Memorial Day: The Value of a Legacy

Bible Book: Joshua  4 : 1-9
Subject: Memorial Day, legacy, Joshua, leader

One of the most important days that we celebrate in America is Memorial Day; the day to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our national freedom. Without their bravery, heroism, and sacrifice, our daily pleasures and freedoms would not be possible. This is a day to pause and recognize the great price that has been paid and to show our national pride and gratefulness for those who have paid so very much.

The text is a memorable one that is highlighted with the phrase, “What do these stones mean?” (verses 6, 21).  The background of the passage is the most transitional period in the Old Testament. There was now a new leader (Moses is dead and Joshua is in charge), a new landscape (from the wilderness wanderings to the security of the Promised Land), and now a new legacy (a stone monument to inform “all the peoples of the earth” (v. 24) how the Lord God is mighty and eternal.) The importance of establishing a legacy is demonstrated in this text, revealing the value of a strong foundation being laid on the memories of great moments of victory and heroism. Our nation’s reflection on those brave heroes of freedom is a classic modern example of this Old Testament practice.

The Three Benefits of Valuing a Legacy

I. Reminder of the Facts (v. 8)

“And the children of Israel did so… and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan…and carried them over with them... and laid them down there.”

This was a direct, obvious, visible mound of raw stones. Each one was probably very large and heavy, yet not hewn or touched by human manipulations. It was a reminder of how God, and God alone, had brought them this far, providing

supernaturally for them by giving them their own land. It was an established marker to remind them, and subsequent later families and generations, of the unparalleled blessing of having God as their Guide and Protector. Those untouched, stacked stones reminded all that saw them of the incredible miracle of God’s bringing His people into the Promised Land. It gave national pride and confidence in God’s hand upon them. We can say the same thing about how God has protected and provided this nation with our own land, miraculously defeating our enemies and foes with certain victory. Our military prowess is not what has made this country safe – it is God’s supernatural hand of protection and providence.

II. Reflection of their Faith (v. 9)

“The Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant stood.”

This passage is often overlooked, or just neglected. Notice that Joshua set up another 12 stones, just like the first, yet it was in the middle of the Jordan River, where the priest’s feet stood. Who would ever see those stones? Joshua did that as a reflection of his faith. God’s unseen hand would continue to guide, even though no one would see Him. Just like those stones under the dirty, murky waters of the Jordan, God knew they were there. He would “never leave them, nor forsake them”(1:5). Our faith is also in that which we cannot see; the workings, power, and love of our eternal Heavenly Father. Those stones were reminders of their need for constant reflection of their faith.

III. Reinforcement for the Future (v. 14)

“On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they had feared Moses, all the days of his life.”

This last benefit is more personal. With new leadership comes a “trial” period. Everyone knew Moses. The first two verses of the book of Joshua introduce Moses as “the servant of the Lord,” while Joshua was called, “the son of Nun, assistant to Moses.” He was not as well known, not yet tried. Notice verse 14. It says that on that day the Lord did something for Joshua that was unique and necessary for a nation, organization, church, and family – trusted leadership. When the children of Israel established this value in legacy, God blessed them with a leader they could trust while blessing Joshua with the confidence of a nation. This was critical for the establishment of their new lands and new battles that they would face in the next several years as they drove out their enemies.


In this day that we live, we need to encourage a more grateful spirit in ourselves and our progeny. Stopping to remember the sacrifices of those that have given their very lives for our freedoms can bring several benefits to our hurting, scarred, and bewildered nation. We can remind all citizens of the facts of how God gave us this land. We can reflect on our faith that was the hallmark of the founding of this nation. And we can develop greater leaders and a more blessed populace because of their strength and courage.

Build on your legacy!