International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday June 5, 2011
Purpose: To affirm that God always keeps God's promises
Scripture Text: Joshua 1:1-6; 11:16-19, 21-23 (NRSV)
(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.
(16)So Joshua took all that land: the hill country and all the Negeb and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland, (17)from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He took all their kings, struck them down, and put them to death. (18)Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. (19)There was not a town that made peace with the Israelites, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; all were taken in battle.
(21)At that time Joshua came and wiped out the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel; Joshua utterly destroyed them with their towns. (22)None of the Anakim was left in the land of the Israelites; some remained only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod. (23)So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
For the next three months, we will be looking at “Community” and how God instructs us. Today's lesson takes us back to the early beginnings of the nation of Israel, and how God directed them as he used them to reveal Himself, to the rest of the nations.
Moses was dead, and his assistant Joshua was given the responsibility by God to lead this group of tribes into the next phase of God's plan. Over 400 years prior, God had made a promise to Abraham, found in Genesis 12:2-3 “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” And again to Moses in Exodus 19:5-6 “Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, 6but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelite.” This nation that came out of a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and Moses, was now at the threshold of receiving or claiming God’s promise.
Moses had been denied by God, of leading these people into the promised land. That task was given to Joshua. Because God is always true to His covenants and promises, He reaffirms His commitment to Moses in verse 3 and extends that covenant to include now Joshua. God not only extends the covenant, but also extends His pledge or promise to be with Joshua, just as He was with Moses. With God, the only chance of failure comes when we choose to do it our way instead of His way. If we are strong and courageous, we can expect to receive what God has given us. But we must always be aware that the strength and courage are a gift from God, just as much as the possession.
If we relate the possessing of Cannon to our own salvation we can draw some interesting parallels. First, salvation has been made available to all. It is a gift from God, just like the Land of Cannon was a gift to the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But, just as Joshua was instructed to possess the land, we also must possess or claim the promise God has made to each of us. God's promise was conditional; it required trusting in His power and ability to deliver what He had promised.
Our text ends with these words, “And the Land had rest from war.” The writer of Hebrews has this to say about our rest, in Hebrews 4:11 “Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.”
Our rest depends on our obedience, just as this young nation's did. God always keeps God's promises.