BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 4: Joshua 3:1-4:24

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Summary of Joshua 3:

After three days, the Israelites set out from Shittim, following the ark of the covenant as it leads the way to the Promised Land, careful to leave space behind the Ark. The priests went ahead of the people with the Ark of the Covenant. On God’s orders, the priests stood in the waters of the Jordan, damming up the water and allowing the people to cross the Jordan River. This was God’s way of showing the people He is with Joshua.Image result for gods people looking over jordan river

Summary of Joshua 4:

God told Joshua to have 12 men, one from each Israelite tribe, pick up a stone from the Jordan River and carry it over to their encampment for the night. The stones are to serve as a remembrance for the Lord cutting off the flow of the River Jordan before the Ark of the Covenant.

The priests stayed in the River until all the Israelites, including the men of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had crossed. 40,000 fighting men in all. Afterwards, the priests were commanded to leave the River Jordan and as soon as they did, the waters returned to flood stage.

The people camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. Joshua took the stones with him so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the Lord is powerful and that the Israelites might always fear the Lord.

BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 4: Joshua 3:1-4:24:

9a) The people had to wait three days on the banks of the Jordan River. The priests are to go first into the Promised Land, carrying the Ark of the Covenant. The people need to stay at least 1000 yards behind the Ark. The people were told to consecrate themselves before entering the Promised Land. The priests stopped the Jordan River, so the people could cross.

b) Joshua told the people that the Ark of the Covenant would go ahead of them into the Promised Land carried by the Levites, or the priests. The priests were represented by 12 men, one from each tribe. As soon as the priests’ feet touch the Jordan River, its water will stop flowing downstream and stand up in a heap. This is indeed what happened.

10) The Ark of the Covenant is, also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a gold-covered wooden chest with lid cover described in Exodus 25:10-22 as containing the two stone Ten Commandment tablets given to Moses by God. Hebrews 9:4 tells us it contains “the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.” Later, when Solomon would build the temple (which we get to read about as well!), the Ark will be housed behind the second curtain in the Most Holy Place where God dwelled.

The Ark of the Covenant is symbolically where God dwelled. Hence, it symbolizes God going before the people and leading them into the Promised Land.

Conclusions to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 4: Joshua 3-4:

Love all of the allusions and throwbacks to Egypt! God goes before the people with the Ark (like He did in the cloud). God stops the Jordan River (like He did the Red Sea). God is omnipotent. God does things for our benefit.

Watch VIDEO of the Book of Joshua if you haven’t had a chance yet.

End Notes to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 4: Joshua 3:

In 1927, and earthquake caused the 40-foot clay banks of the Jordan River to collapse, totally damming the Jordan for 21 hours.

Sitting by the swollen Jordan River for three days must have produced anxiety and doubt in the Israelites’ minds: how would they cross?

Theme of Joshua 3: God’s people are utterly helpless without Him.

Image result for gods people looking over jordan riverEverything God does is deliberate. Having the people wait three days would build their faith as they no doubt were growing restless and agitated.

Why stay 1000 yards behind the Ark of the Covenant?

  1. Respect of the holy nature of the Ark of the Covenant
  2. So all could see. After all, the Ark of the Covenant was leading the way to a land none of them have been to before. It was important to not get lost and to maintain order with millions of people.

Sanctifying themselves helped them keep a clear focus on God.

In faith, Joshua followed God’s commands. God in turn encourages Joshua.

Faith leads us into greater victories than law ever could.

The step of faith of the priests in the water happens to us all every day, every moment of our lives. The moment can be short or long. Regardless, take that first step!

Note: God begins the journey into the Promised Land with a supernatural miracle: the stopping of the Jordan. Out of Egypt (old life) with a miracle and into a new life with a miracle. God leaves no room for doubt.

Fun Biblical Fact:  The ark is referred to 14 times in these 17 verses.

Theme of Joshua 3:

To face the impossible in our lives, look to Jesus, our Joshua. He is the fulfillment of the Ark.

End Notes to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 4: Joshua 4

Theme of Joshua 4: Trust – The Israelites knew they had to trust God with everything they had, because the challenges only got bigger in the Promised Land – but so did the blessings.

Remembering what God has done for you is huge. Most of us forget very easily God’s faithfulness in our lives when something bad happens. Using something concrete (here in Joshua 4 stones) as a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness in your life is one of the best things you can do. It not only reminds you, but it also serves as a reminder to your children about God’s greatness.

The priests stood in the Jordan River throughout the entire crossing, representing God’s presence and strength.

Gilgal will become the Israelites base of operations for the conquest of the entire Promised Land. Therefore, the first step is to set up a memorial to God’s great works.

Fun Biblical Fact: Gilgal is mentioned 39 times in the Bible, primarily here, in the book of Joshua.

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BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 3: Joshua 2:1-24

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Summary of Joshua 2:1-24:

Joshua sends out two men to spy the land especially Jericho. The king of Jericho discovers this and know the men went to the house of Rahab, the prostitute. The king’s men go to Rahab’s house to arrest the men. Rahab protects the men, lying for them, and telling the soldiers the men left her house and to go and chase them.

