In one American survey about lying, it was found that “over half of the respondents said lying was never justified. Yet in the same poll, up to two-thirds said it was OK to lie in certain situations, such as protecting someone’s feelings.”
1. How would you explain our culture’s view of honesty?
2. What could explain the disconnect?
3. Should you keep a commitment even if the other person was dishonest in getting you to make the commitment in the first place?
No one likes to be lied to, and many people don’t want to be dishonest. However, as many of us have realized at times it is hard to keep your word or commitments.
Thankfully, God always keeps His word. He will not lie to us, and we can always count on Him. (Num. 23:19; Prov. 30:5; Titus 1:2)
Today, we look at an instance when God called His people to reflect His nature and keep their word and commitment, as He would do for them.
Last week we saw Israel’s resounding defeat of Jericho. After that victory they were soundly defeated at Ai because of sin in the camp. Achan had kept some loot from Jericho, which was against God’s command. Israel suffered and Achan’s family and all that was his, were stoned to death. Then they defeated Ai.
The inhabitants of Gibeon tricked Joshua and the people of Israel into making a covenant with them so they would not be destroyed. Because of that treaty five neighboring towns formed a coalition to defeat Gibeon. The Gibeonites cried out to Israel for help. And that is where we will start today.
A Commitment Remembered! Read Joshua 10:6
1. What are some significant commitments people make?
2. What role does faith play in keeping commitments?
3. What kind of impact can it have on others when they see God’s people keeping commitments—even small ones?
The treaty with the Gibeonites reminds us that keeping commitments will come at a cost. The Lord calls for us to have compassion and care with prayerful discernment.
4. What commitments does Jesus make to us when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior?
Gibeon was under siege by these five kings who had come against them. The situation was critical. Joshua’s desire to keep his promises and the Israelites’ integrity to maintain their
commitments became a means for God to bless the Israelites.
5. Would you be tempted to let these five cities destroy Gibeon because they had lied to you?
6. How would helping Gibeon also help Israel?
Staying true to his word! Read Joshua 10:7-8
1. Joshua gathered his forces to aid the Gibeonites. How was Joshua’s leadership on display here? (Joshua was a man of his word, and people could count on him. He also took the lead in the battle, he wasn’t avoiding it.)
2. What promise did God make to Joshua in verse 8? (It was a done deal; all Joshua and the people of Israel had to do was act.)
3. How would most people respond to protecting people who had tricked them?
4. How could it have been frustrating as a leader to hear this call?
5. How can Christians model Joshua during times of uncertainty and worry? (We honor God by being people of integrity! Joshua listened to God. When God spoke to Joshua, Joshua paid attention.)
Once again God gave Joshua encouragement and assurance before a battle. Not only did Joshua honor his word, but the Lord honored His word as well. Joshua had been a man of his commitments, and he desired not to retract his oaths.
6. Read Matthew 5:37. What kind of impact is made for the cause of Christ when believers keep their commitments?
7. How can our keeping a promise impact another person’s view of Christ?
Divine Intervention! Read Joshua 10:9-14
With God’s promise of victory, Joshua acted by leading the men in an all-night march of approximately 20 miles and 3100 feet in elevation! It was a grueling march.
1. What evidence did the Israelites experience that showed God was helping them to win the battle? (Throwing the armies of the five kings into panic: sending the hail storm.)
2. How does Joshua’s prayer demonstrate trust in God as Creator? (God miraculously caused the universe to stand still for almost a whole day! Wow!)
3. Joshua’s prayer in verse 12 was public. What does this tell us about his leadership? (Joshua saw his leadership not just in a military or political capacity but also a spiritual capacity.)
4. How can we apply this to our participation in leadership or society?
5. How is the sun’s remaining still a call for believers to pray and trust in God’s provision?
God demonstrated that victory came only by His miraculous power. 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, in order to give victory to His children.
6. How does God intervene in our world today?
7. How does His intervention today compare with what Joshua witnessed?
8. How does Joshua’s example encourage you to pray at all times?
Joshua knew his faith was vital to his role as the leader of Israel; he didn’t leave the “religious stuff” to only the priests. As Christians today, we also must not compartmentalize our faith from our vocations. Our faith in Christ should influence, inform, and shape how we work and live in the world outside the church building.
Summarize and Challenge!
God can work through the challenges that we face in life, either from external pressures or internal struggles. In life’s situations, God will provide the victory, and with this promise comes our need to respond and act in obedience. In the midst of this, it is important to recognize how God miraculously works with His plan and purpose for His pleasure and our good (Rom. 8:28)
1. When have you had a challenging time when the Lord provided exactly what you needed: His strength and assurance?
2. How can we encourage each other by sharing our stories? (We are encouraged when we see God working in other people’s lives.)
As we celebrate the most miraculous event in human history let’s rejoice that God came in the flesh of a man, just like you and me, just like He promised He would do.
Was it hard for the Father to send the Son to be a sacrifice for those who had betrayed Him?
Was it hard for the Son to lay down His life for those who had betrayed Him?
If God can keep that commitment, surely we can keep our commitment to Him!
Close with a prayer of thanks for what God did so that we might have victory with Him over sin, death and the grave!