Tag Archive: Joshua


Chp 7- The Battle Begins (Bible Study)

Walls of Jericho

Chapter 7 Summary

Israel had spent the last 40 years on a road to nowhere. A lot can change in 40 years. All of the people who were slaves in Egypt had died, except for two, Joshua and Caleb. Moses had died too. Joshua had been his right-hand man, and he was Israel’s new leader. The wilderness of disobedience and defeat was behind them now, and a new generation camped at Canaan’s edge.

A lot had changed during the wilderness years, but God had not. The promise He’d made to Abraham over 600 years before was about to turn into reality. The LORD spoke to Joshua saying, “Be strong and courageous, for I am with you.  Be careful to obey my law.”  Joshua listened well. He had spied out the land as a young man and trusted God to give it to them as He’d promised.  Now he sent two spies into Jericho to appraise the land.  They were hidden in the house of Rahab, a prostitute who protected them from the king of Jericho.  She boldly confessed her faith in the LORD as the one true God who had given the land to Israel.  The spies responded to her faith by agreeing to save her whole family when they attacked Jericho.

This new generation of Israelites had heard the stories about crossing the Red Sea on dry land; now, their first steps into the Promised Land were taken across another patch of dry land when God parted the Jordan River – another highway leading into God’s promise.

When they reached Jericho, the military strategy was unorthodox.  The priests marched the Ark of the Covenant around Jericho’s walls each day for six days.  On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times. Their parade concluded with the sound of trumpets and shouts as they completed a seventh circle around the city.  Amazingly, the walls of Jericho collapsed!  Jericho was destroyed and Rahab and her family were saved.

The land of Canaan was a place of conquest and victory for Israel. When Israel obeyed, God faithfully delivered her enemies into her hands.  When they failed to trust Him, they missed out on the fulfillment of those promises. Even the temporary defeat at Ai caused by disobedience was later turned to victory when the people followed God’s command.  In the annihilation of entire cities we see God’s holy intolerance of sin. In the account of Gibeon we see God’s mercy extended to a people who were willing to follow the true God. After taking the entire region by force, Joshua divided up the land by tribe as Israel’s inheritance.

The chapter closes with Joshua’s final words as he recounts the stories of God’s faithfulness and deliverance. God will keep His promises. He will also let us choose whether or not we will participate in the blessings of His promises. These stories of God’s people are our stories too, and like Joshua we must, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” Joshua stated he and his “household [would] serve the LORD.”  Which will you choose?

Before we move on to the study I want to share with you something I put in the weekly reflection concerning some of the disturbing images of chapter 7.

I have to be upfront with you before we get going on this blog topic today. Reading through the accounts of Joshua and Chapter 7 of the Story make me uncomfortable and a bit troubled. There is a lot of death, killing and utter destruction. I would really love to tell you that I have figured out ways of making myself comfortable with this or explain it away, but Christians can not avoid these pieces or simply just make them symbolic pictures.

After struggling with this topic for some time I have concluded that I am not supposed to be comfortable with this. It is true that the Bible contains graphic stories of sin, evil, and death. But it also includes the overarching grand narrative of love, redemption and grace. It showcases a God who asks us to not criticize him about his acts of justice, but instead come alongside him and grieve over a world that has misused the gift of freedom and has picked evil instead of good. When that does occur, God acts in righteousness, and the world discovers that consequences exist for evil behavior. The Prophet Isaiah speaks to this when he says:

“At night my soul longs for you, indeed, my spirit within me seeks you diligently; for when the earth experiences your judgements the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9)

As you read these difficult stories, join me in lamenting the horrific acts and the justice that demanded God to act in punishment. In the same way we can also see the wonderful picture of love and faithfulness that the Old Testament highlights as God’s foremost characteristic.

