Tony Evans - Stones of Remembrance
The number 40 is major in Scripture. Forty is a time of transition in the Bible. Jesus is in the wilderness 40 days as he transitions into his public ministry. There was 40 years in the wilderness of preparation before Israel was ready to go into the Promised Land. A generation in the Bible is spoken of in terms of 40 years. You enter another generation once you hit 40, and the next generation then is coming along. So 40 is a number in Scripture in biblical numerology of transition. God is typically moving you from one state to another state, from one place to another place in the normal use of the number 40 in Scripture. Israel had been in the wilderness for 40 years; 40 years for them to learn faith, 40 years for their habits to be corrected, 40 years for them to be humbled, 40 years for them to be trained. And now it was time to cross over at the end of the 40th year, and what a miracle crossover it was. I mean, it was something to behold because we're told when they crossed over the Jordan they crossed over the Jordan in flood season.
Now, if there's any time you don't want to cross the Jordan, it's in flood season. That's the most dangerous time. That's the time when you're most likely to run into a problem or to drown. It was the time when the human capacity would be at its lowest. But I just want you know God does some of his best work in flood season, when the waters are too high, the problems are too great, the needs are too daunting. In other words, where it's beyond you; where God makes it hard in order for you to see there's only one God, and you and I we're not he. And so it was in flood season that God would perform this miracle. It was no different than when the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. They got Pharaoh coming on one end. They got the Red Sea on the other end. They're in a catch-22. They're in a conundrum. They can go neither way and find a solution, that unless God shows up and does something supernatural.
So by way of application, if you happen today to be in flood season, being overwhelmed by life's realities and life's circumstance, you may not be in as bad position as it looks because it may be the impeccable season for the Almighty God to demonstrate how exactly almighty he is. So God told them in flood season to tell the priests to take the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments, the Word of God, and to tell the priests to put their foot in the bank of the Jordan. Why? Because before you can ever see what God does in flood season, he wants to see you walking by faith. He doesn't want to see you talking by faith or feeling by faith. He wants to see you moving by faith. So he says let the priests put their foot on the bank. "I got to see that they're going to trust me". And so he gets these representatives, the principle of representation.
So the representatives on behalf of the nation put their foot in the Jordan and a couple of miracles took place. During flood season, God blocked the water from flowing down the Jordan River so that now God walled them off, dammed them up so that the water would stop flowing. That was one miracle in and of itself. But then the Bible says they crossed over on dry land. Not wet land, dry land. It had to be land where they could walk over and their feet not get muddy, where they could roll wheelbarrows of their goods and they do not get stuck in the mud, where horses could still try to cross, walk across, and run across and not get stuck in what is that for years and centuries and decades had been wet. But the Bible says God not only dammed the water, he hardened the soil so that when they walked over, they walked over on dry land. Y'all need to understand who we're dealing with here.
And it all happened in flood season. It was in this context of the supernatural intervention of God that God tells Joshua to get a representative, again the principle of representative, where the leaders would represent the 12 tribes of Israel, to go back into the dry Jordan and pick up a boulder, a stone. Now, this wasn't a pebble. This was a major stone because they had to carry, it says, each one on his shoulder. So it was a major rock. And he says, "What I want you to do with this rock is, I want you to build a memorial. I want you to build stones of remembrance. I want you to build something so you'll never forget what was done here and who did it".
I want you never to forget that the only way you got to where you are from where you came from is because God brought you in flood season from where you were to where you are. "I don't want you to get the big head. I don't want you to think that it is by your power or your might that you are in this place 40 years later. I want you to have a perpetual reminder that the only reason you are where you are today versus where you were 40 years ago is because I supernaturally intervened into your situation".
Now, why does God want to tell Joshua to build a memorial? Because God knows we are subject to forget. Some of us have raised children who've forgotten. They've forgotten that they didn't clothe themselves, feed themselves, house themselves. You get children who forget the fact that if it wasn't for mom and dad not only would they not be here, but they would not have the life that they have now if it weren't for your investment. In fact, we have a generation of children who've forgotten or who neglect their mothers and fathers and forget the overtime, forget the hard work, forget the effort. God knows we're prone to forget. And while you may forget a lot of things in life, God is not the one you want to forget.
