Josh 4:9 Two Times Twelve Stones 6/26/2011 ßą
#1. The First Twelve Stones (Josh 4:2-3, Col 1:13, 1Pet 2:4-5)
#2. The Second Twelve Stones (Josh 4:9, Eph 1:4, Jer 17:9)
#3. On That Day (Josh 4:14, 3:7)
Please open your Bibles to Joshua, chapter 4. We are continuing the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River, which began in chapter 3, and we are astounded that this wondrous crossing remained a mystery to today’s church.
The waters of the Jordan River were miraculously separated, so that the children of Israel walked on dry ground across the riverbed of the Jordan. God considers this event so important that He commanded Joshua to erect a monument to this miracle. On the other hand, when God divided the waters of the Red Sea, which was an equally stupendous miracle, God did not command Moses to erect a monument to that miracle. And why not? Four weeks ago we have seen that the parting of the Red Sea was a picture of the Judgment on the last day, for Pharaoh and his entire army was buried in the Red Sea, which was a picture of Hell. Obviously, on the last day we do not need a monument on this earth, because the Bible says that this earth will be destroyed on the last day.
On the other hand, the crossing of the Jordan by Israel was a picture of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, in 33 AD. This was Judgment day for Christ and for all those who are in Christ. For this event God wanted a memorial. Let us find out the details of this memorial, and start reading from Josh 3:17,
Josh 3:17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
Perhaps you remember that the four priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant were out in front and on the side of the congregation of Israel by a distance of at least 2000 cubits, and no one was allowed to come near the Ark of the Covenant while it was standing still in the midst of the Jordan riverbed. While they were crossing the Jordan riverbed, the children of Israel had to stay clear of the Ark by at least 2000 cubits. Do we realize how great a distance that is? 2000 cubits is 3000 feet, which is 1000 yards, which is almost one kilometer. They could barely see the four priests carrying the Ark a great distance away. And we have seen last week why the Ark had to be all alone. The Jordan River represents not the place, but the condition called Hell, which means to be under the wrath of God. The Ark of the Covenant represented Christ, who had to endure the wrath of God, the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, for the guilt of all the sins of all those He came to save, and Christ had to do it all alone. He had to remain in that condition of being under the wrath of God until the last one of the sins of the elect of God had been paid, and the payment had fully satisfied a holy and righteous God. The righteousness of God, or the justness of God as the Judge, demands payment for every sin, even as small as an idle word. Now we read in Josh 4:1,
Josh 4:1 ¶ And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, (And now we come to that event where God commanded Joshua to erect a monument.)
#1. The First Twelve Stones (Josh 4:2-3, Col 1:13, 1Pet 2:4-5) What has this to do with salvation?
Josh 4:2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, (which is a repeat from Josh 3:12)
Josh 4:3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.
Here we see the first set of twelve stones. Why did God command Joshua to perform this strange ceremony?
Take twelve stones out of the Jordan and place them in the land of Canaan? We cannot understand this ceremony until we understand that these stones represent the hearts of unsaved people. God says more than once in the Bible that we all were born with souls that are like hearts of stone. Because of Adam's sin, everyone in the human race is born that way, with hearts that are like stone to God, and constantly in rebellion against God. Therefore God's righteousness demands that we are under the wrath of God for our sins. And where did Joshua find these twelve stones? He found them in the Jordan, which means they were under the wrath of God.
But our God is a merciful God. Our God delights in mercy. Perhaps you remember that the name Joshua is the same name as Jesus. Joshua represents the Lord Jesus Christ. Where did Joshua bring these twelve stones? He brought them into the Promised Land, into the kingdom of God, indicating salvation. God chose these people, represented by these twelve stones, and delivered them from the power of darkness, and translated them into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col 1:13). Can you see in this ceremony God's elective plan of salvation? There were many stones in the Jordan riverbed, but only these twelve were selected. Only a remnant was chosen by grace, and Joshua passed by all the other stones in the Jordan. Why did Joshua choose only twelve stones? Because twelve is the number indicating fullness. It does not mean that there were only twelve people saved, but in this picture these twelve stones are symbolic for the fulness of all the saints. But there is another reason why God chose the symbol of stones. God the Son became man. He became one of us, and He also is called a Stone, a living Stone. We read in
1Pet 2:4-5 ¶ To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we also as lively stones, living stones in the image of Christ, are together forming a spiritual house, the temple of the living God. As Christ was called a Stone, rejected by men, in like manner we also are building stones that are rejected by men, but chosen of God, and are precious in His sight.
Josh 4:4-5 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: (These twelve men were allowed to come very close to the Ark of the Covenant.)
