Description: Does fear ever grip you? You’re not alone. Courage is not the absence of fear but moving forward in spite of fear. How can we grow in courage? “Be strong and of good courage, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:6. We gain courage knowing God is with us. Join us as we learn to live in courage, navigate changes, and inspire those around us.
Dates Titles Events
Feb. 19 – Courage to Accept My Leadership Role (Josh. 1) Groups Start
Feb. 26 – Courage to Change (Josh. 2)
Mar. 5 – Courage to Follow God’s Instructions (Josh. 5-6) Communion
Mar. 12 – Courage to Leave a Legacy (Josh. 24) Daylight Savings/Spring Break
Introduction to the book of Joshua
Remember “follow the leader”? The idea was to mimic the antics of the person in front of you in the line of boys and girls winding through the neighborhood. Being a follower was all right, but being leader was the most fun, creating imaginative routes and tasks for everyone else to copy.
In real life, great leaders are rare. Often, men and women are elected or appointed to leadership positions but then falter or fail to act. Others abuse their power to satisfy their egos, crushing their subjects and squandering resources. But without faithful, ethical, and effective leaders, people wander.
For40 years, Israel had journeyed a circuitous route through the wilderness, but not because they were following their leader. Quite the opposite was true—with failing faith, they had refused to obey God and to conquer Canaan. So they wandered. Finally, the new generation was ready to cross the Jordan and possess the land. Having distinguished himself as a man of faith and courage (he and Caleb had given the minority scout report recorded in Numbers 13:30-14:9), Joshua was chosen to be Moses’ successor. This book records Joshua’s leadership of the people of God as they finished their march and conquered the Promised Land.
Joshua was a brilliant military leader and a strong spiritual influence. But the key to his success was his submission to God. When God spoke, Joshua listened and obeyed. Joshua’s obedience served as a model. As a result, Israel remained faithful to God throughout Joshua’s lifetime.
The book of Joshua is divided into two main parts. The first narrates the events surrounding the conquest of Canaan. After crossing the Jordan River on dry ground, the Israelites camped near the mighty city of Jericho. God commanded the people to conquer Jericho by marching around the city 13 times, blowing trumpets, and shouting. Because they followed God’s unique battle strategy, they won (chapter 6). After the destruction of Jericho, they set out against the small town of Ai. Their first attack was driven back because one of the Israelites (Achan) had sinned (chapter 7). After the men of Israel stoned Achan and his family—purging the community of its sin—the Israelites succeeded in capturing Ai (chapter 8). In their next battle against the Amorites, God even provided extended daylight to aid them in their victory (chapter 10). Finally, after defeating other assorted Canaanites led by Jabin and his allies (chapter 11), they possessed most of the land.
Part two of the book of Joshua records the assignment and settlement of the captured territory (chapters 13-22). The book concludes with Joshua’s farewell address and his death (chapters 23-24).
Joshua was committed to obeying God, and this book is about obedience. Whether conquering enemies or settling the land, God’s people were required to do it God’s way. In his final message to the people, Joshua underscored the importance of obeying God. “So be very careful to love the Lord your God” (23:11), and “choose today whom you will serve…. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (24:15). Read Joshua and make a fresh commitment to obey God today. Decide to follow your Lord wherever he leads and whatever it costs.
Purpose: To give the history of Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land
Author: Joshua, except for the ending, which may have been written by the high priest, Phinehas, an eyewitness to the events recounted there
Original Audience: The people of Israel
Setting: Canaan, also called the Promised Land, which occupied the same general geographical territory of modern-day Israel
Key Verse: “‘Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you'” (1:11).
Key People: Joshua, Rahab, Achan, Phinehas, Eleazar
- Acacia Grove The story of Joshua begins with the Israelites camping at Acacia Grove. The Israelites under Joshua were ready to enter and conquer Canaan. But before the nation moved out, Joshua received instructions from God (1:1-18).
- Jordan River The entire nation prepared to cross this river, which was swollen from spring rains. After the spies returned from Jericho with a positive report, Joshua prepared the priests and people for a miracle. As the priests carried the Ark into the Jordan River, the water stopped flowing, and the entire nation crossed on dry ground into the Promised Land (2:1-4:24).
- Gilgal After crossing the Jordan River, the Israelites camped at Gilgal, where they renewed their commitment to God and celebrated the Passover, the festival commemorating their deliverance from Egypt (see Exodus). As Joshua made plans for the attack on Jericho, an angel appeared to him (5:1-15).
- Jericho The walled city of Jericho seemed a formidable enemy. But when Joshua followed God’s plans, the great walls were no obstacle. The city was conquered with only the obedient marching of the people (6:1-27).
- Ai Victory could not continue without obedience to God. That is why the disobedience of one man, Achan, brought defeat to the entire nation in the first battle against Ai. But once the sin was recognized and punished, God told Joshua to take heart and try Ai once again. This time the city was taken (7:1-8:29).
