Key Scriptures: Ex.17:8, Deut. 1:15, Joshua 7, Ex. 24, Ex. 32, Num, 13 and 14, Joshua 14, 23 and 24
Guiding Question: What can we learn about being different from Joshua and Caleb?
Optional Introductory Activity: Divide the students into teams. Give teams three minutes to list as many people – living or dead – who were radically different from most people in their time, but had a huge positive impact because of their differences. Have teams share their answers.
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) Joshua and Caleb are in more stories in the Bible than we realize. When you start putting the pieces of their lives together, you begin to realize they were always willing to stand out from the crowd. They weren’t the unpopular nerd people often think you have to be if you are different. Instead they were men who have made an impact on the lives of people for thousands of years. This week we are going to look at their lives and the lives of others who were willing to risk being different for God. What can we learn from them? Is being different really so bad, or something to be treasured?
We first meet Joshua in Exodus 17:8. He is evidently already an aide of some sort to Moses. Moses has enough confidence in Joshua to allow him to pick his own company of fighting men and lead them in battle against the Amalekites. Joshua even at this point had stood out from the rest of the people.
What characteristics did Joshua probably have for Moses to have so much trust in him? (Answers will vary.) There is a clue in Deut. 1:15. We don’t know if Joshua was one of these specific people, but we do know that Moses entrusted him with choosing and leading men into battle. We can assume that Joshua also had these same qualities.
This was the first test the Israelites had defending themselves against someone other than the Egyptians. Joshua had to be able to trust God and follow his guidance in order to succeed. Later Joshua learned this principle applied to others in his army as well. Skip way ahead in Joshua’s life and read Joshua 7 to find out what happened when the military disobeyed God’s commands (you may want to back up and read a bit of chapter 6 for the context of their disobedience.)
The next time we encounter Joshua is in Exodus 24. By this point Joshua is mentioned as the official aide to Moses. Moses even took him up to Mt. Sinai leaving Aaron, Hur and the elders to care of the people while Moses and Joshua were gone. Read what happened in Exodus 32.
How much did Joshua already stand out from the crowd of the rest of the Israelites? What made him so different? Do you think he ever questioned himself for choosing to be by the side of Moses and always chose God even when it seemed like everyone else was not?
Imagine if the principal of your school asked you to go with him to an important meeting in town. While you are gone the rest of the kids in your school throw a wild party, breaking all of the rules in the process when you and the principle return, he is furious. He puts a serious punishment on the troublemakers. How would you feel? How would your friends react? How would other kids in your school react? Would being that different make you feel good, bad or somewhere in between? Why?
Fast-forward and we finally encounter Caleb for the first time. We are not sure where Caleb was during any of the preceding stories but it appears there was always a very small remnant of the people who seemed to obey God – no matter what. We can assume that Caleb was one of them from the adventure Joshua and Caleb are about to have. Read Numbers 13 and 14.
Why do you think Caleb and Joshua were willing to give a report that was different from that of the other ten spies? Look carefully at chapter 14. Caleb and Joshua not only gave a differing report but they put their lives on the line in the process. As they attempted to convince the people to trust God, there appeared to be a large group ready to stone them to death! Quite possibly had God not appeared at that moment the people would have killed Joshua and Caleb.
How would that feel to not only stand out from the crowd, but be so convinced that you are right that you are willing to possibly die for the stand you are taking? What sort of characteristics do you have to process to be willing to do that? Would you be willing to not just stand up for God and be teased, but be willing to possibly die for your stand? Why or why not? If you aren’t what characteristics do you feel you still need to develop to have courage and faith that are that strong? How can you get to that point? Think about it as in part two of this lesson we will continue looking at others willing to be different for God.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at what happened to Joshua and Caleb. God doesn’t promise us that if we stand up for Him everything will have a happy ending in this life – in fact later we will study some people who had rather unhappy endings. Our only real promise in that regard is eternity in heaven. Fortunately, for Joshua and Caleb, God blessed them in this life as well. For the ending of their stories, read Joshua 14 for Caleb and Joshua 23 and 24 for Joshua.
Application Challenge: Take some time this week to think about the lives of Joshua and Caleb. Make a list of the ways you are like others your age and ways you are different. If Joshua and Caleb had made similar lists at your age what would theirs have been like? What can you do to have lists to better prepare you to stand up for God and what is godly?
Author: Thereasa Winnett