July 24, 2022 – Joshua 24

Lesson Date: July 24, 2022

Focal Scripture Passage: Joshua 24:1-33

AIM: To lead students to examine the serious commitment the Israelites made to God, and to recall God’s goodness to them in the past and renew their personal commitment to Him.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Joshua 24 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Write the word “Commitment” on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the word “Commitment” written on the board.  Ask: “How would you define the word commitment?” (promise, obligation, dedication).  Ask: “Do you think commitments are viewed as seriously today as they were in previous times?” (no).

Tell the class that a hundred years ago, business deals could be made with a handshake.  Today they require reams of legal papers, and still can be easily broken.  Ask: “What are some commitments that are often broken?” (some examples include loans that are not repaid, bankruptcies in which the debts are never fully recovered, marriages that are easily dissolved, and parents who abandon their children or fail to pay legally required child support).

Tell the students it seems that the word commitment doesn’t mean very much anymore.  Ask: “Why do you think that is?” (the consequences for breaking commitments are not as severe as they once were; for example, we now have “no-fault” divorce and “no-fault” car insurance; people can  declare bankruptcy multiple times, leaving their unpaid debts for creditors to absorb).  Stress the fact that it doesn’t seem to be as costly to go back on commitments as it used to be.

Tell the class today we will study the final chapter of the book of Joshua.  Shortly before his death, Joshua challenged the Israelites to make an important commitment.  As we study Joshua 24, we will learn about the proper basis for making a commitment to God, as well as the seriousness of going back on such a commitment.  The title of today’s lesson is Who Will You Serve?

