The Memorial Stones in Jordan and at Gilgal

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 6
God has bestowed upon us eternal life in His Son; a life on the other side of death and judgment; these were borne by Jesus before it was bestowed. This life is a witness that the sins we had committed are all forever put away; for when He passed down, in holy love into those depths where we lay “dead in sins,” He found our sins, He took them up and made them His own—died and rose again, leaving them all behind Him in His grave.
We have also been introduced, in Christ, into a new sphere on high with God-fitting place for the life He has bestowed. He has given us in title, the glory He possesses as Man and the possession too, of all He will inherit by and by. Thus, in this new place, we have wholly left the Egypt to which we once belonged and the wilderness we traverse, when we look at ourselves in “heavenly places, in Christ.”
And here comes in the double character of the Christian’s state. If he looks up he is in the heavenlies, “in Christ,” united to Him by the Holy Ghost sent down; but he is traversing the desert as a pilgrim and stranger, if he looks below. A place, whose every breath is noxious to the heavenly life he possesses in Christ. He has begun in the glory and he is in the race which leads to the attainment of the goal; the mark for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus. He looks at himself below, and can truly say, “as having nothing” he looks at Christ on high, and says, “yet possessing all things.”
If “all things” then are ours, there is that which we never may, and never would lose sight of, nor would our God allow it so to be. I mean the way into this new sphere, and what it cost the Lord of glory that He might have us there. It would seem as if He only waited until His people were safely over, to speak of that which was nearest to His heart. (Josh. 4:2.)
There were two heaps of stones of memorial set up. One at the command of Joshua, by twelve men, in the place where they lodged at Gilgal. This was composed of twelve stones taken out of the spot where the Ark stood firm till all the people had passed across dry-shod. The other, by Joshua himself; in that spot where the feet of the priests bearing the Ark stood in the bed of the river of death. No doubt both are attributed to Joshua (v. 20); but there is a striking significance in the difference.
There are two ways of looking at these stones. They point to the Lord Jesus Himself, at the moment when the waves were flowing over His holy soul in death; and they point to Him as the Risen One; who was dead; and is now “alive for evermore!” They also point (for such is the perfect identification between Him and His—He the Redeemer, they the redeemed; He the Sanctifier, they the sanctified) to our being now one with Him who was dead; and lives for evermore; also, that as thus risen with Him; we are dead with Christ.
The moment we are introduced into this life in resurrection and this new sphere, the remembrance of the path into it for us—the Lord’s path of death—is the constant food of the soul. Instead of death feeding upon us its lawful prey, we feed upon death; but this death, the death of the Lord. It was thus we got this life at the first; eating the flesh, and drinking- the blood of the Son of man. Thus appropriating Him in faith, in the consciousness that except thus, we have no life in us (John 6:53). Having fed upon Him by faith—in death—and thus having received eternal life in Him, we live by that which produced it. We feed Upon Him as the risen One, who was dead, and thus we live by Him: “He that eateth me, even he shall live by me” (John 6:57). This is practical life—all else is death. It is but the Adam life (if you can call it such), and God owns it not.
The Lord instituted the supper; when here below, on the same night on which He was betrayed; but this was not enough. We do not (as the church of God) eat the Lord’s supper merely as then appointed. He has gone on high in glory; and again, as the true Josh. 7—type of a heavenly Christ, and by the power of the Spirit, the Leader and Guide of His people—He has instituted the feast: It is from the heavens He speaks through Paul—by the Spirit of God sent down—and thus does the church partake of it in the unity of one body. It had not this character as at first given, and the church of God partakes of it as the symbol of its unity as “one body”—breaking “one loaf,” which expresses this unity. “The cup of blessing, which we bless; is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The loaf which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ (His own body). For we, being many, are one loaf, one body, (i.e., the church, His body,) for we are all partakers of that one loaf” (1 Cor. 10:16,17).