On to the study…

Rahab, A Woman of Flaws and Faith

When the story of Joshua opens, the Israelites are outside of the Promised Land while the Canaanites are inside the Promised Land.  For God’s divine plan to move forward, the Israelites need to take up residence in the land while the Canaanite inhabitants must be removed from the land.  This is but one of many ironies in the book of Joshua.

The character of Rahab is another prime example of irony in the Joshua narrative.  She is the quintessential Canaanite!  Yet she has more faith than the nation of Israel had while they wandered in the wilderness for the last 40 years!

I.  Rahab’s Vantage Point- Joshua 2

For the second time, God was ready to hand over the land of the Canaanites to the Israelites. Joshua was leading a whole new generation, who had not lived through the miraculous deliverance that their fathers had experienced.  But the stories from their history, and their own experiences of the power of the One True God, had given courage to the Israelite soldiers.  It had also “melted the hearts” of all the cultures around them. Rahab could see the coming doom. She knew that the God of the Israelites was the “God of Heaven above and on the earth below”.  She had realized that before the Israelite spies appeared on her doorstep.

Discover Rahab’s vantage point from Joshua 2. Read Joshua 2

1. Why did Rahab have so much information about the Israelites and the attitude of the Canaanites?

 

2. What two events particularly persuaded Rahab to believe in God?

 

3. Describe the morale of the Canaanites.

 

4. What actions put Rahab on the side of the Israelite invaders? (v. 4-6)

Rahab’s lie:  While it is not God’s ideal that we lie “our sin in Adam has created an ethical mess from which we sometimes can’t (don’t) extricate ourselves” (Howard). Is there ever a time when a lie has been okay in your life? How do you know?

v. 11

v. 12-13

v. 15-16

5. What was the promise that the spies had made to Rahab from Joshua 2: 12-21.

 

6. What was their promise to her? (v. 14)

 

7. What was Rahab’s situation now?  Did she have anything to lose by making an agreement with the spies?

 

8. Who would ultimately have to guarantee this promise? (v. 12)

II. Joshua’s Vantage Point- Joshua 1:3—6

The spies and Joshua were relying on the information of a Canaanite prostitute. Her help was invaluable, not only because she protected them but because of her description of the poor morale among the Canaanites in Jericho.  She risked her life and the lives of her family on her beliefs.  But Rahab was not the only one who made a courageous decision. Joshua was following orders and he was under no obligation to honor the spies’ verbal contract with a prostitute who belonged to ‘the enemy’!

  • Read God’s instructions in Deuteronomy 7:1-2 and 20:16-19.

1. What had God specifically commanded Joshua to do to the people they would conquer?

 

2. Were they allowed to make any agreements or contracts with the people of Canaan?

  • Review the mission that God had given Joshua from Joshua 1.

3. What state of mind did God want Joshua and the Israelites to have?

 

4. What was God’s repeated promise to Joshua?

  • Joshua led the Israelites into battle.  Joshua 3—6

5. How did the Israelites cross the Jordan river?  (3:16)

 

6. How many soldiers approached Jericho? (4:13)

 

7. What was necessary before the Israelites could enter the land?   Why? (5:5-8)

  • Discover how Joshua viewed Rahab.  Joshua 6:17-19.

8. What were Joshua’s instructions about Rahab and her household?

 

9. Why could Joshua’s order to rescue Rahab and her family be considered courageous?

 

10. What do you think Joshua meant when he said “But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them” Joshua 6:18.

When Rahab confessed “for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:11), she effectively identified herself with the Israelites.  She demonstrated through her actions that she no was no longer a Canaanite at heart. We have no knowledge of how Joshua came to the conclusion that Rahab should be rescued and saved from destruction.  We do know however, that God promised to be with Joshua. God knew Rahab’s heart.  He accepted her as one of the “treasures” that were devoted to Him. In fact, Rahab carried the most precious treasure of all; she is one of Jesus’ ancestors! God wanted Rahab to be saved.

