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Joshua 6

Read Joshua 5:13-6:5

  • Why did God want Joshua and the Israelites to defeat the people of Jericho?

  • Why do you think God wanted them to do it this way?

  • What significance is there in the commander of the LORD's army saying he is neither for the Israelites nor their adversaries (verse 14)?

Read Joshua 6:6-25

  • What do you notice about the instructions Joshua gives to the people?

  • Why does God require the city to be 'devoted' i.e. completely destroyed? How do you feel about this? [1]

You can read the full story of Rahab in Joshua 2:1-24 - or if you feel you already know it well enough, you can answer these questions based on what you've read in Joshua 6:

  • Why is it so important to save Rahab and her family?

  • And what does the highlighting of this moment say about God and His people?

They didn't tell us that at Sunday school...

Processions were a key element of ancient Israelite worship. Years later, all the people would gather in Jerusalem, and led by the priests they would march up through the city to the temple, singing Psalms accompanied by trumpets.
  • How does this act of daily worship processions stand in direct contrast to ordinary ancient warfare?

  • What does this reveal about the spiritual dimension of the taking of the land for Israel in the time of Joshua?

  • Do you think this story reveals anything about the spiritual warfare dimension of worshipping God today? If so, what?

What did you learn?

  • Joshua and the Israelites achieved God's ends by God's means.

    • How do we sometimes seek to achieve our own ends by following God's commands?

    • And how do we seek to achieve God's ends by our own means?

  • God's salvation and God's judgement exist together.

    • How do we see this in Joshua 6?

    • How do we value these two things rightly in relation to each other?

  • Worshipping God together is key to being God's people.

    • How much do we value worshipping together?

    • What are some of the ways we can participate together in worship as an expression of our faith in God and His power to overcome? (Not only singing together!)

[1] David Firth has some helpful things to say in response to the reasonable concerns that this story shows God commanding his people to commit genocide:

A key principle in all such Old Testament examples that are associated with warfare is that Yahweh is engaging with his enemies through Israel. It is not something that Israel may initiate. Thus Israel are not attacking Jericho simply because they want to occupy some land; they are attacking a people who are Yahweh’s enemies, with the warning that, should Israel transgress the devoted things and claim them for themselves, they too will become Yahweh’s enemies. To understand this we have to go back to Genesis 15:16, when Yahweh promised the land to Abram. There it is stated that Abram’s heirs could not yet claim the land because ‘the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete’. So Israel’s entry into the land and receipt of it was to be Yahweh’s judgment on the occupants of the land. In this case, then, the judgment on those inhabitants was a portent of the final judgment, something the New Testament describes in language not dissimilar to that used here. This is God’s justice, and it was because the people of Israel were not to become ensnared by them that they were not to enter into relationships with them. Yet in spite of this, Rahab and her family are spared, something Deuteronomy does not seem to countenance. Is this in breach of the commandment? The question becomes more acute when we consider the Gibeonites in chapter 9. However, since Joshua 11:12–15 affirms Joshua’s absolute obedience, this seems unlikely. Rather, we need to read the devotion of humans, livestock and objects to destruction on a graded scale. Total devotion of everything was possible, but not something Yahweh always demanded; indeed, Jericho is the only example in Joshua. In other instances the demand could be less severe. However, when people gave their allegiance to Yahweh and thus became holy by belonging to him (rather than by being devoted to destruction, which had the same effect), they were no longer liable to such destruction. The issue, then, turns on whether or not a people had set themselves as Yahweh’s enemy. Israel could not initiate such a war; and even here it seems that grace remained a possibility. God’s holiness ultimately brooks no opposition, but it always contains at least an implicit invitation to change, ‘illustrating the priority of mercy over judgment’.

David G. Firth, Joshua, Bible Speaks Today, p.82


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