I’m about to make a video Bible study lesson for children on Joshua’s parting words to the Israelites before he died. When this lesson was first assigned to me, I looked at it and thought it was going to be hard to make it interesting for children. It’s about an old man making a long speech about remembering to follow the rules. But after awhile I came to see that this was a very relatable topic for young and old. So I thought I would write it out here and if it turns out okay, I’ll post it.
INTRODUCTION: Hi Kids! I’m Miss Paula and I’m glad to be with you again today. Who remembers who we have been learning about for the past few weeks? I’ll give you a hint, He fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down. Right! Joshua! Good job! I love that song don’t you?
Today’s story about Joshua comes from Joshua chapters 23 and 24 in the Bible. In this true story we learn how Joshua gathered the people from all over to give them an important message. God’s people, the Israelites, had been living in the Promised Land in their own cities and farms for many years now. They had had to fight a lot of battles but now the people were living in peace in the land. Joshua was now an old man. 110 years old! He had been just a young man when Moses led the people out of Egypt. He and Caleb had trusted God to lead them into the Promised Land. Joshua had served the Lord his whole life.
Now Joshua gathered all the people together to talk to them. He wanted to remind them of how God had done as he promised and would continue to be with the people IF they would follow the rules that He had given them. God did not want them to marry the other people that were still in the land because he knew that they would start to worship the false gods of those people. He warned the people that just as God had promised them good things , he had also promised them evil things if they bowed down and served other gods besides Him.
Joshua reminded them of how God had helped Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Esau and Moses and Aaron. He reminded them of God bringing them out of slavery in Egypt through the Red Sea. Then he reminded them how God had helped them win the battles against their enemies. God had given them the cities and the land and vineyards and orchards of the people He drove out.
Since God did all these things for you, said Joshua, you must always serve him with your whole heart. Do not serve other gods. Choose this day whom you will serve, the wrong gods , or the LORD. As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD, said Joshua. The people answered that they would only serve God because he had done all those great things. But Joshua said, I don’t think you will serve God. And they said, Yes we will serve the Lord. So Joshua said , okay you say that you will, so put away your false gods. Then they took a large stone and set it up like a statue to be a reminder of what they had promised. And he sent the people back to their homes.
Now why do you think Joshua thought it was so important to talk to the people like this before he died? Well, let me ask you a question. Have your parents ever said to you, It’s bedtime, tomorrow is a school day, you need to get your sleep so you will feel good tomorrow. They read you a story. They tucked you in bed and said Go to sleep now. No getting out of bed. Maybe they told you that if you got up that you would be in trouble. Then mom or dad said goodnight, left your room and closed the door. And there you were in your bed, but you weren’t tired. You tried to go to sleep, but then you started looking around the room and thinking that no one would know if you got up and you forgot that they said you’d be in trouble and the next thing you know you got up and started playing with your toys! Or maybe you started wrestling with your brother or you tried to sneak into the kitchen to get a snack. And then your mom or dad came in and found you. Were you doing what you were supposed to be doing? No! As soon as your parents were not in the room, you got distracted and forgot what your parents had said and decided that you could do what you wanted to do. Then you were in trouble!
Did you know that grownups sometimes forget or think they don’t have to follow the rules either? Joshua knew that the Israelites would forget about God if they weren’t reminded, but he warned them anyway. After the older Israelites died, the younger ones did forget and they did exactly what Joshua told them not to do, they married the women from other nations and then they worshipped their gods. And God stopped protecting them from their enemies and helping them until they asked forgiveness.
We are blessed that we have the Bible to read and our parents and teachers to teach us about God. We can learn about and remember all the great things God has done and also how God wants us to love him and serve him. And we have Jesus who died for our sins because people are not always good at following God’s rules and God wants to save us anyway. He will forgive us when we mess up if we ask him and believe in Him. Will you choose to always put God first in your life? Try making a list of the good things God has done for you and your family and then you can read it when you are having a bad day to help you remember that you can trust God.
Let’s say our memory verse for this week : Trust in the Lord and do good. Psalm 37:3
Well that was a great story. Let’s say a prayer together before I leave. Please bow your head . Dear Lord, thank you for loving us and helping us. We want to serve you and obey you. Please help us to remember that you are always with us and we can trust you. Amen.