Theme: Confidence in God
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. - Hebrews 4:16
Introduction: Last session we discussed a passage about the dividing up of the land by Joshua to the tribes of Israel, with a particular focus on Caleb. Caleb is a great example of confidence in trusting God to act on God’s gift and promise. This session we will look at the response of the two tribes of Joseph who didn’t respond in the same confidence as Caleb. Sometimes it is good to learn from a poor example in order to understand that the struggle that comes with following God in confidence is real.
To give a little background to where this passage picks up, we need to understand the Joseph tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Joseph was indeed one of the twelve sons of Jacob. However, the reason we see that two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, exist as the house of Joseph is due to the fact that Joseph was the oldest son of Jacob, through Rachel. Therefore, he was promised to receive a double portion of the inheritance when Israel made it to the Promised Land. This double portion of inheritance was split between Joseph’s two sons, and was considered the largest territory and greatest influence in the northern half of Israel.
Also, while God has given the tribes possession of the land, and lead them victoriously in many battles, there is still work to be done. You might have noticed the phrase, “They did not drive out” the people of the land, in your reading of Joshua (cf. 15:63, 17:12). Not clearing the land was contrary to God’s explicit desire and command (Jos. 13:1-6). Allowing pagan people and their gods to dwell amongst the Israelites cheapened their community as the people of God, and caused problems for them in the long run.
This week we will discuss the theme of confidence in God in the midst of intimidation or fear that can keep us from living out God’s will for our lives.
Key Passage: Joshua 17:14-18
14 Then the people of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am a numerous people, since all along the LORD has blessed me?” 15 And Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up by yourselves to the forest, and there clear ground for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.” 16 The people of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us. Yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel.” 17 Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, “You are a numerous people and have great power. You shall not have one allotment only, 18 but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders. For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.” (ESV)
- What are the key words and phrases that stand out to you in this passage, and why?
- What is the motivation for the people of Joseph as they ask for more land?
- How are these Canaanites more of threat than the Canaanites whom Israel has previously faced?
- What do you believe is going through Joshua’s head as a leader here in the passage?
- What are the different ways in which intimidation manifests itself in your life?
- Do you have a story of a time when you faced great intimidation? Please share it with the group.
- What have you learned about confidence in God in the midst of any intimidation you might face in your life?