Study the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, beginning with Joshua's story, then moving through Judges, and ending with the story of Ruth. Some of the major ideas explored are: sanctity and wonders, mercy in the face of judgment, judging the motive rather than the act, rest as an active state, God's positive and negative promises, putting our deeds in perspective, vengeance destroys the avenger, the visitor in our midst, and God's providence.
More than 3.5 million copies of the series have been sold.
This revision of the Abingdon classic Genesis to Revelation Series is a comprehensive, verse-by-verse, book-by-book study of the Bible based on the NIV. These studies help readers strengthen their understanding and appreciation of the Bible by enabling them to engage the Scripture on three levels:
- What does the Bible say? Questions to consider while reading the passage for each session.
- What does the passage mean? Unpacks key verses in the selected passage.
- How does the Scripture relate to my life? Provides three major ideas that have meaning for our lives today.
The meaning of the selected passages are made clear by considering such aspects as ancient customs, locations of places, and the meanings of words. The simple format makes the study easy to use.Updates will include:
- New cover designs.
- New interior designs.
- Leader Guide per matching Participant Book (rather than multiple volumes in one book).
- Updated to 2011 revision of the New International Version Translation (NIV).
- Updated references to New Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible.
- Include biblical chapters on the contents page beside session lesson titles for at-a-glance overview of biblical structure.
The simple format makes the study easy to use. Each volume is 13 sessions and has a separate leader guide.
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ENTERING THE PROMISED LAND
DIMENSION ONE: WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
Answer these questions by reading Joshua 1
1. Who takes over the leadership of Israel when Moses dies? (Joshua 1:1-2)
2. What part of the land the Israelites are about to enter will God give to them? (Joshua 1:3)
3. What does the Lord promise to Joshua? (Joshua 1:5, 9)
4. What condition does God lay down for the success of the coming conquest? (Joshua 1:7)
5. What is Joshua to do with the Book of the Law? (Joshua 1:8)
6. What does Joshua order the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh to do? (Joshua 1:12-15)
7. How do these tribes respond to Joshua's command? (Joshua 1:16-17)
Answer these questions by reading Joshua 2
8. Where do the two spies go? (Joshua 2:1)
9. How does Rahab reply to the king of Jericho's command to turn over the two men? (Joshua 2:4-5)
10. Where are the two spies? (Joshua 2:6)
11. What does Rahab request of the two Israelite men? (Joshua 2:12-13)
12. How do the two men respond to Rahab's request? (Joshua 2:14)
13. What sign do the spies tell Rahab to display in order to save her family from death? (Joshua 2:18)
14. What do the spies report to Joshua? (Joshua 2:24)
Answer these questions by reading Joshua 3
15. What will lead the Israelites into the Promised Land? (Joshua 3:3)
16. How do the people prepare to cross the Jordan River? (Joshua 3:5)
17. Where does Joshua say the living God will be? (Joshua 3:10)
18. Joshua says the waters will stop flowing when? (Joshua 3:13)
19. What time of year does Israel cross the Jordan? (Joshua 3:15)
20. Where is the ark of the covenant while the people pass over the Jordan on dry ground? (Joshua 3:17)
DIMENSION TWO: WHAT DOES THE BIBLE MEAN?
* Joshua 1:1. In this verse, God speaks to Joshua for the first time. Joshua's name means "Yahweh is salvation," and appears elsewhere in the Bible in the forms Hosea and Jesus (see Matthew 1:21). Israelite names often contained faith statements about God. Joshua's name was one of the first to use the divine name revealed to Moses (see Exodus 3:14-15).
* Joshua 1:4. God tells Joshua that the Promised Land will include all the area found between the deserts to the east and south, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, the Lebanon mountains to the northwest, and the Euphrates River to the northeast. While Israel never controlled all this land, it did approach these borders later under the reign of King David.
* Joshua 1:7-8. The "Book of the Law" refers to the Book of Deuteronomy. These verses continue the understanding that by following the written law the Israelites are guaranteed success.
* Joshua 1:12-18. Joshua tells the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh that they will receive territory east of the Jordan River (see Numbers 32; Deuteronomy 3:12-20). Still, they join with the other tribes to conquer the land west of the river. Joshua emphasizes that all Israel should be one people united in action under one God.
