The dictionary defines perspective as ‘a point of view’. Our point of view is something often very unique from one individual to the next. As Christians, God’s Word commands us to filter everything through the point of view of Scripture. So what is Scripture’s perspective on Memorials?
Joshua chapter four provides a very good Old Testament account of Scripture’s perspective towards memorials. Almighty God gives the instructions to build a memorial at the Jordan River in verses 1-3. The purpose for the memorial is given in verse 6- to cause future generations of Israelite children to ask why? This would be an open door for parents to tell the children the great work that Jehovah did for his people. The life expectancy of the memorial is given in verse 7, as Jehovah intended for it remain with indefinitely. Joshua goes on in verse 24 to further flesh out the spiritual significance of this memorial, he says, That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.
Memorials, like this one at the Jordan River, were significant because they provided an historical and spiritual marker for the people. Future generations needed this marker to function as God wanted them to function as a people group devoted to Him.
Not every structure called a memorial today has spiritual significance to it. However, most all, no doubt, hold some form of historical significance. An opportunity for a child to ask a question, which provides a parent or authority figure a chance to tell them ‘why’. A healthy perspective in a child is one molded, shaped, and communicated by a parent.
When the Israelite children asked their parents about the memorial, their parents got to tell them about the greatness of God and the miracles he performed for his people. But also, they would have recounted to the children how their forefather made serious mistakes in the wilderness. How God let a whole generation die off because of sin, before allowing them to enter the land. There would have been some ugly, difficult things to communicate to the children.
Memorials are a marker for future generations. They provoke communication about both good and ugly events, wise and poor choices, right and wrong. To remove the memorial only does a disservice to the future generations. If the Israelites removed this memorial it would be for one of two reasons: 1) to turn their back on their God and ignore Him, or 2) to not have to take the time to be parents and communicate to their children and grandchildren.
So, in my perspective, is our culture trying to forget and turn their back on something? Or is it trying to shirk the responsibility of communicating to the younger generation? Whichever it is, neither is a healthy perspective for culture.