The Memorial Stones
Joshua 4:1-24
And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying,…


1. The memorial was to be an aid to faith.

2. It had the purpose of cherishing gratitude.

3. It was a reminder of the need of unity.


1. The two piles of stones, according to St. , represent the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles; the new Israel on the bank of the old river, the old in the midst of the stream, as the "buried" past. Thus the "memorial" is the Church of Christ, built upon the apostles, the one Divine Society, which is founded on a Rock, and against which the gates of hell may beat, but cannot prevail; for it is a memorial "for ever."

2. As the passage of the Bed Sea represents baptism — God "safely led the children of Israel Thy people through the Red Sea, figuring thereby Thy holy baptism" (Prayer Book) — so some writers have seen in the crossing of Jordan a figure of the pardon for sins committed after baptism; in other words, an image of repentance. Further, as after passing Jordan, the Passover was kept, so after repentance the Holy Communion is received. In fact, the memorial as to its purposes may be compared to the Holy Eucharist; that is, a "memorial" of the death and passion of Christ: "Do this, for My memorial"; it is the great service of thanksgiving for redemption, as its name announces; and it is a pledge of unity, for "we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one Bread" (1 Corinthians 10:17).

3. Further, as through Jordan the Hebrews entered the land of promise, the "Holy Land," so penitence must be introductory to a holy life, which leads to heaven.

4. It may be noticed that by some modern writers Jordan is regarded as the river of death, and the words, "How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5) to be applicable to the fears which surround death, through which all must pass before they can "see the kingdom of God."


1. To sustain our faith by the use of those "outward and visible" signs — the Sacraments, which our Lord has appointed as the memorials of what He has wrought for us.

2. To make our lives more lives of thanksgiving, and especially by receiving the Holy Eucharist, which is the "thanksgiving" which Christ ordained to be offered up to the end of time, "till He come" (1 Corinthians 11:26).

3. Further, let the twelve stones remind us of the union which should exist between the members of Christ; for whilst we are bidden to "honour all men," the apostle says further, "love the brotherhood."

4. The cairn of stones at Gilgal should teach us that we "as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood," &c. (1 Peter 2:5). The truest witness to Christ is to be found in the lives of His members, those who make Him visible. To such, the power which made a way for Israel through Jordan will not fail them, and the promise will be fulfilled by the Saviour (Isaiah 43:2).

(Canon Hutchings.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,

WEB: It happened, when all the nation had completely passed over the Jordan, that Yahweh spoke to Joshua, saying,

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