Inductive Bible Study on Joshua 4 – Online Verse by Verse Bible Study Lessons
- What did God command the people to do?
- Where were they to get the stones from?
- What was the purpose of this?
- Why did the priests stay in the same spot until everybody crossed?
- How did the people view Joshua?
- What happened when the priests came out of the river bed?
- Why do we learn that God did this (verse 24)?
- What do we learn about God from this passage?
- What do we learn about people?
- Why was it important to make a memorial?
- What may have happened if the people didn’t make a memorial?
- Why was it so important they remember this? What may happen if they forgot it?
- What important events have happened in your life which you can memorialize?
- How can you make sure to remember these things God has done for you? What are some practical memorials we can make to remind ourselves of the great things God has done in our lives?
Suggested activity for small group time –
Split into groups. Assign the verses below. In small groups read the verses and write down answers to the following questions:
What phrase or phrases is repeated many times in these verses?
What are some of the things God commands people not to forget?
What are some ways people can make sure they don’t forget?
What is the result of forgetting?
Discuss together and your group should come up with at least 2 creative ways to remember God’s blessings in your life.
Deuteronomy 4:9 – Do not forget the things your eyes have seen.
Deuteronomy 4:23 – Do not forget the covenant of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – Shema
Deuteronomy 6:10-12, 8:10-14, 8:19-20 – Do not forget.
Deuteronomy 9:7-8 – Do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 32:21 – It shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants (a song).
Judges 8:33-34 – When Gideon died the people forgot.
Psalms 50:22 – God will tear in pieces those who forget Him.
Psalms 103:2 – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
Psalms 119:105 – That I might not sin against you.
Psalms 78:5-8 – Teach the next generation so they won’t forget.
Isaiah 51:12 -13 – You have forgotten the Lord your Maker.
Isaiah 65:11-12 – Those who forget God are destined for the sword.
Exodus 12:14 – This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.
John 14:26 – But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Luke 22:19-20 – And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Amos 8:7 – The Lord has sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. God waited until the people had finished obeying the last thing He told them before He told them something new. It is a reminder that we must obey Him step by step. He tells us what we need to know when we need to know it. God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. He doesn’t necessarily shine the way on what we need to do two years or even two weeks from now. It is sufficient that He guides our next steps each day.
2. Twelve men, twelve tribes, twelve stones – The nation was made up of twelve different tribes. Some of the tribes were big like Judah and Ephraim. Some were smaller like Simeon. But none of the tribes were forgotten. Each tribe was important in God’s sight. Through this simple ritual every person of every family of every tribe would know that they were represented and an integral part of the whole community.
3. Joshua obeyed right away (verse 4) – Joshua is not a person to let a lot of dust grow under his feet. When he knows something needs to be done and gets it done. This is an important quality that we would do well to emulate.
4. Verse 5 – They took stones from the river bed in the middle of the river where the priests were standing. Then they carried the stones out of the river and set them up on the ground a certain distance away from the river. These were stones which normally would have been submerged by the water. But because God stopped the waters, it was easy to carry the stones out.
5. Verses 6-7 – Here we come to the main point of today’s passage. God had done a great miracle for His people. Through His supernatural power they were able to enter the Promised Land and get through what would have otherwise been a very difficult obstacle. This miracle marked their entrance into the land. It marked the beginning of their coming victories over the Canaanites. It marked the beginning of their possession of the land, which God had promised to Abraham hundreds of years before.
God commanded them to carry stones out of the Jordan in order to set up a memorial. He didn’t
want the people to forget what He had done. Not only did He want the people who had witnessed it to remember, but He also wanted all future generations to know about this great miracle. The stones could serve as a very visible reminder of what God had done for His people. When people who had not witnessed this day saw the stones, we learn that they would ask about it saying, “What are these stones?” (verse 21) Clearly the stones then would not have been small pebbles. Neither would they have been a normal thing to see. They were out of place. They attracted attention. As such people would talk about them, and when they did it offered a great chance to talk about God’s work in their lives. What exactly did they need to remember about God? What exactly had God done for them since the exodus and until this point? The memorial reminds them of God’s power, God’s presence, and God’s promise.
Assignment: Split in to small groups for discussion time (See above).
The concept of remembering is very important in the Bible. God repeats commands many times. He repeats His covenants. He reminds His people of what He has done for them. The same lessons and principles are taught again and again. The reason is simple. We are forgetful. We have short-term memories. These short-term memories apply both to blessings God has given us and negative consequences of sin. We are quick to forget the good God has done in our lives and therefore complain more against Him (See Exodus 34). We are also quick to forget the consequences of sin and therefore keep sinning against God. But God commands us many times in the Bible to not forget. He commands us to remember.
Why do we forget? We forget because we don’t value something enough. We forget because we don’t make the proper effort to remember. Here in Joshua the people take very specific steps to make a very visible memorial to ensure that they won’t forget what God has done. What do you do to make sure you don’t forget? A stone memorial is a very creative and visible reminder (which will last a long time) of what God has done. We can be equally creative. Here are a few ideas:
- Every year at Thanksgiving write down things you are thankful for and put them in a jar. Then the next year bring it out, review the past years’ blessings and add new thanksgivings inside.
- Keep a journal. Include special thanksgivings, blessings, or answers to prayer inside. Review it from time to time.
- Write a song, book, or poem based on what God has done in your life.
- Instead of a normal Christmas tree, have a memorial tree. Specially select things to put on the tree which remind you of God’s grace shown to you throughout the years.
- Hang Scripture or calligraphy around your home.
- Make a memorial quilt.
- Record special moments of God’s grace in your life with pictures and then make a memorial photo album.
- Teach your children what God has done in your life. Your children can become something like a living memorial of God’s grace to you.
6. Verse 10, 16-17 – As the leaders, the priests were the first to enter the water and the last to get out. Is there any principle for us to learn?
Leaders are to lead through example and sacrifice. A good leader doesn’t lazily command others to do his job for him. He sacrifices his own time for others. A good leader is often the first to arrive and the last to leave.
7. Verse 12 – The two and a half tribes kept their word and came to help their brothers receive their inheritance.
8. Verse 14 – God’s plan to exalt Joshua was accomplished. He solidified Joshua’s leadership and caused all the people to respect him.
9. Verse 18 – They had crossed on dry ground. God does complete miracles. Not only did he stop the waters, but He dried out the ground so the people didn’t get stuck in the mud in the middle. He did not take half measures and neither should we.
10. Verses 23-24 – God’s blessings are shown to each generation. Sometimes they are repeated in similar ways like the parting of the Red Sea and the Jordan. And sometimes he shows His blessings in completely new ways. His purpose was accomplished. He wanted all the peoples to know His might and fear God forever. How can you help others to know this?
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