 

III. Our vantage point.

1.  What is your unique vantage point in life?

 

2.  Discuss how these insights that have helped you see the wisdom of following Christ.

 

3.  What does the salvation of her family tell us about God’s kindness to Rahab?

 

4.  Family is usually highly treasured.  Do you think God cares about your family as much as you do?  Why?

 

5.  How can we devote ourselves and our family to God?

Key Question:  How do you need to “change sides” in your life to join forces with others in God’s Kingdom?

For Additional Reflection:

Read the full account of the Fall of Jericho and the events that followed from Joshua, chapters 3—7.  Note the various times and ways that Joshua and the Israelites worshiped God:

Was God intimately involved with them, or withdrawn?

Is there a subject in Chapter 7 that you wanted to talk about? What questions came to your mind when you read the chapter?

The Battle Begins

I have to be upfront with you before we get going on this blog topic today. Reading through the accounts of Joshua and Chapter 7 of the Story make me uncomfortable and a bit troubled. There is a lot of death, killing and utter destruction. I would really love to tell you that I have figured out ways of making myself comfortable with this or explain it away, but Christians can not avoid these pieces or simply just make them symbolic pictures.

After struggling with this topic for some time I have concluded that I am not supposed to be comfortable with this. It is true that the Bible contains graphic stories of sin, evil, and death. But it also includes the overarching grand narrative of love, redemption and grace. It showcases a God who asks us to not criticize him about his acts of justice, but instead come alongside him and grieve over a world that has misused the gift of freedom and has picked evil instead of good. When that does occur, God acts in righteousness, and the world discovers that consequences exist for evil behavior. The Prophet Isaiah speaks to this when he says:

“At night my soul longs for you, indeed, my spirit within me seeks you diligently; for when the earth experiences your judgements the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9)

As you read these difficult stories, join me in lamenting the horrific acts and the justice that demanded God to act in punishment. In the same way we can also see the wonderful picture of love and faithfulness that the Old Testament highlights as God’s foremost character.

On to the story…

Imagine for a moment that our military was going to face a battle with an enemy that was in a territory unfamiliar to them. This is their strategy: we are going to go over there and fight, but I don’t know how we are going to get there. We are not going to bring any weapons to fight with but bring along the guitar.  Does this sound like the beginnings of a plan that you would think would be successful? I don’t think so.

The strategy for the Israelites was not much different. Joshua says to the people we are going to cross the Jordan river, but I don’t know how. When we finally get to Jericho and face our first big battle, don’t bring your weapons, but instead bring the horns because that is all you will need. Would you be the first to sign up for that fight? I know I wouldn’t.

How much time do we spend on strategy? I think we spend a lot of time in strategy without ever getting to execution. We want to plan everything out, figure out worse case scenarios, map out every move and stick with the plan. If the strategy doesn’t look good or it doesn’t work out in your head you will not be willing to move forward. Planning is good and should be thought of…but our own failures can get caught up in the strategy.

We learn about a simplified version of strategy with the Israelites when the battle begins. For the first battle there is no other strategy than this – Trust God! If this battle was going to be won the people needed to know that it was going to be by God’s hand and not by their strategy, hand or weapons. It took 40 years of wandering to learn this.

We are facing battles everyday. Maybe we are not facing the huge battles everyday, but maybe we can learn in the small battles before we face the huge ones. We can learn from them today and hopefully not have it take 40 years. When you are facing a battle, let’s spend more time with God and his path and direction and less time on our strategy and direction. Could it be this easy? Let’s find out.

What have you learned through time about trusting God?

Perspective 1- Barb Miles

Finally, the Israelites had victory in Canaan. After so many years of letting the Lord down, He opened the Jordan River to cross, and after all the men had been circumcised they were ready to do battle. Since it took the Israelites many generations to finally get to live in the Promised Land, there was still a lot of teaching to do. God did not give up on them. Joshua was now the leader who who would carry on for Moses. Think of our own families, as the next generation grew up, they were seen as the leader of the family

How did the King of Jericho know the Israelite messengers had been at Rahab’s house? Did God lead them there? How did those two Israelites know they should stop at Rahab’s house? I believe she was known at that time to be a believer even though her occupation was not honorable.

