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The commands of God required haste in obedience. Haste, however, never means neglect of religious observance. The very fact of their need for the divine guidance made it of supreme importance that the people should take time for worship and the recognition of their relationship with God. Safely over Jordan, with the conflict waiting, the hosts must pause while stones were gathered out of the river bed and erected in a memorial pile on the land to which they now had come.
We shall miss a very great deal of the beauty of this picture if we fail to notice the true reason of this pause and the erection of this pillar. That reason is revealed in verses six and twenty-one. "That this may be a sign among you, that, when your children ask in time to come, . . ." "When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come. . . ." It will be remembered that the same principle held in connection with the establishment of the Passover feast. The ultimate purpose of God lies far out of sight. Ere it is reached, new generations will spring up. Therefore none of the lessons of the present must be lost. They must be perpetuated in memory throughout the coming days. In order that this may be so, Jehovah deliberately arranged for such things as would appeal to the natural curiosity of a child. What more natural than that in days to come children playing or walking near this heap of stones should ask their fathers what it meant. It was for this that the divine arrangement made provision and the people were commanded that when the children asked their questions, they were to be answered. So the story of divine deliverance was retold by fathers to children through all successive generations.
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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Joshua 4". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany