The Memorial Day custom that we wisely will celebrate in our blessed nation began to be recognized at the end of the Civil War in the 1860s. We have intended to establish the significant people and events that brought America the proper and healthy history we should love.

We honor those who have gone before us to establish a God-honoring nation upon which we now are able to build higher and pass further onward to those coming behind us in life.

The Jewish society had endured a difficult time of slavery in Egypt, and Moses had led them toward the promised land to take over what was entitled to be theirs. Right at the crossing of the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, Moses was required to pass the leadership torch of Israel over to Joshua.

This was a major turning point as far as Israel was to be concerned. They had failed in their progress for nearly 40 years through a lack of faith in God.

Those older people had passed away, and the new generation would have to face their enemies with a complete commitment to God.

God now commands Joshua and his assistant Caleb to lead Israel across the Jordan River during a time of a great flood stage. God held the multitude of flood waters that were then present in a rush back to the Dead Sea.

When the priests came to the edge of the Jordan, the flow of water was restrained by God as if a dam had been placed over it. This is one of the greatest miracles we find recorded in Scripture.

The priests moved to the center of the Jordan River and held the ark of the covenant until all the folks of Israel had passed over. What was wonderfully being represented here was the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The ark goes ahead of the people then to enter the Jordan River by faith. Christ goes before true believers to enter death, so that each can follow Him into life and be raised to His presence one day.

Twelve men are to take 12 stones out of the Jordan River, and another 12 are set up in the midst of it, as memorials before the water would soon return to its heights. Christ goes before us in death and now goes with us in life as we pass through physical living and into Heaven. He entered death for each accepting believer who trusts Him as personal Savior.

The 12 stones taken out of the Jordan River and put on the land of the west bank were a reminder of God’s tremendous power on Israel’s behalf. He had gotten them safely from the slavery in Egypt and toward their own possession possibilities of ownership. That same possibility exists in the lives of Christians today.

How are we to respond today to our wonderful salvation as a believer in Jesus Christ as personal Savior? Shall we sin further and greater to show how graceful God is to forgive us and to restore our lives each time?

That would be ridiculous to continue trying to live in sin to show how great God is in forgiving us (Romans 6). Yes, God is merciful beyond what can realize, but through faith we realize more and more how dangerous sin is and how glad we are to be forgiven through joyful salvation and lifted from sin.

The 12 stones set up as a memorial to honor across the Jordan and into the new land remind them of God’s great blessings.

Again, we can utilize this to better understand that when we received Christ as personal Savior, we were dead from our desires to sin, buried with Christ in baptism of the heart so that we might rise together with Him to a new life on a new plane of living.

Christ went to death for you and me, and we can understand, even in the book of Joshua, that it is depicted long ago and is shown here. Twelve stones were put into the Jordan to speak of the coming death of Christ. The other 12 stones, taken out of the Jordan and placed in the new land on the west bank, can represent the new, eternal life we have in the resurrection of Christ today.

Christ died over 1,980 years ago, and we can rejoice in the memorial that we are identified through faith in His death on the cross. Baptism speaks of the identification we realize.

We are joined today to the living Christ, in whom we can now enjoy all spiritual blessings. His death becomes our death, and His resurrection to life represents that we have now chosen the same resurrection.

The significant memorial of the 12 stones which they took out of the Jordan and into the new western land would need to be understood. “When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What mean these stones?’ The adult believers were to say, ‘Israel came over this Jordan on dry land’” (Joshua 4:20-22).

The memorial that is so important today for us is that all may realize better that the hand and heart of God are far mightier for our good than we will ever fully understand. The crossing of the Jordan into a life yielded to Christ represents that He has gone before us through death but now also goes with us each moment through this life.

God institutes memorials in order that we may better understand and remember the truth of His will. We honor the multitudes that have gone before us in life and those who paid their lives in warfare for us to still have today: “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”

Many others gave enormously in sacrifice of time and treasure. May we give more and more thanks to God as we often consider and remember these truths.

R.D. “Bob” Hottle is a retired schoolteacher, farmer and pastor of the Anchor Baptist Church.