dividing the land
As we continue, it is important to remember where we have come from to this point. God chose Abraham and his descendants to be His chosen people. After spending years in slavery to the Egyptians, God used Moses to lead the people out of their bondage. They spent a generation in the desert, where they received God's Law and awaited their time to enter the Promised Land, Canaan. After crossing the Jordan River and conquering the city of Jericho, they had a small hiccup at Ai due to the sin of one man, Achan. They then set about their God-commanded task to drive the inhabitants of Canaan out of the land.
Our reading begins this week after the Israelites have done a good, though incomplete, job of clearing the Promised Land of all its peoples. From here, Joshua divides the land of Canaan among the twelve tribes of Israel. Though Joshua 15-21 is not the most engaging portion of the Old Testament, it is incredibly important within the story of the Israelites. This moment -- moving into the land promised by God -- is one of great significance to the Israelite people. God is showing Himself, yet again, to be faithful in fulfilling His promises. In response to God's faithfulness in giving the people their own land to call home, the book ends with an aging Joshua imploring the Israelite leaders and people to, "choose this day who you will serve" either the Lord who is faithful or the false and foreign gods of the people who live around them. For the time being, the Israelite people proclaim, "We will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)
LISTEN TO THIS WEEK'S SERMON OVER JOSHUA 24
Joshua 22:1-6, 10-16, 21-27
Fellowship of Believers
God promises a portion of land to each of the twelve tribes. Three tribes receive their land east of the Jordan River before the other tribes. Joshua commands them to help the other nine tribes conquer their land before settling in their own property. They obey. At the end of their conquest, Joshua warns all the tribes to continue to follow the Lord. When the three tribes east of the river return home, they build a large altar. The other tribes fear that they built the altar to worship other gods, and therefore confront them. Thankfully, the altar is not intended for evil, but as a reminder for the twelve tribes to be united in worshiping the Lord. We, as a church, are commanded to help one another. This passage illustrates the family ingredient of the Fellowship of Believers. We are to help one another, encourage one another, and even warn one another of sin. This is how the body of Christ is to function.
- Why do you think the three tribes chose to help the other nine tribes?
- What was Joshua's warning?
- What did the three tribes do when they returned home?
- What did the tribes west of the Jordan River fear? Was it a good thing that they asked questions about the altar?
- Were the three tribes turning away from God?
- Could there ever be a time that you should warn a friend about something that they are doing? Why or why not? What would be a helpful way to do that? What might be a harmful way to do that?
Activity 1: Helping Hands Poster. Supplies: poster board and liquid watercolor paint. Paint handprints on the poster and brainstorm ways to help others. When dry, write the ideas on the handprints, and make plans for how to accomplish them. Discuss your progress and pray daily.
Activity 2: Children sometimes have a difficult time forming friendships. It is often hard to identify reasons. To start conversation, watch Youtube video, "How to Lose All Your Friends" by Suzanne Halsey Goeden.
Activity 3 (older kids): Supplies: milkshakes, sweet & sour candy. Secretly add one of each candy to the shakes. Say, "When we see our friends making unwise decisions, sometimes God calls us to warn them." Enjoy the shakes while discussing harmful behaviors that our friends might do, especially as they grow older. "What could a good friend do to warn their friend?" Finding sweet and sour candies is a good reminder to approach friends with kindness. Pray for any situations already occurring, asking God for His guidance.
Small Group Discussion
- Joshua 21:43 is an astonishing summary of the book: “Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there.” The key words in this sentence -- give and gave -- are repeated throughout the book. By giving the land, the Lord shows us the kind of salvation He offers. By keeping His covenant promises through Joshua, the Lord shows us the kind of Savior He provides. After reading Joshua, is there a promise to claim? Is there a sin to avoid?