Joshua 4

1 Just as God had spoken to Moses, so He also spoke to Joshua.
2 The action that God commanded would be done by a member of every tribe. The memorial that was to be built was to remind every tribe of their witnessing this miracle from God.
3 People often forget events and their significance. It is for that reason that we set up memorials to commemorate events and people. Here God directs Joshua to build a memorial to this event. The purpose was to perpetuate the faithfulness of God to the next generation. Unfortunately, we eventually see that the Israelites did not teach their children about God very well (Judg 2:10). There was a memorial of stone, but God wanted the perpetual memorial to remain in the hearts of men.

These stones would be noticeably different from the stones around them. River stones tend to be smooth because they lose their sharp edges as the river rolls them along. The surrounding stones would still be rough. Even if a person saw this memorial and did not know of the event that took place, they would know that the stones were taken from the middle of the river and placed on dry land.

5 Each stone was to represent a tribe of Israel. There are several instances where Israel is represented by twelve stones (Exo 24:4, Exo 28:8-28:29, 1 Ki 18:31).
6 The parents were charged with teaching their children about God. The responsibility can not and should not rest completely on a pastor, TV, history book, or other external source. The question is "what do these stones mean to you, indicating that the memorial was to have personal, not just national, significance.
8 Israel obeyed without argument or hesitation. Being witness to this great miracle made them all the happier to participate in building a memorial to the event.
9 Joshua himself takes on the task of building a memorial in the river itself. From the shore, it would be hidden, but it was apparently large and sturdy enough to be noticeable by boat at the time this book was written.

We can witness about what God has done for us in different ways. Some ways will be obvious to anyone who sees or hears us. Other ways will remain hidden until someone comes close to the heart of our lives. In a symbolic way, the land based stones were an external, visual witness while the stones in the river were a less obvious, yet profound, witness.

10 The priests had the difficult job of standing still for the entire day while Israel crossed the Jordan. Undoubtedly, God helped them.
13 Moses had commanded that all the men of fighting age from the eastern tribes to lead the Israelites in battle (Num 32:20-23). It is apparent that not all the fighting men went. In Num 1, the census indicates there should have been approximately 108,000 men serving in the army from these two-and-a-half tribes. They left their families and flocks on the east side of the Jordan (Num 32:26-27), and it is likely that they left about half their army men on the east side of the Jordan to protect the region. Apparently, this still satisfied the terms of the agreement as indicated in the previous verse.
14 The miracle was to confirm that Joshua had the same authority over Israel that Moses had previously had.
18 Since the riverbed had been made dry, the phrase "dry ground" here would be the idiom for "riverbank" (Josh 3:17, Josh 4:22,23).
24 A true miracle always gives glory to God. This miracle would be a witness for the whole world.