Joshua Week 4: Victory and Defeat

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Week 4 Scripture: Joshua 6:1-27, 7:1-26

In Joshua chapters 6 and 7, we see the Israelites at their best and at their worst. We see them unquestioningly follow God’s plan for the battle of Jericho—a plan that was scoffed at by their enemies. Through their obedience, God gives a complete and miraculous victory over a mighty foe—a victory that gives God alone the glory. However, even in the midst of this incredible victory, we are reminded of God’s warning to Cain, “. . . And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door.” (Gen. 4:7). Temptation overtakes a man named Achan, and his sin has serious consequences not only for him and his family, but also for the nation as a whole. So, what can we learn from this triumph and tragedy?

God’s Victory:

When we look at God’s battle plan for Jericho, it doesn’t make sense. Marching silently around a city for 6 days and then marching around it 7 times on the seventh day and shouting is not exactly textbook siege warfare. Yet, that is how God operates. God’s plans, whether it be at the battle of Jericho or in the redemption of mankind, are designed to maximize his glory. As the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 1:18, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” But, while God’s plan doesn’t need our help, it is does involve our obedience. God provides the power for the victory. He alone gets the glory. But, we get the privilege of participating in His plan when we respond in faith and obedience (Rom. 10:13-15).

Man’s Failure:

When the Israelites entered Jericho, they were commanded to destroy everything and to keep none of the spoils for themselves. One man, Achan, decided that he was not willing to wait on God’s plan. God’s plan was for Israel to have the whole of the Promised Land as their inheritance. God simply asked for this one city to be a sacrifice to Him. Achan’s sin is the same sin that plagues us so much in our Christian walk: mistrust of God. Achan didn’t trust that God had good things in store for him if he just waited. In Achan’s confession in Josh. 7:20-21, we see the progression of sin: 1) he saw; 2) he coveted; and 3) he took. James, the brother of Jesus, tells us the same holds true for us in Jas. 1:13-15, and we face the same punishment Achan received—death.

In the Battle of Jericho and the sin of Achan we see both victory and failure. But, we also see redemption and restoration. These stories are beautiful pictures of the power of the gospel. Not only does the gospel provide us with the means for salvation, but it also provides us with the daily power to experience both victory and restoration in our daily walk as believers.

Joshua Week 4 Discussion Questions:

  1. How is that we can have an amazing success one day and the next day have an unexpected failure that shakes us to our core? What causes this? Are there areas in your life where you “break faith” and mistrust God’s plan and that mistrust causes you to make your own plan? What is the foundation of this mistrust…Fear? Selfishness? Pride?
  2. Read again Jas. 1:13-15 and the progression of sin. Do you see this progression in areas of your life? What do you do to try to “short circuit” this progression in your life?
  3. What do you think of using the term “dependent responsibility” to describe your relationship to God’s plan? Are there areas in your life where there’s too much dependence, and not enough responsibility? Or, are there areas where there’s too much responsibility, and not enough dependence?
  4. What is the main temptation you face in your life? Consider speaking with another believer, whether at life group or elsewhere, about this temptation and asking that person to join you in prayer about this issue in your life. (Jas. 5:16)
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