* Joshua 2:1. Shittim is an area about seven miles east of the Jordan River. Jericho stands about five miles west of the river and seven miles north of the Dead Sea. At Jericho is a spring capable of watering thousands of acres. Already in Joshua's day (about 1250–1225 BC), Jericho had been occupied off and on for almost seven thousand years.
The prostitute Rahab's name means "wide" or "broad." Apparently the men go to her place of business to escape detection. The idea of strangers visiting a prostitute is not unusual. However, their scheme does not work.
According to Matthew 1:5, Rahab is one of Jesus' ancestors.
* Joshua 2:2-5. Rahab tells the king's agents that the men were with her only briefly and that they left the city before dark. Ancient cities closed their gates at night so they could not be attacked and captured under the cover of darkness.
* Joshua 2:6. Rahab not only lies to the king's men; she also hides the Israelite spies under flax drying on her roof. Flax, used in making linen, is harvested in the spring.
* Joshua 2:9-11. Here Rahab gives an Israelite confession of faith. It shares much in common with similar confessions found in Deuteronomy (see Deuteronomy 26:5-10). A native of the land and a prostitute, she now places her trust in Yahweh, Israel's God.
Rahab's confession contains several important themes that we will find again in the holy war tradition in Joshua. These holy wars will be won, not by what Israel does, but by what God does. The people of Canaan will lose because God has already put the fear of Israel upon them, and they "melted in fear" (v. 11) before Israel. The statement on the Red Sea in verse 10 differs, interestingly, from the Exodus version. Rahab says God "dried up the water"; Exodus 14:21 states the waters were blown back and divided.
* Joshua 2:12-14. Rahab requests that the Israelites return the kind deed she has done for the spies. As she has hidden the spies and lied to her king to save their lives, she asks that they promise to save her and her family. This appeal looks forward to the element of Israel's wars that poses the most difficulty to modern readers: the total destruction of the defeated people. (The next lesson will deal more fully with this issue). Here, however, the Israelite spies promise to save her life.
* Joshua 2:15. Apparently, Rahab's house is built right into the city wall. She now performs a third kindness for the spies. She helps them escape the trap of the closed city.
* Joshua 2:18-21. The spies tell Rahab to mark her location with a scarlet cord. This sign will enable them to save her family from death. The color of the cord reminds us of the blood on the doorposts during the first Passover (see Exodus 12:13).
* Joshua 2:24. The spies do not report military information. Rather, they affirm that God has already accomplished the promise of land. The natives fear Israel and God. The land is already theirs.
* Joshua 3:3-4. The ark of the covenant (see Exodus 25:10-22) is the central symbol of God's presence in war. The ark is a sort of war throne from which Yahweh leads the people to victory (see Numbers 10:35-36). Yahweh's power literally radiates from this throne. Consequently, only Levites — specially chosen by God for the task — can touch the ark. Ordinary people must keep a safe distance. We see the dangerous potential of the ark's power upon ordinary people in the story of Uzzah's death for steadying the ark (see 2 Samuel 6:6-7).
* Joshua 3:5. The crossing of the Jordan is a sacred occasion that follows a pattern of religious worship. Before the people can witness God's actions or worship God, they must first prepare themselves. This sanctifying process involves consciously redirecting their thoughts from everyday concerns to those of God. Israelites did this by washing their bodies and clothes (see Exodus 19:10-11) and cleaning the camp (see Deuteronomy 23:9-14). This practice of preparation before standing in God's presence is another emphasis in the holy war tradition.
* Joshua 3:9. Here begins a solemn sermon that again signals to us the religious and ritual nature of the crossing of the Jordan.
* Joshua 3:10. This list of natives living in the Promised Land shows that the land has seen many migrations and conquests before Joshua's time. This list witnesses to the mixed population Israel meets as it moves into its God-granted territory.
* Joshua 3:13. Joshua tells the people ahead of time what will happen. One of the major points of this book is to demonstrate how God announces future deeds ahead of time and then carries out this word in action.
* Joshua 3:14-17. Under Joshua, the new generation born in the desert, which had not experienced the Exodus, now experiences a parallel example of God's power.
* Joshua 3:15. This verse notes that the crossing takes place during spring harvest time when the melting snow from the mountains to the north floods the Jordan. For most of the rest of the year, the Jordan remains quite shallow and easily waded. Only in spring would such a miraculous crossing be necessary.
