Joshua Lesson 2: “The Faith Dare”
Motivation: Bill Bright famously illustrated the faith/works relationship of Christian growth with a train illustration: Faith is the locomotive that powers the train; facts are the coal car that fuels the locomotive; feelings ride in the caboose. Disconnect the caboose (feelings) and the train still runs fine. However, without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
I. Faith is the Victory (2:1-24)
A. The Spies “Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two men as spies from the Acacia Grove, saying ‘Go and scout the land, especially Jericho.’ So they left, and they came to the house of a woman, a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.” (1) Contrast the obedience of these spies with the doubts of the original spies (Numbers 13-14). Rahab’s house probably served as an inn along this major trade route. The Bible doesn’t comment on her vocation, simply reporting that she was “a prostitute.” God providentially guided the spies to her inn, a probable source of gossip and intelligence.
B. The Spy “But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them among the stalks of flax that she had arranged on the roof.” (6) Hebrews 11:31 reminds us that our beginnings don’t determine our outcome “By faith Rahab the prostitute received the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who had disobeyed.” Notice the wonderful picture of grace we have in Rahab; pictures of this grace have been called the scarlet thread through Scripture.
1. Grace is Revealed Through God’s Mighty Works “I know that the Lord has given you this land…” (9) Verses 9-10 reveal the extent to which the Canaanites were aware of God’s activity. They had been given 420 years to repent plus another 40 years after they heard of the Red Sea miracle. Rahab understood that she could not win favor with God by her reputation.
2. Grace is Accessed By Confessing the One True God “the Lord your God, is God in heaven above and on earth below.” (11) Rahab demonstrated trust by risking her life for the emissaries of God. (Rom. 10:9-10, 13)
3. Grace Rewards Above Anything We Deserve, HCSB, p. 345: 2:12 “Now please introduces Rahab’s request with an identical form of words as in 1 Sam. 24:21 where Saul described God’s will for David and then, as here, requested David to spare his family. Show kindness is a key expression that also appears when Abraham’s servant requested from God direction to find a wife for Isaac (Gn. 24:12). In the Decalogue God shows kindness to a thousand generations of those who are faithful to him (Ex. 20:6). Here as well the concern is for the preservation of Rahab’s family and her descendants. The sure sign is the spies’ oath to protect Rahab’s family.”
4. Grace Unleashes God’s Mighty Power
a. Results of Rahab’s Help “They searched all along the way, but did not find them.” (22) God enabled Rahab to help the Hebrews both with information and instruction. The spies carried out her instructions (cf. 16), thus demonstrating their absolute trust in her loyalty. Perhaps from the mountain, they could have observed their pursuers.
b. Report of the Spies Observation “Reported everything that had happened to her.” (23) The spies had quite an adventure to tell! Their eagerness to tell all was based on their excitement about God’s work.
c. Rededication to Possess the Land “The Lord has handed over the entire land to us…” (24) Forty years after the first spies had reported (nu. 13:28-29), we can imagine that the cities were still “fortified and very large.” These spies were optimistic, not because the giants had shrunk but because their vision of God had gotten bigger. Their declaration that the land was theirs was only a repetition of what God had been saying for several hundred years! (Gen. 12:1, 28:4; Ex. 3:8; Lev. 20:24; Deut. 6:3).
II. On Jordan’s Stormy Banks (3:1 – 4:24)
A. Preparation (3:1-13) Crossing the Jordan can be used as a symbol for possessing all that God has for us. Although two and a half tribes would eventually settle on the East Side of the Jordan, crossing to the other side was seen as entering the Promised Land. What can we learn in possessing all that God has for us?
1. Learn to Wait Upon the Lord “After three days…” A period of either three days or three years (2 Sam. 21:1; 1 Kin. 18:1) is often associated in Scripture with a transition from retribution to restoration.
2. Let the Lord Lead “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God…you must break camp and follow it.” (3) This was their pattern for forty years.
3. Lengthen Your Boundaries “you have not traveled this way before” (4) In order to claim God’s promises, you must be willing to go by faith into uncharted territory. That territory may be a new spiritual discipline (tithing, witnessing) or a new ministry that stretches you (teaching, serving). It’s safer to stay on this side of the Jordan because it’s familiar territory. However, the evidence of life is growth. There is no growth without change; there is no change without risk; there is no risk without faith. (2 Cor. 5:7; Prov. 3:5-6).
4. Leave Sin Behind “consecrate yourselves, because the Lord will do wonders among you tomorrow” (5). We always want God to do “wonders”, but often we’re not willing to consecrate ourselves. Consecration requires concentration. We must focus on God and His holiness and repent of sin and worldliness. (1 Thess. 5:23; Gal. 3:3).
5. Look to God’s Mighty Works “its waters will be cut off” (13) We are motivated to prepare because of anticipation of God’s mighty works. Just as He parted the Red Sea for Moses, now He will part the river Jordan for Joshua. The miracle is seen in the prediction, in the timing and in the extent of the work. (Acts 7:45)
B. Crossing the Jordan on Dry Ground (3:14-17) Just as God parted the Red Sea, now He honored their faith with a miracle.
C. Commemorating the Jordan Crossing (4:1-24) Christianity is only one generation away from extinction! If we do not diligently pass on our faith, it will die with us. In this chapter we see the importance of commemorating God’s work in our lives in a tangible way.
1. Recognize God’s Word “After the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan” (1) It’s important for us to realize that God is at work in our daily lives! We do Him a disservice when we dismiss blessings as “luck,” “happenstance” or “coincidence.” God spoke to Joshua and commanded him to erect a physical memorial to point to His work.
