Explore the Bible Study: Commissioned

3:49 PM

Many of us recently watched as a place that holds so many memories was ravaged by wildfires. The Gatlinburg/ Pigeon Forge area is a special place for so many people. It was a place for retreats, vacations, and opportunities to explore God's creation. So what happens when something so dear is lost? How do we respond? What will those who lost so much do next? For Joshua and the Israelites it was simple, "Be Strong and Courageous" because "I (God) will never leave you or forsake you." They had just lost their beloved leader, Moses. This simple word of encouragement meant Joshua and the people of God had a decision to make regarding what God wanted them to do next - to obey or disobey, to give up or move forward, to trust or turn away from God. This is the topic we will dive into in this week's Explore the Bible Study: Commissioned, from LifeWay.

I hope the following teaching ideas will help supplement what you have already prepared to teach this coming week. I pray God will use the study to help your group determine how willing they are to obey God, even when their world has been rocked by change.

Gene Getz provides a good introduction that will help you understand the context of what Joshua was facing in chapter 1.


LOOK UP: Getting focused on the text.
In Advance: Display the following question, “Now what are we supposed to do?”

Illustration Option:
Use the following video or describe the scene.

How many of you remember the scene in Forrest Gump when Forrest quits his cross-country run and decides to go back home? He had amassed a group of followers who had begun to run with him. When he decided to quit running and go home they asked the question, “Now what are we supposed to do?”

Ask: Have you ever been in a situation where you have asked the question, “Now what are we supposed to do?”

Discussion Option:
  • How many of you have kept up with the loss experienced in Gatlinburg by the fires?
  • What question might these folks be asking? 
  • Do you suppose their first question might be, “Now what are we supposed to do”?
  • How would you respond, if they asked you this question?
  • We begin a study today of the book of Joshua in which this question or a similar one was most likely asked. 
  • After 40 years of leadership under Moses, the Israelites were facing a major change in their circumstances as they stood at the door of the Promised Land.
  • Read: Deuteronomy 34:7-9
  • God had taught them a lot about Himself through Moses, but now Moses, their leader, had died.
  • This was a defining time for them and their new leader, Joshua, as they wondered what they should do next.
  • The book of Joshua captures the response of the Israelites and their new leader, Joshua, as they responded to God’s directions for conquering and inhabiting the Promised Land.
Transition: We begin our study with God commissioning His new leader for a new task. God answered the question, “Now what are we supposed to do?”  for Joshua and the Israelites.

LOOK IN: Unpacking the text.
Joshua 1:1-5
  • State: As Joshua 1:1-5 is read, imagine you are Joshua. The beloved leader has just died and the weight of the entire Israelite nation is resting on your shoulders. But then, God speaks!
  • Overview (Joshua’s character): Joshua was a strong military leader. This was exhibited in his battle with Amalek in Exodus 17:8-16. Exodus 24:13 describes Joshua as Moses’ personal assistant, and he was with Moses on Mount Sinai when God gave the Ten Commandments. He was one of the courageous scouts sent in to spy out the land of Canaan and one of only two who believed God would enable Israel to seize Canaan (Numbers 13:8, 16; 14:6). He was commissioned prior to Moses’ death to be Israel’s next leader (Numbers 27:18-23).
  • Discuss: Since Joshua was one of original spies who said they could conquer the land of Canaan 40 years earlier, what do you suppose he might have been thinking as God spoke to him at this point?
  • Ask: What is God communicating by making such a strong statement about Moses (“Moses my servant is dead”)? - The Israelites had grieved Moses’ death for a full month – see Deuteronomy 34:8. It was now time to move on; they couldn’t continue to remain where they were. God had a plan!
  • Display Option: Map from Blog Page or guide the group to locate a map in their study guide or Bible. God promised Israel possession of all territory between the wilderness in the south to Lebanon in the north and from the Euphrates [yoo FRAY teez] River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. Only under Kings David and Solomon did Israel ever approach actual possession of all this territory. Israel’s neighbors claimed their territories by right of possession from antiquity. The Israelites, by contrast, possessed Canaan because God had given it to them. This has created conflict that continues to this day.

