Monday, August 31, 2009

"Joshua: A Leader for the People" Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending September 5, 2009

Purpose: To recognize that God's strength and courage are important promises for leaders who have big shoes to fill.

Scripture Text: Joshua 1:1-11, 16-17 (NRSV)

Joshua 1:1-11, 16-17
(1)After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, (2)‘My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. (3)Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. (4)From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. (5)No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. (6)Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. (7)Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. (8)This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. (9)I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’

(10) Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, (11)‘Pass through the camp, and command the people: “Prepare your provisions; for in three days you are to cross over the Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.” ’

(16) They answered Joshua: ‘All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. (17)Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses!

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

How tough is it to follow someone in a leadership role? Comparisons are constantly being made, “we never did it like that before.” are called the seven most deadly words for a church or organization.

For over forty years Moses had been the leader of this congregation of complainers, and disgruntled followers. Because of decisions made by Moses he was denied the opportunity to lead this congregation into the “promised land.” God had a new leader in mind, and God was going to make sure that He gave Joshua every opportunity to succeed, where Moses had in fact, failed.

Joshua was well qualified to assume the role of leader, he, along with Caleb was one of the twelve spies sent out that came back with a positive report, that they could in fact conquer the present inhabitants of “the promised land.”

We first hear of Joshua when Moses chooses him to lead the battle against Amalek at Rephidim (Exodus 17:9), shortly after that he was chosen as one of the tribal leaders sent to spy out the land of Canaan. (Numbers 13:17) His father's name was Nun and he was from the tribe of Ephraim and he was about 80 years old when he was chosen by God and informed by Moses of his new role within the congregation. (Numbers 27:18)

As our text unfolds God reassures Joshua of the support that God is going to give Joshua. In verses 5,6 and 7 God proclaims and then reassures Joshua that God will both guide and protect and fulfill the promise that was made first to Abraham, then Isaac and Jacob and lastly to Moses. The guidance that God gives to Joshua seems rather simple, do not deviate, remember the law, be strong and courageous and “I will be with you wherever you go.”

The scariest moment for Joshua may have been in verse 17 when the leaders report back to Joshua, that they will be as loyal to him as they were to Moses. I am certain Joshua was thinking, “I could do without that kind of loyalty.” This congregation did not have the best record for obedience; they were a constant irritant to Moses as he tried to lead them from Egypt to Canaan.

Joshua was very successful in conquering the land that God had promised, and his statement “but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) is one of the most powerful statements uttered in the Old Testament. It is that kind of commitment that God expects and wants from all of those that have a leadership role. It remains good advice for all that have a place of responsibility within families, government or churches. Do you welcome change? Or do you resist change?

What qualities do you expect from your leaders today? The hymn writer Katherine von Schlegel says:
"Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side,
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In every change God faithful will remain"

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