2. Relate the Supernatural to the Physical “Take twelve stones” (3) Another way to say this: “Don’t trust your memory.” While God’s mighty work is fresh on your mind, commit it to a diary, erect a memorial, paint a picture, videotape the story, or describe it with a poem. God knows that over the years, our memories are flawed; thus he commanded a physical memorial that they could see and touch.
3. Retell the Story “this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘what do these stones mean to you?’ you should tell them.”
a. Pertinent “a sign” – One would believe that the event was so incredible that every parent would automatically relate the story to their children. God assumed then that an object lesson would be needed. Look around your home. Are there any “conversational pieces” that would give opportunity to testify of God’s mighty works?
b. Past Tense “when your children ask you” – God’s work should be retold again and again.
c. Personal “What do these stones mean to you?” The retelling of God’s works should not convey just general knowledge but personal knowledge. This is the difference between head knowledge and saving faith, between professing and possessing, between lost and saved.
4. Realize the Implications “That all the peoples of the earth may know the Lord’s hand is mighty…” (24) The memorials were initially for the people involved, later for their children but ultimately for God’s glory across the world. As we retell the story today, we are fulfilling the purpose of these memorials set up so long ago. (Remember, Repent, Revive) (1 Cor. 3:11, 10:4; Ps. 18:1, 95:1; 1 Pet. 2:5-8)
III. Faith of our Fathers (5:1-12)
Even the generation that had been raised up to enter the Promised Land had not been faithful in keeping the sign of the covenant. Before they could begin to claim their promised blessings, God required strict obedience. In 5:12, the manna ceased; part of their growth was not expecting to be “spoon fed.”
IV. I Surrender All (5:13 – 6:27)
A. Joshua Recognized God’s Messenger “commander of the Lord’s army” (5:14, 15) HCSB, p. 349: 5:14-15 “The man’s title commander of the Lord’s army suggests someone of importance. The relevant question was not whether he was for against Joshua, but how Joshua regarded him. Joshua bowed to worship. The man’s command to remove his sandals evokes God’s encounter with Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:5). God appeared to Joshua before this great challenge to encourage him and to provide directions for what he should do.
B. Joshua Heard God’s Voice “And the Lord said to Joshua…” (2) The initial key to Israel’s victory was Joshua’s willingness to listen to God. Sometimes we’re not able to hear God’s voice because we’re too busy, too preoccupied or too far away from Him in rebellion. “See! I have given Jericho into your hand,” was a promise Joshua later claimed “Shout for the Lord has given you the city!” (16).
C. Joshua Followed God’s Plan “He said to the people, move forward, march around the city!” (7)
1. Following God’s Plan takes Faith – This was certainly a battle plan never before used in the annals of warfare. To be military minded, it made no sense. To the doubters, it seemed foolhardy. Certainly, some of the Israelites must have speculated that Joshua had lost his mind!
2. Following God’s Plan Takes Courage – Do you think that some of the Israelites felt a tad foolish? Surely there were catcalls from the ramparts of Jericho. To show up six consecutive days, march around the city and go back to camp required a different type of courage from that of warfare. It took courage to follow God’s instructions rather than their own logic.
3. Following God’s Plan Takes Persistence – One is reminded of Naaman dipping seven times in the Jordan. (2 Kings 5:9) When the first or second repetition didn’t do the job, the inclination would be to quit. God honors faithful persistence (Luke 18:7).
D. Joshua Trusted God’s Word “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.” (16) Notice the tense of the verb. Joshua is speaking as through the victory had already been won. (John 5:24) Not only was Joshua’s faith on display, but also Rahab’s.
E. Joshua Saw God’s Salvation “The wall collapsed” (20)
1. God’s Work in Israel – By taking Jericho and later AI, Joshua split the land of Canaan in half and could conquer it piece meal.
2. God’s Work in Canaan – God used Israel to punish Canaan for their rebellion against him. (Lev. 18:24-25) They had failed to respond in the time He provided. (Gen. 15:16) The drastic cleansing (21) was necessary to remove all idolatry and temptation from the land. The fact that Israel failed to accomplish this caused problems throughout their history.
3. God’s Work in Rahab’s Family – Rahab would go on to settle in the Israelite community and receive commendation in the New Testament for her aid to the spies. She is referred to as an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. His grace to her was great!
1. Getting ready for God’s blessings involves consecration.
2. Getting ready for God’s blessings involves faith.
3. Getting ready for God’s blessings involves obedience.
Explore the Bible Leader Pack Item 4: Poster: Faith Dare
Illustrator: (no article this week)
Notes: **You may access David’s Lesson Preview in MP3 format at: www.hfbcbiblestudy.org
Dates 2012: 5/31 – 8/2 – METRO Live, Thursdays; 6/7-10 – Camp Intersect; 6/13 – Camp Intersect Reflections; 6/13-14 – Princess Prep/Warrior Prince; 6/16 – Joel Rosenberg Simulcast; 6/17 – SPF Father’s Day Luncheon; 6/13-23 – Philippine’s Choir Trip; 6/23 – SPF Summer Kickoff; 6/25-29 – VBS; 7/1 – Patriotic Service, normal sched.; 7/4 – July 4th Holiday, church offices closed; 7/8-13 – Houston Project; 7/15 – Lord’s Supper in all Services; 7/16-20 – Summer Week of Choir; 7/21-28 – Rush Week; 7/27-28 – First Place Summit.
Last Updated (Thursday, 31 May 2012 16:50)