Memorial Day was established in 1868 to honor the soldiers who died in the Civil War. Today we celebrate it by honoring our nation's war dead along with others who have died.
While doing some research on that I ran across the following story: A minister who was known for his long sermons was explaining to a young boy why the names of some people from their congregation who had died were displayed on a plaque. He said they died in the service. The boy asked ďdid they die in the morning service or the evening service?"
The first person in the Bible to die was Abel, the righteous son of Adam and Eve. God placed a memorial to him in scripture. In Hebrews 11:4 it says that though he is dead he still speaks. I think that is true of any believer in Christ. Physical death may still their voice but their influence on the lives they touched will live for eternity.
Hebrews 12:1 states they have become our witnesses of faith. ďWherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,Ē We have a gallery of witnesses in heaven supporting us including the angels and the Trinity. And we take comfort in that fact.
There are a number of memorials in scripture
and I want to look at some of them now.
God set the first Passover as a memorial.
Exodus 12:3-14 'On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4: And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb. 5: Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6: Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. 7: And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 8: Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9: Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire ó its head with its legs and its entrails. 10: You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 11: And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lordís Passover. 12: 'For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 13: Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. 14: 'So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
Judgment was coming on all the firstborn of Egypt. God's wrath would bring His reality and power to bare on every Egyptian home.
Each Hebrew family was to select a lamb, a male without spot or blemish, for a sacrifice. This pointed forward to Christ as the spotless Lamb of God who would one day shed his blood for the whole world.
The blood of the lamb was to be applied to the doorposts of the home. Applying the blood to the doorposts portrays our application of Christ's shed blood to our hearts by faith.
The lamb had to be roasted, symbolizing the sufferings of Christ under Godís wrath.
God had established a Memorial that pictured the coming of Jesus as the Lamb of God whose blood would be shed at Calvary.
At the first Passover, only those who applied the blood to the doorpost escaped the death angel. And the believer is saved from God's wrath by applying the shed blood of Jesus to our heart.
Jesus did shed His blood for the whole world but that blood has to be applied to our sins individually. We have to come to Jesus personally to be saved.
The blood of the Passover lamb was not to be put on the threshold. It was not to be trampled on. If you reject Jesus Christ, youíre trampling on His blood.
God declared ďthis day shall be to you a memorial; Ē Itís a memorial to His loved ones. Romans 5:8: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." We can't explain the love of God. He demonstrated it by sending His Son to die for our sins.
The Passover and the death of all the firstborn of Egypt prompted Pharaoh to let Godís people go. Their freedom from slavery soon looked like a bad choice but God had a plan.
Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurred to God? That's because God has always had a plan and His plans are perfect.
Letís look at some things God had to plan for. I don't think Moses figured all this out before he left Egypt. Moses believed in God, and God took care of these things for him.
The Exodus consisted of over 2 million people crossing the Red Sea and living and traveling in the desert for forty years.
First things first. To get across the Red Sea in one day would take a dry path three miles wide so they could walk about 5,000 abreast.
Passing through the Red Sea and redemption from Egypt pictures a position of death, burial and resurrection for Godís people.
God supplied their needs in the wilderness for 40 years and here are some fairly reliable estimates of their daily needs: About 750 square miles of camping space each day. Each person had to carry a paddle to bury their waste in the sand. (There arenít any Kibos in the desert.) 1500 tons of manna and quail as food for the people each day. 4,000 tons of wood for cooking and for the Tabernacle sacrifices each day. 11 million gallons of water per day.
These figures are estimates and donít include the water and feed necessary for their livestock.
God had no problem taking care of all their needs. He has no problem taking care of our needs. His power is inexhaustible and His plan is perfect. Thatís why He made memorials. He wants us to remember what He does for us and what Jesus did for us.
There are two memorials in connection with the crossing of the Jordan River.
Joshua 4:2-7 and verse 9: Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, 3: And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, 12 stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. 6: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? 7: Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever."
A second memorial is described in Verse 9: "And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day."
When we consider, from manís point of view, the insurmountability of the Red Sea crossing that required a three mile wide dry pathway through the sea floor and the crossing of the Jordan in flood stage which required the same, why do we try to limit the power of God?
The priests entering the Jordan bearing the Ark of the Covenant picture Christ going through a sinnerís death to make a way for us to possess salvation and rest.
The Jordan crossing pictures His people experiencing death with Him, being buried with Him and coming out of the waters of death with Him into resurrection life.
The spiritual counterpart to this is Romans 6:5: ďFor if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,Ē
Until the priests bearing the Ark opened up the Jordan River it was said that ďYou have not passed this way heretofore.Ē Joshua 3:4. And until Jesus opened the path to victorious living for us, that could be said about us.
There were two memorials with 12 stones each, one stone for each of the tribes of Israel. The first emphasized that all 12 tribes had been redeemed out of Egypt and had been in the desert together and entered the land at the same time.
The second, hidden in the river from manís sight but not from Godís sight, denotes the unity of God's people in every age and is a memorial to God.
The people crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month after leaving Egypt, the very day the paschal lamb was to be set apart for the Passover. There would be a memorial celebration of the Passover four days after this, celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the first Passover in Egypt. This was pointing forward to the day the spotless Lamb of God would be set apart to be the sacrifice for our sins, opening the way for sinful man to accept God's forgiveness. If you haven't accepted that salvation, make sure this is the day you accept Christ and make this a memorial day of your own.