Joshua becomes God’s Leader
Andrew was a little black boy who lived in Africa. Because he was a very fast runner, he was chosen to carry important messages to important people. He loved Jesus.
One day while carrying an important message, he had to run through an area where there were lions. He was afraid, but prayed to God ‘ My Heavenly father, you know I have to get this very important message through, but there are lions and I am scared. Please take care of me’. Suddenly he saw 2 big lions crouching near the path. He was so frightened that he trembled all over. Then he prayed again to God and asked for protection. Andrew knew God loved to answer prayers.
Then he walked straight past the lions and they just sat there.
How he praised God for protecting him.
Joshua, the man we are talking about tonight, loved God and also found many times when he was in danger. He had to pray and then trust God to protect him too.
Do you remember that Moses was the leader of God’s special people called the Israelites? He was a man of extreme courage and led the people through many difficult circumstances. His right hand man was called Joshua. Because Joshua was Moses special helper, he was able to see how Moses prayed often to God and how God guided and directed him. Then when Moses knew he was going to die, he asked God who He had in mind to take over. God said Joshua. Joshua had been Moses helper for many years, so he was pleased God had asked for Joshua to carry on the work of leading the Israelites. As a helper, Joshua had been faithful in all the smaller jobs he was given, so now God was asking him to do a BIG job.
But it was going to be a very hard act for Joshua to follow.
Moses gave Joshua a special promise from God– it is our memory verse – “Don’t be afraid or discouraged for I the Lord your God am with you wherever you go.”
Then God said to Moses, “Take Joshua, show him to all the people, and put him in charge while they are watching”. That was so the people would know it was God plan, and not Joshua taking over by himself.
So Moses did just that. He told the people that God had chosen Joshua to be their leader.
And what a big job it was to be leader of a nation of people. He had to organise and lead over 2 million people into the land of Israel, the land God had promised to give them. He had to make sure they had food and water, were safe, found suitable places to camp each night, soldiers had to be trained, they had to figure out how to cross the Jordan river and there were enemies just over the river that might be waiting to ambush them. So Joshua had lots to think about and plan for.
Joshua believed in God with all his heart and he knew God would guide and help him if he kept trusting God. The Bible tells us that Joshua was filled with Gods Holy Spirit that made him wise so that he knew what God wanted him to do.
And Gods Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us too, when we ask Jesus to save us from our sins.
Once Moses died, God spoke to Joshua and told him to take the people and go over the Jordan river and claim the land He was going to give them. God said to Joshua, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you or leave you.”
God also told Joshua to read the Book of the Law day and night and do all that was written in it. If he did – he would have good success.
Do you know what ‘the Book of the Law’ was? ( ask girls if they know) It was the Bible. At that time, the Bible only had 5 books – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy. Moses had written them as God told him. So it was the history of the world up till then, plus God’s instructions for the Israelites. God wanted Joshua to read it regularly and get to know it well and it would help him to keep doing the things that pleased God. It is like that for us today too. We have more of the Bible than Joshua had, because God had other people write more parts of it. But it is now complete and we should read it just like Joshua did, to learn about God and know how He wants us to live.
You know, even though Joshua had God’s promises, he was often scared and afraid when he thought of the big responsibility he had. But Joshua believed in God and trusted him to help.
Joshua told the officers to tell the people to prepare food and get ready to cross the river in 3 days. As Joshua walked among them, they also said to him, ‘Be determined and confident in following God, don’t be discouraged or afraid’.
They were trying to encourage Joshua in his job. Moses had told Joshua God’s promise. But then God also spoke directly to Joshua and told him again that If he obeyed the Book of the law he would succeed wherever he went. And God said, “Remember I have commanded you to be determined and confident. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for I the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go”.
God is with us wherever we go too if we have asked Jesus into our hearts . When we belong to Him, He lives inside us, always there with us and wanting to guide and help us. So we don’t need to be afraid either.
The Fall of Jericho
Remember what happened last week? Joshua sent 2 spies in to check out Jericho and Rahab hid them from the soldiers. They got safely back to Joshua and reported that everyone was scared of them because God was on their side.
Joshua had told all the people to get prepared to cross the river Jordan. So when he gave the word they were going to cross, all the people were very quick to gather and pack their belongings. Joshua said “You must wait for the priests to come carrying the Covenant Box of the Lord. Then you will follow behind them. You must keep well back from them and they will show you the way to go.”
To the priests, Joshua said, “When you get to the river, stay near the bank, just wade out a little way, and then stand there.”
When the priests put their feet into the water, the river stopped flowing. The water began to back up for many kilometres back, while it was dry where the Israelites were. They all crossed over safely, so then the priests walked out also onto the bank, and then the river started flowing again. What an amazing miracle.
Now the people had to travel and little way to Jericho. But when they got there the gates of the city were shut of course. Jericho had seen the people all coming from a long way away and were very scared. Most of the people of Jericho were very wicked. That’s why God wanted to destroy them.