- The Mountains of Ebal and Gerizim After the defeat of Ai, Joshua built an altar at Mount Ebal. Then the people divided themselves, half at the foot of Mount Ebal, half at the foot of Mount Gerizim. The priests stood between the mountains holding the Ark of the Covenant as Joshua read God’s law to all the people (8:30-35).
- Gibeon It was just after the Israelites reaffirmed their covenant with God that their leaders made a major mistake in judgment: They were tricked into making a peace treaty with the city of Gibeon. The Gibeonites pretended that they had traveled a long distance and asked the Israelites for a treaty. The leaders made the agreement without consulting God. The trick was soon discovered, but because the treaty had been made, Israel could not go back on its word. As a result, the Gibeonites saved their own lives, but they were forced to become Israel’s slaves (9:1-27).
- Valley of Aijalon The king of Jerusalem was very angry at Gibeon for making a peace treaty with the Israelites. He gathered armies from four other cities to attack the city. Gibeon summoned Joshua for help. Joshua took immediate action. Leaving Gilgal, he attacked the coalition by surprise. As the battle waged on and moved into the valley of Aijalon, Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still until the enemy could be destroyed (10:1-43).
- Hazor Up north in Hazor, King Jabin mobilized the kings of the surrounding cities to unite and crush Israel. But God gave Joshua and Israel victory (11:1-23).
- Shiloh After the armies of Canaan were conquered, Israel gathered at Shiloh to set up the Tabernacle. This movable building had been the nation’s center of worship during their years of wandering. The seven tribes who had not received their land were given their allotments (18:1-19:51).
- Shechem Before Joshua died he called the entire nation together at Shechem to remind them that it was God who had given them their land and that only with God’s help could they keep it. The people vowed to follow God. As long as Joshua was alive, the land was at rest from war and trouble (24:1-33).
- ENTERING THE PROMISED LAND (1:1-5:12)
- Joshua leads the nation
- Crossing the Jordan
Joshua demonstrated his faith in God as he took up the challenge to lead the nation. The Israelites reaffirmed their commitment to God by obediently setting out across the Jordan River to possess the land. As we live the Christian life, we need to cross over from the old life to the new, put off our selfish desires, and press on to possess all God has planned for us. Like Joshua and Israel, we need courageous faith to live the new life.
- CONQUERING THE PROMISED LAND (5:13-12:24)
- Joshua attacks the center of the land
- Joshua attacks the southern kings
- Joshua attacks the northern kings
- Summary of conquests
Joshua and his army moved from city to city, cleansing the land of its wickedness by destroying every trace of idol worship. Conflict with evil is inevitable, and we should be as merciless as Israel in destroying sin in our lives.
- DIVIDING THE PROMISED LAND (13:1-24:33)
- The tribes receive their land
- Special cities are set aside
- Eastern tribes return home
- Joshua’s farewell to Israel
Joshua urged the Israelites to continue to follow the Lord and worship him alone. The people had seen God deliver them from many enemies and miraculously provide for all their needs, but they were prone to wander from the Lord. Even though we may have experienced God at work in our lives, we, too, must continually renew our commitment to obey him above all other authority and to worship him alone.
|Success||God gave success to the Israelites when they obeyed his master plan, not when they followed their own desires. Victory came when they trusted in him rather than in their military power, money, muscle, or mental capacity.||God’s work done in God’s way will bring his success. The standard for success, however, is not to be set by the society around us but by God’s Word. We must adjust our minds to God’s way of thinking in order to see his standard for success.|
|Faith||The Israelites demonstrated their faith by trusting God daily to save and guide them. By noticing how God fulfilled his promises in the past, they developed strong confidence that he would be faithful in the future.||Our strength to do God’s work comes from trusting him. His promises reassure us of his love and that he will be there to guide us in the decisions and struggles we face. Faith begins with believing he can be trusted.|
|Guidance||God gave instructions to Israel for every aspect of their lives. His law guided their daily living, and his specific marching orders gave them victory in battle.||Guidance from God for daily living can be found in his Word. By staying in touch with God, we will have the needed wisdom to meet the great challenges of life.|
|Leadership||Joshua was an example of an excellent leader. He was confident in God’s strength, courageous in the face of opposition, and willing to seek God’s advice.||To be a strong leader like Joshua, we must be ready to listen and to move quickly when God instructs us. Once we have his instructions, we must be diligent in carrying them out. Strong leaders are led by God.|
|Conquest||God commanded his people to conquer the Canaanites and take all their land. Completing this mission would have fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham and brought judgment on the evil people living there. Unfortunately, Israel never finished the job.||The Israelites were faithful in accomplishing their mission at first, but their commitment faltered. To love God means more than being enthusiastic about him. We must complete all the work he gives us and apply his instructions to every corner of our lives.|
Message Audio/Video and Outline: https://upwards.church/watch-now/leander-campus-videos
Watch Messages: YouTube-Upwards Church
Source: Life Application Study Bible, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 311-313.