Inductive Bible Study on Joshua 6
- The people obey God by walking around the wall (1-16)
- God gives victory, but the things in the city are under the ban (17-27)
Is this encounter with the “LORD” the same encounter from 5:13-15? Why or why not?
What battle plan was given to Joshua?
Why do you think God chose to have them use this way to achieve victory?
Did the people have a role or a responsibility? What? What traits were needed to fulfill the role God had given to them?
What may have been the purpose of the trumpets?
What do you think the people of Jericho were likely doing while the Israelites were marching around the town?
Do you think it was difficult for the people to keep Joshua’s command to keep silent in verse 10? Why or why not?
What was the purpose of the armed men and the rear guard (13)?
What can we learn from God’s command to the people in this chapter?
What can we learn from the people’s response?
The city knew Israel was near and closed up. Jericho was known for its massive fortifications. It was an extremely strong and powerful city, with good defenses. Generally they would have been confident against invaders, but invaders didn’t normally have Yahweh on their side.
If most armies had heard a commander give this strategy they would have laughed. How can walking and blowing trumpets knock down a strong wall? With man it is impossible, but with God it was impossible. This was the first city they had attacked. God wanted to teach them a lesson. It wasn’t by strength of arm that they could gain the victory. It was only through His strength. They couldn’t hope to do it by themselves. They needed His help. Psalms 20:7. They needed faith. They needed obedience. Here is the same lesson we have seen God teaching the Israelites in the first several chapters of this book. The lesson is that they must learn not to lean on their own understanding and not to trust in their own strength. God’s ways are higher than our ways. A person coming up with a strategy might think about sneaking in and opening the doors suddenly or building ladders to scale the wall or tricking the people to come out of the city. God did not need to rely on those strategies.
Notice that though it was by God’s power the people also had a responsibility. If the people did not obey God and do it His way, He would not have knocked the walls down. The people’s role was very important. Disobedience would result in failure. It is interesting that God designed this plan (and many others like this). Success could only be attributed to God’s power. But a failure would be the people’s fault.
Application: This is also how we can have victory in our lives. It’s not by our intelligence or our planning or strategy or talent or skill. God not only wanted to teach this to the Israelites, but also to the people in the city and the surrounding nations. God is a jealous God. He doesn’t want a lot of boasters proud of their own power. If this plan was to succeed it would clearly be by God’s power. So when you are successful, praise God. When you fail, examine yourselves and see if it might be because of your own sin or disobedience. Also, we should make a habit to always seek guidance from the Lord before making decisions and plans, or taking important steps in our lives. Are you trusting in your intelligence or money or strength instead of in the Lord? How would a person even know if he was trusting in these things rather than God?
Joshua showed no hesitation whatsoever. He did not doubt God. He did not question Him. He didn’t laugh. Joshua was a good leader. He didn’t care that the people may laugh at him or ridicule or doubt. He wasn’t worried about his face. Neither did he take a vote or ask the people to consider various different plans. Instead his response was simple. He did what God said and commanded the people under him to do the same. He didn’t show any hesitation or doubt. This is what a good leader does. He leads in what is right regardless of the response of the people under him. Can you think of any examples of people in the Bible who gave up their own authority in order to follow the sinful desires of those under them? (Aaron and the golden calf, Adam in the garden, Saul when he didn’t destroy all of the Amalekites.) Can you think of any examples of leaders who stood up for what was right even in the face of pressure or rebellion from those under them?
The people persevered in this even though they must have looked foolish to the people of Jericho. What do you think the people in Jericho may have been doing during this time? You can imagine what kind of insults were thrown their way. Perseverance is very important. They didn’t give up after one or two days, but they kept marching and marching and saw it through to the end.
What is more, in verse 10 Joshua commands them to be quiet and not let their voices be heard or even a word to come out of their mouths. This might have been the most difficult command to follow of any of them. Imagine how difficult it would be to keep your mouth shut in the face of incessant mocking/taunting.
Proverbs 17:28 – Even a fool is considered wise if he keeps silent.
Proverbs 18:6-7 – A fool’s lips walk into a fight and his mouth invites a beating.
Psalm 141:3 – Set a guard over my mouth.
Isaiah 53:7 – Jesus was oppressed and afflicted and did not open His mouth.
Application: Have you encountered opposition or mocking while serving the Lord? Can you share why and what your response was? Is there anyone in the Bible that faced mocking because of their decision to obey God? (Noah probably did while building the ark. Jesus did while hanging on the cross. ) If God gives you a tough task, don’t begin it and then give up. Be a finisher! Don’t worry about others or what they think. Don’t be timid if you hear insults. Do what is right in order to please God. Each of us is supposed to please God rather than man. We don’t need to worry what people think or say. We please God because He is the judge and He is sitting on the throne, no one else.
Seven is considered the perfect number in the Bible. It signifies completeness.
What was under the ban?
What was supposed to happen to the things under the ban? Why?
What happened when the people shouted and blew the trumpets?
