Listening: Joshua 8:30-35

Coincides with Sunday,  October 16, 2016 

After the first two battle stories, Jericho and Ai, it is time for Israel to renew the covenant. None of the Canaan battles are described in any detail except for these first two, so we can assume that there are foundational lessons for us to learn from these two stories of success (Jericho) and failure (Ai). It is immediately after those battles that the people assemble to hear God’s law being read.

Preliminary question

  • Think of the all the things you listen to every day (people, television, music, radio, etc.). What are the things that most enter your brain through your ears?

The “natural amphitheater between the two mountains

A Natural Amphitheater

TAKING IN: Understanding?

  • What are the repeated words and ideas?

  • Read the original instructions for this ceremony in Deuteronomy 11:29 and 27:1-13. (You can also look at 27:14-15 to see how the Israelites were to participate in the reading.) Visualize the ceremony by looking at the photo on the preceding page. (If it helps, the group could act it out by members positioning themselves in the roles of different characters.):

  • Why do you think the altar was to be made of uncut stones?

  • The burnt offering represents complete devotion and the peace offering represents (among other things) relationship with God. Why do you think these two types of offerings were given at the time?

  • What did Joshua read?

  • Which listeners are specially mentioned as part of the audience? Why do you think they are mentioned?

  • What is the significance of the blessings and the curses?

  • Notice that this ceremony takes place after the first two battle stories. What do you think is the significance of this? That is, why do you think it was important for Israel to do this ritual soon after entering Canaan?

  • Think back on the preceding stories in Joshua and recall the episodes in which the act of listening to God’s commands has been a significant idea. How would you characterize the importance of listening and obedience in this book?

LIVING OUT: Applying

  • The blessings and curses listed in Deuteronomy 27-28 and then heard by the Israelites in Joshua would ultimately play a major role in Israel’s story. What is the application of blessings and curses for us today?

  • Closely connected to the previous question, how does Jesus fulfill this story? (See particularly, Galatians 3:10-14.)

  • In some ways, this is like a dedication service. In that regard, what elements are most foundational in such a ceremony?

  • Israel, including the sojourners, were to gather for the purpose of listening. Why is listening so important?

  • In our church gatherings (including small groups) how well do you think we foster an atmosphere of listening?

  • How well (often, deeply, reflectively) would you say that you listen to God compared to other voices? What changes can you make to listen more to God?


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