Lesson for June 12, 2011: God Expects Obedience (Joshua 1:7-18)


This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for June 12) is written by Damon Reid, lead minister with Bethany Church of Christ in Kettering, Ohio.


God Expects Obedience (Joshua 1:7-18)

By Damon Reid

The long-awaited day—anticipated for centuries—had finally come. The children of Israel were preparing to enter the promised land!

Because of his disobedience, Moses was not permitted to enter the promised land. Although he died at the age of 120, the Bible notes that his “eyes were not weak nor his strength gone” (Deuteronomy 34:7). But it was time for the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Joshua became the new leader of Israel. God encourages him as he prepares to lead the people across the Jordan River and into the land of Canaan. Two commands are given which, if obeyed, will make Joshua prosperous and successful in his leadership of the Israelite nation.


God Expects Obedience

Here is the first:

“Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you” (v. 7).

We must emphasize the word careful when it comes to obedience because it is very easy to become disobedient. Wise leaders learn from the mistakes of others. It has been said, “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.” Joshua knew that Moses was prevented from entering the promised land because he was not careful in obeying God—he disobeyed the Lord (see Numbers 20:6-13). When the Israelites complained about having no water to drink at Kadesh, God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would pour out. Agitated by the people’s bad behavior, Moses disobeyed God and struck the rock instead. God was not pleased and said, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them” (Numbers 20:12). Moses was permitted to see the promised land just before his death, but he wasn’t permitted to enter. God expects obedience.

Joshua had committed the earlier event to memory, as well as another. Joshua remembered that Nadab and Abihu had died for offering “unauthorized” (New International Version) or “strange” (New American Standard Bible) fire before the Lord (see Leviticus 10:1, 2). What they did was “contrary to his command.” God expects obedience.

God encourages Joshua to commit himself to careful obedience to the law. With the command, there is a promise to be enjoyed, “that you may be successful wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7). God wants us to make good choices and he provides incentives.


Meditate on His Word

Here is the second command:

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it” (v. 8).

Dwight L. Moody is credited with saying: “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.” God’s instruction to Joshua is equally useful to us—be familiar with the Word, “meditate on it day and night.” Sounds easy enough, but how do we accomplish this?

Brenda and Kurt Warner, a retired NFL quarterback (of the St. Louis Rams, New York Giants, and Arizona Cardinals) and MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV, shared in the weekend services at Christ’s Church of the Valley, Peoria, Arizona, in April 2010. CCV minister Don Wilson asked the Warners about raising their children in a godly environment. Brenda said there were several quotes she asked their children to repeat each day as they left for school. Two of the quotes came from Deuteronomy 28:13: “You are the head, not the tail” and “You will always be at the top, never at the bottom.”

She didn’t identify these phrases as Scripture, but she believed as the children grew, they would remember these words and find them to be true. This is what we mean when we talk about meditating on the Word.

What did Joshua remember from the time he spent with Moses? Deuteronomy 28:1-14 tells what God promised to do if the people were obedient; verse 1 begins, “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands . . .”

• “the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth” (v. 1)

• “you will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country” (v. 3)

• “the fruit of your womb will be blessed” (v. 4)

• “enemies . . . will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven” (v. 7)

• “the Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you” (v. 8 )

• “the Lord will open the heavens . . . to send rain . . . to bless all the work of your hands” (v. 12)

• “you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none” (v. 12)

• “the Lord will make you the head, not the tail” (v. 13)

• “you will always be at the top, never at the bottom” (v. 13).

Joshua was going to be a good leader. He was determined to be obedient. We will be wise and imitate Joshua. Because God expects obedience!


*Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.

June 6: Deuteronomy 5:28-33
June 7: Deuteronomy 31:7-13
June 8: Psalm 119:9-16
June 9: 1 Kings 2:1-4
June 10: 2 Chronicles 26:1-5
June 11: Psalm 119:33-40
June 12: Joshua 1:7-18

ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Damon Reid is lead minister with Bethany Church of Christ in Kettering, Ohio. He received a BA in Christian ministry in 1977, an MA in practical ministries in 1989, and an MMin in church growth in 1990, all from Cincinnati (Ohio) Bible College and Seminary.


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  1. June 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Thanks for another wonderful lesson. May God bless you.
    –LaVerne Bryant, Old Morning Star M.B. Church

  2. Rita Henderson
    June 14, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Thank you for the lesson on Joshua. It helped me teach and show how we are today. It helped my study to see what God has intended for us just like the people of Israel.

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