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Inductive Bible Study on Joshua 1 – Chapter by Chapter Lessons in Joshua


I. God speaks to Joshua (1-9)
II. Joshua reminds the 2 and ½ tribes of their responsibilities (10-18)

I. God speaks to Joshua (1-9)

Discussion Questions

  • How did Moses train Joshua prior to his own death?
  • What task was God entrusting to Joshua?
  • How might Joshua have felt being entrusted with this great task? How would you have felt?
  • How did God encourage and strengthen him?
  • What promises did God make to Joshua before he went in to the land?
  • In what ways had God been with Moses?
  • Since God already promised to give the land to them, what responsibilities did Joshua have in all of this?
  • How was Joshua supposed to view God’s Word?
  • What exactly did the “law” refer to at this point in time?
  • Why did God repeat this command twice?
  • What kind of things might cause us to fear or worry today?
  • Can you give examples of areas in which you need to be strong and courageous?
  • Where does this strength/courage come from?

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Verse 1 – Moses and Joshua were extremely blessed in that God spoke with them directly. It was a privilege for them that they could hear directly from the Lord. As such, they were leader-prophets. While it was a blessing, it was also a responsibility. Joshua would act as leader of a nation of around two million people. They depended on him. They made decisions depending on what he had heard from the Lord. Their futures, families, livelihoods, and even their very lives were depending on Joshua doing his job well as a leader who represented God to them and them to God. It was a hefty responsibility and it would have been completely normal for Joshua to feel nervous or overwhelmed by the burden of it.

2. The mission – Arise! Joshua had a mission to accomplish. He wasn’t just a caretaker of the people. He wasn’t to merely maintain the status quo. God had a mission for him to accomplish. His mission was to help the people possess the Promised Land, which had been promised to Abraham hundreds of years before. God has entrusted us with the Great Commission, to conquer the world with the gospel and thus build up God’s spiritual kingdom. God entrusted Joshua with a Great Mission as well, to conquer the land to build a physical kingdom on earth for His people. While Joshua was leading, verse 2 says, “all this people.” Everyone was to go. No one should be left behind. Each person had a role.

Application: In this passage we learn the importance of following God’s calling in our lives. He has given each of a us a mission (or maybe more than one) to accomplish for Him. Joshua was not to just sit in one place and drift along reacting to the circumstances or opportunities around him. God told him to “arise.” I think he wants us to arise as well! He wants us to stand up. He wants us to go. He wants us to fight the good fight. He wants us to fulfill our calling and build His kingdom. Will you join His forces? Will you fight with Him? Will you win?

3. No man will be able to stand up against you – God was going to give Joshua great victories. The Israelites had been afraid to enter the land before. Residents of Canaan were big and strong. Giants lived there. Forty years before the people had been so afraid they refused to fulfill the mission God had given to them and as a result died in the wilderness. What had Joshua’s role in that disobedience been? Joshua was one of the two spies who desperately tried to convince the people that God would be with them and give them victory. (See Numbers 14:6.)

Here forty years later the people had another chance. But it is a mammoth task. The same dangers and fears were present now. The task was not simplified. It was the same as ever. How could they hope to have victory? How could they hope to defeat numerous nations stronger than they were? Their hope was based completely on God’s promise, “I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you.” They could not hope to do it on their own. By their own power, they would fail. (See Numbers 14:39-45.)

Application: Has God given us a similar promise? Where? (Matthew 28:18-20) What does that promise mean for us? Knowing that God will be with us, how should we approach the mission he has set before us?

4. Be strong and courageous (see verses 6,7, and 9) – What was Joshua’s responsibility?

He was to be strong and courageous. Courage is an attitude, a decision. It is a decision to keep pressing on even in the face of danger and doubt. God would give him victory, but that didn’t mean that Joshua didn’t have to do anything. He had to boldly lead the people into the land. He had to boldly lead the people into battle. He had to boldly and with faith obey what God had commanded him to do. Sometimes that meant adopting tactics that were impossible to understand (such as in the battle of Jericho.) God repeats the command to be courageous to Joshua three times in this passage. Clearly this quality would be extremely important for Joshua as he took the people into the land.

Application: God calls all of us to be strong and courageous. In what areas do we need to be strong and courageous?

  • We need courage to stand up to the pressures of our family and society which try to force us to make decisions contrary to Scripture.
  • We need courage to speak out against sin.
  • We need courage to identify as a believer and share the gospel publicly.
  • We need courage to obey God in the middle of trials without compromising.
  • We need courage to serve God even when it brings persecution.
  • We need courage to raise our children according to Scriptural principles even when others mock us.
  • It takes courage to be a homemaker in this society. It take courage to be a full time worker for God.
  • It takes courage to school your children at home.
  • It takes courage to move overseas and become a missionary.
  • It takes courage to quit your job to spend more time with your family.
  • Whenever God calls us to do something for Him, obstacles and opposition may come. We need courage to push forward through them. How can we get more of this courage? Courage and faith are interconnected. If you believe God’s promises, ,then you will have the courage to act on them.

