In the book of Joshua there is an emphasis on monuments. The children of Israel have been redeemed from slavery in Egypt and God has been working on them in the wilderness for 40 years under the leadership of Moses. During this time, all the memorials that they have are holidays and feasts that they celebrate, or commandments they do. These are to remind them of God’s work in their lives and their covenant with Him. But because they are wandering in a land that isn’t destined to be where they settle, there are no monuments.
Joshua is different in this sense. There are multiple monuments that Joshua places where God showed his people a significant work. These are ‘memory triggers’ and God wants his people to remember what He did in their lives. The purpose of each monument is that it would be a reminder to them and a way to teach their children about God’s work.
When they cross the Jordan River and God holds back the water, they take stones from the midst of the river and set it up as a memorial. This was a sign of the supernatural way God made for them to enter into the land of their inheritance. The people could have worked out for themselves a way to go across the river, but God wanted them to know that it was He that made the way. So they took 12 large stones from the middle of the river, smooth stones that would have been out of place if you set them up away from the river. These became the monument and they were to be a physical reminder for them to teach their children of how God’s faithfulness made a way for them to inherit the Land.
Monuments of victory are easy to set up and even something we like to maintain. But there were also memorials that reminded the people of their failures. Joshua chapter 7 is the story of Achan and how his sin caused the Children of Israel to lose their battle at the city of Ai. The story ends with a large pile of stones that became Achan’s grave. The valley where this happen was called the valley of “Achor” (Josh.7:26) God knew that the failures were just as important to remember as the victories.
There is a tendency to think that people will value us more if we only talk about the monuments of victory in our lives. But I have found that people value the honest memory of failure and the story of how God used it in my life just as much as the victories, if not more so. By hiding the monuments of our failures we also hide who we really are and cause people to have a distorted picture. I can now thank God who has turned the failures of my life into my most valued defense against pride and self-sufficiency.
The wonderful thing is that later on in the book of Hosea, the prophet talks about God’s promise of restoration to His people and doesn’t mention the monuments of victory, but He takes the people to same valley of failure, the valley of “Achor,” and says:
‘Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. And it shall be, in that day,” Says the Lord, “that you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ And no longer call Me ‘My Master,‘ –Hos 2:14-16.
If you allow God to take a hold of your failures, He will cause them to become the place where you discover that He is “your Husband” and no longer just “your Master.” It is in the valley of ‘Achor’ and the valley of your failure that will become the place where you will discover your intimacy with Him.