Who was not to be destroyed? Why? Who was saved along with her?
What does this tell us about those who were to be destroyed?
What can we learn about the consequences of sin? Who does sin effect?
How do you understand God’s instructions to destroy everything in verse 21?
Why did Joshua speak a curse to the person who would rebuild this city?
What can we learn from this passage which is applicable to our lives today?
Is there anything which God has banned for us which may tempt us?
The people were not to take anything from the city. The gold and silver was to go into the temple. Everything else was to be destroyed. It was a way for God to remind the people that this victory was His. It was not by their own intelligence or strength that they won. God gave Jericho into their hands. All of the victories which they would achieve in the future (whether through supernatural miracles or not) were no less a result of God’s divine plan. God generally doesn’t ask people to give everything to Him, but in the Old Testament He does ask for the first of what they receive, just as in the case of the first fruits being completely devoted to God. Giving of the first which someone receives is an act of faith. It also shows that God is the priority.
Everything belongs to the Lord. God did not always prohibit the people from taking for themselves spoils of victory, but He always had the right to do so. Everything was His. The people in the city were His (He created them.) All of their material possessions were His (He gave them to them.) Their animals were also His. In this case He decided that what He wanted to do with His own possessions was to destroy them. They were like the vessels of dishonor in 2 Timothy 2:20.
Psalms 24:1 – The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains.
Deuteronomy 10:14 – Heaven and the highest heavens belongs to God.
Psalms 89:11 – The heaven and earth are God’s because He founded them.
Leviticus 25:23 – The land itself belongs to God.
Application: Everything we have belongs to God. This should effect how we use it. How should you use your possessions, knowing that they belong to God?
- We should give to God first, not last.
- We should give to God as much as we can, not as little as posssible.
- We should seek God’s guidance when saving, giving, spending, or investing money.
- We should use what we have to build God’s kingdom (since it is God’s already.)
- We should not waste what He has graciously provided. Can you give examples of how we might sometimes waste? (Wasting includes being careless and breaking things, wasting electricity or water or food, buying new when the old is still acceptable, buying more than we need, etc.)
Keep yourselves from the things under the ban that you do not covet:
When we want something that God has not given us it is coveting. It is often easy to see coveting in children who often want the toy the other child is holding rather than the toy they have. But adults often covet as well. Can you think of any biblical examples of people who coveted? (Ahab, Herod Antipas)
Coveting falls under the category of the “lust of the flesh.” Like Ahab, we sometimes look at what other people have and wish we had it. Even if we don’t take action on those desires, it is still sin. It still shows a lack of gratitude to God for what we have. Modern day advertisements are meant to feed people’s coveting nature. These ads show us the wonderful, carefree lives of people who own a certain type of car, phone computer, appliance, etc. Many people also buy products not for their own usefulness, but because of wanting to project a certain image to those around them. The world of materialism we live in is meant to feed our coveting appetites. Social media also is a world which is often used both to covet and to elicit coveting in others. People post pictures of all the exotic places they have been and all the wonderful foods they are eating. It is not inherently wrong, but there is a danger to begin focusing on the wrong things. There is a danger to brag to others about what we have or have experienced. And there is a danger to wish that we could have those same experiences or things that others have. It is a danger of focusing on the surface, the physical world of what we can touch and see rather than the intangible spiritual world. Here are a few things that we may covet (including believers):
- Possessions (car, phone, house, electronics, etc.)
- Job. We may tend to complain about our jobs and wish we had a job like so and so.
- Travel. We may tend to complain about how busy we are and wish we could travel like so and so.
- Relationship. We may complain about being single and wish we could have a happily married life like so and so. Or we may complain about the difficulties or burdens of marriage and wish we could have a carefree single life like so and so.
We know it is wrong to covet. (Psalms 10:3, Exodus 20:17, 1 Timothy 6:9-10). How do we guard ourselves from coveting? What is the opposite of coveting? How can we be more proactive to show gratitude for what we have so that we won’t fall into the temptation of coveting?
God’s plan succeeded. The walls fell and Israel achieved a great victory. God’s plans will never fail. If we obey His words we will surely achieve victory.
The command to destroy all the people of the city –
This was not a new command. It had been given concerning all of the Canaanites in Deuteronomy 7:2-6 and it was applied specifically to the Amelikites in Deuteronomy 25:17-19. There are several reasons given in the Bible why God told Israel to utterly destroy them. Firstly, they were evil. Their practices were abominable to God. We know both from the Bible and from other historic documents that the Canaanite civilization was perhaps the most wicked and vile ever known in the world (see above). Their sin was a stench in God? nostrils and the very land spewed or vomited them out (Leviticus 18:25). They were descended from Esau and also were exposed to the Israelites and the true teaching from God. Yet they rejected it in favor of a vile, sensuous, and brutal religion. God? just character requires Him to punish evildoers. Generally He is patient (and He did wait hundreds of years to use Israel to wipe out the Canaanites), but His patience doesn’t last forever and He decided to judge the Amalekites sooner rather than later. Secondly, according to Deuteronomy 7 and other Scriptures, if any portion of these wicked nations were allowed to remain they would ensnare Israel and lead them away from the true God to worship their false gods and also practice abominations. Israel did not completely wipe out those nations and what God prophesied did happen, not only once but numerous times (1 Kings 14:22-24, Jeremiah 32:35). At various times in their history they not only worshiped false gods, but also had hundreds of false prophets who practiced bloodletting (during the time of Ahab), had male cult prostitutes, and sacrificed their children by fire to Molech.
