Joshua Lesson 3: “The Accountability Dare”
Motivation: After the spectacular victory at Jericho, Israel suffered a devastating defeat at Ai because of a downright deception by Achan. Through it all, God continued to show His power, guidance and desire for obedience.
I. The Accountability Factor (7:1-15)
In 6:18-19, Joshua gave clear and stern instruction about the ban on looting. In spite of that, Achan took “a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver shekels and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels.” (21) In the same verse, notice the steps to sin. “I saw” (lust of the eyes), “I coveted” (lust of the flesh), and I took and hid (pride of life). (Gen. 3:6; 2 Sam 12:2-4; Ps. 19:12-13).
A. Secret Sin Is Not So Secret “the Lord’s anger burned against the Israelites” (1) Because Achan concealed (21) his treasure, he felt secure. And yet, he knew, his family knew (later resulting in their stoning – 24), and most of all, God knew. (Num. 32:23; Ps. 139:4; Heb. 4:13) One of Satan’s devices is to blind people regarding the extent and consequences of sin (2 Cor. 4:4).
B. Secret Sin Brings Corporate Responsibility “The men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of them.” (5) Brought up on rugged individualism, Americans often overlook the corporate aspect of sin and responsibility. Paul wrote to the Corinthians “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…” (1 Cor. 12:26). John wrote to the churches in Revelation that each church was corporately responsible for “some that held the teaching of Balaam…the teaching of the Nicolaitans” (Rev. 2:14-15) and “Because you allow that woman Jezebel…to teach and seduce my servants.” (Rev. 2:20)
C. Secret Sin Confuses God’s People “Oh Lord God, Joshua said, ‘why’…” (7) The insidious thing about secret sin is that it brings God’s judgment for no apparent reason. Then, speculation brings false conclusions and discourages God’s people.
D. Secret Sin Causes Defeat “This is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies.” (12)
1. Defeat “they fled from the men of Ai” (4)
2. Despair “the people’s hearts melted and became like water” (5) Notice that God’s people were now thinking like pagans. (5:1)
3. Depression “They have been set apart for destruction” (12)
4. Disconnectedness “I will no longer be with you unless you remove from you what is set apart.” (12)
E. Secret Sin Demands Public Repentance “Go and consecrate the people…” (13) Secret sin receives harsh punishment, especially at the threshold of a new work by God (cf. Annanias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1). Even though Achan confessed, “It is true, I have sinned” (20), it was only after he was caught. The destruction of Achan’s family and possessions for his disobedience contrasts with the salvation of Rahab’s family in the previous chapter for her obedience.
II. The Spirituality Factor (8:1-35)
A. Don’t Let Defeat Become Final “Do not be afraid or discouraged” (1) Some of our more important spiritual lessons are learned in apparent defeat.
B. Don’t Value Methods over Obedience “Set an ambush behind the city” (2) God’s plan for victory in Jericho was totally different from what was used in Ai. I’m certain that many of the soldiers felt the defeat in the first battle of Ai came from not marching around the walls. Becoming dependent upon methods, instead of God’s fresh word leads to idolatry, ritualism and powerlessness.
C. Don’t Let Your Focus Remain on Personal Accomplishment “…Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal to the Lord, the God of Israel…” (30) Even after so great a victory on the field of battle, Joshua would not let the people’s attention remain on accomplishment or loot. He directed their attention to the source of their victory, God. The reading of the Law was in the very place where Abram received the promise of land (Gen. 12:6-7).
III. The Gullibility Factor (9:1-27)
A. God’s Work Is Accomplished In a Variety of Ways “When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai…” (3) Victory came at Jericho through flattened walls and at Ai through the strategy of ambush. In both instances, God’s power gave the victory. Victory over the Gibeonites came through their surrender and fear of destruction. Our lesson should be to not limit God.
B. God’s Work Demands Our Attention to Detail “they acted deceptively” (4) God’s business is the most important in which we will ever be involved. Basically, the Gibeonites prepared themselves better and paid more attention to detail than did the servants of God. As a result, Joshua entered into a covenant with the Gibeonites that violated the terms of God’s clear instructions. Even though the mistake was Joshua’s, God held His people to the covenant and punished Saul centuries later for violating it (2 Sam. 21:1-2).
C. God’s Work Can Triumph In Spite of Our Mistakes “Now, we are in your hands…” (25) The Gibeonites lives were spared and the nation of Israel acquired servants. What began as a mistake led to a win/win for both sides. God chose to allow the Gibeonites not only to live but to be exposed to His truth.
IV. The Reliability Factor (10:1-43)
A. Israel Defeats a Southern Coalition of Kings (10:1-28)
1. Deficit of Disobedience (1-6) Because Israel had been deceived, they made a treaty with the Gibeonites (9:24-27). Although this was contrary to the express will of God, He honored the treaty and used it as a means to show His glory in this chapter. However, notice in verse six that because of their disobedient treaty with the Gibeonites, God’s children were required to fight a battle whose time and place were dictated by their former enemies. Often disobedience entangles us in problems that go far beyond the immediate results of the act.
2. Diligence of the People (7-9) Joshua’s forced march in the dark took his army up a road that rose about 3000 feet. This brilliant tactical move is a reminder that while the victory is God’s, He often asks us to put forth extraordinary effort in His plan.