These men were special. Who were these men? These men were nameless. Their names were not recorded because these twelve men, like the twelve stones, were a representation of a large group of special people. When ever we find in the Bible the number twelve mentioned in relation to "the number of the tribes of the children of Israel", we know immediately that this cannot refer to the blood descendants of Jacob, because there were thirteen tribes. This must be interpreted spiritually. And look at these stones. Here were twelve stones that were taken out of the place where the priest's feet stood firm. These were no pebbles. These were large stones that the twelve men carried on their shoulders. Now you know that these four priests, who had eight feet, were not physically standing on twelve stones. So we know that this ceremony, like all the O.T. ceremonies were shadows of things to come, but the real substance is of Christ. Therefore: Who were these twelve men representing? They were so bold to approach the Ark of the Covenant, which always was kept hidden in the holiest place of the tabernacle. Why were they so bold? They were commanded by Joshua, by Jesus Himself, to approach the Ark of the Covenant boldly.
Heb 10:19-22 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near (2X) with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Therefore these twelve men represent N.T. saints who have been washed by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, and have been called to draw near to Jesus with a true heart in full assurance of faith. These twelve men represent those of God's elect who have already been saved, and they are commanded by God to pick up the twelve stones, who are representing those of God's elect who have not yet been saved and are under the wrath of God, and take them into the Promised Land. Of course, these twelve men are not able to save anyone. It is only God who does the saving. But God chose to use people in His service, to bring the Gospel of salvation to those who still need to be saved. These twelve people are ambassadors for Christ, and He has given us the ministry of reconciliation. Now we understand why God says in Joshua 4:4 that Joshua had prepared the twelve men of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man. Jesus prepared these people for the ministry of reconciliation. These men represented the children of the Israel of God, the children of Christ, out of every tribe and nation and kindred and tongue. And they were commanded to bring these stones to their lodging place in the kingdom of God:
Josh 4:6-8 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.
Why does God speak here of erecting a memorial unto the children of Israel forever? This earth is going to be destroyed. Then the memorial of stones will be burnt up with the rest of this earth. Please turn to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:4 (2X). You see, the only way this memorial can be forever is if it is not a memorial of stone, but a spiritual memorial. It is a memorial of our deliverance from the kingdom of darkness. This memorial of stones is a memorial to us. We are those children of Israel. It is a continual reminder to us throughout eternity that our hearts were like stones, found in the Jordan, children under the wrath of God even as others. We did not deserve this deliverance from the kingdom of darkness, but we were saved only by the grace of God. God says in Eph 2:4-5,
Eph 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us (made us alive) together with Christ; by grace ye are saved;
We were spiritually dead in sins, like these stones in the Jordan, under the wrath of God. God's righteousness demanded that we must be under the wrath of God as long as we were not Born Again. But God, who is rich in mercy, loved us from before the foundation of the world, and He did not want any of us to perish. Therefore, He sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners, like us, and He changed us from dead stones to lively stones, forming the temple of God. The waters of Jordan, Hell, were cut off for us by the Lord Jesus Christ, who went to the cross and endured Hell for us, in our place. Christ did not do that for everybody. Now we read about
#2. The Second Twelve Stones (Josh 4:9, Eph 1:4, Jer 17:9) Now this is a surprise. We read in Joshua 4:9,
Josh 4:9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.
Joshua personally set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan. The Hebrew word for "set up" is actually "stand up". Don't try to picture what historically happened. These dead stones were made to stand up. The same word is used in verse 20, where Joshua pitched the twelve stones in Gilgal, which was their camping place. The Hebrew word for "pitched" is exactly the same word "stand up". But here in the Jordan riverbed Joshua built a monument of twelve stones exactly the same as he built in Gilgal. Twelve stones were taken out of the place where the priest's feet stood firm, and were grouped together in Gilgal, and another twelve stones were grouped together in the same place where the feet of the priests stood, and were left in the Jordan, under the wrath of God. Is this not a perfect picture of the sovereignty of God in salvation and in reprobation? All of mankind are under the wrath of God for their sins, but God sovereignly saves from Hell whom He wants to save, and God leaves under the wrath of God whom He does not want to save. Why is it that so few sermons are being preached on this passage in Joshua?
