When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day. Joshua 4:1-9
In today’s passage, the children of Israel created an Ebenezer (stones of remembrance), to tell of God’s goodness to them in leading them to the Promised Land. For approximately 14,600 days the Israelites had walked through the desert. While they never did get to enter the Promised Land because of their complaining and disobedience, their children did. Just as God parted the Red Sea, in a magnificent show of strength and power to help Israel escape Egypt forty years prior, God once again parted the water to bring Israel to their new home. To commemorate this auspicious event, the LORD commanded the Israelites, though Joshua, to take twelve stones from the Jordan, one for each tribe, and create an Ebenezer—a memorial to remember generation after generation what the LORD had done.
I have always been fascinated by the idea of an Ebenezer, but the concept never became real to me until I had an opportunity to create my own. In my own personal life, and not too recent past, I walked through my own wilderness season. Due to an unexpected job loss and injuries sustained from a car accident, my world was turned upside down. I went through a crisis of career, identity, finances and hope, wondering if life would ever be normal again. The pain and sheer exhaustion I felt permeated not only my body, but also my mind, emotions and soul. For 1,243 days I walked in what felt like circles, wading through circumstances as sticky and thick as mud. Then, as only God can, in the middle of a pandemic when jobs are scarce, I got a call offering me a job in my chosen field. This gift has not only helped my family, but has lifted my heart to a new place and allowed me to see God with fresh eyes. To commemorate this joyous news, I created homemade thank you cards to all the people and organizations that prayed and supported me. From the paper used for said cards, I took a scrap and created a piece of art with a memorable verse that had sustained me through the hard times. It sits on my shelf, and every time I see it I remember what God did—what seemed impossible that God made possible.
This week, think through your own journey. Perhaps create an Ebenezer of your own while being encouraged by the song “Do it Again.”
By Sheila Rennau