The ebb and flow of life includes significant moments and stretches of time that may seem insignificant while they are happening. God’s actions can be observed in both.
Read the Student Lesson as well as the Teacher's Guide. This will provide everything you need to teach the Youth Sabbath School lesson.
If you and your family move a lot, you know what it’s like to pack up, unpack, and resettle. If you haven’t moved, it will be even more difficult when you do!
Try this for pretend. Roll the dice to see what you’ll take with you. Actually, just roll one die, and the number that shows on top will provide the classification or limits for you to decide what to take to your new place. Limit yourself to just one item from the category you roll. Let others chime in with what they would have chosen after you hear from the person who rolled the number.
Choose from one of the two classifications below, or create your own.
This five-minute countdown video from Maranatha Volunteers International shows multiple places where Maranatha has provided urgently needed buildings. You’ll travel to different continents and see urban and rural settings, nature and construction. Start this video five minutes before Youth Sabbath School begins (it includes background music), and be sure you’re ready to start Youth Sabbath School as the video concludes.
This also corresponds to the “Outreach or World Mission Component” (item #6 this week) for your group.
As we consider “Real Estate Section” today, the Israelites had moved from their desert wanderings into a land “flowing with milk and honey.” How did they handle this change? How would you handle it?
This is a short video and an idea to help you create your own video on this week’s topic, plus a few follow-up questions to spark discussion afterwards.
Create a video that illustrates this week’s lesson. Ask someone in advance to create follow-up questions based on this video.
Here’s a 7:41 video with an overview of the entire book of Joshua: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrhwi097ppg. Our lesson this week covers about half of the book. This “talking head” video featuring Pastor Landen has lots of clever background activity to illustrate it well. We’ll limit our follow-up questions to the portions related to this week’s topic and section.
These are more approaches to the same topic featured in the Teacher’s Guide, but just a different way of looking at it. Expect activities to illustrate the topic followed by some questions.
BASED ON JOSHUA 22:1-34
What comes to mind when you hear the word “altar”? While it’s not mentioned in Genesis 4, many people think that when Cain and Abel presented their offerings to God, they did so on an altar.
The Bible’s first mention of the word “altar” is found in Genesis 8:20, after the flood. The New Living Translation says, “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose.”
Here are a few examples of altars, as found in the Bible as well as elsewhere, including uses in our day. (Show the “Altars” slides at this time.)
(Please insert buttons here to download the file “Altars” in PowerPoint, Keynote, and PDF formats.)
For more on altars in the Bible, check out https://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-an-altar.html.
In the context of our Scripture passage in Joshua, the Israelites had the experience of presenting an offering each morning and evening on the altar at the sanctuary in the middle of the camp. This had happened every day of their lives.
With their recent crossing of the Jordan River into Canaan, they built a different kind of altar out of stones taken from the middle of the river. In addition, Joshua set up another altar of stones in the middle of the Jordan River where the priests bearing the ark of the covenant stood while everyone crossed on dry land (see Joshua 4:1-9).
Our Scripture passage for today includes the second half of the book of Joshua, which describes multiple battles as God’s people claimed God’s promise that the time had come for the land to become theirs. On the other side of the Jordan River, two and a half tribes (Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh) had been granted permission to reside after Og and Bashan had been defeated prior to entering Canaan. But Moses had given them this permission under the condition that they send their fighting men with the Israelites to conquer Canaan before returning to their new land east of the Jordan River (see Numbers 32 for the whole story, or check out https://www.gotquestions.org/east-of-Jordan.html).
Once the battles ended, these two and a half tribes were able to return to the east side of the Jordan River, as had been agreed. But even though this was fresh in their minds, they thought of the possibility of future generations not remembering. So they chose to construct an altar. And that’s when things got interesting!
Read the entire chapter of Joshua 22. If possible, have different people read the various parts, namely:
1 Then Joshua called together the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. 2 He told them, “You have done as Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you, and you have obeyed every order I have given you. 3 During all this time you have not deserted the other tribes. You have been careful to obey the commands of the Lord your God right up to the present day. 4 And now the Lord your God has given the other tribes rest, as he promised them. So go back home to the land that Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave you as your possession on the east side of the Jordan River. 5 But be very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the Lord your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.” 6 So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went home.
7 Moses had given the land of Bashan, east of the Jordan River, to the half-tribe of Manasseh. (The other half of the tribe was given land west of the Jordan.) As Joshua sent them away and blessed them, 8 he said to them, “Go back to your homes with the great wealth you have taken from your enemies—the vast herds of livestock, the silver, gold, bronze, and iron, and the large supply of clothing. Share the plunder with your relatives.”
9 So the men of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the rest of Israel at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. They started the journey back to their own land of Gilead, the territory that belonged to them according to the Lord’s command through Moses.
10 But while they were still in Canaan, and when they came to a place called Geliloth near the Jordan River, the men of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh stopped to build a large and imposing altar.
11 The rest of Israel heard that the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had built an altar at Geliloth at the edge of the land of Canaan, on the west side of the Jordan River. 12 So the whole community of Israel gathered at Shiloh and prepared to go to war against them. 13 First, however, they sent a delegation led by Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, to talk with the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. 14 In this delegation were ten leaders of Israel, one from each of the ten tribes, and each the head of his family within the clans of Israel.
15 When they arrived in the land of Gilead, they said to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, 16 “The whole community of the Lord demands to know why you are betraying the God of Israel. How could you turn away from the Lord and build an altar for yourselves in rebellion against him? 17 Was our sin at Peor not enough? To this day we are not fully cleansed of it, even after the plague that struck the entire community of the Lord. 18 And yet today you are turning away from following the Lord. If you rebel against the Lord today, he will be angry with all of us tomorrow.
