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August 1, 2021 | Javan Shashaty
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“So we decided to build the altar, not for burnt offerings or sacrifices, but as a memorial. It will remind our descendants and your descendants that we, too, have the right to worship the Lord at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices, and peace offerings. Then your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no claim to the Lord.’”—Joshua 22:26–27 (NLT)
People sure do love symbology. I’m referring to the use of something to symbolize something else. A little band on your ring finger is meant to symbolize the loving union between husband and wife. The Star of David around someone’s neck symbolizes his or her Jewish faith. The Rod of Asclepius symbolizes the medical profession. The jolly Roger flag on a ship let everyone know they were dealing with pirates. The Statue of Liberty symbolizes freedom and opportunity.
These objects, symbols, and landmarks represent something significant. They often carry a great deal of history behind them and tell us much of what we need to know about a person or place. When I see that staff with the snake, I know I’ve encountered something healthcare related. When I see someone wearing a wedding ring, I know that means that person is married. And the Reubenites and Gadites hoped that, even years and years later, when the rest of Israel’s tribes would see the replica altar they built, that it would be a reminder, a clear symbol to them “of the relationship both of us have with the Lord” (Joshua 22:28 NLT).
As we covered yesterday, these tribes were afraid that the rest of the tribes that actually went in and settled in the Promised Land as opposed to outside the Promised Land west of the Jordan would revoke their claim as children of God and forbid them from offering sacrifices and worshiping at the real altar. So, this memorial—this altar—was meant to serve as a symbol, a milestone marker, something that would remind all the people of Israel, regardless of which side of the Jordan they settled in, that they were all children of God.
Today, I want to encourage you to have a marker of some sort of your relationship with God that’s visible to you. Maybe it’s a beautiful canvas or board with your life verse on it, maybe it’s a Bible you’ve had since you first became a believer, maybe it’s a bracelet or necklace. The purpose of this is so you can have something to look at that will readily remind you of your relationship with the Lord. In fearful moments, you can look at your personal marker and be reminded of what God has done for you. In difficult moments, you can look at it and be reminded of the calling God has placed on your life.
DIG: How do objects tell us about the things they represent?
DISCOVER: What altars have been set up in your life?
DO: Find your altar. Consider what it could be—your old Bible, a canvas, etc
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.