Covenant: Joshua 24

Coincides with Sunday,  November 20, 2016

It is because we know ourselves that we rely completely on the God who saves us. We began this study by noting that Jesus is the fulfillment of Joshua. While we gain some good lessons from this leader’s example, ultimately we look to Jesus to open the way into the promised land and to give us rest. The final episode of the Joshua story is one of covenant renewal. Here the people are at once urged to pledge their undying commitment to their God, and at the same time reminded that they do not possess the power for obedience. Their hearts will ultimately lead them astray. So like Peter, trying to walk on water but then sinking in the waves, we end by looking to Jesus and saying, “Lord, save me.”

Preliminary question

  • What are some specific ways that God has shown you his faithfulness?

TAKING IN: Understanding?

  • This is a story of covenant renewal, and its structure follows a standard format, similar to other places in the Old Testament. Moreover, this format was also used when a stronger nation would enter into a pact with a weaker one. Read through the story keeping the following structure in mind.
    • Prologue (1)
    • Commitment of the King (2-13)
    • Commitment of the subjects (14-21)
    • Appeal to witnesses (22-24)
    • Ratification of the covenant and further witnesses (25-27)
    • Conclusion (28)
  • What are the repeated words and ideas?
  • List the historical events that are recounted in God’s commitment to Israel? How long is this time period of his faithfulness? What specific things had he done for Israel?
  • What are the aspects of God’s person and character revealed through these historical acts?
  • Why is history an important part of this covenant relationship? What similar point does Paul make in 1 Corinthians 15?
  • What are the primary responsibilities of Israel in their part of the covenant commitment?
  • What do you think Joshua meant when he said, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God”? Do you think he was addressing the current state of the Israelites or speaking prophetically about future generations?
  • What/who are the witnesses to the covenant? How is it ratified?
  • What does it mean to “deal falsely” with God?

LIVING OUT: Applying

  • What does God’s covenant mean to you?
  • The word “incline” (verse 23) means “to bend in the direction of.” How do you apply this in your own relationship with God?
  • Joshua said that he and his house would serve the LORD? To what extent can a father make a commitment for his children?
  • How do you personally respond to the words, “you are not able to serve the Lord?” (You might want to think about Paul’s experience in Romans 7:14-25.)
  • How do we apply the phrase “put away the foreign gods from among you”?
  • How does Jesus fulfill this story?
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