Obedience: Joshua 23

Coincides with Sunday,  November 13, 2016

As we get older and realize that we will not be in this world forever, we turn our attention to the next generation. Will they be able to carry the torch through their lives and then pass it on to those that follow them? In this story, Joshua is beginning to prepare the next generation for his departure. The key for their survival and success is the very (simple) one that was given to him in chapter one of this book: listen to and obey every word that God speaks.

Preliminary question

  • What concerns do you have for the next generation in Hong Kong or in China?

TAKING IN: Understanding?

  • What are the repeated words and ideas?
  • How do you understand these descriptions in 23:1:
  • “A long time afterward…” Why is this an important description? What had happened in the meantime?
  • “…the LORD had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies…” Compare this with Judges 1. How do you understand this?
  • How does Joshua’s command to the leaders compare to the command God gave to him in chapter 1?
  • For what reason do Israel’s leaders need to “be very strong” (23:6)?
  • The word “cling” (23:8) is the Hebrew word dabaq, the same word used in Genesis 2:24 to describe the husband-wife relationship. The word means to join together inseparably. What are the things that will threaten this union between Israel and her God? (Note: David used the same word in Psalm 63:8 to describe his relationship with God.)
  • Observe the four verbs used to describe the prohibitions to Israel regarding the gods of the Canaanites: mention them, swear by them, serve them or bow down to them (23:7). What are the shades of meaning in each of these prohibitions?
  • In this context, discuss together the positive command in 23:11. What does it mean to love God?
  • The threat is that the nations would become “thorns” to the Israelites. This word is used again in Judges 2:3 and 2 Corinthians 12:7. Does this shed any light for you on what Paul meant by his thorn in the flesh?
  • See verse 14. On what is their obedience to be based?

LIVING OUT: Applying

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Only the obedient believe.” What do you think about this statement?
  • How does one cling to God on a daily basis?
  • What did Jesus say was the biggest threat to our love for and allegiance to God?
  • In light of Jesus’ teaching, how are we to continue to battle against those things that threaten our love for God?
  • Joshua seems satisfied with his life (23:14). When it comes time for us to “go the way of all the earth,” what will be the reason for our satisfaction?
  • How does Jesus fulfill this Scripture? (See especially Hebrews 2.)
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