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11. Battles, backsliding and belief

My notes for teaching the Old Testament, by Mama Brenda.

Leader's notes: Lesson 11 - Joshua 1:1-8:35, Judges 1:19-2:23; Ruth; 1 Samuel 1:1-3:1

Work through page 37 together as a class eliciting the information.

Rahab. Some Bible translations say she was an innkeeper, some say she was a prostitute. Either way she was not working in a job that good people would have approved of. Perhaps that is why some translators found it difficult to say she was a prostitute. But she saw what was happening and believed that the God of the Israelites was going to win.

She believed.

God looked for her faith, not at her job.

It appears Rahab told lies, yet we know God accepted her faith.

See Proverbs 6:17; Matthew 5:37; John 8:44.

Rahab’s family were saved because they obeyed and put the scarlet cord in the window. It is a picture like the blood on the doorposts and lintels during the death of the firstborn and Passover, when God passed over the houses which had blood on the lintels and doorposts. Both these pictures point to the blood of Jesus given for our salvation.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 11 Battles, backsliding and belief

Joshua 1:1-8:35, Judges 1:19-2:23; Ruth; 1 Samuel 1:1-3:1

Israel’s leadership had passed from Moses to Joshua. He prepared the people to cross the River Jordan, reminded the two and a half tribes who already had their land that their men were needed to fight with the rest of the Israelites, and sent two spies to check the situation in the land and especially in Jericho, their next objective.

Joshua 2:1-24 The spies went to Rahab who lived in the city wall. She was probably a prostitute. She hid them, misled the king’s soldiers and said to the Israelite spies “I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.” Joshua 2:9. She said that she had helped them and asked for their protection for her and her family. They promised that if she kept the secret, and when the attack came, placed a scarlet cord in her window, she would be safe. She let them through that window, down the outside wall of the city. They hid in the hills for three days before returning to the Israelite camp and reporting to Joshua.

Joshua 3:1-5:12 When Joshua heard the news he started a sequence of events designed to re-emphasise to Israel that their God was powerful and was the living God. He was taking the Israelites into the Promised Land. These events also underlined to the watching Canaanites how completely powerful and authoritative the God of Israel was. Joshua moved the camp to the edge of the Jordan, opposite Jericho, where the people could see the river in flood. Then he instructed the people to watch for and follow the ark of the covenant, which was normally in the tabernacle, but was now being carried by Levites. They must keep a safe distance from it. When the priests carrying the ark of the covenant got to the river they were to walk into the water, wait for the water to stop flowing and their feet to be on dry ground, then move to the middle of the river and watch all Israel walk past them.

One man from each tribe had to go back into the river bed and pick up a stone as a memorial of what they had seen God do. They camped at Gilgal, and Joshua re-instituted circumcision, which had not been observed in their wanderings. The Israelites then celebrated Passover, using local unleavened bread and roasted grain. The next day there was no more manna.

Joshua 5:13-15 Joshua was confronted by the commander of the army of the Lord, whom he acknowledged and obeyed. This was certainly an angelic appearance, and may have been a pre-incarnation appearance of Jesus Christ.

Joshua 6:1-27 The Israelites took Jericho. Rahab and her family were kept safe.

Joshua 7:1-8:29 Israel was defeated at Ai and sin was discovered. Judgement was imposed and then the Israelites took Ai. Joshua built an altar and led Israel in a renewal of their covenant with God and in the reading of the Law “to the whole assembly of Israel,

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Leader's notes: Lesson 11 - Battles, backsliding and belief.

Encourage the ladies to stop after the hectic story, and think about these six ideas, listed opposite.

Work through the rest of the page and next page 39, encouraging the ladies by involving them in reading references and finding information in passages, as your time allows.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 11 - Battles, backsliding and belief.

(from page 37) including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them.” Joshua 8:35.

Let’s pick up up on some ideas from page 37 for ourselves -

1. Even those doing the work of God must be prepared to show faith to the extent of getting their feet wet in faith!

2. It is important to remember and be reminded of Who our God is and what He has done. Take time to think about God acting in your life, and thank Him.

3. Even leaders need to acknowledge the leadership of the commander of God’s armies.

4. Sin must be dealt with.

5. We must always be aware of how our God wants us to live, what His plans and rules

for our lives are.

6. God brought Rahab into the lineage of Jesus - a Canaanite woman, who trusted Israel’s God is a direct forbear of our Lord Jesus Christ. (See Matthew 1:5)

The conquest and settlement of the land took 25 to 30 years.

The author of the book of Joshua was not only setting out a history. He was showing what God had done and how the people had worked with their God and sometimes how they had not. He includes stories, official lists of those conquered, and lists of land allocations. In Joshua 11:23 we read that Joshua took “the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.”

Joshua 12 is a list of defeated kings. Joshua 13 starts “when Joshua was old and well advanced in years the Lord said to him, ”You are very old and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over”.”

There follows a list of areas still to be captured. The book then continues with lists of land allocations, including towns for the Levites, until Joshua 21:45 “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled.” The men of Gad, Reuben and half of Manasseh returned to their families and their land east of the River Jordan, Joshua 22:9.

Joshua was coming to the end of his life. He again gathered the people to Shechem where Abraham had built an altar, Genesis 12:6-7. Joshua summarised the history of the previous 70 years and challenged the people to serve God faithfully.

“Joshua said to the people. “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God, for He is jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, He will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after He has been good to you.” 24:19-20. The people promised to serve God and obey Him.