People like to believe in God's mercy and in God's grace, and people like to believe that salvation is a free gift that is not earned or deserved. These slogans have been floating around long enough. But if it is true that we are not saved for any good deed that we have done, is it then not required that God will distribute salvation to whom He will, because it cannot be based on any good deed on our part? And if God decides on whom He will have mercy, given the fact that God knows the end from the beginning, is it then not mandatory that God made those decisions before the foundation of the world, as He says in Eph 1:4? Why do people object to the sovereignty of God? Let me tell you why people object to these plain words of Scripture. It is because they basically have a heart of stone, which means they are in rebellion against God. They do not want the salvation that God has laid out in the Bible. They prefer to have their own plan of salvation, which actually means they prefer to have their own god, which has more appealing characteristics. And so it is that we read a lot about idolatry in the O.T., but there is as much idolatry practiced in the N.T. Mankind has not changed. When God says in Jer 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” God is not speaking about a few wicked criminals here and there. God is referring to all mankind, no one excepted. But this is not a popular idea. It is not popular to talk about our basic nature as dead stones, under the wrath of God. It is not popular to talk about a Gospel where we do not reap any credits whatsoever. But this is what the Bible says. Another remarkable thing we read in Josh 4:9 is,
Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 9:13 (2X). Joshua represents Jesus, and Jesus knows which stones had to be taken out of Jordan and which stones had to be left in Jordan. The Lord knoweth them that are His (2Tim 2:19). It is a classic illustration of the principle: Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated, a long time before the children were born (Rom 9:13). Then God says in Rom 9:15-18,
Rom 9:15-18 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
I did not say that. God said that. I am reading to you the Gospel that comes out of the Word of God. It may come on hard sometimes, and we may think with compassion about those children halfway around the world who have never heard the Gospel, but what about YOU. We cannot claim anymore that we have not heard the true Gospel. We have heard it, and what is our response? The way we respond to the hearing of the true Gospel shows whether we belong to the elect of God, or whether we belong to the reprobate. To the elect of God it is music to their ears. To the reprobate it is repugnant and distasteful. What it really boils down to is this: Do we delight in hearing the Word of God? Do we delight in hearing the voice of our Bridegroom? If so, could it be that we belong to the bride of Christ? Is it not delightful to discover if we are the bride of Christ, and that we are going to be with Him throughout all eternity? That is in fact what election is all about. Before the foundation of the world God the Father chose the bride for His Son. What is so bad about that? What is so repugnant about that? This happens to be a bride who is totally unfit to enter into God's holy heaven. Therefore God the Son had to wash the sins of His bride on the cross of Calvary before His bride could come into God's holy heaven. But God passed by others whom He did not choose to be the bride of Christ. That is the situation here in the Jordan, where God elected certain twelve stones to come into the land of Canaan, into the kingdom of God, and God did not elect the reprobate who are left in their unbelief, and are left in the Jordan, under the wrath of God which they justly deserve. The stones, which Joshua made to stand up in the place where the feet of the priests stood still, those twelve stones represent the fullness of all the unbelievers who remain dead in trespasses and sins. Please return to the Prophecy of Joshua, Josh 4:9 (2X). What is the significance that Joshua made these dead stones stand up? God says that on the last day the dead will stand before God to be judged. They are spiritually dead, but they will all stand up. There is one more thing I wanted to say about Josh 4:9. The last three words in this verse are: “Unto This Day.”
Josh 4:9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day (2X).
These words, “unto this day”, occur at least 70 times in the Bible. How are we to understand God's statements when He writes: "unto this day"? The answer is: God means "unto this day". We should not try to divert the meaning as if it would apply to the day that a scribe wrote this scroll. O No! It means: "unto this day", which is today, and tomorrow, and next year, and so on, because the Word of God abides forever. This means that we frequently have to interpret the Bible from a spiritual perspective, because historically "unto this day" makes no sense. These twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, which represent all the reprobate whom God passed by, are there under the wrath of God unto this day and forever. If the Lord Jesus Christ did not pay for their sins on the cross, then it is guaranteed that they will have to pay for their own sins on the last day. At the cross the Lord Jesus Christ paid for all the sins of all the elect of God. Their number cannot be increased nor can it be decreased. "It is finished" was His cry, and the Bible confirms: "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many" (Heb 9:28).
An excellent example of how to interpret "unto this day" is given in Josh 6:25, where we read:
Josh 6:25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel (even) unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
This verse says: "Rahab the harlot dwells in Israel unto this day". Historically Rahab died more than 3000 years ago. But God chose to put the Lord Jesus Christ in the line of Rahab the harlot. That tells you that there is no sin so great that God cannot forgive. Physically she became the great great grandmother of David the king. Moreover, in Heb 11 God lists Rahab with all the other heroes of faith, showing that she was a saved person. Therefore Rahab belongs to the Israel of God, and that is why she dwells in Israel, the Israel of God, unto this day.
