This fourth chapter of Joshua is about 12 stones!
Actually 24 stones!
Count them: “And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. AND JOSHUA SET UP TWELVE (MORE) STONES IN THE MIDST OF JORDAN, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.” Joshua 4:8-9
The first of the stones will be placed on land, where Israel rested that first night. The other 12 stones are to be left in the riverbed! To soon be inundated by the flood waters of the Jordan River! Once all the Jews had (miraculously) passed from one side of the River to the other, from the desert side to the Canaan side.
What do they mean (the 12 stones in the river), or what does this command mean … clearly from the Lord?
Often in Scripture anything plunged under water is an emblem or picture of death or dying. (Think of the waters of the Flood in the days of Noah.)
The number of the stones is significant, too. Twelve (12) stones, one for every tribe of Israel! The whole Nation, all its people, identified with “death?”
Yes … in “type” … the people “died” that day … but only “in type” to be “raised again” out of the potentially deadly riverbed of the Jordan! (Hence tomorrow we look at the other 12 stones placed on dry ground … an obvious picture of resurrection from the dead!)
So, it looks like, we have a pretty good symbol here of death and burial and resurrection … as Israel enters Canaan! Canaan which is a picture of the victorious Christian life, indeed the “Promised Land!”
Now, I kept thinking, if this is right … maybe I can find another Bible example likening some “under water” experience to “death!”
And I did! (Actually the Lord brought it to mind. Thank God for concordances, to help locate those hard-to-find verses we remember reading!)
In Exodus 15, as Israel sang and rejoiced over God’s bringing them through the Red Sea (another body of water) part of the lyrics God gave them go like this: “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are DROWNED (DEAD) IN THE RED SEA. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom AS A STONE.” Exodus 15:3-5
There it is!
Twelve (12) stones in the bottom of the soon-to-be-raging-again Jordan River, representing God’s people, the Jews! Death, dying with Christ our Lord! It is often called “identification with Christ.”
But not permanent death!
Soon (nearly immediately) lifted out of death and rejoicing in Gilgal, the first place they encamped in their new Homeland!
Yes … death followed by resurrection!
It is, folks, a picture of what we call Christian Baptism!
Buried with Christ … only to be immediately raised with Him “to walk in newness of life,” as the Pastors say when baptizing someone!
Israel … victorious Christian living?
Then death and burial and resurrection is certainly the “key” to such a “high plane” of existence!!!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell