A) Fatal Mistakes: Falling into failure (Joshua 7:1-5)
But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the LORD burned against the sons of Israel. Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up; only about two or three thousand men need go up to Ai; do not make all the people toil up there, for they are few.” So about three thousand men from the people went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai. And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them from the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent, so the hearts of the people melted and became as water. (Joshua 7:1-5, NASB).
1. Who is said to be unfaithful (6:1)? Who actually sinned?
2. What was the actual sin (6:1)? Why does it then say ‘the sons of Israel’ acted unfaithfully (6:1)?
3. Verses 2-5 record the Battle of Ai. What is recorded about the battle? What things would you like to know about the battle that are not mentioned? Why might the Lord not mention such key battle events?
4. By looking only at verses 2-5, what would you say the reason for the defeat was? What if you add verse 1? Would you change your answer? What then would be the cause of the defeat?
5. What was the result of the defeat? Name two things.
6. Did the Israelites need to be defeated in this battle? Why or why not?
7. Does this defeat not parallel our spiritual battles when we fail? Is the Lord telling us here the reason we fail is because of our sinful disobedience? Discuss.
B) Religious Pretense: Staying in Disgrace (Joshua 7:6-10)
Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord GOD, why didst Thou ever bring this people over the Jordan, only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to dwell beyond the Jordan! “O Lord, what can I say since Israel has turned their back before their enemies? “For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what wilt Thou do for Thy great name? So the LORD said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face?” (Joshua 7:6-10).
8. What was Joshua’s response to this defeat (6)? Be specific. (What, where, how, how long, in what manner?)
9. Who else accompanied him?
10. What was Joshua’s attitude as seen in his prayer. Just focus on verse 7?
11. What does his prayer in verses 8-9 show about Joshua’s fear?
12. Are you impressed with Joshua and the elders’ response? Why or why not? (Don’t yet let verse 10 shape your conclusion).
13. How does God respond to their grief, humility and prayers?
14. Does this surprise you? Why or why not?
15. What is the main lesson of verses 6-10?
16. Are you ever impressed by people’s religious and spiritual activities? Share a few instances. Apply this lesson to those situations. Do you think God is equally moved by their so-called spiritual exercises?
17. Does this shed any light on why we have dead churches about us? Explain.
C) Gracious Return: Road to Recovery (Joshua 7:11-15)
“Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things. “Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst. “Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus the LORD, the God of Israel, has said, “There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.” ‘In the morning then you shall come near by your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the LORD takes by lot shall come near by families, and the family which the LORD takes shall come near by households, and the household which the LORD takes shall come near man by man. ‘And it shall be that the one who is taken with the things under the ban shall be burned with fire, he and all that belongs to him, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has committed a disgraceful thing in Israel.’” (Joshua 7:11-15).
18. What is the first thing God says in Joshua 7:11? Why might God start off this way?
19. Who does He say has stolen things under the ban (11)? Is this true? Why does God say it this way?
20. We often forget the effect of our sin on our brothers. On person’s sin affects others. Look at 1 Corinthians 11:29-32 and its context. Do you think the New Covenant then is like the Old Covenant in that God treats His people as a group? Based on this, would you say there is a “private” sin in that it only affects the one doing it?
21. God’s accusation is in verse 11. His diagnosis in verse 12. What is the result of this sin?
22. Some suggest that this sin of Achan parallels the sin of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. In what ways is it similar?
23. What is God’s solution for the sinful people of God (13-15)? How will it help them if they do it? What will happen if they do not do it?
24. God states that we all are under the curse of disobedience (see Galatians 3:10-11). How does God help us out in that situation (Galatians 3:13-14)?
General Summary Questions (Joshua 7:1-15)
25. Many Christians live with hopelessness and in a spirit of defeat. Do they have to be that way? What are some common excuses Christians give for their defeated lives? From Joshua 7 what do we find the main reason for our spiritual failures? What are the consequences of this sin?
26. Nevertheless God provides a way for His people to get back to God. Reflecting on Joshua 7:6-10, do you think religious activities like going to church is part of the solution? Why or why not? What does God really want from our lives?
Also please note the six review and summary questions at the end of the message.