When I was in Israel I learned many lessons about God. In a way they were taught by what I saw around me. Concrete object lessons right from the very land that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Jesus walked. The dessert told me stories of great spiritual truths as well as the rushing “living water” that would tumble and bubbly from the base of the mountains! And everywhere I went there were rocks and boulders and stones! Even the very stones cried out their God lessons to me!
When I think of Israel in the summer, the color of the land comes to mind. It is so different than the bucolic farmland where I live. I think of the color of a bone… a dried bone.
Bleached by the sun and exposed. Beautiful in it’s own way.
Standing at Abraham’s well in Beersheba (Be’er Sheva) overlooking a vast expanse of buff colored landscape with the thin rope of the King’s Highway winding through it could almost take your breath away. Ancient and impressive and monochromatic.
In Israel one is either going up or down. It is not, for the most part, a flat country. Lots and lots of mountains and hills and valleys and boulders and rocks… all bleached by the summer sun…
Israel sits on the riff of two tectonic plates… it sits in the area where the African and Asian plates heave and butt against each other making the land push in upon itself like an accordion. So there are mountains and hills and valleys… and rocks and boulders. Israel is a country of bleached rocks and boulders!
One of the amazing things I have learned about my God is that He is a great communicator.
He would often communicate to the ancients by using what was around them to make a point. Because there are lots and lots of rocks in Israel, He even used the rocks… and used them in the most beautiful way…
When God freed the nation Israel from the bondage of slavery to Egypt and the Israelites finally were about to enter the land God had given them as an eternal possession… God had them enter the promised land across the Jordan river from it’s East side.
He instructed Joshua to have the the priests take the Ark Of The Covenant and go before all the people crossing the Jordan river first… on foot!
When the priests, who carried the Ark Of The Covenant hoisted up on long poles, put their feet into the water, they stood on dry land!
“AND IT SHALL COME ABOUT WHEN THE SOLES OF THE FEET OF THE PRIESTS WHO CARRY THE ARK OF THE LORD, THE LORD OF ALL THE EARTH, SHALL REST IN THE WATERS OF THE JORDAN, THE WATERS OF THE JORDAN SHALL BE CUT OFF, AND THE WATERS WHICH ARE FLOWING DOWN FROM ABOVE SHALL STAND IN ONE HEAP.”
All the nation Israel passed over the dry river bed of the Jordan river into the land that God had given them.
“IT CAME ABOUT THAT WHEN THE NATION HAD FINISHED CROSSING THE JORDAN, THAT THE LORD SPOKE TO JOSHUA, SAYING,
TAKE FOR YOURSELVES TWELVE MEN FROM THE PEOPLE, ONE FROM EACH TRIBE, AND COMMAND THEM, SAYING , TAKE UP FOR YOURSELVES TWELVE STONES FROM HERE OUT OF THE MIDDLE OF THE JORDAN, FROM THE PLACE WHERE THE PRIESTS’ FEET ARE STANDING FIRM, AND CARRY THEM OVER WITH YOU, AND LAY THEM DOWN IN THE LODGING PLACE WHERE YOU WILL LODGE TONIGHT.”
These stones… or as I would say… big boulders are called STANDING STONES.
“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 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.”
The STANDING STONES were a memorial.
They said… “Hey, something great has happened here”!
Sorta like the Washington Monument or a statue in a town square. They were a sign… they pointed to something important!!! It was a way for the people to remember something special.
God used the ordinary things around the ancients to keep them ever mindful of the wonderful things He had done for them.
I can just imagine all the conversations between generations of Jewish father and their children as they told the story of how God brought the nation Israel across the Jordan river… on dry land. I can picture the children touching the stones in wonder… sealing the story into their memory… to tell their children!
STANDING STONES were used by God many times throughout the Old Testament as a memorial of God’s blessing and greatness. So that when the ancients would pass a STANDING STONE they would ask… “What happened here?” And God work would be remembered and He would be praised!
This oral retelling kept the history of the people… and God… alive.
Now here is an amazing thing…
God uses this same imagery today!
In 1Peter 2, God calls all those who believe in Jesus
We are living breathing STANDING STONES… like those big bone-colored boulders that would become memorials or monument of what God has done. Ordinary everyday things that because of God… would become extraordinary reminders of His marvelous works!
Our lives, like the STANDING STONES, should be memorials, so that maybe someone would ask …
“What happened here”… “Why are you different”…
And because we are “LIVING STONES” we can speak of the marvelous work of God and His saving grace in our lives.
When I think of Israel… I will forever think of the mountains and valleys and rocks and hills and boulders… all bone-colored. And in my mind, they are all STANDING STONES!
They remind me that I am a STANDING STONE… a LIVING STONE. Connected to a long history of retelling God’s work and greatness. They remind me that I have a story too…
…and… Oh, what a story I have a to tell!
I pray that my life will be a memorial. A reminder that God took a very ordinary, sinful person and changed her life. I hope that my generations will tell the story of God’s greatness, grace and salvation in my life. I pray that my children and children’s children and so on and on… will hear of my LIVING STONE experiences and the stories will be sealed into their minds and bring them to know
THE CORNERSTONE REJECTED BY MEN (1 Peter: 2:7)… Jesus Christ!
I want to be a LIVING STONE… not only to my posterity… but all those who’s life I touch!