Confidence: His Faithfulness

April 28, 2024

Series: Confidence

Book: Joshua

This is a part of a sermon series on the book of Joshua. You can watch more here.

Sermon Manuscript

I don’t know if I have ever told yall but when I was 22 years old I lived in Germany for 3 months working with a pastor to learn about cross-cultural ministry and learn about what the Lord had done and is doing in Germany, and it was great.  

While I was there we would bring in teams from the United States to teach them about cross-cultural ministry in Germany and at the end the week we would take the teams to Dachau Concentration camp outside of Munich.  Anyone been there?

If you have had the chance to visit a concentration camp then you know it is a breath-taking event.  Most of the buildings have been torn down but you can still see a few buildings that housed prisoners of the concentration camps, you can still see gas chambers, you can still see photos and videos of what took place at this concentration camp.  It’s powerful.

At the end of our time at the concentration camp this German pastor, typically leading a group of a dozen Americans would talk about what took place on this land, what these events have done to their country spiritually, and then he would reach into his wallet to pull out a little stone that he kept in his wallet and he would say, “The first time I came here I was overcome with emotion so I knelt down and picked up a little stone that I carry with me every day as a reminder of what happened at these camps.”

He said I don’t understand how something like this could happen but I want to carry around this stone as a reminder of how easy it is for humanity to turn so dark and how important it is for me to keep my hope in the Lord, even in the darkest of times. 

This morning we are going to see something similar.  We are going to see the Lord lead Israel to a memorial with stones and it isn’t to remember a horrible event or even the greatness of Israel, but to remember the faithfulness of God.  Let’s look Joshua 4:1:

Joshua 4:1, “1 Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying”

Big picture!  In Joshua 1-3 we see Israel has been in the wilderness for 40 years.  The 12 spies had returned and 10 of those spies overwhelmed with fear, so the God of Scripture raises up a whole new generation of people, a whole new leader named Joshua who is going to lead the people of Israel into the promised land. 

In the context of Joshua 3 Israel is about to go to battle against Jericho.  Israel has been waiting for this day for 400 years.  400 years earlier, the Lord made a promise to Abraham, Genesis 12, “Out of your country, out of your father’s house to the land which I will show you,” and in Joshua 3 Israel is literally on the edge of seeing that promise fulfilled.    

Now, in Joshua 4 we see Israel has crossed the Jordan River, they are entering into the land, they are 2 miles from Jericho, within sight and in verse 1 it sounds simple but you need to know the Jordan River at this time is a rushing river.  

Joshua 3 tells us this takes place in the flood season, the Jordan River is like the Mighty Mississippi, and in Joshua 3 the Lord parts the Jordan River like the parting of the Red Sea and Israel makes their way to the other side.  You with me?  Let’s look at verses 2-3: 

Joshua 4:1-3, “1 Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, 2 “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe, 3 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.’” 

Did you catch that?  Israel crosses the mighty Mississippi, the Jordan River, 1.5 million people in Israel, and then in verse 2 the Lord calls them to send twelve men, one from each tribe of Israel back into the parted dried-up rushing river and grab twelve stones.  Does that make sense?

No, that doesn’t make sense it all.  This is a mighty rushing river.  You finally make it to the other side and the Lord says, “Hold up, wait a minute, go back!”  Who wants to do that?  Look at verses 4-5:  

Joshua 4:4-5, “4 So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; 5 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.” 

In verse 5 we see this phrase “ark of the Lord” and this is talking about the “ark of the covenant.”  Do you know the “ark of the covenant?”  It isn’t the “ark of the covenant” from the Indiana Jones movie where the spirits come out and melt every one’s face.  The ark of the covenant takes place in Exodus 25 and the ark of the covenant symbolized the presence of God among His people.  It was the holiness of God with His people. 

There’s a story hundreds of years later when the ark is being transported and during travel someone stumbles, and reached out to catch the “ark of the covenant” with their hand and dies instantly, so that the “ark of the covenant” is the symbol of God’s presence among His people, and in Joshua 3 the Lord leads Israel to bring the “ark of the covenant” to the edge of the Jordan River and in that moment the Jordan River parts like the Red Sea.  This is the context of the passage.  

Now, keep in mind, all of this is taking place when Israel is on the edge of Jericho.  Israel is about 2 miles from Jericho.  Jericho is a mighty fortress with a mighty army.  Surely, there are people thinking, “Are the rocks what’s important right now?”  Surely there are other things that are more pressing in this moment.  We should go over the battle plans.”  Surely, someone is thinking, “We should sharpen some spears” or do something to prepare for battle but the Lord says, “No, go pick up some stones.”  Look at verses 6-7:

Joshua 4:6-7, “6 Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 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.”  Look at verse 6, “Let this be a sign among you.”  Look at the end of verse 7, “So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”  

In the midst of a battle that Israel has been waiting for 400 years.  On the edge of the Jordan River.  Jericho is within sight and the Lord leads Israel, “Mark the occasion, so as to remember these events.”  

