In Joshua chapter 4, the Lord instructs Joshua to tell the men that their task was, one man from each of the 12 tribes, to get a rock from the midst of the Jordan and build a memorial on the Canaan side.
God says, "Let this be a sign to you, so when your children ask later, what do these stones mean? then you'll tell them because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the Covenant." [Joshua 4:6]
The memorial that God instructed them to build would be an essential landmark to the generations of Israelites who would come after them. The landmark was to remind successive generations of the power and faithfulness of God on behalf of His people.
Essentially, they were to pass the baton.
God says, put them in a visible place so that people are always asking questions. And precisely, God says, place these stones in a visible location so that when your children raise the question, "what do these stones mean?" [Joshua 4:6] you can tell them the story of how you got over. You can tell them the story of how God blessed you, even when you didn't deserve it. So that they can look to the same God, you found to be true.
On three occasions in scripture, God told parents in Israel how to answer the serious questions of their children concerning spiritual matters. [Exodus 13:14; Deuteronomy 6:20, Joshua 4:6,21].
This indicates that God wants us to have a conversation with our children and grandchildren about spiritual issues and life matters. In other words, unpacking the command to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength means actively working to remember all of God's salvific benefits and rehearsing and reviewing, and sharing them with a new generation.
The book of Judges is the worse book in the Bible related to God's people because it says there was no king in those days, and everybody did what was right in their own eyes. That sounds like what's happening in our day. And God had to keep raising up judges to bring Israel back to himself, and some of the judges were shaky.
Notice these verses. [Judges 2:8,10] "Then Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of one hundred and ten." Verse 10, 'And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers;" Look at the rest of the verse. "And there arose another generation, their children, after them who did not know the Lord." Now watch this, "nor yet the work which God had done for Israel."
You got one of the worse books in the Bible, Judges, with all sorts of chaos and confusion going on. And one chapter right after another tells you why. The generation who saw God's miracles, Joshua's generation, never passed it on, and so not only did the new generation not know God, but they did not know what God could do.
Because Joshua's generation never sat down long enough to tell them. They never passed it on. The meaning of the stones of remembrance was never passed on. They never passed on the heirloom. God says, make sure the next generation knows that God has done something for you.
We ask, "what's happening to the next generation?" I'll tell you what's happening. God says to pass the baton! We are not passing anything on.
Rev. Chestine Sims Jr. of White Hall is pastor of Union AME Church at Little Rock. Please join us for worship on Facebook live at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
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