“Twelve stones,” essentially the theme of Joshua chapter 4.
Twelve stones taken from the “bed” of the temporarily dry Jordan River!
“And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, and command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, TWELVE STONES, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.” Joshua 4:1-3
These stones, as we shall see tomorrow, are to be used as sort of a “memorial” of what God did as the Israelites first entered the Promised Land!
But first, let me share something I saw yesterday. A whole “string” of “stone” incidences in the Old Testament! Stones as “preachers,” nearly.
Jacob used such a stone in his life, to mark a special place! “And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the STONE that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: and this STONE, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” Genesis 28:18-22, a stone marking the place where God was so very real to Jacob!
(Later in his life Jacob again used a pile of stones as a witness to a “contract” made between him and Laban, his Father-in-law. “And Jacob took a STONE, and set it up for a pillar. And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather STONES; and they took STONES, and made an heap: and they did eat there upon the heap. And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold this pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee; this heap be witness, and this pillar be witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shalt not pass over this heap and this pillar unto me, for harm.” Genesis 31:45 and 46 then 51 and 52)
Then additionally in Joshua 24:26-27 a stone is used as an “indicator” of dedication to the Lord. The Jews have just (again) agreed to obey the Law of God. “And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great STONE, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this STONE shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.” A “memorial” or “witness!”)
Then later Samuel, under God’s direction, utilized a stone! “And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar. Then Samuel took a STONE, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:11-12, with “eben” meaning “stone” in Hebrew. Celebrating another great Act of Almighty God!
But then one day, I’d like to suggest … God reciprocated! God gave back to mankind a Stone!
Psalm 118:22 makes a prophetic announcement. “The STONE which the builders refused is become the HEADSTONE of the corner. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” He’s talking about Jesus, folks!
Then … many years later our incarnate Lord uses this verse and (correctly) applies it to Himself! “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The STONE which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?” Matthew 21:42
Luke’s wording is even more powerful. “And Jesus beheld them (the chief priests and scribes), and said, What is this then that is written, The STONE which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Whosoever shall fall upon that STONE shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Luke 20:17-18, I am so glad I fell on that Stone and He broke me and saved me and humbled me and now will love me forever!
One more thought today … Simon Peter (under the Holy Spirit’s guidance) masterfully used this “word picture” of a Stone as applied to Jesus in 1 Peter chapter 2. There he makes us Christians (having first come to God’s Chief Cornerstone) … he calls us “living stones” … by the Power of God! A miracle indeed! “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a LIVING STONE, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as LIVELY STONES, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:1-4, Jesus the LIVING STONE, and we (through him) are now LIVELY STONES!
Now here’s Peter, still considering Jesus as the Ultimate Stone …
1 Peter 2:6 … “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief CORNERSTONE, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” That’s JESUS, all right!
1 Peter 2:7 … “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the STONE which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.” God “reversing” man’s wrong opinion!
Then 1 Peter 2:8 … to unbelievers Jesus will become … “A STONE of stumbling, and a ROCK of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” Wow!
Just a quick survey of Scripture this morning … as it pertains to “stones” as memorials or witnesses … and a Stone (THE STONE) as Lord and Saviour!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell