When the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, they were instructed to take twelve stones from their new land (Joshua 4:9) and place them in the middle of the river. The stones were to be placed where the feet of the priests stood as they held the Ark of the Covenant while the Tribes crossed over to the Promised Land.
They were also instructed (Joshua 4:1-8) to bring twelve stones out of the Jordan and place them in the new land – at Gilgal – as an altar. This was so they would not forget where they had come from and all they had experienced as they entered the Promised Land.
This ceremony was God’s way of helping them remember; thus it became a memorial. God told them that the stones would make their children ask their fathers in time to come, “What do these stones mean?” They would be able to answer them and tell them how God took them through the Red Sea at the beginning of their journey and through the Jordan River at the end – on dry ground. The stones were to be their memorial.
Scripture says those stones placed in the Jordan River are still there to this day. Sometimes I wonder just where in that river those stones were placed because I’d love to see that pile of stones after all these years!