Enemies: Joshua 5:13-6:27

Coincides with Sunday, September 25, 2016 

As Eugene Peterson noted in his book Answering God, the fact that Jesus told us to love our enemies presupposes that they exist. Indeed, God’s enemies appear in Scripture from beginning to end, opposing him as early as the third chapter of Genesis before being completely vanquished in the third to last chapter of Revelation. For weak and vulnerable human beings – people who are easily hurt and take the role of offended victim – it is important that we learn to define “the enemy” through God’s eyes. As we will see in the story of Jericho, enemies are not our personal foes, but rather those who oppose the will and ways of their creator God.

Preliminary question

  • Make a short list of well-known enemies in the world? What is it that causes people to assume adversarial relationships?

TAKING IN: Understanding

  • What are the repeated words and ideas?
  • Observe the commands and the responses?
  • Outside of Jericho, Joshua meets a man with a drawn sword (5:14). What question does he ask this man?
  • How does the man respond? What is unusual about this response? What is the meaning?
  • Like Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-5), Joshua removes his shoes. What does it mean that that place on which Joshua is standing is holy?
  • What is the role of the people? Why do you think they were to remain silent?
  • How many times did they circle the city? What is the significance of this?
  • God gave Jeremiah more information (6:2-5) than he gave the priests and the people (6:6-7). Why do you think this is the case?
  • What is the role of the ark?
  • What is meant by the phrase “devoted for destruction” (6:17, 21)? Why do you think that absolutely everything was to be destroyed?
  • Consider those who were saved: “Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house.” What is the significance of this? Who does this include?
  • Why do you think there is a curse upon anyone who wants to rebuild Jericho?

LIVING OUT: Applying

  • What/who are God’s enemies today? Thinking about the two ideas of war and love, how are we to oppose these enemies?
  • Joshua responded to the warrior by falling on his face in worship. Why is worship important as we face enemies?
  • It is important that we find our primary role in this story, not as Joshua being led into battle or even as the Israelites marching around the city, but as the inhabitants of Jericho subject to God’s wrath. Read Romans 5:5-11 in this light. How do you respond?
  • What are those things in our lives that need to be “devoted to destruction”? (Hint: see Colossians 3:5-8.) How does this story motivate you?
  • From this story, in what ways does Joshua prefigure Jesus, our Warrior-Leader?
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