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Rocks of Age


Joshua 4:1–8

And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying: “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’ ”

Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the LORD had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. 

Of the seven wonders of the ancient world, only the great pyramids remain. Why? Because they’re made of great stones. The wailing wall in Jerusalem (which is the western wall of the temple mount) also remains—for the same reason. Stones are permanent, and big stones are less likely to get moved.

We know the stones the twelve men picked up are reasonably large because Joshua instructed each man to carry it on his shoulder. However, they’re not more than one man can carry. So, each stone is around 30–90 pounds. They can be moved, but they’re reasonably permanent memorials.

And being river rocks, they’ve been polished smooth by the current. It’ll be obvious to anyone who sees them that they came from the bottom of the Jordan. Plus, they’re too big to have just popped out on their own during a flood. They’re also too heavy to fetch out of a river while it’s flowing. That might not be too hard if you happen to have a backhoe handy, but it’s a tough, even dangerous, job otherwise.

So, future generations will wonder how those big river rocks got up on the shore.

And they’ll ask.

Events fade in the rear-view mirror. Eyewitnesses die off. It won’t be long until all of the eyewitnesses of the Jordan crossing are gone.

But the rocks will remain. That’ll preserve the faith through countless generations, right?


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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