They say that our memories are the first thing to go… and apparently God agrees.
The third chapter of Joshua relates the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River into the promised land. In order to get all those people across from one side to the other, God stopped the flow of water. Instead of rushing by in torrent, the river piled up into a wall far upstream while the tribes walked across on dry land.
While the Jordan miracle was perhaps not quite of the same magnitude as the parting of the Red Sea, it was still an extremely significant milestone in the history of Israel. Moses led the people out of slavery; here Joshua is leading them into the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Such an important event needed to be remembered, so God instructed Joshua to have twelve men, one from each tribe, collect twelve stones from the middle of the river bed (See chapter 4). They carried these stones to their camp and set them up as a memorial. Joshua 4:24 explains, “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”