Taking away a perspective from this chapter, I would have to say that God doesn’t give up on anyone. We all know that, but do we live by it? I believe I will, once again in my life, focus on the love from God, and think more frequently about when I do and when I don’t obey the 10 commandments.

Perspective 2- Kelsey Rath

Kelsey is a new contributor to “The Story” perspectives. She is 12 years old and in the 6th grade. She likes to read, write, listen to music, play guitar, and cook & bake. I look forward to reading her perspectives on what she sees God doing in his story.

While reading chapter 7 of The Story, one sentence really stood out to me. Pg.89- “Be strong and very courageous.” In the book of Deuteronomy and the book of Joshua, that is used quite often.

1. Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

2. Deuteronomy 31:7

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the landthatthe LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.

3. Deuteronomy 31:23

The LORD gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.”

4. Joshua 1:7

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

5. Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

When Moses led them, they had doubt about the Promised Land because they knew there were giants there and they were insecure about it. Because they were too afraid to go in, the consequence was they had to wander in the desert for 40 years. But when Joshua led, they had to enter Jericho and walk around the wall, they thought it was odd, but God and Joshua both said you have to be strong and courageous.

Perspective 3- Dan Petrak

Perspective 4- Pastor Ron

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, the for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” With those words the conquest of the promise land begins. From the first battle for Jericho, to the last battle with the kings of the land, it was clear that God was giving them the land. Yes they fought and many died, but it was only by the hand of God that the enemies were defeated. The walls of Jericho fall down, the sun stands still, and hail pummels the opposing army. In dramatic, and in subtle ways, God makes sure that the people know He is their God and He has not abandoned them.

Joshua, for his part, reads the entire known scriptures of the time to the people on at least two occasions. Joshua will not let the people forget the promises, the laws, and the decrees of God. He will mark them as God’s people and will keep them grounded in God’s Word.

So I find it curious that with all the evidence God had given them the land, Joshua reading the known scriptures twice, and constantly reminding the people that they serve the one true God…yet at the end of his life he asked them who will they serve. Really? Wouldn’t it be self-evident? Who could deny the works of God? Who could explain the victories they enjoyed? I suppose the same could be said today. With every advance we make in science, space exploration, and medicine I want to ask, “Who can deny the works of God? Who can explain the mysteries of this universe?” Well, a lot of people actually, or at least, lots of people who think they can. Even we as believers can begin to explain away the presence of God in our lives.

The take away for me? Remind yourself of your baptism and the fact that God has claimed you as His own. Read the scriptures…God’s story on a regular basis and stay rooted in the faith relationship that God has made with you.

After all that God had provided His people; after all the times that He had shown them His power to protect and bless them, the spies sent into the promised land came back and said that it would be suicide to do what God had commanded. All but two–Caleb and Joshua, who begged the people to obey God and enter the land. They would not, which led to another forty years of desert education.

It’s easy to criticize the spies who came back saying, “There’s giants there!”  I wonder, though, how many times we do the same thing.

I was sitting in my favorite fast food “office” the other day and noted a very scruffy man in his 50s sitting with a backpack and a cup of coffee. I had seen him there before, but this time something urged me to go over to him and say “I don’t want to offend, but would you like to have a McMuffin to go with your coffee?”

Another something inside me said, “There’s giants there!”  I listened to the wrong voice, and after awhile he hoisted his backpack and walked out the door and down the street. I wasn’t very proud of myself for fearing giants in the land.

How many times have you had opportunity to help another person, but ringing in your ears was the phrase, “There’s giants there!”

Stand for God or Fall for Idols

The Rev. Peter Marshall said in a prayer before the Senate in 1947, “Unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.” I don’t know what the issue of that particular day was, but the statement still rings true today.

