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Men’s Bible Study: “The Gospel According to Joshua”

"Joshua Taking Jericho" by James Tissot, 1886-94 (click image to enlarge)

“Joshua Taking Jericho” by James J. Tissot, 1886-1894 (click image to enlarge)

The men are currently visiting a period in Biblical history known as “The Conquest of the Promised Land” in the Book of Joshua. But in recent times, the most heated discussion when Joshua is mentioned is about the command by God to the Israelites to “devote” everyone and everything “to destruction” as they conquered the cities in the land. How can a good, loving God command “genocide”?

Join us as we embark on a “conquest” of this and several other themes and issues in seven Lessons from the White Horse Inn. All the summaries below are quotations from the White Horse Inn archives.

The following resources are available upon request: (1) a study guide for each lesson; (2) articles related to each lesson; (3) audio clips from the WHI broadcasts; (4) audio of the full WHI broadcasts (big files); (5) an Introduction to Joshua article. Please email us if you want to receive any of these resources for free.

October 11: Lesson 1: The Gospel According to Joshua
Moses is a tragic hero. Though he was called by God to lead the children of Israel out of their slavery and bondage in Egypt, he was, nevertheless, forbidden to enter the Promised Land. After his death, a servant by the name of Joshua (which means YHWH saves) was called to lead his people across the Jordan into the land of Canaan. How do these events point forward to the deliverance provided by Jesus Christ, the greater Joshua?

October 18: Lesson 2: Is God a Moral Monster?
Paul Copan talks about the claims of Richard Dawkins and other “new atheists” that the God of the Old Testament is a petty, vindictive, bloodthirsty, genocidal, ethnic cleanser. Is God’s command to Joshua to invade Canaanite cities and to kill men, women, and children best understood in terms of ethnic cleansing? How should we think about the God of the Old Testament?

November 8: Lesson 3: Holy War
Christians rightly condemn acts of violence by Islamic terrorists justified by the perpetrators as forms of jihad. But if the killing of innocent civilians is always wrong, how are we to explain the kind of holy war that we find throughout the book of Joshua? Is this a “text of terror” that we should reject and exclude from the canon of Scripture? How are we to understand the difference between the jihad of today and the holy wars of the Old Testament?

November 22: Lesson 4: Another Exodus
After God called Israel out of Egypt to be a chosen and holy nation, the people sin greatly against him and are forced to wander in the desert for forty years. After that entire generation dies out, a new generation led by Joshua is finally allowed to enter the land of rest. What new challenges do the people of Israel face in the land promised to Abraham and his descendants? How long will they be able to stay in the land?
Gospel According to Joshua cover page

December 6: Lesson 5: God’s Conquest
On this program we discuss God’s conquest of the city of Jericho. Is it appropriate to use this particular narrative as a pattern for things in our own lives that we’d like to conquer? How should we understand God’s command that every living thing in Jericho should be destroyed? What is significant about the fact that Rahab and her family were spared?

December 20: Lesson 6: The Nation’s Inheritance
Some say that believers are “saved by grace but stay in by works.” Throughout the history of this program we have rejected that view, arguing that we’re actually saved by grace alone on account of the work of Christ alone. Here in the book of Joshua, however, there is a kind of “works” principle, tied not to individual salvation but rather to Israel’s ability to stay in the land of promise. The nation’s inheritance was pure gift. But in order to keep it, they must be holy. How can we understand this concept in light of Scripture’s larger teaching?

January 3: Lesson 7: Covenant Renewal
At the conclusion of the book of Joshua, the people renew their commitment to the Mosaic covenant, saying, “We will serve the Lord.” But Joshua’s reply is discouraging: “You are not able to serve the Lord,” he says, “for he is a holy God [and] he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.” This is why, in order to have any hope of salvation, we must look away from the Law of Moses to a new and better covenant where we can find mercy and grace.

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