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Leader's notes: Lesson 11 - Battles, backsliding and belief.

Can you think of an example from your own life to bring the last paragraph home to the ladies - or are there influences where you are now that are tempting Christians away from following Jesus totally?

Student's worksheet: Lesson 11 - Battles, backsliding and belief.

Joshua 24:28-32 Joshua died aged 110 and was buried in his allocated land. Joseph's bones, which Israel had brought with them from Egypt, were buried in Shechem, land which Jacob had bought nearly 500 years before (Genesis 33:19). This was in the area allocated to Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Verse 31 “Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.”

Joshua 21:45 “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” God kept His promises.

Joshua 24:19-20 “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God, for he is jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” Will Israel keep her promise?

Judges – Israel failed to totally take and consolidate the land. Joshua had died, and then the generation, who had seen what God had done in the Israelite conquest of Canaan, also died. Then “the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals …They provoked the Lord to anger…and the Lord handed them over to raiders...He sold them…They were in great distress”. Judges 2:11-15. “Then the Lord raised up judges who saved them out of the hands of the raiders…But when the judge died, the people turned to ways even more corrupt than their fathers...They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.” Judges 2:16-20.

Look for other judges 3:9, 3:15, 3:31, 4:4, 6:11-12, 10:1, 10:3, 11:5, 12:8, 12:11, 12:13,13:24-25

Major judges Minor judges

Othniel Shamgar

Ehud Tola

Deborah Jair

Gideon Ibzan

Jephthah Elon

Samson Abdon

This sad period of Israel’s history, regularly doing evil in God’s sight, covers 250-300 years. The last verse of the book of Judges says that there was no authority figure in the tribes of Israel, and everyone did as he or she saw fit. So the answer to the question at the end of the Joshua section (above) is - No! Israel did not keep her promise.

Israel took other people’s ideas and worshipped other people’s gods. We know they were wrong. But how strongly do we hold on to what we know God wants, when other people are involved in other – attractive - beliefs?

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Leader's notes: Lesson 11 - Battles, backsliding and beliefs.

Tell the story of Ruth, or elicit the story if the ladies know it, or if you have time get them to tell you the story from the Bible book of her name. Make sure that those who are not familiar with the story now have the outline of it in their minds.

Names may vary a little from one translation to another – as from Arabic to English!

Ruth going to the threshing floor at night with a request of marriage rings alarm bells in my culture but in her culture it may not have been unusual. The significance of uncovering Boaz’ feet, lying down there, and asking him to spread the corner of his garment over her is understood by Boaz. She and Boaz were careful that she was not seen at the threshing floor to protect her (and his) good name.

All five effects opposite are worth thinking about and may be discussed if time allows.

Remember, Jesus used Genesis 2:18-25 as His authority for one man to have one wife, in Matthew 19:3-9.

With the story of Elkanah and Hannah, and then the birth of Samuel, the scene is set for the next great leader of the Israelites. A godly man came from a godly mother and father, even though the world they lived in was not living God’s way.

God has His people in every situation.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 11 - Battles, backsliding and belief.


The story in the book of Ruth is set in the period of the Judges - a glimmer of hope in a dark world. Not everyone behaved badly as most of the people mentioned in Judges did.


Famine. Elimelech, Naomi, Mahlon and Killion (or Chilion) go from Bethlehem to Moab.

Elimelech dies. Mahlon & Killion marry Orpah & Ruth.

Ten years after arriving in Moab, Mahlon & Killion die.

Naomi hears of end of famine and plans to go back home. Orpah stays in Moab.

Naomi and Ruth go to Bethlehem. They arrive at barley harvest time.

Ruth gleans in Boaz’ field. Boaz is kind to Ruth.

Ruth gleans in barley harvest and wheat harvest. Naomi schemes.

Ruth goes to the threshing floor at night with a request of marriage.

Ruth leaves with barley and a promise before anyone is up.

Boaz goes to the town gate and in the presence of witnesses redeems the land and the name of Mahlon.

Boaz and Ruth marry. Ruth has a son, Obed.


Naomi has so demonstrated her God that Ruth believes in Him too.

Boaz also represents His God well.

Ruth has a husband.

Naomi has a grandson, an heir to Mahlon’s land.

God has brought a Moabite woman into the ancestral line of Jesus

(see Deuteronomy 23:3 and Matthew 1:5).


1 Samuel 1:1-3:1 Here we have another encouraging story.

We meet Elkanah, his wife Peninnah and her children, and his other wife, Hannah.

Hannah had no children. Each year at the feast Elkanah gave Hannah a double portion of meat because he loved her. Each year Peninnah reduced Hannah to tears at this feast. One year Hannah stood up at the feast, wept and prayed, promised to give the child to the Lord if only she could have a son. Eli, the priest had seen her and thought she was drunk because she was praying quietly but forming the words with her mouth. What a commentary on the state of worship in the temple that Eli should even think such a thing! Hannah had a son, Samuel. When he was weaned, at about three years old, she took him to Eli at the temple and gave Samuel to God’s service. Her song in 1 Samuel 2 is very similar to Mary’s song when she is told she will become the mother of Jesus, (Luke 1:46-55). 3:1 now follows the time of the judges - people were not living close to God. But Hannah was an exception. She trusted, loved and gave - she believed God (it seems that Elkanah did too) even when the world around her did not. Things to think about!

Please read any part of 1 Samuel 3:1-31:13; 2 Samuel; 1 Kings 1:1-11:43 for next time.

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