"GENERATIONS!"

 

TEXT:         Joshua 3:9-4:9

 

INTRO:       If you have ever traveled to our Nation's capital you will quickly notice that everywhere you go there are monuments!  We have monuments to celebrate individuals like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, etc., and we have monuments to celebrate or remind us of powerful incidents in our national history, like the Vietnam memorial, the newly dedicated Korean War memorial, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, etc.

 

What is the purpose of these memorials and monuments?  They exist to remind each new generation of the sacrifices and deeds done in the past for the freedom and joys we experience in the presence, and to warn us to avoid repeating mistakes made in the past that were costly!  They serve to help pass on from generation to generation great truths and great experiences that must not be forgotten!

 

After traveling a lifetime through a tough wilderness Israel was near the end of the journey.  The ultimate promise of God awaited them, the promise they had staked their entire lifetime on getting to the Promise Land!  The journey was full of good times and bad, and now they were kept from receiving that promise by flood waters in the Jordan that were impassible.  God however opened the way supernaturally!  So that each generation in the future would know about God's power to fulfill His promises and His Word He asked Joshua to have a monument built from stones that had sat in the very middle of the floodwaters!  These stones were not to be shaped by man, but left as they were in raw form and piled together to form a crude altar, a simple pile of rocks.

 

For generations this pile of stones stood as a silent witness of God's power to fulfill His Word to His people, to make His promises come true ... each generation that visited the site would see this monument and ask what it meant, and so the children would be told the story so that they too would worship the same God!

 

What monuments are we leaving behind for our children?  Have we carried the "Rock of ages" to the shores of our life to erect monuments of God's presence in our life ... do our children know the history of their father and mother's faith?  How are you leaving a witness to your legacy of faith and the journey you have taken with God?

 

PROP. SENT:  The Bible teaches us that it is important to build memorials as a teaching tool to the next generation of God's presence in our life.

 

I.  PROBLEMS OF LIFE    3:9-13

 

A.   Fearful    3:9-10

1.   The journey had not been an easy one, it had been full of tough times!

a.   There had been times of great losses!

b.   There had been times of confusion!

2.   Life is like this as a journey still!

a.   The life of faith is not always an easy one!

b.   There are times of struggle where faith is tested just like Israels was in the journey to the Promise Land!

 

ILLUS:     IN MY FAMILY, MY SISTER LINDA NEARLY DIED AS A YOUNG CHILD, MY MOTHER ALMOST DIED SHORTLY AFTER MY BROTHER GARY WAS BORN.  MY MOTHER HAS FACED CANCER TWICE, I ENDED UP IN A COMA FOR A WEEK AND WAS NEARLY KILLED IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT, I HAD GRANDPARENTS WHO DIED OF CANCER AND DISEASES, AND THE DEATH OF MY BROTHER GARY WHEN HE WAS ONLY 26 YEARS OLD AND A WIFE WHO WAS 6 MONTHS PREGNANT AT THE TIME!  EACH TIME FEAR GRIPPED OUR HEARTS, BUT FAITH ALWAYS TRIUMPHANT! DENNIS MARQUARDT

 

3.   Israel was about to face even more enemies ... a fearful prospect alone!

a.   Here at the end of the journey there are still enemies to face!

b.   The enemy seems strong, they look overwhelming!  How can they be faced and beaten?

4.   God proposes one thing that will give them the courage to know that even these last enemies will be overcome!

a.   The Ark of the Covenant!  The visible presence of God was represented by this ark:

(1.  This symbolized Christ:  3 things were in it:

(a.  The Laws of God ... the written Word

(b.  The budded High Priest's limb -- Aaron's rod

(c.  And the Manna the bread of life or heavenly bread!

(2.  Each of these 3 things represented the Messiah that came in Christ!

(3.  The Ark's presence in the flood waters would let them know that these enemies would be conquered!  The flood waters would be driven back by the presence of GOD represented by the Ark ... now represented by Christ!

b.   God's presence would make the difference and His presence would conquer their fear!

 

B.   Floods!   3:11-13

1.   This was not a good time to cross!  There were terrible floods this time of the year, the snows were melting from Mount Hermon and the heavy rains combined to make it impossible to cross!

2.   The floods that trouble us however are no match for God's power, if He is present!

a.   The priests were to carry the ark right into the floodwaters!

b.   In other words we are to carry Christ right into the floodwaters of our life too!

c.   We are not to just stand on the shore lamenting the conditions that seem impossible; we are to move forward in faith!

3.   There will always be seasons of floods, but they are no match against the great God we serve!

a.   God does not stop the rains, nor the melting snows ... they continue!

b.   But His presence in the flood waters will make a difference!

4.   It was up to man to carry God's presence into the floods however!

 

II.  PRESENCE OF THE LORD    3:14-17

 

A.   Faith    3:14-16

1.   You will notice that faith required action!  Note that the people broke camp fully expecting that what God said would be true even before it happened!

a.   Their faith is expressed by the fact that they broke camp first!

b.   They relied on His Word to be true although scientifically it didn't make much sense that simply walking into the water with an ark would cause the floods to subside!