  • Discuss: Knowing that, even today, the conflict regarding God’s promises to Israel is contested, should this cause us to second guess God on His decisions, directions, and promises?
  • Identify: How are some of these promises of God contested today? - Jesus is the only way of salvation. | Jesus is the Son of God. | We have the promise of eternal life in Heaven if we are Believers. | Jesus is coming again. | The Bible is God’s Word.
  • Consider: Does the fact that God’s promises are contested by others change God’s promises?
  • State: What we are faced with is whether we will continue to obey even if the promises are contested, or if our circumstances take a turn for the worse as we follow God.
  • Identify: How can knowing that “God will never leave you or forsake you” help you remain strong when faced with new challenges?
  • Transition: God didn’t just remind Joshua of His promises to Israel or reassure Joshua that He would never leave or forsake him. He also gave him some specific leadership instructions. 
Joshua 1:6-9
State: Three times in this section of the chapter God repeats His command to “be strong and courageous”. Each time His command came with some instructions. What were the instructions for each time God said, “be strong and courageous”?

Discuss (As each is identified):
First “Be Strong and Courageous” - Distribute the land according to God’s promises. 
  • Why was distributing it according to what God promised as an inheritance important? 
  • What would be wrong with the Israelites conquering more land?
  • What would be wrong if they decided that stopping before they conquered the land promised to them was o.k.?
  • What would be wrong with Joshua deciding it was o.k. for him to keep some of the land for himself?
Second “Be Strong and Courageous” - Carefully observe the whole instruction God gave to Moses.
  • What words indicate the seriousness of God’s command? (carefully observe; whole instruction; do not depart from it; recite it day and night; carefully observe everything written in it)
  • Do these instructions leave any room for compromise?
  • What were the promises God gave regarding following these instructions? (you will have success wherever you will go; prosper and succeed in everything you do.)
  • What did God mean by using the words success, prosper, and succeed? Was this a “health and wealth” theology? (No!)
  • How does knowing and obeying God’s word bring us success? How does it help us prosper?
Illustrate: When a coach tells his team that, if they will just follow the plans laid out in the play book and the techniques they have developed during practice they will be successful, what does he mean? Is he guaranteeing them a win? Does he believe they can win? Is he telling them that they won’t face difficulties?

State: Joshua understood how important the principles of the law are to God. Remember when God gave Moses the stone tablets? He met personally with their leader Moses and Joshua was the only other person on the mountain when this took place. We don't know how close he was to the glory cloud, but it must have been an awesome experience. What looked like consuming fire on top of the mountain engulfed Moses for forty days and nights while he met with God. Joshua observed the glow of God’s glory on Moses’ face and he was the first to see the stones etched by the finger of God!

He knew the importance of what God was saying to him regarding His word and all the truth God guided Moses to teach while they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. He knew he had to stick to the “playbook”!

Transition: While God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous, success would be based on his obedience. God had sovereignly worked to bring the people to this place of entering the promised land, yet He was allowing them to choose whether or not to obey Him. Joshua and the Israelites were on the banks of the Jordan, looking over into the Promised Land. Now they had to choose.

LOOK OUT: Responding to the text.
Guide: Verse 10 begins with these two words, “Then Joshua”.
  • If you are familiar with the narrative, how would you describe what took place next?
  • Substitute your name for Joshua’s – Then [Your Name]
  • How would you summarize how you respond when God directs you to do something different?
  • How would you summarize how you respond daily to God’s directives?
  • What does your response reveal about your faith and trust in God?
  • Do you truly believe that God will not leave you or forsake you as you follow and obey Him and His Word?
  • On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the strongest, how would you rate your strength and courage when it comes to following God?
Respond: Based on your responses and God’s directives to Joshua, what do you need to adjust in your walk with the Lord?


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