God doesn’t need justification or to “prove” Himself to us when He acts. However, it is clear that He had plenty of reason to give the command to wipe out the Canaanites. Some ask about “innocent” babies. First of all, not one is innocent. Babies are also guilty from the time of their birth. Secondly, the sin of parents does effect and have consequences of others. Thirdly, if indeed babies go to heaven it was a blessing for them. Fourthly, it was necessary to destroy everyone. If any were left they would grow up and almost surely practice the same sinful abominations that their parents practiced.
God also judged other nations and peoples at various times. He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (from this example and Abraham? talk with God we know God doesn’t generally destroy the righteous with the wicked). Also God judged the entire world, which was “filled with violence”, with the flood. Somehow it is easier to accept when God uses natural forces, yet it is the same using His people or wind or water and God is just as just no matter which method He chooses.
We can learn some principles from this. We CANNOT say it is good for us to kill sinners or practice genocide as some have said before. This is a narrative passage, yet we can glean some principles from it, ones that are supported by other Scripture or by commentary from God or the author. One clear one is that God is just and judges sinners. Another is that we need to be extremely careful not to be influenced by culture or unbelievers around us, and also not to leave any sin or foothold for Satan (Ephesians 4:27) in our lives. If we give a foothold to Satan he will use it and influence our lives negative, trying to turn us from God. Different applications can be made from this principle and could include such things as getting rid of music, dvds, magazines, or books that are influencing us in worldly things. Or we can learn to renew our minds in God? Word regularly, establish fellowship with people who can keep us accountable, or the like.
Joshua also kept his word. Many nations would have gone back on it. After all, they already had spied out the land. They already achieved victory. Many would have just used Rahab. When she was no longer needed, they would cast her aside. However, Joshua and the spies did not do this. They kept their word and they saved her and her family and gave them a place to live within the nation of Israel.
We can learn from this. Firstly, if we make promises keep them. God always keeps His promises and so should we. How can you make sure that you always keep your promises? The easiest way is to never make a promise that you are not sure you can’t keep. Do not tell your customer that you can have the product ready at an early deadline that you are not sure about. Do not agree to do a favor for people without knowing what it is. Do not make guarantees that are out of your power to keep. And then when you do make a commitment (like marriage vows, work contracts, rental contracts, etc.) hold up your end of the bargain even when it is not easy. In Proverbs we learn that a righteous person swears to his own hurt, but doesn’t change. Rahab and her family were relying on the word of Joshua and the spies. People also make plans and rely on you when you make commitments and promises. Don’t let them down. Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no.”
Also we should learn from this example to take care of the people who help us. Don’t just use somebody and cast them aside. The world does this. But this is not God’s way.
We have already discussed that everything belongs to God. Rahab and her family belonged to God and the rest of the people did as well. She and her family were saved, but everyone else was destroyed. What was the difference? She was a sinner. They were sinners. She was a Gentile. They were Gentiles. The difference is that she put her faith in the Lord. See James 2:24-26.
The curse relates to the rebuilding of Jericho’s fortifications. I’m not really sure why this curse was proclaimed (perhaps because the city was dedicated to God and not to be a place of war). In any case it was fulfilled later in 1 Kings. A man tried to rebuild the wall and his firstborn and youngest sons died.
God had made Joshua’s name great. This exaltation didn’t come from himself, but from God. As we know, God exalts the humble. If we want God to lift us up we must serve Him humbly and not try to bring credit to ourselves. Joshua obeyed God to the letter. He had faith in God and he used his authority to influence all of the people to obey God as well. When you obey God like this, then he will build you up.
- Everything we have belongs to God. Do not be greedy for things that are not yours. Do not covet. Be a good steward of what God has entrusted to your care for His glory and for His kingdom.
- God keeps His promises. Hundreds of years before He promised this land to Abraham and His descendants. He kept it. God doesn’t let any of His good words fall. We should keep our promises as well.
- Salvation comes by faith and is available to everyone. Rahab was a harlot and a heathen. Yet through faith she and her whole family were saved. We should never give up on anybody. No matter how impossible it seems that they will ever believe in Jesus, we should keep praying for them and witnessing to them.
- Victory is God’s. We can’t have victory by our own power, might, or intelligence. The only way we can have true success in this life is by following the plan that God has laid out for us and obeying it to completely. God can give you victory in your life as well. Seek to follow His way. Obey Him and He can knock down any obstacles in your path.