2.   In this day and age there would have been those who would have said, "as soon as I see the waters part, I'll join you and break camp."

a.   We need people today who have solid commitments to God and His church before they see the miracles!

b.   Too many spectators in the church, not enough participants!

3.   Faith trusts in God's Word before you see the results!

a.   Notice the priests went ahead of the people first with the ark of God's presence ... GOD DOES NOT ASK US TO GO WHERE HE HASN'T FIRST GONE!

b.   It is important to not journey where Christ hasn't first journeyed!

c.   There are too many people fighting to get God back in the schools when He hasn't yet shown up in their home ... Christ is trying to break into our homes first!

 

B.   First!    3:17

1.   God entered the floodwaters first ... He'll never ask us to travel somewhere that He hasn't arrived at first ... when you are there, you will find Him already standing in the middle of the floodwaters!

a.   The priests stood in the middle of the Jordan holding up God's presence, only then did the people begin the trip across!

b.   They were able to walk over on dry ground ... to do the impossible simply because God's presence was right there in the center of it all!

2.   How do we handle the floods in our lives?  Look for God's presence and walk close to Him, keeping Him in the very center of the ordeal and you will pass through the worst floods on solid footing!

a.   How do we find God's presence today?  IN HIS WORD!  This is the Ark of the Covenant now, and the Word was made flesh in Christ!

b.   The flood waters did not recede until God's presence made contact through His servants with the waters!

c.   Then immediately the waters parted as long as they carried God's presence with them!

3.   Dads and Moms, as the priests of your homes, are you carrying God's presence for your children to see?

a.   If you are, they will see the floodwaters part when your walk takes you into contact with the floods that come in life!

b.   Our children will be willing to walk if they see us as parents holding the presence of God in our lives in the midst of the storms!

c.   We must go first ... to step in first with God's presence, and then they will follow!

 

ILLUS:    MARTIN RINCKART WAS A PASTOR IN EILENBURG, GERMANY DURING THE HORRIBLE 30 YEARS WAR.  EILENBURG BEING A WALLED CITY DURING THAT TIME BECAME THE PLACE OF REFUGE FOR THE SUFFERING, THUS THE CITY WAS FILLED WITH THE POOR AND SICK, THOSE WHO HAD EXPERIENCED GREAT LOSSES.  THESE CONDITIONS SET OFF A PLAGUE THAT SWEPT THROUGH THE AREA KILLING SCORES OF PEOPLE EVERY DAY!  AS A PASTOR HE OFTEN DID AS MANY AS 40 TO 50 FUNERALS A DAY!  IT FINALLY GOT SO BAD THAT THEY HAD TO FINALLY DO MASS BURIALS EACH DAY.   8,000 PEOPLE DIED IN THE TOWN OF EILENBURG ALONE, ONE VICTIM WAS HIS WIFE.  AT THE SAME TIME ALL THIS HAPPENED PASTOR RINCKART HAD A NUMBER OF FINANCIAL SETBACKS, INCLUDING NOT RECEIVING HIS PAY AT TIMES.  IN THE MIDST OF ALL THIS HE SAT DOWN AND WROTE A TABLE GRACE FOR HIS FAMILY TO RECITE ... AND IT BECAME ONE OF THE GREAT HYMNS OF THE CHURCH, "NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD."  HE DEMONSTRATED TO HIS CHILDREN GOD'S PRESENCE IN THE MIDST OF DARKNESS AND DEEP FLOODWATERS!  HE STEPPED INTO THE FLOOD WHILE CARRYING GOD'S PRESENCE!  IT MADE THE DIFFERENCE AND HAS GIVEN US A GREAT HYMN ... A MEMORIAL STONE TO RECALL THE VICTORY OF THE HEART IN THE MIDST OF DARKNESS!  IT IS TOO BAD WE IGNORE THESE GREAT MONUMENTS IN HYMNS TODAY! SOURCE UNKNOWN

 

ILLUS:     H.G. SPAFFORD WAS A CHRISTIAN WHO LOST ALL HIS WORLDLY GOODS IN THE GREAT CHICAGO FIRE, AND THEN AS HIS WIFE AND 4 CHILDREN WERE TRAVELING BY BOAT, THE BOAT THEY WERE ON COLLIDED IN THE OCEAN AND QUICKLY SANK ... THE 4 CHILDREN WERE LOST AT SEA, MRS. SPAFFORD WAS FOUND FLOATING NEAR THE SUNKEN BOAT STILL ALIVE AND WAS TAKEN TO WALES.  THERE SHE CABLED HER HUSBAND, "SAVED ALONE."  HE LATER FRAMED THIS CABLE AND PUT IT ON HIS WALL AND HE SAT DOWN AND PENNED THE WORDS TO THE GREAT HYMN, "IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!"  HIS MONUMENT TO GOD'S PRESENCE IN THE MIDST OF THE FLOOD!  EACH GENERATION WHO SINGS THIS SONG SHOULD KNOW THE STORY ... IT IS A MONUMENT TO TELL THE STORY OF GOD'S FAITHFULNESS IN CROSSING FLOOD WATERS!  IT SHOULD BE HEARD AGAIN! SOURCE UNKNOWN