Most people like to understand the Bible just historically. They will certainly have a hard time interpreting Joshua 4:9. Why is it that people like to understand the Bible just historically? It is because for them the Bible becomes a set of stories about people who lived a long long time ago in a land far far away, and it is not really upsetting their own life. It is very comforting to believe a set of historical facts, and to believe that we are saved by just believing those historical facts from the Bible. Then the O.T. is just the history of the Jews, and we don't need the O.T. any more. But that is not really the Gospel. The Devil also believes these historical facts, and he trembles. The Pharisees believed all the historical facts of the O.T., but the Word of God had made no impact upon their life. Most of them died unsaved. But God wrote the Bible in such a manner that we can see the Gospel on every page, and we must learn from these types and figures what God intended to say. An expression God uses frequently is:
#3. On That Day (Josh 4:14, 3:7) Please turn to Josh 4:14,
Josh 4:14 On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life. (What is the meaning of the words: "On that day"?)
Historically we can say that this statement in verse 14 was already promised in Josh 3:7, where God said:
Joshua 3:7 ¶ And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.
But in the N.T. Jesus commands us to fear no man, but God only. So, let us look again at Josh 4:14. What is usually the meaning of the words "On that day" in the Bible? Most of the time it means: "The Day of the Lord", which means "Judgment day". Let us consider what day God has in view here. It was on the day of the LORD that Joshua parted the waters of Jordan, and God brings it in connection with the day that the LORD parted the waters of the Red Sea. Both days were days of Judgment. At the Red Sea it was a picture of the Judgment on the last day. At the Jordan River it was a picture of the Judgment of Christ on the cross. On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel. On that day God magnified the Lord Jesus in the sight of all the Israel of God. He showed us, in His Word, that on that day the Lord Jesus had to endure the full payment for the guilt of all the sins of all the ones chosen by God to become the bride of Christ. On that day twelve dead stones were brought into the kingdom of God, because the Lord Jesus Christ purchased them with His life. On that day these stones were made to stand up in Gilgal. On that day the second set of twelve stones were left in Jordan, under the wrath of God.
At the Red Sea the enemies of Christ were Pharaoh and his army. They drowned under the wrath of God. At the Jordan the enemies of Christ were represented by the twelve stones that were left in Jordan. On that day, Christ was the stone that the builders rejected, but on that day Christ became the chief cornerstone, a precious cornerstone which became the foundation of the temple of God. On that day Christ was a stone of stumbling and a Rock of offense to all His enemies, but on that day Christ triumphed over all His enemies, the Devil and his angels as well as all His enemies in the flesh. And look at the stones that He fished out of the Jordan: Worthless stones, dead weights, of no use for anything, but look at what He made of them. Like Rahab the harlot they became:
God is addressing the saints. If we have been truly saved, we are saints. Then God is addressing us in:
1Pet 2:3-5 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone (referring to Christ), disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
When we look at our past life, we know that we were these worthless stones, dead weights, no good for anything, and with hearts that were hard as a stone. But God who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ, and He gave us a new spirit. That means He made a new creation out of each one of us. Our past sins are gone. He changed us from dead stones to precious stones in the temple of the living God, and He made us in the likeness of Christ. If we are saved we must no longer say that we are unprofitable vessels, because God says here that our offerings and sacrifices are now acceptable to God. But look at the beginning of 1Pet 2:3. It starts with, “If so be.” Do we realize what God is saying here? If so be that we are truly children of God our offerings and sacrifices are acceptable to God? In other words, “Is it real”? Is it really true that we are saved? King David was a child of God. David said in 2Sam 24:24, “I will not offer unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.” If we indeed are children of God we would not want to offer to Him that which costs us nothing. I am not referring to money. You know that I never ask for money in my sermons. I am asking for your time. God does not want your money; He wants YOU! And when you have received the gift of salvation He is seeking the love that you will have for Him, and the service that you will give to the One whom you love. He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, and who freely gave us all things (Rom 8:32) how shall we not return the love that God shed abroad in our hearts? How can we be so selfish to take, and take, and give Him no love in return? And how does our love for Him manifest itself in our life? How do we react to the doctrines of election and reprobation that we learn from this chapter in Joshua? Is it something interesting? Is it only of academic interest to us? Does it change us in our hearts? If we hear the true Gospel, and we say we believe it, and we read the entire Canons of Dort, and we believe it, are we saved because we believe it? You know, that is what most churches preach today, that we are saved when we believe. Is that true? No! That is not true. We are not saved by what we believe, and we are not saved if we read the Bible all day long. We are saved by Christ, and by the grace that He pours into our heart, and by the love of God that He pours into our heart, which changes us totally from the inside. The Lord Jesus said in John 3:3, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And we become born again if we are under the hearing of the true Gospel, which involves election and reprobation, but it is essential that we must get a change of heart. Being saved means that we have died with Christ and have been raised with Christ to a new life. The entire business of election and reprobation has the consequence that Christ must come and die for the guilt of our sins. If we then have been born again, we will respond to this with great gratitude. Where is our gratitude for the cross of Christ? Where is our love for Christ? “Is it real”? Is it really true that we are saved? Where is the manifestation of our gratitude and our love for Christ? Does it show in our worship of Him? Does it show in the love that we have for one another, like Christ commanded us? Does it show in the commitment we show to one another? That commitment means our time. Are we willing to spend time with one another? Remember these words, “I will not offer unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.” Indeed, when we make a commitment to spend time with one another, we make a commitment to love one another, it will cost us precious time, and perhaps it will cost us other resources. But commitment is what sets us apart.
