Joshua

Note: When I did this lesson I was pressed for time. Also the teacher of the other hour of Middle School Sunday School was not going to be there, so I taught both hours, so there wasn't as much reason for me to write up a pretty post explaining all my notes. So this post is basically just my notes. Next time I do this set of lessons I will come back and pretty this up, but for now, I present my notes.

Note: I recommend giving the lessons "What is the Law?" and "The Ark, the Tabernacle, and the Temple" before giving this lesson to give the students some context.

  • Joshua 1:1-9

o   After Moses death God hands leadership of the people over to Joshua

o   Tells him to go into the promised land and take the land back

  • Joshua 1:10-11

o   Joshua readies the people to cross the Jordan

  • Joshua 2:1-7

o   Joshua sends spies in to look at the land, but more specifically to a city called Jericho.

o   The spies are given lodging by a woman named “Rahab.” Rahab is the only person other than Joshua who is named in this section, not even the king of Jericho is named. That shows she is very very important and a key player here. But the story also emphasizes Rahab’s very low status: she is a prostitute.

o   Rahab covers for the spies when the king asks to have them. She lies and says they’re gone and basically sends the soldiers on a bunny trail. She goes far above and beyond what is required even under hospitality laws of the time. Why?

  • Joshua 2:8-14

o   She spares them because she has heard of what they have done and believes they will conquer the land. She wants mercy and she wants in, and she wants her whole family to be spared. The spies agree.

  • Joshua 2:15-21

o   Rahab helps the spies to get out of the city and tells them the best way to avoid being captured.

o   The spies are like “we’re totes gonna come back and conquer this place, so if you want to make sure we keep your promise, tie some scarlet thread in your window so we know it’s yours. And shelter all your people in there. If they go in the street, it’s gonna be an all out battle, so all bets are off.”

  • Joshua 2:22-24

o   The spies leave and do as Rahab instructed. Then they report back to Joshua and basically are like “invasion is a go.”

  • Before we go on to the invasion, a moment about Rahab.

o   As mentioned before she is a critical part of this story ,one of the few named players outside of Joshua.

o   Her role is so critical and important that this is not the last time we will hear her name. Can somsone read Matthew 1:1-6

o   This is the geneology of Jesus, only a few verses of it because it’s long, but the in tehw hole geneology of Jesus only three women are mentioned and Rahab: a Canaanite prostitute is one of them.

o   No matter who you are, and no matter how low you might think you’ve come to be, you are a part of God’s plan, like Rahab, and God can use you to great things.

  • Joshua 3:5-7

o   Joshua is like “tomorrow we’re a go. So prepare yourselves.”

o   The ark of the covenant, the physical reminder that God is with them, is to go ahead of them.

o   And God is like “I got you and I got your back. I’m with you like I was with Moses.”

  • Joshua 3:14-17

o   Another parting of a river, but this time it’s the Jordan river so they can cross into the promised land. And instead of a staff, it’s the ark of the covenant.

  • High level of what happens next:

o   They cross and they spend several days praising God and celebrating, via Passover and other holy traditons, because they are finally in the promised land, and they know it is God who got them there and not themselves. So they take this rest after their long wandering but before they conquer the promised land in order to praise God.

  • Joshua 6:1-5

o   So the Israelites are camping right outside of Jericha and Jericho has this huge impenetrable wall and basically God is like “I’m going to give Jericho to you.” And then he gives Joshua the CRAZIEST BATTLE PLAN EVER. 

o   March around the city and the walls will just fall down.

o   Why? Why this battle plan? Well only God could pull this off, this is an obvious miracle, so even though the Hebrews were about to win a huge victory against the people of Jericho, God wants to make it clear that it’s his victory. And they could not have done it without him.

o   So they do this. They enact the plan. And we’ll skp ahead to the seventh day:

  • Joshua 6:16-21

o   What the heck just happened here?

o   Well first off God’s plan worked. The walls came down.

o   Joshua warns his people that this is God’s victory and city, not their’s. Jericho is not to become their city now, they’re not gonna take all the stuff and live flat off the land. The only stuff they’re going to take is the bronze, iron, silver, and gold, and that’s so they can use it in places like the Tabernacle.

o   And then they’re told to kill everyone except rahab and her family.

o   Pause

o   Uh, what? How do we feel about this? This was a really cool story until we got to the part about killing every man woman child and animal in the city, right?

  • How do we deal with this? Theories and Thoughts:

o   A) God told them to do this and this is what had to happened. If they hadn’t killed them things would have been much worse.

o   B ) They didn’t actually kill everyone despite what the text says, because in Joshua we’re told that (Joshue 11:16-23) Joshua takes the whole land and kills everyone in it. However, we know later that these people keep coming back and attacking them (in Judges). So they didn’t actually kill everyone. Some people escaped. Though this theory doesn’t exactly absolve the Israelites or God of the intent to murder.

o   C ) These books are not “history” as we think of history. Pure unbiased history is still a myth—we can’t even really manage that though we strive towards that. Back then the idea would have been completely foreign. Therefore this idea that they murdered everyone is just “hyperbolic” language. It’s an overexaggeration of what actually happened. What we get from this then is that the Israelites did conquer the land, they were successful, God had their back, but maybe they didn’t actually completely and utterly destroy them.

o   D ) Total and complete destruction of your enemies is kind of how things went back then and it’s impossible for us to even wrap our head around the fact that it didn’t bother people. Example A: Carthage.

o   E ) Some scholars and historians think the book of Joshua was written much later than these events. Possibly during the time when the Kingdom of Israel was disbanded and under the subjugation of the Assyrians (we’ll study this much later). During this time the Jewish people would feel completely helpless and like maybe God has abandoned them. So writing down and remembering this story, reminds them their God is powerful and capable of defeating their enemies and if he’s not doing now it’s because what is happening is meant to be, and not because God is not powerful. Thus the story becomes a story of hope for people in exile.

  • So how do we deal with this?

o   Well whatever you believe, whether you think God commanded this for an ends justify the means kind of thought or you think the story is a little more hyperbolic, we know that God is NOT commanding us to go murder our enemies. Jesus makes this very clear.

o   In fact one of the common misconceptions Jewish people had about jesus when he arrived was that a Messiah would be a military Messiah, that he would sweep in like Joshua and free them from the reign of Rome. But that is not what happened. Instead we got a servant leader, who washed his own follower’s feet and let himself be put to death so he could save us.

o   And Jesus was very clear what we were to do regarding our enemies. Read:

  • Read Matthew 5:43-48

o   The events of Joshua are very specific, a very specific time and set of circumstances. We are not under that time. We are not under those circumstances. We are under Jesus, he is our head and we are his followers. So as Jesus commands us we will do. Love your enemies.