3. Display of Power (10-15) The four verbs in verse ten all refer to God; He “routed them,” “killed them,” “chased them” and “struck them.” (Rom. 12:17-20) Notice the two supernatural miracles that occurred.
a. Hailstones “the Lord threw large hailstones on them” (11) The hailstorm killed more of the enemy than Joshua’s soldiers! (Ex. 9:18-34; Rev. 8:7; Rev. 11:19; Rev. 16:21) However, the storm perhaps accomplished a second purpose. Having marched most of the night up a steep grade, Israel’s soldiers were fatigued. This being July, the temperature might have risen well above 100 °F. Notice that Joshua had to exhort Israel to pursue the enemy (19). The cloud cover associated with a hailstorm was a double blessing.
b. Halting of the Sun “So the sun stopped in the middle of the sky” (13) Skeptics have long argued the cataclysmic results that would have happened if the earth ceased to revolve on its axis. However, by definition, a supernatural miracle transcends the God-ordained “scientific laws.” If God could stop the rotation, He could also contain the results.
Unfortunately, a persistent story has been going around for almost thirty years that scientists at NASA (or a research firm in Baltimore) ran a computer program that traced the position of the stars back to the days of Joshua and discovered his missing day as well as Hezekiah’s missing portion. The story has been repeatedly denied. However, the factual nature of the account doesn’t rest in a computer program!
4. Demonstration of Position – After having all five defected kings kneel or lie prostrate, Joshua had his captains each place a foot on a neck. Joshua said, “Do not be afraid, or discouraged; Be strong and courageous, for the Lord will do this to all the enemies you fight.” (25) 1) Joshua portrayed a spiritual lesson through a physical example; 2) Joshua passed on what God taught him. (1:6, 7, 9); 3) Joshua possessed the position God had granted.
B. Israel Conquers Southern Canaan (10:29-43)
Among the towns mentioned was Lachish, a strategically important base for the Egyptian empire.
V. The Victory Factor (11:1 – 12:24)
A. Israel Defeated a Northern Coalition of Kings (11:1-15) “As the Lord commanded…so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.” (15) Verses 1-4 summarizes the Northern Campaign around the general area of Chinneresh (12:3) or Chinneresh (13:27) later called the Sea of Galilee. Joshua’s obedience to every command of the Lord was instrumental in God granting victory. Joshua’s obedience is in stark contrast to the wicked ways of the Canaanites.
B. The Victorious Experience (11:16-12:24) We’ve said that possession of the Promised Land is comparable to our possession of the promises God has given us, i.e. the abundant Christian life in all its fullness. Leaving Egypt would be like salvation; wandering in the wilderness of sin would be the fruits of carnality, and crossing the Jordan and taking the land would be the spirit-filled victorious Christian life. Having made this comparison, what spiritual truths do we see?
1. The Victorious Christian Experience Doesn’t Happen All At Once “Joshua wages war for a long time (with all these kings)” (18) The spirit-controlled victorious life is promised by God, made available through Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit. However, every Christian still has struggles to overcome.
2. The Victorious Christian Experience Involves Slaying Some Giants “Joshua proceeded to exterminate the Anakim…Joshua completely destroyed them with their cities” (21) The Anakim (giants) were a major reason that Israel did not invade Canaan the first time around (Num. 13:28). Fear of giants led to forty years of futile wandering. What giants keep us from being fully devoted followers of Christ? Many of our members are kept in the bondage of carnality by giants of the past, of fear, of lust, or of covetousness. We allow God to slay these giants through obedience and faith.
3. The Victorious Christian Experience Involves No Compromise “So Joshua took the entire land…” (23) God wants us to be “fully devoted.” Christ is either Lord of all or not Lord at all. Joshua is praised for obeying God at every point, no matter how difficult. As a result, he was able to divide up the land “as an inheritance.”
4. The Victorious Christian Experience Produces a Thankful Heart (12:1-24) The list of defeated kings in this chapter provided a memorial of thanksgiving for God’s victories
1. God desires to bless His people in supernatural ways.
2. God detests sin and disobedience.
3. God demonstrates our victory in the abundant Christian experience.
Explore the Bible Leader Pack Item 5: Handout: Consequences for Sin
Illustrator: p. 73: “Israel as Tribes”
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; 6/9 – Women’s Ministry Event; 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; 8/1 – Summer Rush Celebration; 8/2 - MetroLIVE ends; 8/17 – Daycation ends; 8/19 – Back to school Sunday; 8/20 – FBA Orientation; 8/21 – FBA Classes begin; 8/24 – Parents Night Out; 9/2 – Labor Day Weekend, norm. sched; 9/3 – Labor Day Holiday, church offices closed; 9/9 – Parent Commitment;
9/9 – Make it Your Church Orientation; 9/14 – Summit Celebrates @ 7:00, chapel; 9/16 – Fall LBS Leadership Lunch; 9/21-22 – Men’s Ministry Special Event; 9/28-29 – KHCB 50th Anniv. Celebration; 9/28-30 – SPF Camp.
Last Updated (Thursday, 07 June 2012 15:46)