And then look at the wonderful gifts God is giving us. He has given us a new family, the family of God. Our earthly family is no longer our real family. This here is our real family. This is who we must spend time with. And look at the wonderful blessings Christ has given us: He has removed our past sins far away from us. And what is another wonderful gift that we can expect from the Lord? Please turn to the Gospel of John, John 10:10.
You have heard this verse many times. The Gospel of John is full of these very wise sayings of the Lord Jesus. The Lord said: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). What does that mean “more abundantly”? We know that this earth is a vale of tears. Almost every day we are confronted with something very sad. And yet the Lord also promised us abundant joy. How do we harmonize all of this? Let us take for example our human family. We get married and we beget children and when we experience the growth of our children we are filled with joy. But sometimes we are also suffering with our children as we watch them get hurt, and we watch their disappointments, and we watch when they cry, and so on. Our life with our children is full of joy and also full of sorrows, because this earth is a vale of tears. We cannot escape that. And we pray and hope that our children will also love the Lord as we do. Now, let us look at our spiritual family. And here the situation is quite similar. There are new Christians in our church family, and these are our spiritual children. Especially for me as a pastor I delight in seeing them grow in the faith, and I rejoice when I can bring the Gospel to people who have never heard the true Gospel. But mixed in with this rejoicing are many sorrows, and when someone falls away it is like death in the family. And when we get older the sorrows get more and more frequent. Is this then the abundant life that the Lord referred to in John 10:10? O No! There is more. Christ has promised us a glorious future in the New Heaven and the New Earth. And when we read about this wonderful future, and that we will sit with Him and in Him in His throne in that great new universe, and God Himself is going to be our great reward we cannot get over it what a great blessing that will be. God says in Gen 15:1, “I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” And daily we look forward to that exceeding great reward with the Lord. That is our great hope. That is what keeps us hanging in there through the tears we experience on this earth. Like the joy we have in preparing for a great vacation, so we look forward with great anticipation to that wonderful future when we finally can rest in the Lord. Please turn to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 5:3 (2X). Here in Rom 5 beginning in verse 1 we read about the faith and the peace we have with God through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. And then we read of our rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God. But then God says in Rom 5:3-5,
Ro 5:3-5 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Look at this string of events: tribulation, patience, experience, and hope. What hope is this? It is the hope of eternal life with Christ and in Christ in the New Heaven and the New Earth, and this hope keeps us hanging in there during tribulation, and it gives us great joy to know that this inheritance is certain and secure. It was the same future joy that gave the Lord Jesus the endurance during His sufferings on the cross. He too was filled with joy when He proclaimed the Gospel, for example, to the Samaritan woman. But His greatest joy was in His forward look to the outcome after the cross. We should take Christ as our example. And thus, the hope of our eternal inheritance is what gives us the abundant life that the Lord Jesus promised in John 10:10.
The hand of the Lord is mighty to save, and to turn your lives around. We read in Josh 4:19-24,
Josh 4:20-24 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua set up in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.
God's miraculous deliverances of His people have a message for the entire world. God says: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty. The hand of the Lord is mighty to save. God has crafted this entire world's history in such a way that He will save His elect out of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues. This is God's plan and purpose for this entire creation, so that Christ might present to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Then God says: "that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever". In other words, that we might be awestruck by the mighty power, and wisdom, and love of God, and we will still be amazed forever down into eternity. If we are now already amazed by the wisdom of God in arranging these two sets of twelve stones, then we will never have a dull moment in the life hereafter. Praise God that our names are written in heaven.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.