Remember how Joshua had been afraid the job was too big for him? How could he lead all these people? But God had given him encouragement hadn’t he! Well now Joshua was in the land that God had promised to the Israelites. But there were enemies here, and very wicked ones. Maybe Joshua wondered again how they could conquer this city of Jericho. Well, God wanted Joshua to be confident and trust Him. Remember our verse and the promise in it – I will be with you? The Bible tells us Joshua was standing looking over at the city of Jericho when suddenly a man holding a sword stood in front of him. Where did he come from? And what did the sword mean? Joshua didn’t know, so he said to him “Are you one of us or one of our enemies?” And the man said “Neither. I am here as the Commander of the Lord’s army!”
Wow! Joshua knew what that meant. It meant that the man was the Lord himself. So he threw himself down and worshipped him.
I don’t know how long Joshua talked to the Lord, but it would have taken all his fear away wouldn’t it - to know the Lord was there and going to fight for him.
Then God gave instructions to Joshua as to how to defeat the city. Every day for 6 days the soldiers and the people were to march around the city once. Seven priests were to carry and trumpet and go in front of the Covenant Box carried by other priests. How strange that must have looked to the people of Jericho. They stood on the wall of the city and watched as they all marched right around, then went back to their tents and made tea or whatever. They might have scratched their heads, or even laughed and pointed at them. They certainly would have wondered what it was all about. Even the Israelites may have thought it was a strange thing to do. But God wanted them to know that they couldn’t do it by themselves. They needed Him.
Then on the seventh day, God said “ I want you to march around the city 7 times. The priests are to blow the trumpets as you all march. Then at the last they are to sound one long note. As soon as you hear it, all the men are to give a loud shout, and the city walls will collapse.” Wow. What a strange thing. But Joshua believed God and so he told the people that was what they had to do.
I guess the people of Jericho thought it was just another day walking around the wall, but when they began to go around the 2ndtime they would have wondered and then the 3rd time. By the time they were on their 7th time around I guess many of them had gone off home again. They could still hear the trumpets playing. But what a huge noise it must have been when all the people shouted. And then there was an awful rumble, the whole city began to shake – and then the walls all fell down flat. No-one touched the walls, no-one fired a shot. But the great, strong walls of the city of Jericho crumbled. Then the spies, at Joshua’s instruction, ran to Rahabs house and got her and her family safely out. And the Israelites killed all the other people.
God had won the victory. God had looked after them. God had given them this land. They didn’t need to be afraid or discouraged. God had promised He would be with them wherever they would go.
Remember that God’s promises are also for us. If we have asked Jesus into our hearts, we belong to Him. And He has promised never to leave us either. He is with us. Even if we have some difficult and sad times, we can know that He is with us, helping us to cope and giving us comfort and strength to do what is right.
The Red Cord in the Window.
Last week in our devotions we heard about the new Leader for the Nation of Israel. He took over from Moses. What was his name? (Joshua)
And what promise did God give Joshua? (Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go).
But just because God promised to be with Joshua, it didn’t mean Joshua got lazy. In fact he had a very big job trying to look after a whole nation of people as well as making a plan for crossing the Jordan river and conquering the land of Canaan.
One thing Joshua decided to do was to send spies into the land first to check it out. Near the Jordan river was a city called Jericho and the spies were told to go there as well.
When the spies came to Jericho they mingled with the people going in the city gates back to their homes. Then they branched off from the crowds and went to a house that belonged to Rahab. They found they could stay there the night. But Rahab was wary and she took them up onto her roof and hid them under some flaxes she had stored there.
And that was just as well; because someone had noticed these 2 strangers coming into the city, and also watched where they went. Then they went and told the king. The next thing Rahab knew was a knock on her door. When she opened it she found some soldiers there demanding her to bring out the spies. Quickly she thought, then said, “oh but you are too late. They did come here but I would not give them lodging. I didn’t know where they were from, or where they were going, but they left before sunset and before the city gate closes. If you go quickly you may overtake them”. So the soldiers ran off and searched for 3 days for the spies.
Now Rahab actually told a lie. God doesn’t want us to lie, and he didn’t need Rahab to lie to protect the spies. God could have protected them without that.
Rahab then talked to the spies. She told them that all the people of the city and the surrounding towns had heard of the way God had dried up the Red Sea to let them walk across, how he gave them water out of the rock, and how they had killed some wicked kings. “All the people are terrified of your God,” she said, “and we have lost all our courage.” Then she asked if the spies would treat her and her family kindly when they came in to fight the city. Then the spies promised to do that.
Now they had to get back and report to Joshua. How were they going to escape the city when everyone was on the lookout for them?
Well, you see, Rahab’s house was built into the city wall. So she took a strong rope and hung it out of a window and down the side of the city wall. Then she showed the men how they could escape. Before they left they gave her a red cord. “Tie the cord in this same window, so that when we come to fight the city, all our men will know which house to leave safe. Bring your family to here”, they said, “ because only those in this house will be saved.” Then the men slid down the rope, escaped into the hills and hid out until the soldiers had stopped looking for them.