The soldiers leave. Rahab tells the spies that she has heard of God and what He has done for His people and that everyone in the land is afraid of the Israelites. She begs the men to show mercy to her and her family when the Israelites invade as she has shown mercy to them.

The men agreed and Rahab lowered the men out of her house, using a rope, as her house was part of the city wall. The spies tell her to tie a scarlet cord in the window so all will know to spare that home. She must bring her family inside her home and not leave to be spared and not betray them to the king. Rahab agrees.

The spies hide for three days, giving the soldiers plenty of time to search and not find them. The spies return to Joshua, reporting all that happened with Rahab and how the people are afraid of them.

BSF’s Study Questions Lesson 1, Day 3: Joshua 2:1-24:

6a) Joshua sent two men to spy out Jericho.

b)  Rahab heard about the Lord’s deeds: how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape out of Egypt and about the destruction of Sihon and Og and their two kings. By her actions (saving the men), she herself was saved by God.  That would increase her faith.

7) Personal Question. My answer:  God is faithful. He will guide you and not lead you astray. I trust He puts me where He wants me with jobs and life.

8 )  Part Personal Question. My answer: He spared her and her family when the Israelites invaded, and allowed her and her family to live amongst the Israelites even though they were Gentiles. She was rewarded a unique place in Jewish history as becoming a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ and has been held up in the Bible as an example of faith. God has rewarded me with a rich life. I often feel undeserving and that I’m not doing enough for Him and His kingdom.

Conclusions to BSF’s Study Questions Lesson 1, Day 3: Joshua 2:1-24:

I love this story. It shows how doing a good deed for others often blesses you ten fold. By saving the two men’s lives, Rahab saved her and gained a new home with the Israelites. Plus, she got to be a direct ancestor of Jesus. How cool is that! Great lesson about faith and doing the right thing.

Watch VIDEO of Book of Joshua if you didn’t yesterday.

End Notes to BSF’s Study Questions Lesson 1, Day 3: Joshua 2:1-24:

Forty years before, as the Israelites poised to take the Promised Land, the 12 spies brought back entirely different news (Numbers 13:31-33): they didn’t believe the land could be taken. Fast forward 40 years and with hand-picked reconnaissance team, these two spies come back and confidently say, Yes! The Promised Land is ours for the taking!

Theme of Joshua 2:

God honors true faith from anyone, regardless of race or religious background. Rahab, a prostitute (so someone very low on the totem pole) shows faith in God and is rewarded as Christ’s ancestor.

Image result for banks of jordan river todayRemember, the Israelites are literally standing on the banks of the Jordan River, awaiting Joshua’s command to re-take the Promised Land. He sends out spies to survey the land, not because Joshua lacks faith God will do what He says He will do, but because he’s taking action in faith by being prepared.

We aren’t told who the two spies are, but Jewish tradition – speculation, really – says they were Caleb and the High Priest Eliezer.

Joshua also shows wisdom by sending them secretly. The last spies that went out publicly turned out badly for Israel, when a majority of the spies came back with a discouraging report (Numbers 13).

Why did the spies go to a prostitute’s house? It was the perfect place to hide out.

In the culture of that day, there was a strong tradition of hospitality. If someone was a guest in your house, you had a strong duty to protect and care for them. However, Rahab went much further than the respect of cultural traditions regarding hospitality. She put her own life on the line for these men.

The Bible simply reports Rahab’s lie; it does not praise it or excuse it. Rahab’s lie is not justified, but it does show courage. Remember, she is not being held to our standards as Christians. She was a pagan in a city where morality didn’t exist and had no clue really who God was. Thus, we cannot judge her.

This surprising outburst of faith shows how God had a plan in bringing Rahab and the spies together. It is the same kind of thing we see when God supernaturally brings us to people who are believers or open to the gospel.

Rahab’s declaration that “God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” was proof of her faith. It was not strong faith, but her faith good enough to save her and her family and be remembered by Biblical writers of the day (Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25).

Note the color of the cord that ultimately saves Rahab: scarlet.  As early as the first century, commentators such as Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Ireneaus, and Origen saw this scarlet cord as a symbol of the blood of Jesus.

Outcome of the Spies’ Mission to Jericho

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Banks of Jordan River Today

What was the outcome of the spies’ mission to Jericho? It failed as a reconnaissance mission. The spies brought back no news of how heavily fortified the city was or how to penetrate it. Instead, all they brought back was news it could be defeated. The purpose of the mission was to encourage and fortify the people that Jericho could be taken–and that was exactly what the spies did.

The second outcome of the spies’ mission to Jericho was the salvation of Rahab and her family. God will go to great lengths to save people–to bring them to Him. Here, He saved an ancestor of Jesus.

God will save those in your life as well if you have faith and pray for them. No one is truly lost and nothing is impossible with God.