We are concluding our series in the book of Joshua this weekend in worship. I can’t think of a better way to end this series than a strong proclamation of standing on God’s Word and Promises.

We have moved quite a bit from the place we were the last week. We are in the last chapter of the book where we find Joshua towards the end of his life. As it happens in life today, people who are in their last season of life begin to think about the legacy they will leave behind. Joshua has seen and experienced a lot in his lifetime. He has rejoiced in the good times and wept in the bad. He has ridden the roller coaster with the people of Israel as they have been dedicated to God and then fallen away. He is now ready to address all the people one last time. Let’s listen to hear what he has to say:

“Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God…” (Joshua then goes on for 12 verses and reminds them of where they have come from) He continues, “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua lays it out as plainly as possible to a stick-necked people. These people have witnessed the hand of God on an up close and personal basis and yet Joshua still sees a people dabbling with other gods. I can almost see this as a preacher standing up and speaking the truth to an idolatrous generation. I picture him standing up and saying, “You all need to stop it with this idol worship. You can’t claim to be a follower of the one true God, and serve all these other gods. Stop acting like a hypocrite and let the world know where you stand.” He then follows that up with, “If this doesn’t seem desirable to you (I hear sarcasm in his voice), then go serve the other gods solely. But me and my household, we will be serving the Lord till we have no breath left.”

Joshua has chosen to take a stand for what he believes. He can’t sit back any longer and watch these people selling themselves out to other gods while they proclaim allegiance to God. He is hoping that people will listen and rise up to take a stand along with him, but one thing is for sure he will stand even if he stands alone.

Every culture is dominated by its own set of idols. Each culture has its shrines, whether office towers, spas and gyms, studios, or stadiums. We have gods of beauty, power, money and achievement. We may not kneel before a statue, or burn incense to a god, or perform child sacrifice…but people are driven to depression by an obsessive concern over image, money and career are raised to highest importance and we neglect family and community to achieve higher status through wealth and prestige. In ancient times the deities were bloodthirsty and impossible to please… Guess what? Nothing has changed.

In our day we must shine a light on our cultures idolatry problem because we are blissfully unaware of the problem that exists, and it is as strong as it ever has been. What is an idol? I like the way Thomas Oden explains it, “It is anything that has more importance to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”

Each person should take a look at that and ask themselves if there are idols in their life. Understand this, no one will be innocent or left standing to judge. Once identified, ask God to help you put those idols where they belong. We can then place our trust in God to forgive us by the blood of Jesus Christ of our idolatry, so that we can stand and declare along with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Isn’t it time for Christians to take a stand upon God’s Word, turn away from false idols and hypocrisy? What is holding you back? Take a moment and write out your declaration and then tell someone about it today.

Get up and Go: Getting Past your Jordan

I apologize for not publishing an article in almost two weeks. The series we are in has been an amazing journey through the Book of Joshua. I have found that there has always been more to learn and ways to grow in faith. Keep your hearts and ears open!

Karen Kennedy is the author of this weeks blog. She has an amazing heart for God and brings a different perspective on faith and life.

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5

The years in the wilderness were filled with wrath and death, but those times have now expired–the children of Israel are poised to enter into Canaan. They are ready to claim their inheritance in the land of promise. Before they can enter Canaan, they must first get past one final, major obstacle–the rapidly flooding Jordan River.

With boldness and faith Joshua gives the order to the priests, “When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s water, go and stand in the river.” In other words, the priests had to put their feet into the raging river. He then orders the entire nation to break camp, which is no small undertaking. If Joshua has misinterpreted God’s command or God changes his mind–Joshua will have made an incredible mistake.

The tension continues, Joshua commanded the people to follow the priests into the river! Can you feel the suspense? Joshua, the priests, the people remembering their wilderness experience while looking at the river rushing before them. Do we stay, or do we go? This is not only a step of faith that the waters will not harm them, but also a forward motion of the leaving their 40-year wilderness routine behind them. The promised land is almost reachable, but there was a lot at stake if they put their feet in the river. There was no way they could cross this river on their own! They needed supernatural help.

