Explore The Bible Study: Conquest

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 Do you believe that God gives His people victory when they trust Him and obey His commands? If you believe this, then obedience comes easy. If you don't, then it is difficult to experience the work of God in your life. LifeWay's Explore the Bible Study: Conquest, looks at the importance of obedience this week as we continue our study of the book of Joshua.

Here are some suggestions and discussion questions you might want to use to help you communicate the truths found in Joshua 6:1-25 regarding obedience. Enjoy!

LOOK UP: Getting focused on the text.
Illustration: Has anyone seen the movie, Hacksaw Ridge? It is based on the true story of Desmond Doss. As a young Christian boy he had almost killed his abusive dad with a handgun and, as a result, had made a commitment to the Lord not to ever carry a gun again.

When WWII began he desired to help his country by becoming a medic in the Army. He entered the army with the understand that he would not have to carry a gun. After facing difficult challenges to his commitment during basic training he was finally able to pursue being a medic. Later he went on to save countless lives during Pacific battles.

Toward the end of the war, the US was pinned between the sea and one of the tallest hills on the island of Okinawa which was occupied by the Japanese military. The US knew the hill had to be taken, but it was costing an unfathomable number of casualties. In midst of one attempt to take the hill, a wounded Desmond rescued 75 wounded soldiers and lowered them by rope down the steep cliffs. Not once did he compromise his personal commitment to God to not take up a gun. Desmond was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his heroic efforts.

Ask: While we may not agree with Desmond’s commitment, he viewed it as a commitment to God that had to be kept; yet he still wanted to do his part in defending our country. Had you been Desmond, would you have been tempted to compromise?

Introduce: There was another group that had to choose to follow the commitment they had made to follow the Lord’s commands. They were looking back at the Jordan while staring at a large fortified city, Jericho.

Transition: Today we will focus on what took place with the Israelites upon entering the Promised Land. It put the Jordan River behind them and the challenge of fulfilling God’s promises in front of them. They probably stared at the massive walls of Jericho and had to remind themselves of God’s promises to them and to Joshua from chapter 1 - “You will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Direct: As the following verses are read, observe how the Israelites responded to Joshua’s commands.

LOOK IN: Unpacking the text.

Joshua 6:6-14
  • Does the passage indicate that there were any questions or complaints? (No)
  • What does this indicate about the maturity of the Israelites' faith compared to previous times they had been asked to obey God?
  • Do you feel as if your faith in Christ has matured to the point that you are willing to obey Him without complaining or fear? 
  • Does obedience always require patience? Explain.
  • If God instructed our church to do something that was totally radical compared to the norm, do you suppose we would respond as the Israelites did? (Why or why not?)
  • The ark of the Lord contained the Ten Commandments and the law for the people. What was the significance of taking the ark of the Lord into battle?
  • Read: Ephesians 6:11-17.  What parallels regarding the ark of the Lord can we draw from this passage as it relates to believers? 
Transition: The people were obedient by waiting and not complaining or questioning. They had done what God commanded for six days. Now God would call for them to march one more day, this time in even more unconventional ways.

Direct: Listen as Joshua 6:15-19 is read and identify all the instructions Joshua gives the people.