* Joshua 3:16. The waters of the Jordan stop flowing approximately eighteen miles north of Israel's crossing point near Jericho. The wall of water, then, occurs well beyond the sight of the Israelites.
DIMENSION THREE: WHAT DOES THE BIBLE MEAN TO ME?
Joshua 1:1-18 — Passing on Leadership
Moses is dead and Israel needs a new leader. Even the great Moses is subject to death. Only God is eternal. No matter how great a leader is, his or her leadership must come to an end and somebody else must take over. But for the new leader to do an effective job, those who are led must accept and follow the new leader. Recognizing that Joshua too serves God, Israel pledges to obey Joshua just as it obeyed Moses.
How often in our lives do we accept and follow a new leader? How do you react when an incumbent politician you like is defeated and a new person takes office? How do you respond to a new pastor when you felt attached to the one leaving? Are you willing, like Israel, to be loyal to God, not to some specific representative of God? How can we maintain what is precious from past leaders yet still accept the need for new and different leadership? How can we distinguish our primary loyalty to God's eternal leadership from our temporary loyalty to God's transitory human representatives?
Joshua 2:1-14 — People of Disrepute
A prostitute announces in words and actions her firm faith in Israel's God. For most of us, a prostitute makes an improbable heroine for a biblical story. But when we remember Jacob's trickery, Moses' murder, David's adultery, or Paul's early persecution of Christians, we realize how often the Bible portrays God using disreputable people to accomplish the goal of salvation. Rather than being peopled with saints, the Bible portrays God calling all-too-human persons to do God's will. We will see this theme especially when we look at the Book of Judges.
How do you react to this common biblical portrayal? Why does God so often call on persons that seem irreligious rather than on religious people? Do religious people have some built-in barrier to hearing God? Why did the religious people of Jesus' day reject him, for example, while thieves, prostitutes, and sinners accepted him?
Joshua 3:1-6 — Sanctity and Wonders
The Israelites prepare themselves to witness God's power in action. They take very seriously what it means to stand in God's presence. They do not accept God's saving gifts sloppily. They must be prepared to accept God's grace. A large part of witnessing is being prepared to see God's grace first. With expectancy, hope, and preparation they wait on the Lord.
How often do we prepare ourselves to encounter God's grace in our lives? Do we even expect to meet God in church, let alone in our daily lives? How can we direct our thoughts toward God as we go about our work and play? In what ways can we prepare ourselves ahead of time to encounter God in the worship service?
Joshua 3:7-17 — Effects, Not Miracles
Unlike the record of the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus 14:21-29, here the people see no wall of water. They do not see the miracle directly. They see only its indirect results, the now dry riverbed.
Are we able to see God in the indirect effects of God's work, or do we demand to see God's actions directly? Are we willing to act on the basis of our trust that God leads us, or do we demand proof before we will follow? How is the demand for proof a sign of weak faith? What does it mean to trust and believe in God without seeing?
"When the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed." (6:20)CHAPTER 2
THE BATTLE OF JERICHO
DIMENSION ONE: WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
Answer these questions by reading Joshua 4
1. What does the Lord tell Joshua he wants the twelve men, one from each tribe, to do? (Joshua 4:3)
2. What is the purpose of the stones? (Joshua 4:6-7)
3. What does Joshua set up in the midst of the Jordan? (Joshua 4:9)
4. How do the people feel toward Joshua after the crossing? (Joshua 4:14)
5. What happens after the priests bearing the ark come up out of the riverbed? (Joshua 4:18)
6. Where do the people camp after crossing the Jordan? (Joshua 4:19)
7. Why does Joshua set up the twelve stones? (Joshua 4:20-24)
Answer these questions by reading Joshua 5
8. How do the kings of the Amorites and Canaanites react after they hear about the Israelites crossing the Jordan? (Joshua 5:1)
9. Why does Joshua circumcise all the male Israelites at this time? (Joshua 5:3-5)
10. Why is the place of the Israelite camp called Gilgal? (Joshua 5:9)
11. What religious festival do the Israelites keep at Gilgal? (Joshua 5:10)
12. What happens the day after this festival? (Joshua 5:11-12)
13. Whom does Joshua meet when he is near Jericho? (Joshua 5:13-14)
Answer these questions by reading Joshua 6
14. What does the Lord say to Joshua about Jericho? (Joshua 6:2)
15. What part do the priests play in taking Jericho? (Joshua 6:4)
16. How do the people participate in Jericho's capture? (Joshua 6:5, 20)
17. Where is the ark of the Lord during the march around the city? (Joshua 6:12-13)
18. What does Joshua command the people to do after the seventh circle of Jericho on the seventh day? (Joshua 6:16-17)
19. What does Joshua warn will happen if anyone takes something devoted to destruction? (Joshua 6:18)
20. What do the Israelites do when Jericho's walls fall down flat? (Joshua 6:20-21)
21. Who survives Jericho's fall? (Joshua 6:22-23)
22. How do the Israelites complete their conquest of Jericho? (Joshua 6:24)
23. What curse does Joshua speak over Jericho's ruins? (Joshua 6:26-27)
DIMENSION TWO: WHAT DOES THE BIBLE MEAN?