As we read the story, we see the happy ending, but they did not. They were required to believe the promise of God by stepping out in faith. It was not easy, it took plenty of courage for them to step out on God’s promises.

Similarly in our lives, we will all be called to step out in faith in some area of life–to put our feet in the water, following God’s lead, leaving behind the familiar while reaching toward God’s calling. At that point, we need to fully realize that God’s promises are larger than our Jordan’s and that we need supernatural help to take faith’s first step.

When have you had to take a step of faith? How difficult was the decision? What advice would you give to others who are struggling with the idea of trusting in God instead of their own ways?

Confident Apprehension

A couple of weeks ago I took my kids to the local amusement park. I love roller-coasters, and it took a lot of prodding to get my daughter to finally go on the roller-coasters a number of years ago but now she loves to ride them. My son has always had an excuse not to ride with us; he was not tall enough to ride the bigger roller-coasters. This month he is turning 10 and is now big enough to ride on all the rides; good for me but not so good for him. We arrived at “The Dragon.”

It has a big drop and two loops, while going at a high rate of speed. My son has ridden the regular coasters but never one with loops. As we raced to get in line, my son was not as energetic to get there. He looked up through the line and caught a glimpse of the loops and fear overcame him. His little face turned white and tears were forming in his eyes. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “I know that I am going to love it, but right now I am scared.” He looked at the ride he has never been on and knew everything was going to be fine, but the fear of the unknown left him apprehensive about riding. Aren’t we all apprehensive about the unknown? In decisions both big and small, when there is an unknown factor there is bound to be some fear. Can we ever get to the point where it can be a confident apprehension?

We are starting a new message series this weekend called “Be Strong and Courageous: Lessons from the Book of Joshua.” Joshua is the new leader for Israel after the 40 years of wandering. Moses was the last leader. He was a staple in their community for a long time and now there is a new leader. Will the people follow Joshua or will they resist his leadership? The people of Israel were supposed to headed into the promise land, but it wouldn’t be without its challenges. Did the people learn to trust in God through the wanderings or are they the same people just in a different time? Joshua and the people were full of questions, questions that had unknown answers. Joshua is assured of some great promises right away in this first chapter. The promise of victory over every enemy. The promise of the presence and power of God. The promise of the faithfulness of God. The promise of absolute victory. The promise of God to keep His promises. God assured Joshua of all these things but do you think the fear was gone? I don’t think so! In chapter one alone God tells Joshua five times in different ways to be strong and courageous. Would God say that to a man who was confident? But through God’s promises, it is interesting to note that later on in the book Joshua orders the people to get ready to cross the Jordan before he sends the spies into the land! That is confidence in God’s promises, even though apprehension of the unknown is present.

There are times in life when we face some major challenges. It may not be conquering a land with a group of people who are not soldiers, but wanderers – yet we can feel as ill-equipped when the doctor starts telling us how we have to care for our aged parent, when we find out the retirement account is gone, or that our child has an addiction or any numerous issues that challenge us. The same promises that were with Joshua in battle are with us when we are going through our battles. Romans 8:28 is often quoted but still remains true:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

We can have a confidence that flows from the work that we know that God is doing. Does it mean that our apprehension will be gone? No, but it can be a confident apprehension. Maybe you have been like my son and said something like, “I know it is going to be good, but right now I am little scared.” In those moments don’t rely on your own power or confidence but trust in the One who promises to be with us through the pain and in the joys. His promises are always true!

What in your life right now are you apprehensive about? Is that apprehension keeping you from confidence? Have you spent a lot of time worrying before taking it to God? What can you do today to be confident?

Look forward to hearing from you as we have a conversation about apprehension and confidence.

Have a great day!

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