Joshua 6:15-19

Identify: What were the instructions given to the people?
  • March around the city seven times. - The number seven, used no fewer than fourteen times in this chapter, is the number of divine perfection or completeness. We have seven priests, seven trumpets, seven days, and seven trips around the wall on the seventh day. The number seems to relate to the judgment; seven priests bearing seven trumpets for seven days indicates that the judgment on Jericho would be complete. - Holman Old Testament Commentary – Joshua
  • The priests were to blow the trumpets. - These were no ordinary trumpets but rather jubilee trumpets, according to the Hebrew text used in connection with Israel's feasts to proclaim the presence of God (See Numbers 10:10). The trumpets also heralded the new age of God's kingdom. Even today, the central feature of the Jewish Rosh Hashanah (New Year) services is the sound of the ram's horn trumpet. 
  • The people were to shout. - What do you suppose they shouted? 
  • Spare Rahab and her family. - Why did God spare Rahab? | Read: Joshua 2:1; Joshua 2:9-14; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25 – Rahab had protected the two spies sent to Jericho because of what she had heard about the Israelites and their God. This was attributed to her as faith. | Read: Matthew 1:5-6 – She is in the lineage of Jesus’ genealogy.
  • Don’t keep anything other than the items set aside for the Lord’s treasury. - Why did God not allow the soldiers to have their “spoils of the war”? What was He trying to teach the Israelites? How was He trying to protect the Israelites? (God was showing that the victory was not for the soldiers to have the spoils of the war; rather, the victory was His. It was a testimony to the fact that the soldiers were not only fighting for God but also fought with Him on their side. He was protecting them from the influences of the pagan society of Jericho by not allowing them to have any interaction with anyone or anything from that society.)
Discuss: We all know that God could have just spoken the word and Jericho could have been vaporized, even years earlier.
  • Why did He take this approach with the Israelites? Was it to test the Israelites' willingness to obey?
  • What would have happened if all of Jericho had responded as Rahab did? What if the people of Jericho had run out on day seven and said, "Please don't destroy us; have mercy on us; we repent of our sins and we believe in your God!"? Would God have relented? 
Explain: While we know this was not the case we must assume that, because of God’s grace and mercy, He would have relented. We know He did for Rahab. She had heard everything the others in Jericho had heard; yet she embraced Israel and God. We also know that God relented in the case of Nineveh, and He would have for Sodom and Gomorrah. Therefore, we can assume God’s grace would have been extended to Jericho.

Discuss: When people say that God was cruel and mean for destroying Jericho, how could they explain the grace He offered to the city prior to destruction?

Read: 1 Peter 3:9 - Ask: How could this help explain to someone who only see’s God’s judgement as cruel and offensive?

Explain: He did for Rahab, and he did for Nineveh, and he would have for Sodom and Gomorrah. We have every reason to believe that he would have done the same for Jericho. We read in 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." – Holman Old Testament Commentary – Joshua

Consider: The seven days of marching, the sounds of the trumpets, and the shouts of the people could have been a call to repentance as well as a warning of impending judgement. Sadly, the people of Jericho never responded.
  • Consider how many times has God marched around you waiting for you to repent and seek his forgiveness and mercy? He is patient but we must all remember that the seventh day eventually comes.
Transition:  We must turn our attention now back to the obedience of the Israelites. Because of their obedience, they are now going to see a demonstration of God’s hand at work.

Joshua 6:20-25

Video Option: Excerpt from the movie, The Bible
Imagine you are there with the people as they watched the walls come down.

Discuss: Had you been one of the Israelites on that day, what kind of feelings would you have been experiencing? How would your faith have been strengthened?

Explain: Verse 20 states that the Israelites charged straight in and took the city. There was no delay in their obedience because everything had been done as God had said. There was no reason for them to delay.

Ask: How does obedience demonstrate what we really believe? Can we have genuine belief or faith without obedience? Explain. (PSG, p. 29)

LOOK OUT: Responding to the text.
  • Emphasize: The chapter ends on a glorious note: So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land. It was not because he fought the battle of Jericho as the old spiritual indicates but because God fought it. It was not because he designed a great battle plan but because he followed God's strategy. Joshua and the Israelites learned some great lessons that day. God wanted their faith, and if they trusted him God would fight their battles.
  • State: Even though we may not be called to capture cities literally, there are battles we face spiritually every day. How we face those battles—either with delay, a lack of trust, or by faith—will determine whether or not we see these battles as God’s victories. 
  • Share: Would someone share a time when you continued to obey God, even in the face of a spiritual battle. How did you experience God’s grace and victory?
  • Discuss: Record or recall a spiritual battle you are currently facing? What part of the Israelites' steps to obedience do you need to incorporate into your life? How do you need to adjust your life so that you can continue to obey God even when it doesn’t make sense?
  • Challenge: Take time today to thank God for His faithfulness in what seemed impossible situations. Be an encourager to someone who you know is facing a spiritual battle. 

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