Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.’” So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”
Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, just as the Lord spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel; and they carried them over with them to the lodging place and put them down there. Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing and they are there to this day.
On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life. Joshua 4:1-14 NASB (Read all vv. 1-14, some verses are omitted due to length of Scripture)
“All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do,… You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. … Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, …a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything;…
Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (God reminded the Israelites where He brought them from). … He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth; that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 8:1-20 (Read all vv. 1-20, some verses are omitted due to length of Scripture)
When the people had finished crossing the Jordan, at God’s command, Joshua selected twelve men, one from each tribe to return to where the priests were standing with the ark of the covenant upon their shoulders. Each of these twelve men were to select an uncut stone (twelve stones) and take it with them (to Gilgal where Joshua erected a memorial) to celebrate and remind the present and future generations of God’s mighty deliverance.
Joshua then went down to where the priests were standing on dry ground in the Jordan and erected a memorial that would be unseen by the natural eye once the Jordan returned to normal flow. These stones speak of the holy place where the presence of the Lord stood as the children of Israel crossed in safety. As the priests exited the river bed, the waters returned.
The ultimate blessing for the people of Israel was God’s promise He would be with them if they obeyed Him and cleansed the land of wickedness and would seek His holiness and favor. God warned about the consequences if they would forget about Him and lived to serve themselves and applies to us.
How often we forget the events in our lives where God’s favor was upon us as He intervened with deliverance: particularly the moment the gospel of Jesus Christ penetrated our heart and He led us out of a wilderness of sin into a land of abundance in the Spirit. He promises blessings for obedience. If we are obedient to Him, just as He required obedience of the Israelites, we will live under the banner of His favor and enjoy fruitfulness in our lives.
Israel was instructed to set up this memorial to remind and celebrate the crossing over Jordan under the banner of God’s favor. We are to do the same. We need to set up landmarks in our life to remind us of what God has done for us. It may be as simple as a plaque on the wall.