The Lord commanded the Israelite people not to keep any of the "devoted things" from Jericho for themselves. Instead, all the items of gold, silver, bronze, and iron were to be taken into the treasury of the Lord. This fact becomes very important for understanding the next scene in the book of Joshua. Before moving forward in their mission to remove all the inhabitants of Canaan, what follows the fall of Jericho is a powerful reminder of God's desire for His people's obedience.
After the Lord brought the Israelites a resounding victory at Jericho, Joshua and his army set their sights on a much smaller city, Ai. Joshua is so confident in their ability to defeat the people of Ai that he decides to only send a couple thousand of his soldiers to attack. What ensues is an important lesson for the people of Israel. They are overpowered by the small city. The Lord does so because one man, Achan, has kept for himself some of the devoted things of Jericho. The Israelites learn -- as do we -- that obedience is important to the Lord, that sin cannot remain hidden forever, and that the effects of one person's sin can reach into the lives of others.
FOR THIS WEEK'S SERMON ON JOSHUA 7, LISTEN BELOW:
As the Israelites set about taking the Promised Land, they learn that obedience is required and that sin's effects are far reaching. They also learn the greatness of God, His power, and His faithfulness, if they remain faithful. Nothing can stand against the Lord. In our passage today, a neighboring people group, the Gibeonites, is attacked. They cry out to the Israelites for help. Joshua prays and receives God’s plan, full of promises: He has given the enemy into their hands; they do not need to be afraid. As the battle begins, God hurls hailstones from the sky and throws the enemy into confusion. He also causes the sun to stand still, thereby giving the Israelites time to win the battle. The Israelites are in awe of the Lord. This demonstrates how the family ingredient of Knowing God grows. We, too, have many amazing miracles that show us God's power and goodness. God's promises and power are eternal. His commandments are unchanging. We can teach our children to know and trust Him.
- What did God tell Joshua before the battle began? Do you think Joshua believed Him?
- What did God do to help the Israelites win the battle? How was God able to do all those things?
- What are some things you see in creation that remind you of God's power?
- Has there ever been a time when you were afraid? Who could help you?
- Have there been times when you know that God worked in a powerful way on behalf of your family or someone you know?
Brainstorm a list of words that are true about God (use pictures or symbols with younger kids).
Supplies: muffin tin, milk, food coloring, cotton swabs, white bread, and toaster.
Preparation: Fill muffin cups with 1/4 cup of milk and add food coloring to them, making a variety of colors. Let each family member choose their favorite describing word or symbol for God. Dip the cotton swab in colored milk and write a word or symbol on the bread. Younger children may need help. Toast the bread and the word should show up clearly. Add jelly or honey and enjoy a snack. Pray and tell God how powerful and loving He is.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION
- Is there a principle to follow?
- Is there a sin to avoid?
- In this week’s reading, we see both the results of disobedience and the grace of God. After Israel experiences the loss at Ai and repents of their greed at Jericho, God leads Israel back up to Ai with a promise, just like the one He gave at Jericho: a second chance at obedience stemming from a repentant heart. God’s response to a repentant heart is always grace.
- Where have you sought fulfillment outside of the will of God? Take heart and repent, fellow sinner, knowing that He who poured out such abundant grace on Israel will also pour it out on you who have become His child through faith in Jesus Christ. How does repentance lead to deeper obedience?