With Israel it was twelve stones, as the symbol of the unity of the twelve tribes. With the church it is “one loaf”—because it is “one body” in union with its Head in glory. There is no room in this for, the independency of the present day. There is no room for the self-will of man, in having as many loaves, as he pleases, or each one for himself, as in the cut-up loafs. How these proceedings betray where the church of God has drifted, through the “commandments and doctrines of men!”
Thus the church of God; if, obediently acting under a glorified Christ by the power and direction of the Spirit of God, has the precious memorial in that, feast (in its verity) the touching, and heart-searching remembrance, of...the death of the Lord. In the anti-type of these stones, taken from the bed of death, she carries death with her once her enemy, but now her ally to, the place of strength. She is conscious of her union with Him who died. There was no union with Him till He rose, till then He abode alone. But also (now that she is in union with a risen Christ) she knows that she has died with Him, and now is risen with Him, and thus introduced into this sphere of glory.
Oh, what a crowd of thoughts, would flow freely through our hearts by the Spirit of God, were we to meditate further on many thoughts that present themselves as we contemplate this feast! But we must be satisfied in presenting the meaning of these memorial stones, as far as we can in this meditation....
The other heap of stones was set up by Joshua in the bed of the river Jordan. The first heap at Gilgal, was placed there by the twelve men, at his command. These he is said to have placed time in the place where the priests’ feet stood firm with the ark. To me this difference conveys most touching truth. We are told in verse 18, that the waves flowed on, over this second heap of memorial stones, as soon as the Ark of the Covenant, borne on the priests’ shoulders, came out of Jordan, and there they are unto this day.
Both these heaps of stones refer to Elm in His death and His resurrection, they also speak to us, (because twelve were thus used in the type of our being risen with Him) who was dead; and as risen, we know too, that we have died with Him.
Now one heap—that at Gilgal—was always to be seen, while the other was hidden deep in the waves of the river. There are two sides, so to speak, to the thoughts which encircle the Lord’s Supper, one of which the Church always enjoys; but I do not think that practically, she invariably enjoys the other. The stones which the twelve men took Under Joshua’s command (like the Church acting under the power and direction of a heavenly Christ) are ever to be possessed and enjoyed. She always has the remembrance of Him in His death, carried to the place of communion—the ever freshly—speaking memorial of her blessing, and of the death of Him who gave Himself for her, “Till he come” marks its continuance. But, let the ask my reader, does he always enjoy that of which the second heap, of stones speaks? Is Christ always free (it was Joshua’s action in the type) to lead us to the brink of that river? Are our hearts always so in order that we may be led there? Yea, more—are our souls spiritual enough to be so led? Can He, I say, ever freely lead us back to the river, (while we have but stepped to that spot from the Gilgal where self is gone), and put back the stream draw aside the veil of waters, and allow us to gaze down into their depths, and behold the spot where His precious feet stood fast, and let us read His heart, with His sorrows and His cry?
How blessedly have we enjoyed Him speaking to our hearts of our blessings in feeding together in peace at the Supper of the Lord? But have we always been let into what flowed through His heart at that memorable hour? I can answer for myself—perhaps for others—no!
Oh, for the Church of God to come together in such condition of heart and conscience, that He might be ever free to manifest Himself, and allow us thus to discern His body. That we might not only have (what, thank God, we ever have) the truth conveyed to us in the heap of stones at Gilgal, but that He Might be free to carry us in company. With His spirit to the place where His holy soul stood fast, and when deep called to deep at the voice of (God’s) waterspouts (Psa. 42:7) where the waters compassed Him about (Jonah 2:5); where they flowed over His head (Lam. 3:54); or when they came into His soul, (Psa. 144:1).
Thus letting us into the secrets of those moments when nature veiled; her head, when the son put on his mourning, and the rocks rent, because the Son of God was pouring out His soul unto death; when His heart was like wax, melted in the midst of His bowels (Psa. 22:14). There in His solitary path through death’s river He stood fast; there was God most fully glorified; there to the Father was presented a fresh motive to love His Son. And He values our remembrance of His love, now that we are tree to think of Him who gives us His company at Gilgal! —Extract from “The Lord’s Host”—in the Press.