Though we mostly think of Israel crossing the Red Sea when we consider God parting the waters, there was another event forty years later when God performed a similar action. That was the parting of the Jordan River. While that river was not as large as the Red Sea, it was none the less miraculous. Just think about it: God literally stopped the flow of the water of a rushing river and dried the ground up so His people could cross on dry land. What an incredible demonstration of God’s power.
And that is exactly what He wanted Israel to remember. When we look at the history of that nation, we see how easily they forgot the great acts of God and turned to idols. God knew their tendencies, so He gave Joshua a special command to help the people remember. That command was an order for a pile of rocks to be set up at their camp (Joshua 4:1-3). In the verses that follow, we see Joshua explain to the people of Israel the command and its significance—
Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:5-7)
The stones were to be a reminder to Israel each time they saw them of the awesome power of their God, and they were to spur the parents on to teach their children about their God. They had a purpose. Now if they did not remember to tell the next generation, they would have to look away from those rocks instead of simply forgetting in their minds; they would have no excuse not to tell others about the mighty deeds of the Lord.
As we consider this event in the light of Scripture, we see that it is very important for God’s people to remember what God has done in their lives and to tell others about it. In Psalm 9:1, David says, “I will tell of all your wonders.” In another Psalm, he also says, “Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, and I will tell of your greatness” (Psalm 145:6). While he was first saying that he himself would tell of God’s deeds, now he says that people will speak of the acts of God.
This is exactly the imagery of Psalm 78, a beautiful passage that describes one generation after another telling of the great acts of God to their children. Asaph describes how the people of Israel will “Tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord” (Psalm 78:4). This should not be surprising, for this is what God had commanded His people to do all the way back at the beginning of His Covenantal relationship with them (Deuteronomy 6:6-12).
In Deuteronomy 6, God commands that this proclaiming of His Word and deeds to the next generation should permeate all of life. It was to be done when parents walked with their children, when they rested, and when they laid down. They were to metaphorically write them on their hands and foreheads. They were to be inscribed on the doorframes of houses and the gateposts. There was no portion of their lives that should be removed from god or from giving Him glory. Every part was to be a reminder to talk about God and share about His works with others.
Now we have to ask ourselves, Are we doing this today? That is, while we do not pile up rocks beside a river, are we taking time to remember what God has done and who He is, then choose to share that with the next generation? We should.
In the book of Acts, we see the apostles coming together to share of what God had done and what He was still doing. Peter did this, and so did Paul (Acts 11:4-17; 15:3, 4). This sharing about the deeds of the Lord was not relegated only to Israel, but the New Testament Church took part in it as well, setting us an example.
When we just look at ourselves, we can tend to forget how great our God is. Though we might not see God’s mighty hand in our own small, immediate circle, He is at work all the time, and not just in one place. By hearing about what God is doing in a church, in various regions of a country, or even the world, we get a glimpse of just how big and powerful our Lord is. Not only that, but it gives us even more reasons to rejoice and to praise Him. He is building His church, just as He promised (Matthew 16:18). He is with His people, giving them boldness no matter what they face (Hebrews 13:5, 6). We all need these reminders at times, and this is a practice all God’s people should take part in.
So as we go through life, we need to take time to simply pause, consider, then praise God for who He is and what He has done. I am not talking about what He has done in general such as providing salvation, though we definitely need to praise Him for that. However, I am speaking here of specific, personal acts where God has worked in our lives. Think of Joshua and the Israelites. They could have made a pile of rocks to remember their deliverance out of Egypt, which they did need to remember. Even so, God wanted them to remember the specific act where He worked among them.
While we today do not physically build piles of rocks to remind us of the deeds of God in our lives, we should still find ways to remember Him. Some churches have a night of testimonies every month where the various members get to share how God has worked in their lives. Perhaps some people might like to make a journal or scrapbook exclusively about how God has worked in their lives and the lives of their friends and family. Whatever the method, we need to remember.
There is a song by Balsam Range that describes this very principle, and I have included the link below. It asks the question, “Has He worked in your life, brother—have you shown it in some way? Are you stacking up the rocks?” It is a question we all need to answer. God is good, and He is always at work. We might choose to close our spiritual eyes, to choose not to look at the pile of rocks, but He has worked and is working still. Therefore, we must praise Him for it.