When the spies got back to Joshua, they reported that the people of the country were afraid of them and that because of this God would give them victory. And they made certain they told Joshua how Rahab had protected them, and that the red cord in her window showed where Rahab and her family lived. Joshua promised that they would be saved.
Isn’t it wonderful to see how our memory verse helped in this story too. The spies trusted God and He was with them. Rahab also came to trust in Israel’s God and she too was protected.
God told Joshua He would be with him wherever he went. God will never leave us either if we give our lives to Him. God has also given us many other promises in the Bible. He especially tells us that if we ask Him into our life He will give us eternal life.
The Sin of Achan
Ann, Jane & Margie were crying when they came along to Bible Club. The girls had given their hearts to Jesus and were now Christians. They knew the Lord Jesus had forgiven their sins, but today they were very upset.
What’s the matter, asked the teacher.
Does God see EVERYTHING we do? Asked Margie?
Yes, said the teacher, He does.
Oh, teacher, cried Margie, we stopped at the supermarket and I stole a bag of peanuts.
I took a banana when the man wasn’t looking, said Jane.
And I helped eat the peanuts and the banana, said Ann, so I am just as bad as Jane & Margie. God saw me too. Oh, what shall we do.
The teacher was very happy to tell Ann, Margie & Jane what they should do. What do you think she told them?
(that they need to say sorry to God for doing wrong, ask Him to forgive them, and go and confess to the store owner and make it right again)
After the girls had confessed their sin to God, the teacher took them along to the supermarket, they saw the manager and told him how sorry they were. The Teacher gave him the money for the peanuts and the banana.
Remember we are studying the stories about Joshua. One of the things God had said to all the people when they were going in to conquer the city of Jericho was, that no-one was allowed to take anything from the city for himself. EVERYTHING had to be destroyed, except the gold, silver, bronze & iron which was to go into the temple treasury and be used for God.
So, when the walls of Jericho fell down, they all rushed in to destroy the city, take out Rahab and her family and then burn the city. They burned it because it was so full of wickedness that God didn’t want anything remaining that might be contaminated, poisonous or full of disease.
But among the many thousands of soldiers that went into the city was a man named Achan. When Achan saw all the beautiful clothing and the precious gold and silver articles, he thought ‘it would be wonderful just to have a few items for myself. Surely if I take some of it, no-one will know. I can cover it up in my tent and it will be safely hidden.
So Achan took a garment, some silver and a bar of gold and hid it in his tent.
Then soon after the battle of Jericho, God told them to go and fight the town of Ai. Joshua sent some spies along again, and they reported that the town is quite small and it doesn’t need all of our army to fight it. So Joshua sent off a small army of 3,000 soldiers this time. But guess what – they were defeated., The men of Ai chased them away and even killed about 36 of them. The Israelites were very scared and Joshua was most upset. He fell down before the Lord and prayed. He said something like, “God, why did you bring us here. Did you intend to hand us over to the enemy? Do you want us destroyed? Now the other people in the land will hear about our defeat and they will come and surround us and kill us.”
Then God spoke to Joshua. “Get up,” he said. Israel has sinned. They have disobeyed my command. They have taken some things from Jericho that I ordered destroyed. This is why you cannot win against your enemies. Now tell the people that tomorrow I will bring them forward tribe by tribe and I will show you who is guilty. That person must be destroyed for he has broken my agreement with Israel and brought shame on the Nation.
You see the Bible tells us that God sees everything. There is nothing He does not know. He saw Achan steal the goods and hide them in his tent.
So early the next morning, Joshua gets up and orders a leader from each tribe to come to him. The Nation of Israel was divided into 12 tribes. One by one they stepped forward and God said Yes when it was the tribe of Judah. Then each clan of Judah came forward and God picked out the clan of Zerah. How do you think Achan was feeling at this stage? (terrible, guilty, scared)
Then each main family came forward. God picked out the family of Zabdi.
Now each man in the family had to step forward. When Achan stepped forward God said to Joshua “this is the guilty man”.
Joshua then said “Tell the truth before God and confess. Tell me now what you have done. Do not try to hide it.”
Achan answered, “It is true. I have sinned against the Lord God. Among the things we seized I saw a beautiful cloak, about 2kgs of silver and a bar of gold. I wanted them so much that I took them. You will find them buried in my tent.”
So Joshua sent some men to check – they ran to Achan’s tent and sure enough, in the corner was a freshly dug piece of earth. When they dug down they found the silver, gold and the cloak all buried there.
The Bible tells us in the book of Numbers 32 v 23, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Achan’s sin had found him out.
God told Joshua to destroy Achan and all that belonged to him. God wanted all the disease and contamination wiped out so it wouldn’t affect others. So Achan, all his family and all his belongings were destroyed as punishment.
One of God’s commands to us is “Do not steal”. Stealing is a sin. So is cheating, telling lies, disobeying those in authority, hurting others. I’m sure you know many others.
Our memory verse tonight is about us promising to serve the Lord. He wants us to obey his commands and that means trying not to do wrong things.
If we do sin, can someone remind us what to do? (tell God we are sorry and ask Him to forgive us)
Will God forgive us if we are sorry? (yes)