* Joshua 4:2-3. Here the Lord elaborates on Joshua's command (see 3:12-13) and explains what the twelve men are to do. They shall carry one stone apiece from the riverbed, where the priests stood, to that night's camp. There they will "put them down." Joshua will "set up" the stones (4:20).
* Joshua 4:6-7. Joshua states that the primary reason for taking the stones is to make a memorial specifically for Israel's children. Later in this chapter, the purpose for the memorial will be extended (4:24).
* Joshua 4:9. Joshua sets up twelve stones in the Jordan where the priests stood. No reason is given for this act, which is in strange contrast to the two separate explanations given for the twelve stones at Gilgal (4:6-7, 21-24). These stones are still visible when this story was written. Often past events are tied to present scenes visible to readers (see Joshua 6:25; 7:26; 8:28; 10:27).
* Joshua 4:10-11. The Good News Translation (GNT) of the Bible probably best explains the complicated movement in these verses:
The priests stood in the middle of the Jordan until everything had been done that the LORD ordered Joshua to tell the people to do. ... The people hurried across the river. When they were all on the other side, the priests with the LORD's Covenant Box went on ahead of the people.
* Joshua 4:14. The results of the crossing are interesting. The people now hold Joshua in "awe." The same word is found in the phrase, "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7). The word refers not so much to fright or terror as to reverence, respect, and awe. As God's representative, Joshua receives the reverence due to God.
* Joshua 4:19. We do not know exactly where Gilgal is. Apparently, it lies on the eastern border of the territory of Jericho. We need to remember that the cities in Palestine consist of more than just the buildings within the walls. They are city states that control a large amount of the surrounding land. Gilgal will remain Israel's base of operations throughout the time of conquest.
* Joshua 4:21-24. The explanation Joshua gives for setting up the stones has a different thrust here than the one found in 4:7. In verse 7, the memorial was for Israel only. In these verses, the memorial becomes a sign for not only for Israel, but "all the peoples of the earth" (v. 24).
* Joshua 5:3. Gibeath Haaraloth means "hill of foreskins." Apparently, the hill where the circumcisions are performed is near Gilgal. The law requires that all males who participate in the Passover have to be circumcised (Exodus 12:4349).
* Joshua 5:4-7. Since, according to Jewish law, all males were to be circumcised when they were eight days old (Genesis 17:10- 14), the Israelites would normally already have been circumcised. Since only circumcised men could join in Passover, these verses suggest that Passover has not been celebrated during the years in the desert.
* Joshua 5:9. The "reproach of Egypt" may refer to Israel's original desire, forty years earlier, to return to Egypt after hearing reports of frightening inhabitants in the Promised Land (see Numbers 14:3-4).(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Genesis to Revelation: Joshua, Judges, Ruth Participant Book"
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Table of Contents
1. Entering the Promised Land (Joshua 1–3),
2. The Battle of Jericho (Joshua 4–6),
3. The Sin of Achan (Joshua 7–8),
4. Joshua Defeats the Kings (Joshua 9–12),
5. Joshua Divides the Territory (Joshua 13–17),
6. Seven Portions Remain (Joshua 18–21),
7. Joshua Prepares to Die (Joshua 22–24),
8. The Lord Raised Up Judges (Judges 1–3),
9. Deborah and Gideon (Judges 4–8),
10. Abimelek and Jephthah (Judges 9–12),
11. Samson the Nazirite (Judges 13–16),
12. Micah and the Danites (Judges 17–21),
13. The Story of Ruth (Ruth 1–4),
Glossary of Terms,