Joshua 3 the people of God approach the Jordan River. Even though there was a river, verse 17 tells us “Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.”
After having made it to the land on dry ground, the Lord told Joshua to set up twelve stones from the Jordan representing each tribe. Joshua explains what God told him. Joshua 3:6-7 says, “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.”
This just about gives me chills. Jesus’ original Hebrew name is Yeshua. It can also be translated as Joshua. The imperfect Joshua of the Old Testament led the people of God through the waters into the promised land. Jesus, our Yeshua, took us from death to life because of His sacrifice and will one day lead us into the promised land of Heaven.
We see that Joshua took the people through the desert and brought them to freedom. Moses got them out of the land of slavery, and Joshua brought them out of the land of wandering in the desert. Could you imagine 40 grueling years in the hot sun, with the same meal every day, with others who had negative attitudes? This was not an easy time by any means. However, this season of waiting and circling finally came to an end at the Jordan River. The ark of the covenant held the presence of God. The priests carried the ark and when they made it to the waters, the river stopped for them. They carried the ark and led the people on dry ground. The stones were set up in Gilgal as a reminder to this generation and the generations to come of what the Lord had done.
Other Scripture References to Stones of Remembrance
- Jacob after he wrestled with God in Bethel: Genesis 28:10-22
- Samuel after the victory against the Philistines: 1 Samuel 7:7-12
- Zechariah looked toward our Chief Cornerstone: Zechariah 3:9
In regard to Zechariah’s vision, Matthew Henry commented, “But the prophecy rather denotes the attention paid to this precious Corner-stone. All believers, from the beginning, had looked forward to it in the types and predictions. All believers, after Christ's coming, would look to it with faith, hope, and love.”
Paul mentions the Spirit of God writing on the tablets of our hearts in 2 Corinthians 3:3 which says, “being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
Jesus, Our Living Stone
Jesus, Himself is described as our Living Stone. When we ponder the concept of a stone of remembrance, we know that the stone would be set up to look back to spark a memory of what God had done in the past. Because we live on this side of the resurrection, believers in Christ can look back at Jesus as our Living Stone. He was established and what He has done for us can never be taken away. (Hebrews 10:10)
1 Peter 2:4-5 says, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 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.”
We Are Like Living Stones
Not only is Jesus our Living Stone, but we as Christ-followers are called living stones in 1 Peter 2. This means that our lives can be established as monuments pointing others toward salvation and the hope for eternal life. Notice that Jesus is the singular, Living Stone. He is the only One who could accomplish the task of the cross and resurrection, but He invites us, the church, into the work that He is still doing today.
We, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house. I love watching home makeover shows and seeing a house transformed into a new creation. What I see in 45 minutes actually took many hours over the course of weeks. When we imagine the work and effort that it takes to build a house from the ground up, it takes a lot of planning and hard work. The Lord has done this with His people. He is building each of us with our various spiritual giftings together into His house, His priesthood. The church is not a building, the church is every Christ-follower in the world coming together for the cause of Jesus. When I think about a stone, it propels me to think of a rock. Jesus told Peter that He would build His church on the rock and the gates of hell would not be able to stand against it.
Peter’s name in Scripture actually meant “rock.” However, His original name was Simon which meant "to hear.” I love this because, in order for us to become living stones who represent Jesus, we need to first hear the gospel and accept it for ourselves. Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah in Matthew 16:16 and then Jesus gave him a new name.
Matthew 16:17-18 says, “Jesus replied, ‘You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.’”
How Can We Remember Jesus Today
The goal of the stone of remembrances was to trigger a memory of God’s faithfulness in the past, to reflect on Him in the present, and trust Him in the future. Jesus is our Living Stone. How are you remembering Him today? For us to remember, we have to look. It is so vital for us to think about Christ’s sacrifice for us today and every day by spending time in the Bible, praying, and worshiping Him. When we ask, what are the stones of remembrance, we can know that they are a reminder of the work of God, Jesus is our Living Stone, and we can be living stones that point to Christ with our lives.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/stereostok
Emma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, inspiring young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew for over two years and mom to baby Graham. Drew and Emma serve with Upstate CRU college ministry in South Carolina. Emma is an avid writer for Salem Web Network and provides articles on the Bible, life questions, and on the Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 viewed article on Crosswalk for the year 2021. All the glory to the Lord! She had the joy of hosting Her Many Hats podcast where she explored the many roles that women play while serving One God. Most recently, Emma has released her first Bible Study Book, Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness.
Emma enjoys singing/songwriting, fitness classes, trying new recipes, home makeover shows, and drinking tea! During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Emma also had the privilege of having been a national spokesperson for Mukti Mission based out of India. Mukti has been working to restore shattered lives in India for over 120 years. You can view her articles through her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com