Friday, June 3, 2011

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 5, 2011

(GOD’s promises continue for all generations)
(Joshua 1:1-9)

The book of Joshua is the first book of what we now call, “the Historical Books” of the Holy Bible. The others are Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. The book of Joshua tells the story of how the Israelites conquered the land of Canaan under the spiritual and military leadership of Joshua, the man whom GOD choose to succeed Moses, and, who was charged by GOD to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River, and into the “Promised Land”. Joshua is also considered to be the first judge of Israel, as his appointment marked the beginning of a 450 year period during which a succession of judges would rule over GOD’s chosen people. This “period of the judges” would end with the prophet Samuel, who would appoint Saul as Israel’s first king, and then, subsequently, replace Saul with David, by a divine order from GOD.
The book of Judges introduces us to a new generation of Israelites who, for the most part, started out on the right foot, by trusting in, and were committed to obeying GOD. Through their obedience to GOD, they were able to win, by warfare, the land that had been promised to them by GOD, since the time of the towering and faithful patriarch, Abraham. The book of Joshua, reminds us most of all, of the faithfulness of GOD and how, through our obedience to HIM, we can claim HIS promises, and realize spiritual victory in our own lives, even in this day. It is appropriate that the book of Joshua opens up with a description of GOD’s preparation of this young leader for his role in HIS divine plan and strategy (vs. 1-5). Like all of GOD’s divine appointments, Joshua’s would call for him to be faithful, strong, and courageous. GOD’s promises can only be claimed by carefully following His laws and instructions (vs. 6-8), and as Joshua walks the path that GOD’s law defines, the LORD will be with him wherever he goes (v. 9).
Obeying the whole law of GOD is the dominant theological theme in the book of Joshua. It is a theme that is tightly woven into the annals of Israel’s history. Theologians have, over time, defined three great functions of Old Testament law. First of all, the law reveals to us, the character of GOD HIMSELF. Secondly, the law serves as a standard by which human behavior can be measured, and, by which all mankind can be judged. And finally, the law guides our choices, making it possible for us, as believers, to please GOD, and enjoy HIS blessings, while living out our lives, here on earth. It is primarily this third function that is highlighted in this passage.
Biblical history seems to demonstrate quite clearly, that, when GOD’s people keep HIS laws, HE invariably blesses and enables them to succeed. By contrast, when GOD’s people fail to obey HIM, or HIS law is abandoned, such disobedience is always followed by some sort of national disaster, or economic down turn.
The LORD’s promises are iron-clad, and we see, over time, just how those promises were passed on from generation to generation, because of HIS commitment, to allow for an inheritance to the faithful. Joshua was a model leader whose legacy will never embarrass his mentor, Moses. The mission of the Old Testament leader was to enable Israel to claim and hold to the promises of GOD. Their effectiveness depended upon the divine presence of the Almighty GOD, WHO is the only ONE able to provide HIS people with victory, then and now.
The prime responsibility of a GODly leader is that he must always maintain a commitment to carefully obey to the letter, the laws of GOD. This passage also tells us that the chief characteristic of the GODly leader is that he or she have strength and courage that can only come through one’s confidence and trust in GOD, and not in themselves. For there will be many times when it will seem risky to obey GOD completely, but it is in just such times, when a person’s faith can best be measured. When we believe in our hearts that GOD’s promises are true, we will always ultimately obey HIM, and GOD says, our obedience is always most essential to our success (v. 8).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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