Bible Study Questions on 'Reaching Beyond Mediocrity'
– The Day the Sun Stood Still –
– The Day the Sun Stood Firm in the Sky –
Please note that this Bible study is very long and should be broken up into two sections (1-11) and (12-43). Otherwise select one theme and select only the questions focused on that theme.
A. Joshua Followed the Lord in Obedience
Now it came about when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured Ai, and had utterly destroyed it (just as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king), and that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were within their land, that he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. Therefore Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent word to Hoham king of Hebron and to Piram king of Jarmuth and to Japhia king of Lachish and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, “Come up to me and help me, and let us attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the sons of Israel.” So the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they with all their armies, and camped by Gibeon and fought against it. Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites that live in the hill country have assembled against us.” So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him and all the valiant warriors. And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.” So Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gilgal. And the LORD confounded them before Israel, and He slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon, and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it came about as they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, that the LORD threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword. (Joshua 10:1-11, NASB).
1. What does Joshua 10:1 say Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem heard?
2. How did Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem respond to that news (6:2)? Why so?
3. Can you think of some news that caused your heart to fear in the past? Please share.
4. What did Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem do about his fears (3-4)? From this verse, why might unbelievers sometimes become hostile to believers who are growing in numbers or influence? Do you know of any such hostility?
5. So how did the other kings respond (5)?
6. How did the men of Gibeon respond to hearing of the kings’ decision (6)?
7. How did Joshua respond to the Gibeonites’ request (7)?
8. We need to pause here and think a bit. Was this an easy request by the Gibeonites? How long was it since Israel had made an oath to the Gibeonites? If necessary go back to Joshua 9 and review through what means they secured the treaty with Israel. Do you think it would have been okay for Joshua just to consider this as God’s judgment upon Gibeon and not respond to their cry for help? How can we apply the importance of keeping our word? In your marriage or family? In your business dealings?
9. When did God speak to Joshua about this battle (8)? Was it before or after he left to fight? Is there any significance in this?
10. What did God say to Joshua about this battle (8)? Do you think the Lord knew how Joshua and the troops felt?
11. How did Joshua respond once he heard the Lord’s encouraging promise (9)? What does that tell you about Joshua?
12. What two things did the Lord do in battle (10-11)?
13. Give a news announcement type of update on the battle at the end of verse 11.
14. List three ethical issues that you have had to deal with? State again what was the ethical question before Joshua in this account.
15. Are you quick or slow in making up your mind as to what you should do? If it is slow, why is it slow? Is it confusion or down deep a reluctance to do as ones conscience is speaking?
16. Was there any risk for Joshua to make the decision that God put on his heart? How do you handle ethical situations when risk is involved? How did the Lord show how much He favored Joshua’s decision? What happened in your case? Think through your situation with these facts in mind.
B. Joshua Sought More from the Lord
Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:12-14, NASB).
17. What word would best fit the following blank? God ___________ gets involved in our lives (never, hardly ever, sometimes, regularly, want to more often).
18. Have you ever heard a modern critic talk about verses 12-14 and the sun staying in the sky? What did they say? How did you feel? What did you think?
19. How do you handle words from critics and skeptics? Give a couple of recent examples on what critics have said about the Bible and how you responded to them in your mind and reactions? (Note: The first section of the article is on skeptics and the Bible).
20. One of the key questions we need to ask is, “Why did God put this account in the Bible seeing that so many critics would use it to criticize His Word?” Any thoughts on this question? You can ask the question a bit different, “What is the one or two chief purposes for putting this passage in the Bible?”
21. What is it that Joshua is said to have done in verse 12? Where did he do it? Is there any significance of where he said his prayer? Would it have been easy for you to do?
22. When did he do this? Try to think of the battle and give different scenarios that might have occurred given as much information that we have.
23. What is it that Joshua said (12-13)? Either read it aloud or write it down. What is your reaction to his words?
24. What is the result of Joshua’s prayer (14)?
25. Look in your Bibles and see if there is any portion of the text that is specially indented to show that it is a poem (12-14). Look at different versions until you find one that has that special indentation. What part of the text is in poem form? Where does the narrative start again?
26. If someone says that this story is not true because it was poetical literature, what can you say to them? Think about the implication of the narrative portion that follows the poetical form.
27. Why might Joshua have asked for the sun and moon to stand still? What did it have to do with the battle?
28. Do you think that Joshua or his compatriots could explain what God did? Did it matter? Does it matter now to you? Should it? Can you name other things that have or do occur that you cannot explain? How does it affect you?
29. Go through verses 12-14 and state down at least three truths or principles expressed here that we are expected to believe in order to apply the teachings from this text in our lives. (For help see interpretations.)
30. Scan and summarize the events in verses 15-43.
31. Map quest! If you have extra time, look at the map in the article and carefully look at verse 15. What does this say about what the Israelites did after chasing the enemies down through the Beth-horon pass up to Azekah? What does verse 43 say? Some have suggested that due to their hurry to pursue the enemy troops (19), that they did not go back to the base camp as 15 says until after the long extended day. They suggest that verse 15 is part of the quote from the Book of Jashar rather than something they did at that point.
32. After the kings were dealt with in Makkedah, make an outline of the rest of the text and the capturing of the cities that happened only because of Joshua’s prayer (28-43).
33. Read verse 14 aloud. It indicates that all the victories after Beth-horon were due to Joshua’s prayer. Let’s think about it a moment and apply it to our lives.
34. How much do you pray? Do you ever pray special things that are impossible unless God does it? Write them down if you have. What happened?
35. Do you think God was pleased with Joshua’s prayer? Why do you think so? Does that mean that God would be pleased if you offered up special ‘faith’ prayers like this? What are hard about faith prayers? Are all prayers ‘faith’ prayers? Please explain.
36. Think of one thing that you think God wants done right now that He has burdened your heart with. Cry out to God for this one thing. Keep track of it.
37. Also please note the six summary questions at the end of the article.