Joshua - secret of success

Background

The Book of Joshua tells the story of a significant Bible event, the conquest of the land of Canaan. Chapters 13- 22 talks about how the Israelites settled in the promise land.

Theme

After the death of Moses, God spoke to Joshua to appoint him as the new leader. Joshua is promised great success like his predecessor Moses provided he followed God's instruction for success.

Josh 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful

Discussion : With Josh 1:8 as our key verse, what are some of the topics we can discuss today?

Answer : The topic we will discuss today will be "secret of success".

Discussion : What are some of the areas in your life you consider a success? What are some of your biggest achievements?

Discussion : What are some of your failures?

Tell the group that the purpose of this discussion is to put success in tangible terms. Success is not something abstract but something down-to-earth and can be translated into things like good health, successful and fulfilling career, happy marriage, etc.

The study of Joshua is a study on the secret of success. What are some of the laws laid down by God that if followed will ensure that we have success in terms of things like good health, successful and fulfilling career, happy marriage, etc.

Obey God in everything

Josh 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Joshua 11:15 (NIV) As the LORD commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses.

Discussion : Does that mean that God is looking for perfection before He will bless us?

Answer : God is not looking for perfection before He will bless us. He is, however, looking for those that have the heart to obey Him in every area of their lives.

Ask for God's miraculous intervention

Joshua 10:7-14 (NIV) So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. 8 The LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you." 9 After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10 The LORD threw them into confusion before Israel, who defeated them in a great victory at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites. 12 On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: "O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon." 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel!

A difficult task becomes easy if God does it for us. God intervened directly to make sure that Israel would win. He first caused the enemy troops to be confused. He then sent hailstones and even caused the sun to stand still (meaning the earth to stop rotating) so that Israel will win the battle.

When we encounter a difficult task that is against all odds, ask for God's intervention. If this God could cause the earth to stop rotating, would he not also do the impossible in your situation?

Discussion : Did anyone ever encounter a seemingly impossible situation which became possible after God intervened? It could be an impossible situation at work or an illness which the doctor had no cure.

Follow God's methods no matter how stupid

Joshua 6:2-5 (NIV) Then the LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in."

Discussion : God's method of success is unlike the world's. No army in the world will have this fighting technique - i.e. conquering a city by marching round its walls. Yet this is what God wanted the Israelites to do. Why?

So that when the victory is done, no one can say that they did it without God. God chose a method so that His glory cannot be denied.

What is important is that when God calls, Joshua listened and obeyed. He did not criticize God's method as unconventional and therefore cannot succeed. He knows that the method God prescribes may not be what the world thinks but is definitely the best.

Today, God is not asking us to march round Jericho walls. But He is also giving us methods of success that is laughed upon by the world.

Discussion : What are some of God's methods of success which are contrary to that of the world?

Mat 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

The world tells you that to succeed, you have to put the task at hand first and give it the highest priority in your life. Many people succeed in their career because they work hard and have no other distractions in life. But God wants us to put Him first and He will sort out everything else - including our careers. Are we willing to trust God's method or do we laugh it off?

Look at these other verses.

Mat 23:12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Mat 20:25 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,

Consult God first before doing something important

Joshua 7:2-12 (NIV) Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, "Go up and spy out the region." So the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, "Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there." 4 So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water. 6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?" 10 The LORD said to Joshua, "Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

Discussion : Why was Israel defeated. How could Joshua have prevented this failure?

The most obvious reason why Israel was defeated was that they disobeyed God. Another less obvious reason is that Joshua did not first consult God before acting. When Joshua heard the remarks of the spies, he was overconfident and at that time he probably felt that he did not need God. God never wants us to be independent from Him.

John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

The failure would have been avoided if what God told Joshua in verses 11 and 12 were told to him before the attack on Ai.

Clarification : It does not mean that we need to consult God before making every turn when we walk. Use our discretion to decide which areas are important enough for us to consult God.

Persevere until you see the results

(Josh 11:16-18 NIV)  So Joshua took this entire land: the hill country, all the Negev, the whole region of Goshen, the western foothills, the Arabah and the mountains of Israel with their foothills, {17} from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, to Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings and struck them down, putting them to death. {18} Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time.

The conquest of much of the land of Canaan seems to have happened quickly (we can read about it in one sitting), but it actually took seven years. We often expect to find instant success especially when God had already promised us but this is not always the case. Joshua took a long time to conquer the Promised Land.