The idea of “remembering” isn’t unique to Israel.  We do this in our culture today.  We love talking about the good old days with our friends.  Remember that time you looked like an idiot and we all laughed.  We love those moments with old friends, right?  We’re remembering.

Even as families we set up memorials around birthdays, weddings, anniversaries or the passing of a family member, so as to remind us of those events or people.  And as a country we have memorials to remember events like 9/11.  We have the Alamo.  We have Pearl Harbor.  Usually there is language around “Never forget.”  

These are all reminders of horrible events or sacrifices that were made on behalf of the people but the purpose for “biblical reminders” isn’t to reminisce about the good old days or remember horrible events.

But the purpose for “biblical reminders” is to equip and encourage for the future.  You with me?  Write that down.  Biblical reminders aren’t about the past but instead to equip and encourage for the future.

In verses 6 and 7 this memorial isn’t just about capturing a memory for the people that are there.  They crossed through the Jordan River.  This is about the future.  This is about the children to come, right?

And in verses 6 and 7 this memorial isn’t just to remember the parting of the Jordan River because these stones are reminders of God’s faithfulness from the very beginning.  It’s possible you might be thinking, “Michael, are you sure?”  How do we know the stones were meant to be a reminder of God’s faithfulness?  Scan down to verses 21-24: 

Joshua 4:21-24, “21 He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22 then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ 

23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; 24 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

Isn’t that good?  This isn’t just a story about the Jordan River.  This isn’t just about the promise land.  This isn’t just about Jericho.  This is a reminder of God’s faithfulness.  This is a story of trusting in the promises of God.  These stones are to serve as reminders to equip and encourage for the future.  Amen?

Surely there were moments of doubts over the years. Surely there were moments of discouragement over the years.  Surely there were moments of rebellion over the years.  Just read the story of Israel but in the end, the stones serve as a reminder that the Lord provides.  The Lord keeps His promises.  The Lord called His people.  The Lord provided the way.  The Lord finishes what He started.  Isn’t that good?

So many things to talk about in Joshua 4 but just on the surface I want you to see the language in verse 21, “When your children ask their fathers.”  Do you see that?  It is a reminder of spiritual leadership in the home.  It doesn’t mean children can’t ask their mothers.  It doesn’t mean mothers won’t tell these stories better but God’s Word is reminding us the importance of fathers leaning into their gift of spiritual leadership in the home.  

As fathers we don’t want to pass this responsibility to the church, we don’t want to pass this responsibility to their schools but we want to see fathers setting up reminders to point their children to God’s faithful hand on their family.  Amen?

It might be literal stones.  It might be stories.  It might be pictures in a photo album.  It might be literal stones.  It doesn’t matter.  God’s Word is making it clear we’re going to forget about God’s faithful hand and we need “flashing lights” to help us remember.    

When times are hard we cry out to God in desperation but when times are good we forget, right?  Deuteronomy 8 we see the Lord teach Moses this very lesson, “Beware that when your silver and gold multiply, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord provided for you.”

It might be a memory jar you set up in the home.  It might be taking time each day to talk about God’s faithfulness over a family meal.  It might be prayer of God’s faithfulness that we lift up in the home.  It doesn’t matter what it looks like but we want godly men, godly fathers who aren’t waiting to be asked, but setting up reminders to tell our children of God’s faithfulness in our family.  

This isn’t just applicable to the family but we need these reminders in our individual lives, right?  I forget about God’s faithful hand.  I get discouraged.  I get captivated by the things of this world and I don’t have “literal stones” but I have key events of God’s faithfulness in my life that I go back to often.

I remember the first time I prayed for someone.  Someone asked me, “Who do you want to pray for?”  I had never prayed for anyone in my life.  I said, “My dad’s an alcoholic.  We could pray for my dad?”  The next day my dad called me to tell me he was an alcoholic and he was going to get help.  It might as well have been the parting of the Red Sea!

I remember the first time someone taught me how to study God’s Word.  I had been praying that God would help me learn how to study God’s Word.  Then one day someone asked me, “You want to get together to study God’s Word?”  I said, “No.”  A few hours later I was driving home and it was like the Lord said, “Why would you say, ‘No?’”  So, I called the person back and said, “Yes, let’s meet.  Just tell me when and where.”  That’s the Lord’s provision in my life.  

I remember when a friend my age said, “You should go to seminary” and I said, “That’s impossible.  It’s too expensive.”  He said, “I will pay for it.”  I said, “Don’t do that.”  He just started sending me money.  That’s the Lord’s provision in my life.    

I remember when the Lord called me and Holly to come to Austin to help start churches.  I remember thinking, “We’re going to look so stupid.” And the Lord kept putting on my heart, the Lord kept pointing me back to His faithful hand.

