This week we are continuing our study in the third episode of Joshua, which is the crossing of the Jordan River. We learned last week that this third episode has three parts. The first part was the crossing of the Jordan itself, with the ark of the covenant going before the people. The second piece was God’s command to set up the memorial stones. Now this week we come to the third of the incidents that are connected with the crossing, and this concerns the consecration of the people once they had passed over into the land and had set up their memorial. The story is told in Joshua 5:1-12, and it entails two acts of consecration, which we would call sacraments.     
Now where does that leave us? The point I want to make is the one I have already been alluding to, namely, that we all need memorials like this in our lives. The people of Israel needed their memorials, and they needed other memorials besides this one. In 1 Samuel 7:12 we’re told of the prophet Samuel setting up a memorial which he called, “Ebenezer." It was the occasion of a great victory in which God had intervened in a supernatural way to defeat the Philistines. It says that in the remainder of Samuel’s lifetime the Philistines didn't invade the territory of Israel ever again. To mark that great victory, Samuel set up this stone, which he called, “Ebenezer," which means “the Lord helps." And he said, "We’re naming it ‘Ebenezer' because hitherto hath the Lord helped us."
There are three specific reasons given for the erection of this memorial. It pertains to three different groups of people. The first reason is that it was to be a memorial to the generation then living, the generation that had crossed the Jordan. We find that in verse 6: "These stones are to serve as a sign among you." Here were people who had witnessed a great miracle of God in dividing the waters of the Jordan in order that they might cross on dry ground. But these same people would quite naturally tend on occasion to become discouraged during the years of fighting in their attempts to drive out the Canaanites. Their discouragement might be for a number of reasons. 
Now I need to acknowledge that there’s a bit of a technical problem at this point. It's perfectly evident from any reading of this chapter that the 12 men chosen by the people were to each lift up a stone from the Jordan, carry it up, and then place it upon the bank. These were then arranged into a memorial. This was a mark of their camp at Gilgal to which they often returned. There’s no question about that. This technical difficulty that I refer to comes from the fact that in the original version of verse 9, the text literally says, "Joshua set up 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood.” This has led many commentators to suppose that there were two memorials. There was a memorial composed of stones that were taken out of the Jordan and set up upon the bank. And there was a second memorial of stones that were taken from the bank and set up in the middle of the Jordan. So that raises the question of whether there was one memorial or two.
Last week, when we looked at chapter 3 and the crossing itself, we saw that the most important element in that crossing is the emphasis found there upon the ark of the covenant. The ark symbolized the presence of God. It has not been mentioned in Joshua until now, but suddenly in these chapters connected with the crossing of the Jordan, it is mentioned many times. The ark symbolized the presence of God, and as the people crossed the river, they did so with the ark going before them. In other words, God went before them. There wasn't any use crossing that river, trying to bring about the conquest of the land, unless God went first and delivered the land into their hands.