I want to show you a few other Scriptures that drives this home. In Deuteronomy he says it over and over and over again. I'm going to start with Deuteronomy chapter 4. In Deuteronomy chapter 4, verse 9, we're told these words: "Only give heed to yourself, give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligent so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen; and that they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life, but make them known to your sons and your grandsons". In chapter 6, verse 10, "Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which he swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and give cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery".
Look at chapter 8, verse 11. "Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes which I am commanding you today". Verse 14, "Then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery". Verse 18, "But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who is giving you power to make wealth, that he may confirm his covenant which he swore to your fathers as it is this day. It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I surely against you today will testify and you shall surely perish like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you".
Do you get the message? You bet not forget. I like that phrase in chapter 6. You better watch yourself because it's easy to forget. It's easy to think you're your own source. It's easy to think it's all on you, about you, from you, to you, through you, and because of you. It's easy when you've gone from nothing to something to forget how you got there. It's easy to forget what it was like when you only had a bike. You couldn't even get a car. Then you graduated from a bike to a car, then you went from a car to two cars, then you went from an apartment to a house, then you went from a smaller house to a bigger house. When you went from rags to riches, when you went from a few dollars an hour to a full salary, it's easy to forget that if God hadn't opened the door or paved the way and set it in place, if God was not your source, it's easy to forget.
He says, "I don't want you to forget". He goes on to chapter 6 of Deuteronomy that I read to you and he says, "Not only did I take you from where you were to where you are, but I let the sinners get it ready for you. They built cities that you did not build. They planted gardens that you did not plant. They planted trees that you did not plant. They dug wells that you're going to drink from that you did not drink from. So I used sinners to set it up for you so that when you got there it was ready for you. So don't think that you did this all by yourself".
Don't forget that God is your source. "Don't forget that where you are now compared to where you were when you met me is not the same place because I walked with you even in your rebellion, even in your disobedience, even in your disregard". He says, "I fed you in the wilderness. I clothed you in the wilderness. I preserved you even when you were out of fellowship with me". So he says, in fact, if the truth were told, if many of us would have got what we deserve, we wouldn't even be here today. If God didn't protect us in that situation, deliver us out of that situation, we wouldn't even be here today. But because God oversaw us and didn't let what could have happened happen and he preserved us and walked us through it, he says don't you forget.
And so he tells them, "I want you to build the stone, a memorial". He says do not forget the goodness of God, that he alone is your source. He alone is your source. He can use any kind of resource. You know the beauty of that? The beauty of God being your only source is nobody can own you. Nobody can own you 'cause nobody is your source. And when we align ourselves to God like he wants us to align ourselves to him, he says, "You will see me even in flood season". Demonstrate your glory. So he sends them. He sends them to get the stones. And so gather the stones. Gather the stones. And when you gather these stones, there's going to be a question; and the question is, what do these stones mean? He says, "I want you to build a memorial to cause my people to remember that I am the right-now God based on the past".
So he told Israel, "Circumcise your sons and every generation after that". He said, "Remember the Passover". And then in the New Testament Jesus says around communion, "Remember me". Why? "Because of what I do right now based on what I have already done". And so he says, "I want you to build this memorial". And then he throws a zinger. He says when your children ask you, "What do these stones mean"? then you will say because of the waters of Jordan were cut off before the covenant of the Lord it crossed the Jordan. The waters of Jordan were cut off, so these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever. Our theme is Psalm 145, verse 4: "You shall teach one generation after another". A generation is 40 years. We are supposed to have a transferable faith. It's supposed to be transferred from one generation to the next generation.
You know why we in the chaos we're in today? 'Cause there has been a transfer problem. We have a generation of young people who have not had their faith transferred by their mothers or fathers. And so there is a massive transfer problem. And what happens when the faith is not memorialized? What happens when you don't give young people enough to even ask the question; what do these stones mean, what do these pictures mean, what do these stories mean, what do these trophies mean? What happens when that occurs? He tells us in Judges chapter 2, verse 10. He says, "All that generation also were gathered to their fathers, and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord nor yet the work which he had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals".
Because there was no transfer, it says, the next generation grew up without the Lord. And because the next generation grew up without the Lord, it says society disintegrated. The reason why America is disintegrating, our cities are falling apart, there's racial chaos, cultural chaos, class chaos, political chaos is we have a generation of young people who don't have the faith of their parents because they were never given the faith of their parents. And the success of our church is do we transfer a living faith about a living God to the next generation. He says, "You build a memorial so that the next generation understands that we"...