I remember when He called us to start North Village Church.  I remember driving south down Burnet Road, going through the intersection at Anderson Lane, and I didn’t hear a voice but it was like the Lord said, “Start the church right here.”  

15-years later, we’re still here!  Our strength is in the Lord.  Our confidence is in the Lord.  He calls His people.  He keeps His promises.  He provides the way.  He finishes what He started. 

This is why we are rallying around EMBOLDEN as a church family.  We are leaning into His Word, leaning into prayer, leaning into our relationships with one another, so that we might see the undeniable faithful hand of God and be emboldened in Him.  Amen?  Let’s look at verse 24 again: 

Joshua 4:24, “24 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

In verse 24 I want to make sure that we don’t overlook that these “stones of remembrance” aren’t just about the people of Israel remembering the faithfulness of God.  These “stones of remembrance” are for “all the peoples of the earth to know the hand of the Lord is mighty.”  Do you see that in verse 24?

The word “mighty” is used uniquely of God acting in mighty power to destroy His enemies and rescue His people.  Lean into the depth of this verse with me.  Verse 24 isn’t just about the parting of the Jordan River and Red Sea for deliverance but also for judgment.  

This might be a lot to end with but in the Exodus of Israel we see the Lord lead Moses to the pharaoh over and over and over with warnings of judgment and yet it is the Lord who brings the Red Sea crashing down on the chariots of Egypt.  The Lord is “mighty” in rescue and in judgment.  

The parting of the Jordan River not only makes a way for Israel but also makes a way for God’s judgment on the wickedness of Jericho, so that The Lord is “mighty” in rescue and in judgment.  

We can’t miss that in our passage this morning, because in the same way, God’s Word is clear that all of humanity has fallen short of God’s glory.  Like Israel of old, all of humanity is enslaved into sin.  All of humanity is spiritually dead in our sin.  All of humanity is spiritually cloaked in darkness.  

It’s not what God created.  God created all of humanity to be in relationship with Him but instead of Adam and Eve glorying in God we see Adam and Eve glorying in self and doing what is right in their own eyes.  It’s called sin. 

We know this is true.  All of humanity glories in technology.  We glory in self-righteousness.  We glory in humanity and all the while we are enslaved to our career, enslaved to our comfort and romance with this illusion that we will somehow overcome those challenges with education, legislation or economic opportunity but it never happens.  

The good news is that just as God called out to Adam and Eve in the cool of the garden, so Christ calls out to us today, “Where are you?”  He knows where we are.  He is looking for confession.  He is looking for repentance.  He is looking for who believe the hand of the Lord is MIGHTY. 

He’s looking for men and women who will turn to the One who bruised the head of the serpent at the cross and conquered death in the resurrection, so that today the greatest remembrance of God’s faithfulness is the cross.

Listen to me, we can’t wait for people to ask about these reminders.  We need to be telling the world of His glory, so that the nations may know that the world is under His judgment.  Be not ashamed. It is the power of God to save!  

Just as the flood is a reminder of His judgment, just as the Ten Plagues are a reminder of His judgment, so to the cross is a reminder that Jesus has come to take the judgment we deserve upon Himself, so turn and trust in Him today.  Won’t you do that this morning? 

Perhaps you have already made that decision to follow Jesus.  Praise God!  But you need to know we are prone to forget.  

If you fast forward to the end of Joshua and the beginning of Judges, the next book in Israel’s history, and yet we see Israel forgetting the faithfulness of God.  Despite all the spiritual highs of God’s faithfulness we see how easy it is for us to forget.  

Therefore, trust that the hand of the Lord is MIGHTY.  Proclaim the hand of the Lord is MIGHTY every day!  Reflect on His MIGHTY hand on our lives every day!

Have you received His great rescue in Christ?  Then lift up your heads, your hearts, your voice and rejoice in His MIGHTY hand today!  Let’s not wait to tell of His glory but might the Words of His glory be on our lips!  Won’t you pray with me? 


North Village Church

This sermon is brought to you by North Village Church, a non-denominational church in Austin. established in 2009 and built around Jesus and Bible teaching.

Are you looking for a church in Austin? At North Village Church we put Jesus at the center of our church family. We worship together every Sunday at 10:30am, encourage Christ centered fellowship through groups, and host special events such as Bible studies and Theological Training, to ensure that we are rooted in in God’s Word. We also serve our local community in association with several Austin based organizations.

North Village Church is made up of professionals, married couples, singles, and families who are wanting to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus. If you are a family with children or teens, we can support you with either or both our Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry.


You are welcome to contact us if you would like more information.


NVC Online

Unable to attend this Christian Church in Austin? Don’t worry, because, through God’s provision, we have created NVC online, an Online Church streaming a worship service every Sunday from 10:30am Central Time. You can also watch our short, powerful sermons on demand and follow us on Instagram for daily Christ centered content.