Joshua Lesson 17 Part 1 & 2

Part 1 - God is Our Refuge

Joshua 21

1.    Let’s assess where we are in the account of the Promised Land campaign. Thirty-one kings and their Lands have been confronted and conquered.  The land was divided among the twelve tribes, under the direction of Eleazar, the Priest, and Joshua, with the understanding that, as they occupied their assigned areas, each tribe would subdue the remaining inhabitants in their allotted tribal areas.  Some did, but others did not.  This was a significant violation of God’s direction, which has had consequences - even to this day.
2.    During this approximate seven-year time frame of the actual military campaign, and following, Joshua functioned as the leader of the Jews.  Almighty God intervened as He deemed necessary, to give direction and intent to Joshua and the Jews.  Joshua, well advanced in years, was still greatly revered and respected by all the tribes.
3.    With the health demise and eventual death of Joshua, what government structure would develop for the new country?  Short answer, the government structure was generally addressed by a judge for each tribe. The purpose for the Tribal Judges was to function somewhat as a tribal leader and a military commander, all rolled into one.
4.    This point in Israel’s history generally spans the time between the end of the Promised Land occupation, and the subsequent death of Joshua, to the coronation of Saul as King, (a two hundred plus period of years).  The Book of Judges, and their activities, will be the subject of a series of lessons to be developed, and put on the web later.  Two more comments of note before proceeding with this lesson.
    a.    What happened to the Levites (priests)?  What land did they get?  (Joshua 13:14, 13:33 and Joshua 21).  God had directed, through Moses, that the Levites and their families and livestock would be assigned cities in the various tribal areas, and additional lands for their livestock.  This dispersed them among the various tribes, as God had intended.
    b.    Cities of Refuge.  In Numbers 35:14, the Lord instructed, “You shall appoint three cities on this side of Jordan, and three cities you shall appoint in the land of Canaan, which will be cities of refuge” into which those who had killed any person accidentally could flee, until a trial could ascertain the facts and render a proper verdict.  This has significant symbolism, as these cities of refuge were, and are, a type of Christ on earth; through which they might find consolation, and where they could flee for refuge - to lay hold of the hope set before them!  (Hebrews 6:18).  In each tribal area, the government was responsible for placing and repairing sign posts, so those who were fleeing could find the city of refuge.
5.    Now we are ready to begin with Part 1 of Lesson 17.

    Q1. When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again, Hurrah! Hurrah!  This was a popular song about the Civil War.  How do you believe this could relate to the role of the church, as a place of comfort and celebration?

    Q2. Discuss your views (both positive and negative) on establishing routines for our lives? What are some typical positive and negative routines?

    Q3. Read Revelations 3:14-22 and discuss how to guard against negative Christian routines.

6.    What are some indicators that Christian routine has not become commonplace in our congregational family?
    a.    Many have a consistent and strong prayer life.  Answers to prayer are celebrated publicly.
    b.    The worship service lifts and encourages people. The body practices and celebrates    one another and least of these ministries.  (Matt 25: 31-40)
    c.    Genuine joy and fellowship exists in the church.  People enjoy meeting together. 

    Q4. Is your congregation a city of refuge for visitors?  Are the sign posts in good condition?

Part 2 – The Danger of Jumping to Conclusions Without Knowing All the Facts

Joshua Chapter 22

1.    Read Joshua 1:12-16 and Joshua 22.  Discuss the context of the false conclusion in chapter 22, i.e., building an idol for worship.  Why would this false conclusion be so problematic right after God had delivered the nation of Israel into the Promised Land?

    Q1. What are the dangers of jumping to false conclusions?

2.    What is the context of this passage:
    a.    We have good people ready to make war against good people.
    b.    They were quick to think the worst, but very wise not to over-react.
    c.    They were willing to seek an understanding before acting.
    d.    A destructive civil war was very possible, even though it was based on false conclusions.

    Q2. Ask if one or more people have experienced a situation where people jumped to false conclusions before they checked the context or facts relating to the situation.  Describe how it developed and how it could have been prevented.

    e.    Wisely, the ten tribes took the initiative to check out the facts and dispatched a delegation, led by Phineas, which included representatives from each of the ten tribes.
    f.    The facts were not as they appeared, and a terrible conflict was avoided.

    Q3. Can anyone think of a situation (in your work or business), where no one in the assembled group had any knowledge of the event in question, yet people over-reacted, and jumped to conclusions.  Perhaps they even acted, without knowing all the facts.  What were the results?

3.    There are several great truths for us to learn and opportunities for us to grow from this lesson, both as a group and in our congregations.
    a.    We are all members of one body—Christ’s body.  This body is made up of people, who may very well not agree with us, or us with them, on all things.
    b.    Just because other Christians don’t agree with us, or vice-versa, we do not have cause to draw conclusions, based on our own perceptions, without the facts.  Moreover, this is a  very dangerous position to take.
    c.    If you and I are treated in a manner that we consider to be unjust (or uncaring or unfriendly), there may be more here than our initial perceptions.  Besides, we can grow from such treatment, particularly when we don’t seek some form of retribution or “tit for tat”.

    Q4. Discuss the opportunities for growth in our faith, Christian maturity, and the effectiveness of our witness, when we don’t seek some form of retaliation.

    Q5. Can we grow, when we jump to false conclusions, without knowing all the Facts? If so, how?

    d.    The way we react to criticism is a mark of our level of spiritual development.
4.    To summarize:
    a.    God’s way is to seek restoration of a brother, by using an attitude of meekness. (Gal. 6:1)
    b.    Joshua 22:33 teaches us that we should always attempt to avoid conflict.  Then we will be able to offer praise, because we allowed Christ, our city of refuge, to be our guide. Jesus, our perfect example, took no revenge against his persecutors.
    c.    We can always reserve the option to offer praise, as our response, rather than jumping to conclusions.  What if we are wrong when we arrive at a false conclusion, and a lifetime relationship is damaged?

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