Conquering the Land

Discovery for Teachers

Conquering the Land



Joshua 1:1 through 8:35

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9)


God gave Joshua a monumental job after the death of Moses: He was to assume a leadership position and direct the Children of Israel in an extended military campaign in an unfamiliar land filled with fortified cities and multiple enemies. Fortunately, along with this great commission, God gave Joshua the encouragement he needed to succeed.

The first eight chapters of the Book of Joshua narrate the events surrounding the Israelites’ entry into the Promised Land and the beginning of their conquest of Canaan. After God provided a miraculous crossing of the Jordan River, the people camped near the mighty city of Jericho. God outlined a unique battle strategy for conquering the walled fortress; by following God’s instructions precisely, the people won a tremendous victory.

After the destruction of Jericho, the Children of Israel set out to take the small town of Ai. To their shock, the forces sent against the town were driven back and lives were lost. Their hearts were melted, not because of cowardice, but because, clearly, the Lord’s strong hand, upon which they had relied, had been removed from them. The cause was sin in the camp — Achan had disobeyed God’s instruction and taken of the spoils of Jericho. When this matter was dealt with according to the instruction of God, the Israelites succeeded in capturing Ai.


  1. How do you think Joshua may have felt when God called him to lead the Children of Israel into Canaan? Briefly describe the ways that Joshua was encouraged, directly or indirectly, before he led the Children of Israel into battle.

    Joshua was given a great responsibility with serious risks involved: he may very well have felt overwhelmed and inadequate for the task. God understood that, just as He understands when we feel overwhelmed or inadequate.

    Your class may come up with the following ways that Joshua was encouraged:

    •Joshua 1:1-9: God spoke directly to Joshua with words of encouragement
    •Joshua 1:16-18: The people of Israel promised to obey Joshua, and told him to “be strong”

    •Joshua 2:23-24: The spies told Joshua that the Lord had delivered Canaan into their hands
    •Joshua 3:10-17: The waters of Jordan were parted as a sign that God was working for Israel
    •Joshua 4:14: God magnified Joshua before all the people of Israel
  2. God promised to be with Joshua as He had been with Moses (Joshua 1:5). Why would this promise have been an encouragement to Joshua?

    Joshua was following in the footsteps of a great leader whom he had watched under many circumstances. He could rehearse the many ways that God had been with Moses (in the exodus from Egypt, at the parting of the Red Sea, upon Mount Sinai, during the wanderings in the wilderness) and realize that God would work the same way in his own life. Ask your students to share examples of how God’s moving in the lives of other Christians has encouraged them in their own Christian walk.
  3. When God promised to be with Joshua and the Children of Israel, He asked Joshua to do two things: to obey His word (Joshua 1:7-8) and to be courageous (Joshua 1:9). What is the relationship between obeying God and having courage?

    Discussion should bring out that when we obey God’s Word, we can have confidence that we are in His will. Conversely, when we disobey the Lord, we suffer not only the outward consequences of our actions, but also the inward pain of condemnation. Inevitably, disobedience leads to discouragement. Right actions, however, will help us to have courage.
  4. After their miraculous crossing into Canaan, Joshua had the Children of Israel set up “memorial stones” from the Jordan River so that their children and “all the people of the earth” might be reminded of God’s mighty power (Joshua 4:21-24). Rehearse, in your mind, ways that God has worked in your life or the lives of your family members. What kind of “memorial stones” can you establish?

    Ask your students to develop a list. Note that God can use these events to encourage others if they, like the Children of Israel, will take time to remember God’s blessings and to share these blessings with others.
  5. When the Children of Israel entered Canaan, God stopped the supply of manna (Joshua 5:12). How do you think the Israelites felt when the manna, which they had depended on for so many years, ceased? How might you respond if God should suddenly change His provisions and make the “manna cease” in an area of your life?

    Since we do not know how the Israelites felt about the cessation of the manna, student answers may vary. Note that it takes a certain measure of courage to step out in faith when God eliminates something in our lives that we have come to depend on.
  6. After the great victory at Jericho (Joshua 6), Joshua and the children of Israel were soundly defeated at Ai due to the disobedience of one man, Achan (Joshua 7). Give an example of how disobedience in one area of a person’s life can significantly impact others.

    Some examples are: a driver disobeys a traffic law, and the lives of all in the car are lost; a chemistry student disobeys a safety guideline, and all in the class are put at risk; a contagious patient disobeys quarantine regulations, and many are exposed to a fatal disease. End this discussion by pointing out that because of Achan’s sin, his entire family was destroyed (Joshua 7:24-26). What impact may our choice to obey or disobey have on our families?
  7. Note how thoroughly Joshua and the Children of Israel destroyed the city of Ai (Joshua 8:1-29). Why do you suppose they were so thorough?

    After the first defeat at Ai, the Israelites learned that even the disobedience of one man could cause a serious setback. No doubt, they wanted to vigilantly carry out God’s command to totally destroy the people and city of Ai.
  8. After the fall of Ai, Joshua offered sacrifices to God and read the Law of Moses to all the people (Joshua 8:30-35) even though there were many battles yet to be fought in the land of Canaan. What acts of obedience and worship should we as Christians be careful to perform even as we face the battles of life?

    Students may mention that Christians should read God’s Word, pray, gather together to worship, and partake of the ordinances.


With God’s help, Joshua faithfully carried out the great task to which he had been appointed. As we read about Joshua’s victories, we also should be encouraged to faithfully follow the Lord: the same God who led Joshua and the Children of Israel into Canaan is leading us today!