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (remembering God’s goodness to us in the past, which motivates us to serve Him faithfully now, and in the future).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Josh. 23:11).
  2. God’s Goodness to Israel in the Past.
    • Read Joshua 24:1.
    • Explain the following:
      • Since Joshua was nearing death, he called all the people of Israel together to speak to them for the last time.
      • In verses 2-13 Joshua reviewed God’s blessings on Israel throughout their history.
      • Since Joshua was telling the people what God said, the personal pronoun “I” refers to God.
      • The word “I” appears 17 times in verses 2-13.
    • Ask the students to locate and circle the word “I” each time it appears in those verses, as you read them aloud.
    • Read Joshua 24:2-13.
    • Ask the students to tell where they found the word “I” (once in v. 3, twice in v. 4, 4 times in v. 5, once each in v. 6 and 7, 3 times in v. 8, twice in v. 10, and once each in v. 11, 12, and 13).
    • Stress the fact that God was reminding Israel of all the things He had done for them.
    • Here is a summary of what God said about His faithfulness to Israel:
      • There was a time when their ancestors worshipped false gods, but God called Abraham – v. 2-3.
      • God led their ancestors, giving them a home and descendants – v. 3-4
      • God miraculously delivered them from bondage – v. 5-7
      • God miraculously gave them victory over their enemies – v. 8-12
      • God gave them a land, cities, and crops that they did not work for – verse 13
    • Summarize: Joshua reminded Israel of all the wonderful and miraculous things God had done for them. We, too, should remember God’s goodness.
  1. Joshua Challenged the Israelites to Make a Clear Choice.
    • Tell the class that based on God’s goodness to them in the past, Joshua challenged the Israelites to serve the Lord wholeheartedly.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Joshua 24:14.
    • Ask: “What three things did Joshua tell the people to do?” (1: fear the Lord, 2: serve Him in sincerity and truth, and 3: put away false gods).
    • Explain the following:
      • The fact that Joshua told the Israelites to “put away” false gods indicates that some of them had such false gods and were serving them.
      • They probably had false gods and participated in the worship rituals of the Tabernacle.
      • They were mingling false religion with the worship of the true God.
    • Ask: “Is it possible for modern Christians to cling to false gods, mingling false worship with the worship of the true God?” (yes).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Joshua 24:15.
    • Ask: “What clear choice did Joshua challenge them to make?” (who they would serve: false gods or the one true and living God).
    • Tell the students Joshua challenged them to choose whose side they were on, God’s or the side of false gods.
    • Ask: “Who did Joshua say he and his family were going to serve?” (the Lord).
    • Tell the class that we face the same choice every day that we live: are we going to serve the false gods of this wicked world, or are we going to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
    • Summarize: Joshua challenged the Israelites to choose who they would serve, the true God or false gods. We face that same choice today.
  2. A Commitment and a Warning.
    • Read Joshua 24:16-18.
    • Ask: “Who did the people say they would serve?” (Almighty God).
    • Ask: “Why?” (because they recalled all the wonderful things He had done for them).
    • Tell the students we might think Joshua would have been happy with that response, but Joshua knew his people very well.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Joshua 24:19-20.
    • Ask: “What did Joshua say to the people?” (you can’t serve God; you will surely turn back on your commitment and cause God to destroy you).
    • Note that Joshua mentioned “strange” or “foreign” gods in verse 20.
    • Ask: “What sorts of strange or foreign gods do modern people serve?” (in addition to false religions, many modern people worship the gods of pleasure, sex, work, money, or sports).
    • Tell the class by issuing this warning, Joshua wanted the people to count the cost before making their commitment (see Luke 14:26-33).
    • Stress the fact that we might have fewer broken commitments in our world today if people counted the cost of fulfilling their commitment, as well as the heavy price for breaking their commitment.
    • Summarize: The Israelites vowed to serve God wholeheartedly, but Joshua warned that they would suffer if they failed to fulfill their commitment God.
  3. Remembering Their Commitment.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Joshua 24:21-24.
    • Ask: “What did the people say in verse 21?” (we will serve the Lord).
    • Ask: “What did Joshua tell them to do in verse 23?” (put away their false gods and set their hearts on serving God).
    • Tell the students that the Israelites made a commitment to serve God wholeheartedly and exclusively.
    • Explain that in verses 25-28 Joshua took steps to help the people remember their commitment to God.
    • Read Joshua 24:25-28.
    • Ask: “What did Joshua do to help the Israelites remember their commitment to God?” (he wrote the details of their commitment in the book of the Law of God, and he set up a monument as a visual reminder of their commitment).
    • Tell the class that throughout the book of Joshua, God led the people to do things to help them remember important lessons. For example:
      • They set up stones to mark where God miraculously led them across the Jordan River.
      • They made a huge stone pile over the bodies of Achan, his family, and everything he possessed, to remind them of the high cost of sin and compromise.
      • The eastern tribes (Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh) erected an altar beside the Jordan River to remind them and the western tribes that they were all one nation.
    • Ask: “What are some things modern people do to remember their commitments?” (we have wedding ceremonies, we have official signing ceremonies when we buy a house or make other large monetary commitments, adoptions are carried out in legal proceedings, etc.).
    • Ask: “What, if anything, do we do to remember our commitments to God?”
    • Read Joshua 24:29-33.
    • Explain the following:
      • Joshua died and was buried.
      • Eleazar, the son of Aaron, died and was buried.
      • The people also buried the bones of Joseph, which they had brought out of Egypt.
      • This marks the close of the Exodus chapter of Israel’s history; the leaders they followed throughout those years were dead, and the Israelites were settled into their land.
    • Ask: “According to verse 31, how long were the Israelites faithful to God?” (throughout the lives of Joshua and the elders who outlived him).
    • Tell the class that’s good news, but we will learn the “rest of the story” when we begin the book of Judges next week.
    • Summarize: Joshua led the people to do some things to remember their commitment to serve the Lord. We should do the same.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask: “Has God blessed you in the past?”  If so, you should want to renew your commitment to Him, because of his goodness to you.

Tell the following story:

Twenty-two years ago, a little Cuban boy named Elian Gonzalez was in the news every day.  His mother died trying to get him out of Cuba and to safety in the United States.  He was living with relatives in Florida, but his father and the Cuban government wanted him back in Cuba.  Both sides, both governments, and many people in the media wanted to choose where the boy would live.  The one voice we never heard was his.  His choice was not considered, and he was eventually sent back to Cuba.  Other people made the choice for him.

Tell the students other people can’t decide for us about serving God.  It is a personal choice.  Joshua said: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.”  The Israelites had to choose between worshipping and serving false gods or worshipping and serving the true and living God.

Stress the fact that we face the same choice today.  Will we serve the false “gods” of this world, or will we serve the Lord Jesus Christ?  Remember that going back on our commitment carries serious consequences, just as it did for the ancient Israelites.

Urge any who have never trusted Jesus Christ for salvation to do so today.  Trusting Jesus involves repenting of sins and choosing to commit our life to Christ.

Tell the students those who are already Christians have a choice, too: to faithfully serve God or to serve self and the attractions of the world?  The Bible says: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).  Ask: “Do you love the Lord, or do you love the world?”

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Encourage them to make either a first-time commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior, or to renew their personal commitment to serve the Lord wholeheartedly and exclusively.  Voice a closing prayer of commitment.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Joshua 24:15.  Urge them to demonstrate their commitment to God by attending Sunday School and worship each week.

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