God begins to reveal to Israel, that just because Moses had departed from them, that did not mean that God had departed from them. He was revealing this not to Israel only, but also to Joshua! Before they crossed the Jordan, God said to Joshua (Joshua could hear His voice just as Moses could!), “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you,” (Jos 3:7).
And then, the LORD parted the waters of Jordan so Israel could cross over on dry ground. He did the exact same miracle for Joshua, that He had done for Moses, so that all Israel (Joshua included) would know that the LORD was still with them, and with him. He did not merely tell Joshua to be strong and courageous, for He was with him. He gave Joshua evidence that He was with him. He gave him something tangible he could remember when he needed to strengthen himself!
God has commanded many such tangible reminders for His people. The Sabbath and feast days are tangible reminders, which come around again week after week and year after year. Circumcision is a tangible reminder. The ark of the covenant is a tangible reminder, as is the tabernacle. The twelve memorial stones are tangible reminders. Today’s reading reveals the purpose for all these visual aids: that we might teach our children about God and what He has done. God made children, He knows what they need in order to learn something so that it sticks with them. These tangible reminders, visual aids, and memorials are for the children’s sake, so that they too might grow up with circumcised hearts toward the LORD their God.
Parents, raising your children in church will not guarantee that they will grow up with circumcised hearts to the LORD. Taking them to Awanas and Sunday school and youth group will not guarantee that they will grow up with circumcised hearts to the LORD. We did that. We were children’s church leaders! We and our children also, were at the church every time the doors were open. Our children, however, did not grow up to have circumcised hearts toward the LORD.
But when we said to ourselves, “Hmmm, maybe God is smarter than we are, and He told us what would guarantee that our children will grow up to have circumcised hearts toward the LORD. He gave us His commandments and told us to observe them and remember certain things and teach certain things to our children.” When we started obeying ALL of God’s commandments, and conforming to God’s instructions for our children, our children returned with circumcised hearts toward the LORD, even though they were adults at the time.
God’s Word is true and He will perform it. He is faithful and His word is trustworthy. That is why He also allows the consequences of not obeying His commandments to come upon us, so that we will learn that His Word is true!