You do not transfer the faith and you have a generation of young people who do not know the Lord. It says the culture disintegrated because they went to idolatry. 'Cause you will worship something. It may be money. It may be power. It may be prestige. It may be education. You will worship something. But if it's not the Lord and the Lord backs away from you, I don't care what your title is, how much money you have, what your degrees are, the size of your house, the size of your car. What good is a big house when nobody wants to go live there? You can't buy happiness. You can't buy peace. You can't buy meaning. You can't buy comfort. You can't buy safety. That has to come from the living God. He says, "Don't you forget me because I am the Lord your God". And it is the job of this church and every leader and every spiritual person in this church to remind every other person not to forget the Lord your God, whether you're offended or not. They should do it in love, but they should do it clearly because we are seeking the well-being of the family of God.
Now why else? He says, "For the sake of your children and the next generation," he says, "another thing will happen". In verse 24, I love this, he says, "That all the people on the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty so that you may fear the Lord your God forever". Watch this. Watch this. "Israel, I'm going to bless you, even though in the Promised Land you're going to be surrounded by evil. There's going to be Jericho, Ai. There's all these evil people. The Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, they still in the Promised Land. You're surrounded by evil. But in the middle of the evil that surrounds you, I got you. You got evil all around you, but I got you. But the reason I have you, it's so that the rest of the world may know. All them fools out there; all the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, I want them to know that I am in your midst because I want them to hear stories about you. I want them to hear the miracles I'm doing in your midst. I want them to hear the transformation of lives, the marriages that are saved, the dignity that is rising up, the spirituality that's taking place. I want to show off so that when they see out there what I'm doing in here, my name will be made great out there 'cause I'm making it great in here".
God has given us this promised land on Camp Wisdom, but it's just not for you and me. It's so that God can keep doing miracles on Camp Wisdom so the rest of Oak Cliff and Dallas and America can say, "Oh, God has shown up at 1800 block of Camp Wisdom 'cause he keeps showing up there. How y'all able to do that? How are you able to pay for that? How are you able to change that? How are you able to impact that? Have the ability to own that? How do you have ability to do that"? And we can give and give testimony. It is to the Lord our God who met us in flood season. In your home you may be surrounded by evil, but God says if you remember the Lord your God even in your house when you say, "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord," I don't care what the rest of the homes are doing around me. He says, "I will make your home great because you remembered me even though you were surrounded by all kind of evil".
So don't you be ashamed of God. Don't you be ashamed to name his name. Don't you be ashamed to do good works in his name. Don't you be ashamed to praise him. Don't you be ashamed to glorify him. If you don't want to hear about my God, if you don't want to hear about Jesus, then you can't have a long conversation with me. My job is to make his name great individually, and our job is to do it collectively. And no matter how big we get, how high we get, or what God gives us, remember that when you're on the top of a pyramid you're only up there 'cause something else is holding you up. And if something happens with the folk underneath you holding you up, you come crashing down. So no matter how high we get, it's God who's holding us up. And if God ever walks away from us, we will collapse. You will collapse, I will collapse because it's all about him.
The next time you're in flood season, next time we're in flood season; we don't know how we going to do it, how we going to make it, how we are going to get across, just do me one favor. Check God's rap sheet. Look at his history. Look at his history. And when you see what he has already done at the Red Sea of your life, at the Jordan River of your life, and then you come to a new situation at the Jericho of your life, at the Ai of your life; you come to a new problem, a new thing, look back at his rap sheet. And when your kids ask you, "Mama, how are we going to make it"? Say, "I got a rap sheet on God". When they say, "How are we going to get through it"? "I got a rap sheet on him, and every time I pull out the rap sheet he comes through. So we're going to trust him in this new challenge, this new situation, and in this new opportunity". 'Cause guess what? As we go into the future, God is always worth the risk.
When God told his people to have stones of remembrance, he wanted them to remember. He wanted them to have a visual of, a reminder of where he had brought them from and where he was taking them to. He expects us as men to put markers down that we can point our children to and say, "Guess what? This is what God did for your dad, for your mom, for our family; and this is what he wants to do within and through you for your future, for your family". Give your family, your children things they can point to that show footsteps of grace and the hand of God with you so that they know what to look forward to for themselves so that we don't lose the passing of the baton because we all know when you drop a baton, you lose the race. Let's win the race for the next generation by passing on stones of remembrance.