Joshua Lesson 10

We Serve a God of Second Chances

Joshua 8:1-35

 

  1. From darkness to light. My family and I have visited a favorite spot where we can watch the gradual and graceful way God causes the sun to rise over the Atlantic ocean in the early morning hours. I never tire of this view. It is awesome!   I see God’s handiwork every time I see this magnificent sight. As the sunlight breaks over the surface of the ocean it creates a tapestry of colors that my mind struggles to describe. Suffice it to say, this is a wonderful and awe inspiring sight! It reminds me of God’s omnipotent and creative power. When I think of God’s great love for all, I am eternally grateful for his second chances to me (and to all of us).
  2. After being stung by overconfidence, taking God for granted, and the matter of the unresolved sin of Achan that led to the first defeat at Ai (Joshua Chap 7), Joshua 8:1 gives us an outline for this entire lesson, of God’s great love, in giving him a second chance and then promptly putting him back to work! He wants to do the same for us.
    1. In verse 1, God briefly looks back, then lovingly assures Joshua and comforts him by saying: Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.
    2. He then looks ahead, and instructs Joshua,  “Take the whole Army up to Ai and attack.”
    3. God then promises victory, “I have delivered into your hands, the king of Ai!”
  3. God gives us comfort just when we need it. Imagine a past or future moment of need, grief, discouragement or fear etc in your life:  When God speaks: (through his word, his abiding presence, or through the words of another person) and says, “Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged”, how would you feel?  In this passage, we learn:
    1. He is a God of grace and second chances. It’s a powerful reassurance!  We should encourage others in a similar manner. There are so many people walking to and fro in a distressed or discouraged state of mind. A big, verbal hug of reassurance and love from you or me could make their day, week or even put them in a different frame of mind.  Look at Jonah 3:1-3.
    2. Please note the problem Joshua and the Israelites faced was not as much from a future foe as it was from the inside of their minds. Many of the problems in our lives are that way. We clean up the inside (with God’s help) and soon discover we can see God’s blessings and direction more clearly. As I think about this, it makes lights go on in my head!
    3. God clearly loves his children and wants to bless us. The lesson he wants to convey is,  whatever mess (generally of our own creation) we find ourselves in,  God loves us and wants to help us get out of it!
    4. So the big take away from Joshua 8 is to be aware of God’s love and forgiveness. John 3:16-17. The joy of a repentant heart is the knowledge that God has put our sins behind us, and redeemed us by wiping the slate clean and forgiving us. Why? He wants us to “move on” to “Ai” or whatever the next challenge in our lives consists of.
  4. Discussion Questions:
    1. Look carefully at Joshua 8:1, where God says “Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged”.  Imagine it is God speaking these words audibly to us (he does today through his word and the words of others). Then imagine that he spoke these words to you in your moment of grief, discouragement, doubt or fear. How would his words make you feel?
    2. Why do some people walk around in a depressed state when we know that a loving God is ready to forgive us and see us move on? Could it be that we don’t trust Him, don’t believe Him or perhaps we never knew Him personally in the first place? (Luke 7: 48-50).
  5. God prompted Joshua to issue clear instructions to take all the people of war (he selected 30,000 not 3,000 to attack Ai the second time).
    1. Joshua and the Jews were guilty of being overconfident and taking God’s blessings for granted in the failed attack on Ai.  He would not make that mistake twice.
    2. This teaches us several valuable lessons:
      1. Obviously, not to take God’s blessings, direction, and protection for granted.
      2. Avoid being confident in our own self-assessment. (Prov 3:5-6).
      3. Don’t quit when we suffer setbacks in life. (Micah 7:8-9).
  6. Discussion Question:  What causes us to follow our own opinions/understandings when the Bible is so clear that we need to draw near to God and seek His guidance?
  7. While God promises victory for the Christian, dedication and trust in God is necessary.
    1. When we trust in His promises, what happens?  Note 8:1 I have delivered Ai into your hands (Psalms 56:3).
    2. Yet the Jews still had to fight to achieve the promised victory.  God expects us to serve Him and put forth our best efforts even when He promises eternal life. In other words, we aren’t promised a lazy path to heaven!
    3. Look at the attributes the residents of Ai had: zeal, enthusiasm, determination, early risers, not slothful, had an army, not ill-prepared, committed to defending their city, patriotic, loyal, and deeply committed. They still lost! When you don’t trust in a living God, you are still lost and not fully able to overcome the challenges of life.
  8. Joshua followed God’s instructions (Joshua 8:8). 
    1. When Joshua knew that God’s favor had been restored, he had one goal in mind, to do what God commanded!
    2. Victory followed trust in God, not a majority vote of the people.
    3. Note role of Joshua in raising arms.(Similar to Exodus 17:11-12), shows God is consistent.
    4. Also, note that whether or not God delivers us from our trials, nothing takes away the truth of God’s continual love and care for us.
  9. Joshua builds an altar.
    1. To thank God for His deliverance.
    2. To show obedience to the will of God and to their renewal. Vs 34-35.
    3. The people reaffirm their commitment I John 5:3; Joshua 8:30-35).
    4. God is still looking for people who live in obedience. (Rom 10:17).
  10. Discussion Questions:
    1. Why are we so reluctant to follow the truth of God’s word? Or to be patient in building lasting relationships, or in rebuilding relationships? God says to obey, forgive and be patient.
    2. Why do people disobey the revealed purposes of God rather than obey, live in His purposes and be content?
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