Explore the Bible Study: Commitment Kept

7:04 PM

Do you remember when a handshake was as good as a written contract? I remember seeing my dad shaking hands with people to seal an agreement. He knew that his handshake stood for something, and he would strive to live by that agreement no matter what. We see this example in LifeWay's Explore the Bible Study: Commitment Kept.

The study covers Joshua's and the Israelites' commitment to keeping a covenant they had made with the Gibeonites. The narrative includes one of the most amazing miracles in the Old Testament. The following video link gives some information that you will find helpful in leading the discussion regarding this miracle.

Consider using some of the following ideas when teaching this session:

LOOK UP: Getting focused on the text.
  • Display (In Advance): “I’ve Got Your Back”
  • Discuss (once most adults have arrived): Call attention to the phrase and ask: "Have there been times in your life when someone said this or something similar to you? How did you feel knowing someone was backing you up? Were any of these times due to a bad commitment you had made but you still needed to honor?"
  • Explain: When we face these situations in life, whatever they may be, we may feel as if we are alone. But if we are believers, then we can always know that someone, especially God, is committed to watching our backs. When we turn to them and Him, we will see God work in ways we never expected. 
  • Introduce: In Joshua 9, God’s people made one of those bad commitments. After conquering Jericho and Ai, Israel had control of the central part of the Promised Land. As word of this spread, the Gibeonites devised a plan to keep Israel from attacking them. They were tricked by the Gibeonites into making a covenant with them, not knowing that the Gibeonites were part of the region that they were to conquer and destroy.
  • Read: Joshua 9:16-23
  • Explain: News of this commitment spread, which prompted a coalition of Canaan’s southern kings to plan an attack against the Gibeonites. 
  • Transition: Let’s see how God used this unwise action to bring about His purposes. 
LOOK IN: Unpacking the text.

Joshua 10:6

  • What were Joshua’s options with this request? 
  • How would most people respond to protecting people who had tricked them? 
  • Could Joshua have rationalized that this was an opportunity to get out of the commitment that had been made? 
  • Could he have allowed the Gibeonites to be conquered? 
  • How important is it for believers to keep their commitments, even if they have an opportunity to get out of those commitments?
  • Read Matthew 5:37. What does this passage communicate regarding the importance of keeping commitments?
  • What kind of impact can it have on others when they see God’s people keeping commitments—even small ones? (PSG, p. 35)
  • What are some commitments Jesus makes to us? Do we expect Him to keep these commitments? If so, what does that communicate to us regarding keeping commitments?
Transition: Let’s see how Joshua responds to this situation and how God responds to Joshua.

Joshua 10:7-11 

  • What did God do to confirm that Joshua was making the right decision? (The Lord said, “Do not be afraid of them, for I have handed them over to you . . .” – v. 8; The Lord threw them into confusion – v. 10; The Lord threw large hailstones on them while they fled – v. 11)
  • What actions demonstrate the faith and commitment of Joshua? (He brought the entire military force – v. 7; He caught them by surprise by marching all night – v. 9; God gave him a great victory – v.10)
Discuss: How important was it for Joshua to receive the words of affirmation from God in verse 8? Have there been times in your life when you did the right thing, even when you didn’t want to, and God affirmed that decision.

"God gave his seal of approval to Joshua's obedience, and once again He provided the encouragement Joshua needed. This was the largest army he had yet faced, and the march to the battle site must have been exhausting. The record of this battle shows the interplay between Joshua's obedience and God's faithfulness. Joshua attacked, but God threw them into confusion. Israel pursued the enemy, but God hurled the hailstones."  – Holman Old Testament Commentary: Joshua

State: All of us have made commitments to ministry, to relationships, and to live for Christ. God expects us to keep those commitments even when we don't feel like it. We must march even when we don't want to. God will bless us and we will see Him work in ways we never imagined.

Transition: As you see in the passage, the battle was going extremely well, but Joshua recognized he needed more time – more daylight hours (Apparently they didn’t observe daylight savings time!). So Joshua prayed openly and publicly before the very presence of Israel. It is at this point we see one of the most amazing miracles in the Bible take place.

Joshua 10:12-15
  • Discuss: Many people find this event difficult to believe. Does finding it difficult to believe mean that God couldn’t do what is described in these passages? (No) Does not believing this could happen cast doubt on God or on our faith?
  • State: Not understanding this event or being able to prove it historically or scientifically is not an issue if we believe in and trust God.  Many have tried to scientifically explain this miracle, but for the believer, the focus should be on God’s showing His ability to do anything, even stop the sun in its natural course, to give the victory to His children. 
  • Miracles rest on testimony, not on scientific analyses. While it is interesting to speculate on how God might have performed any particular Biblical miracle including Joshua’s long day, ultimately those claiming to be disciples of Jesus Christ (who authenticated the divine record of the Bible) must accept them by faith. There is not one logical, scientific reason to claim that, given a God powerful enough to create a universe in six days, Joshua’s long day ‘could not have happened’.
  • Read: Matthew 19:26
  • State: Believers live in the realm of faith and can see God work in ways that can only be explained as miracles.
  • Ask: Have you experienced times when God worked in ways that were completely unexplainable? If so, how did that affect your relationship with God?
LOOK OUT: Responding to the text.
  • State: When we seek to fulfill our commitments to Him and to others, God will honor that. It might not be easy but we can and will see God work in ways that can only be attributed to Him.
  • Consider: What are some specific battles you are facing in life? Are there commitments you are finding hard to fulfill?
  • Direct: Ask the group to pair up and pray for one another as they face these challenges in the coming weeks.

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