5. Verse 7 – Courage is also closely connected with obedience. Courage would allow Joshua to obey even when he might be afraid to. (See Proverbs 28:1.) What kind of things might he have been afraid of? He had the weight of a nation upon him and he was taking them somewhere they had never been before to do something they had never done before. Here are a few of the doubts and fears that may have swirled in his mind:

  • How shall I feed the people?
  • How shall we get across the river?
  • How will we defeat so many people?
  • How can we defeat giants?
  • What if the people don’t listen to me?
  • What if I fail?

The answer to all of the questions is the same. God would be with him.

6. Courage will grow when you meditate on God’s Word – God commanded Joshua to meditate on His Words day and night. How could that help grow his courage? Reading God’s Word would remind Joshua about the character of the God He served. It would remind him of God’s faithfulness to keep His promises. It would remind him of God’s faithfulness in Israel’s history. It would remind him of all of the miracles God had done on their behalf before. By remembering all the times God had done the impossible before, it would encourage him to believe that God do the impossible for them as well. The word “remember” is in the Bible 227 times. God clearly wants us to remember what He has already done in history.

Application: What can we learn from this? How can we apply this principle to our own lives? When you are afraid, mediate on God’s Word. When you doubt, meditate on His Word. Memorize it. Think about it. The truth of God’s Word will drive away the lies of Satan.

II. Joshua reminds the 2 and ½ tribes of their responsibilities (10-18)

Discussion Questions

  • What was Joshua’s first order of business? How long did he wait to begin the mission? Why was it important to get started right away?
  • What command had Moses given to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh?
  • Why was it important that they help the rest of the tribes possess the land?
  • What temptation might they have faced after receiving their own land first?
  • What lessons can we learn from them?
  • How did they respond to Joshua’s instruction?
  • Why do you think they said, “Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses?”
  • Do you think it was helpful for Joshua to be reminded to be “strong and courageous” by them when he had already heard that from the Lord? Why or why not?

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Who is the person that God uses? – He uses the people who are willing to listen and obey. Notice how quickly Joshua began to put God’s commands into effect. He didn’t wait around. He didn’t wait until more suitable weather. He didn’t form a bunch of committees. He didn’t start strategy meetings. He started right away. There is no better time to obey God than today! He told the people that in three days they would depart to cross over the Jordan and enter the land. These three days were to be used to prepare provisions. What can we learn about obedience from Joshua? What can we learn about leadership?

Application: God wants us to obey quickly. There was once a missionary family who lived in the jungle. As they were walking through the woods, the father suddenly told his son to fall down. His son quickly obeyed. It was good he did, because there was a poisonous snake slithering down from the tree branch right above his head. Slow obedience is disobedience.

2. Verse 13-16 – For Moses’ instructions to the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh see Numbers 32. Moses was concerned that these three tribes’ desire to live beyond the Jordan would discourage the other tribes from entering the land to possess it and encourage them to get land in an easier place. He was also concerned that after they had received their own inheritance they would not be willing to help the rest of the tribes to receive their own. What principles can we learn from Moses’ command that they help their brothers and their willingness to do so?

We must care for our fellow brothers and neighbors. The world is very individualistic these days. Sayings like “every man for himself” and “look out for number one” accurately show most people’s selfish tendencies. God wants us to unselfishly put others’ needs above our own.
We can accomplish more together as part of a team than on our own. Joshua and the people of Israel could not have accomplished the task in front of them if they each split up and tried to do it their own way by themselves. By working together toward the same goal they could accomplish much more. Are you on a team? Do you work together with other believers or do you just do things on your own?

  • It’s important to keep our promises. A lot of time had passed, but they still kept the promises they had made (even though they made them to a different person.)
  • We must be careful to consider how our actions affect others. If those three tribes didn’t go in to the land, it would discourage everyone else. Do your actions inspire or discourage the other believers around you?

3. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things so will we obey you – It’s a strong proclamation of their allegiance. However, it must have been a bit alarming for Joshua to hear this. In actuality the people had not obeyed Moses well at all. Instead it seemed that they were masters of complaining and rebelling. Their statement here would seem to indicate that people often have a more positive recollection of their own life and actions than God does. They thought they were very faithful, but Scripture (which is God’s revelation) shows that they weren’t.

Do you have an accurate view of yourselves? We should view ourselves as God views us. In addition, it seems that they add a condition to their loyalty, “only may the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses.” Perhaps they were only willing to follow Joshua if things went smoothly and God continued to do supernatural miracles on their behalf. In the end, it is likely that their declaration only served to increase any concern Joshua may have had, rather than alleviate it.

4. Verse 18 – It seemed they were serious about obedience, stating that anyone who didn’t obey would be put to death. Again they encourage Joshua to be strong and courageous. Clearly that is the theme of this chapter. On the eve of his greatest test, Joshua was encouraged from every side to be strong and courageous. Will you be strong and courageous to live for God this week in a dark world?

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