1. Have you ever gone into a conflict knowing you were going to win but you lost? (2007 Appalachian State played Michigan at Ann Arbor, Michigan. Games between the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Football Championship Subdivision usually end with a lopsided victory for the FBS team. However, Appalachian State had a 34-32 advantage with 29 seconds left in the game and blocked what would have been a game winning field goal to secure the victory. Michigan was ranked 5th in the nation.)
2. What would it be like for a country or a group of soldiers to know they were going to face a battle and win no matter what?
It is one thing for a football team to enter a contest overconfident but for an army to do so could be disastrous. For the soldiers who are facing battle, knowing that they would win and conquer their enemy without casualties is cause for celebration. The matter then becomes one of simply executing the plans for winning. The difference here in these two scenarios is this: where is your trust or confidence placed; in yourself or in God!
Last week we saw Joshua confirmed as the successor to Moses to lead the young nation of Israel into the Promised Land. Spies were sent to scout out Jericho and bring a report back to Joshua. The people prepared to cross the Jordan River and did so even though the river was at flood stage, and they set up a memorial of 12 stones at the place the Jordan ceased to flow. They reestablished the covenant rite of circumcision at Gilgal and celebrated Passover for the first time in the Promised Land.
In Joshua 5:13-15 Joshua encountered “The Commander of the Lord’s Army”. Then the Lord gave Joshua instructions to defeat Jericho. The instructions were very peculiar; march around the city once a day for six days then on the seventh day march around it seven times and the victory will be yours!
Read Joshua 4:14
3. What did God do for Joshua on this day? (He made his role as leader so much easier. The people would follow him as Moses.)
The promise God made to Abraham some 700 or so years earlier was about to be realized by his descendants. By God’s promise and Joshua’s leadership, this was a time for the people of Israel to faithfully trust and execute. Faith would also provide salvation to Rahab and her family, because they saw the power of God.
Patient Obedience! Read Joshua 6:12-14
Notice that there is no delay in Joshua’s obedience.
1. What does verse 12 tell us Joshua did?
2. Why might this be included in the text? (This indicated the leadership of Joshua, as he was up early to undertake his divine responsibilities. As one Old Testament scholar notes, the language here demonstrates “Joshua exercising leadership over the entire process”.)
3. Explain the order of the marching elements of the Israelite’s army as they marched. What was the significance of taking the ark of the Lord into battle? (The Ark was a visible representation of God with the people. God was going with them into battle. Latter we find Eli’s sons taking the Ark into battle and the Ark was captured because they were trusting in the Ark and not God!)
4. What strikes you about verse 14? (They followed God’s instructions exactly and evidently without grumbling or complaining. Both the guarantee of victory and the method in which it would come are extraordinary.)
5. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you didn’t fully understand what God is doing? (There are times when we are called to be obedient and patient as we trust God and His good will.)
6. What potential disasters await believers who refuse to wait for God’s plan and timing?
7. Does obedience always require patience?
The people had done what God commanded for six days. God would call for them to march one more day, this time in even more unconventional ways.
Final Preparations! Read Joshua 6:15-19
God requires complete obedience from us. In turn, we can have confidence in God’s perfect plan for our lives.
1. What were the conditions given for the people to conquer the city?
2. How did these conditions reflect God’s desire to see salvation even in the darkest of places? (Rahab and her family received God’s mercy in the midst of utter destruction of all others.)
3. What was significant in that the people did not keep the items of gold but rather dedicate them all to the Lord?
4. What would happen to a person who took some of the loot for himself? What would happen to the nation? (Mention Achan)
5. How is a warning also a promise? (We normally think of a promise as being a positive thing, but it can also be bad.)
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.
6. Why is it important to remember God’s past acts before the battles we face in life?
The people had been obedient. They were making their final preparations. Now would come the time to see God’s hand at work.
Obedience Rewarded! Read Joshua 6:20-25
1. What would be the world’s response to a nation who did what is described here today? (They would be charged with war crimes.)
2. Why was the destruction of Jericho ordered by the Lord to be so complete? (They were a sinful nation and this was God’s judgment on them. All of the people occupying the Promised Land were to be destroyed so there would be no one left to lead the people of God astray.)
3. What evidence do we see that the wall’s collapse was a miracle? (The wall fell when the people shouted; it fell straight down, not out or in; Rahab’s house was spared, even though it was on the wall.)
4. Where would most of the fighting men of Jericho have been stationed for battle? (On the wall!)
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.
5. How does obedience demonstrate what we really believe?
6. Can we have genuine belief or faith without obedience?
God calls for complete holiness form His people.
Read Leviticus 19:1-2. God commands us to be holy because He is holy. He is not going to allow His people to be contaminated by foreign cultures. This call for holiness calls for our own separation from sin as well. We are the new Israel. All believers have received the exhortation to be holy—see 1 Peter 1:13-16.
Summarize and Challenge!
Even though we may not be called to capture cities literally, there are enemies 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.
1. What is God specifically asking you to do with your life?
2. What steps are you taking in preparation and out of obedience?
3. Read 2 Chronicles 20:15. As we face battles, in reality to whom does the battle belong?
4. Do we have the faith to trust God to win the battle through our obedience?
Action: This week, take one of your quiet times and pray that God would reveal an area in your life where you need to exercise more trust in Him. Then pray each day that God would strengthen your trust and begin to exercise that trust in real, tangible ways—such as witnessing to a friend, tithing, volunteering for the church mission trip, beginning to repair a broken relationship.