Stones are important in God’s word. From early in the Bible to the final book, God places great significance on stones. One of the things stones serve as in the history of God’s people are memorials. Stones get placed in remembrance of something that happened at or near that location, and an early example of that is in Genesis 28:18. Here Jacob builds a stone memorial that will help Him remember God’s promises to Him, and God wants us to remember His promises today.
A Law in Stone
We sometimes refer to things as written in stone when we really mean it. In fact, James 5:12 tells us our word should be like this. If I make a promise, it is as if it is written in stone. Our promise is a memorial like that stone memorial Jacob built memorialized God’s promises. Genesis 31 sees Jacob build another stone memorial to seal a promise between him and Laban. Our promises and God’s promises are strong as the rock of the earth.
Later, when God’s people would build alters, God wanted them to use uncut stones. Their alters were to be built with stones as God made them, not fashioned with man’s hands. Likewise, God’s covenant with His people were written in stone, and they were handed down from a great stone — Mount Sinai in Exodus 19-20. Those stone tablets would remain in the ark of the covenant as a perpetual reminder of the promises between God and His chosen.
II Corinthians 3:7 tells us our new covenant is not written on physical stones. Rather, that covenant is on our hearts, and it should be written there every bit as securely as if carved in stone. The glory of the old law is nothing compared to the perfect law of liberty written on our hearts. He gives us a new covenant that transforms us into a new image. We become living stones upon which His promises are written.
Stones were to memorialize, and they were meant to be teaching tools as well. When Joshua leads the people across the Jordan River in Joshua 3 and 4, he has twelve people bring stones across to build a memorial. The purpose is to teach future generations what happened at that place. Think of the monuments and memorials spread around our country that allow us to teach our children what happened in our nation’s history.
We should be teaching others about what God has done for us. We should be teaching about Christ’s great sacrifice. We have a memorial we observe every week about that sacrifice. Let’s use it to teach each other the importance of what happened. As we use earthly memorials to teach about what others have done for us, we should be all the more passionate about passing God’s word and His promises on to our children.
Deuteronomy 19:14 is an example of using stones as landmarks. They mark boundaries and special locations. They should be unmovable and unchangeable. God’s word is that landmark to us, unmovable and unchangeable. Our standards do not alter because of changing standards in the world, nor do we move one word of God’s covenant with us. Christ died once and for all, and His covenant is set in stone.
We are under a new covenant that Hebrews 8 outlines as stronger and better than the one that came before it, and we are all the stones that help build the kingdom of the covenant. We are building blocks, and each of us is important to help each other keep His word, teach each other of His promises and deliverance, and help support one another. I Peter 1:22-25 tells us that our lives are like grass, but God’s word is forever. If we place our trust in that rock, though our lives are short, our hope endures forever.
lesson by Herb Smelser