 

4.  What monuments are we building that show our children God is first ... that we carry Him before our children?

 

III. PASSING ON THE LESSONS    4:1-9

 

A.   Faithfulness    4:1-5

1.   You will notice here that it is NOT the priests that are chosen to build the monument, or to gather the stones ... the priest's job was to hold up God's presence, it was the laymen of Israel that were chosen to build the monument!

a.   It was after they all had crossed over that these men were sent back to the middle while all watched the gathering of the stones!

b.   They were to gather stones that were right at the spot where God's presence was held up by the priests!

c.   These were ordinary rocks that had been touched by God's presence!  Now they were to form a memorial that would remind all generations of what God had done!

2.   What ordinary events in your life have been touched by God's presence?  Do your children know about these, have you saved these ordinary "rocks" to build a memorial so that each new generation will know what God has done in your family?

a.   We are losing this in our fast moving world!

b.   We need these memorials of God's presence and our faithfulness to pass on!

3.  The whole Bible is a giant memorial of the stories of men and women who took ordinary things that were touched by God's presence and preserved these in a book so that each generation can be encouraged by this record!

4.   These 12 laymen were to each gather an ordinary rock that was touched by God's presence out of the floodwaters to bring back on shore to build a record or memorial!

a.   It was a memorial to show God's faithfulness to His people!

b.   It was to be a memorial of God's people faithfully obeying too!

c.   It would inspire each new generation who looked upon it ... and asked what it meant!

5.   There was nothing extraordinary about this monument, it was not like those we build today out of polished stones and beautiful to the sight!

a.   It was so plain as to be almost ridiculous!

b.   Yet it was so profound that it was needed!

c.   You might not think the stories of faith in your family are spectacular or flashy but that is unimportant, that they are told to your children is vital, perhaps the world may think they are not attractive, but what you are giving the next generation is profound!

 

B.   Future!     4:6-9

1.   The future is built on the past!

a.   Israel's future success depended on the lessons learned in the past!

b.   These were necessary for the next generation to know!

2.   In time the monument would become old, perhaps a little shifted out of place, maybe even seen as plain or ordinary ... but the message it conveyed was critical for each generation!

a.   As the story gets old some will view it as silly or unimportant!

b.   It might even be scoffed at!

c.   But its message is always important even if it doesn't look as good when it ages!

 

ILLUS:    AS BABE RUTH AGED, HIS GAME GOT WORSE.  AT THE END OF HIS CAREER HE WAS STRIKING OUT MORE OFTEN THAN HE GOT HITS, OFTEN COMMITTING ERRORS.  AT ONE SUCH GAME IN CINCINNATI, HE HAD PLAYED POORLY AND THE CROWD BEGAN TO BOO IN LARGE MASSES!  DEJECTED AND HURT BABE RUTH AMID THE BOOING WALKED SLOWLY TOWARD THE DUGOUT WITH HIS HEAD HANGING DOWN ON HIS CHEST.  NO ONE THOUGHT OF THE GREAT PLAYER HE USED TO BE, JUST THE MISERABLE PERFORMANCE THEY NOW WITNESSED!  SUDDENLY A SMALL BOY CAME RUNNING OUT OF THE STANDS WITH TEARS STREAMING DOWN THE BOY'S FACE, HE RAN UP TO BABE RUTH AND THREW HIS ARMS AROUND HIS LEGS, BROKEN BY THE TREATMENT OF HIS HERO BY THIS CROWD; THE BOY REMEMBERED THE RECORD!  SUDDENLY, THE CROWD GREW SILENT AS BABE RUTH PICKED UP THE BOY AND CONTINUED WALKING TOWARD THE DUGOUT.  SILENCE FELL ON THE CROWD AS THIS BOY BECAME A REMINDER TO THEM OF THE PAST LEGACY OF BABE RUTH, AND THEY WENT FROM BOOING TO STANDING IN SILENT PRAISE TO THE ONCE GREAT BALL PLAYER!  A LITTLE BOY BECAME HIS MONUMENT TO REMIND A FICKLE CROWD! SOURCE UNKNOWN

 

3.   We need to leave monuments to tell the story to the future generations!

4.   What monuments have you built, and what have you built them out of?

 

CONCLUSION:    Every generation has a story to tell, each builds a memorial that tells a story!  What kind of memorials are you building?  Build it from the "Rock of Ages!"  He is faithful to go before us and to remove the flood waters that come against us!