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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: River (08/31/06)

TITLE: At the River of Rememberance
By Debbie Wistrom


“Father, what is the meaning of this?” Shandev, was pointing to a place on the riverbank where several water-worn rocks were arranged on the ground. At eight years old he was intelligent and curious as most boys are. Tradition meant much to him already at such a young age. Father and son were taking a walk, away from the bustle of the campsite.

A smile spread slowly across Zehiah’s face as he remembered that he had been instructed to do this. Knowing this day would come, he was prepared to tell the story of the ancients. “Do you remember the story your Grandfather told about leaving Egypt? After Moses died?”

“Yes, I love how God stopped the river from flowing so the people could cross without getting wet.”
“Yes, and after all the people and all the livestock crossed, the sons of the twelve tribes went back into the riverbed, with faith, and took up on their shoulders rocks from that riverbed while it was dry and the priests were still standing, holding the ark. God told Joshua to leave the stones here so everyone would see them and remember that His hand is mighty. There is a place where another twelve stones are piled in the middle of the river. You can see the tips of some of them during the dry season. ”

Trusting eyes turned up, reverently asked, “Father, what tribe are we from?” “We are from the tribe of Benjamin. Our ancestors went north to Shiloh with Joshua and when Benjamin’s inheritance was divided, they came back south to Bethel. Here was a land of good pasture and our people became strong herdsmen and faithful servants of the Lord. God has fulfilled his promise to Moses. We have come to our promised land. We are blessed with seasons of rain and seasons of dryness. We know the mighty works of God’s hand and we give thanks. We can travel to Gilgal and look across the river and remember why it is so important to keep our faith in God.”

Zehiah could remember the trips to this place as a child. He would walk out to where the stones stood and pretend that they were an audience. He would tell the stones about the long trip his people had made and how proud the twelve men were who carried the stones out of the riverbed.

With a thoughtful look, Shandev said, “It makes me sad that Moses is on the other side of the river and all alone.”

“That is why we come back to Gilgal to mark the Passover. God said it was important to tell all the children about the deliverance from slavery and his miracles. Your grandfather’s father was one of the sinners who died in the wilderness. One who had seen so many of God’s miracles and still grumbled and suffered without faith. So in a way, Moses is not alone, but the fallen generation is in that land with him.”

“Do you know what Gilgal means?” The boy shook his head. “Look at the stones; do they give you a hint? You see, God brought our ancestors full circle. In the day of Joseph and his father Jacob, our people were free and prosperous. During this time the nation of Israel grew to be many and this scared Pharaoh, so forgetting what the previous leader had known about Joseph and his people, he enslaved the Israelites. Even after God’s many plagues, Pharaoh would not let the people go. Finally after the last plague of the deaths of all the firstborn, human and creature, Pharaoh relented and let them go.

This is when the first Passover happened; it was to protect Israel’s firstborn from God’s wrath during that awful night of screams. Soon after that, God parted the Sea of Reeds so His people could cross, but Pharaoh sent troops to kill them and while they were closing in, under God’s command, the sea filled its boundaries again and killed all the soldiers. Out of danger and free again, the people should have been thankful, but they mumbled against God. They wanted to go back to Egypt and out in the desert. So after forty years of letting them wander and complain, God lead them to the land he had promised Moses, to other side of the Jordan.

Hand in hand, the boy and his father returned to camp. “One day, you too, will tell the story of the twelve stones.”

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