19 “If you need the altar because the land you possess is defiled, then join us in the Lord’s land, where the Tabernacle of the Lord is situated, and share our land with us. But do not rebel against the Lord or against us by building an altar other than the one true altar of the Lord our God. 20 Didn’t divine anger fall on the entire community of Israel when Achan, a member of the clan of Zerah, sinned by stealing the things set apart for the Lord? He was not the only one who died because of his sin.”
21 Then the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered the heads of the clans of Israel: 22 “The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! He knows the truth, and may Israel know it, too! We have not built the altar in treacherous rebellion against the Lord. If we have done so, do not spare our lives this day. 23 If we have built an altar for ourselves to turn away from the Lord or to offer burnt offerings or grain offerings or peace offerings, may the Lord himself punish us.
24 “The truth is, we have built this altar because we fear that in the future your descendants will say to ours, ‘What right do you have to worship the Lord, the God of Israel? 25 The Lord has placed the Jordan River as a barrier between our people and you people of Reuben and Gad. You have no claim to the Lord.’ So your descendants may prevent our descendants from worshiping the Lord.
26 “So we decided to build the altar, not for burnt offerings or sacrifices, 27 but as a memorial. It will remind our descendants and your descendants that we, too, have the right to worship the Lord at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices, and peace offerings. Then your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no claim to the Lord.’
28 “If they say this, our descendants can reply, ‘Look at this copy of the Lord’s altar that our ancestors made. It is not for burnt offerings or sacrifices; it is a reminder of the relationship both of us have with the Lord.’ 29 Far be it from us to rebel against the Lord or turn away from him by building our own altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings, or sacrifices. Only the altar of the Lord our God that stands in front of the Tabernacle may be used for that purpose.”
30 When Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the community—the heads of the clans of Israel—heard this from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, they were satisfied. 31 Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, replied to them, “Today we know the Lord is among us because you have not committed this treachery against the Lord as we thought. Instead, you have rescued Israel from being destroyed by the hand of the Lord.”
32 Then Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, and the other leaders left the tribes of Reuben and Gad in Gilead and returned to the land of Canaan to tell the Israelites what had happened. 33 And all the Israelites were satisfied and praised God and spoke no more of war against Reuben and Gad.
34 The people of Reuben and Gad named the altar “Witness,” for they said, “It is a witness between us and them that the Lord is our God, too.”
Are you ready as a Youth Sabbath School group to build an altar of your own? Depending on which translation of Joshua 22:10 you read, the altar built in Joshua’s day was “huge” (CEV), “large and imposing” (NLT), “great” (KJV), “beautiful” (CEV), and “large, impressive” (GNB). Building on the Sabbath School lesson from this week, will your youth make a commitment to worship God even after the older generation is gone? If so, ask them to take a large rock (or several) and stack it/them in a visible place in the Youth Sabbath School room. If this space is shared with others, be sure the altar doesn’t make the room unusable for them, yet is large enough that they will notice it.
Use this opportunity to apply this Scripture story to the lives of the youth in your Sabbath School. And then be ready to respond if others in the church react, question, or join in the meaning of this altar of commitment and remembrance.
After the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of Manasseh completed their promised soldier service with the other tribes in the land of Canaan, they returned to the eastern side of the Jordan River. But before crossing, they constructed a large stone altar in commemoration and as a reminder for future generations that they were still part of the Israelite tribes on the western side of the Jordan. But the nine and a half tribes misunderstood the meaning of this altar and prepared to wage war against their relatives for constructing what they interpreted as a pagan altar to the gods of Canaan. But before attacking, they sent a delegation to clarify the meaning. To their surprise and relief, they discovered this symbolic altar was something they readily endorsed and supported rather than something to eradicate.
As part of the lesson study, the youth group constructed an altar in the Youth Sabbath School room to symbolize their long-term commitment to worship God even after the older generations have moved on or passed away. That’s a long time from today. For a short-term commitment, take a single rock and place it somewhere in your room as a reminder of the altar in Youth Sabbath School. Have that spark a daily prayer for you and your youth group this week as you prepare to worship God together next Sabbath.
BASED ON JOSHUA 13:1-3; 14:15; 15:63; 16:10; 17:12-13; 18:3; 21:43-45
Our lesson this week covers almost half of the book of Joshua. It deals with the expansion of the Israelites throughout the land of Canaan, including the battles that ended the Canaanite occupation of the land and the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham that this land would be given to his descendants to be a blessing to all people (Genesis 12:1-3).
The last sentence in Joshua 14 reads, “And the land had rest from war” (Joshua 14:15 NLT). The longer version comes at the end of Joshua 21.
43 So the LORD gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 And the LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the LORD helped them conquer all their enemies. 45 Not a single one of all the good promises the LORD had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true” (Joshua 21:43-45 NLT).
Following our story last week about the Gibeonites and the five kings who joined forces and attacked the Israelites, we read of another coalition of kings that gathered to defeat the Israelites. But once again God gave the Israelites a quick victory (see Joshua 11).
Halfway through the book of Joshua are these troubling verses, starting in Joshua 13:1 NLT:
1 When Joshua was an old man, the LORD said to him, “You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered. 2 This is the territory that remains: All the regions of the Philistines and the Geshurites, 3 and the larger territory of the Canaanites, extending from the stream of Shihor on the border of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron. It includes the territory of the five Philistine rulers of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron.
If you’re familiar with some of the Old Testament stories of people who seemed to repeatedly attack the Israelites, the Philistines are one such group that often comes to mind. The town of Gath was home to a giant by the name of Goliath. If God’s people had continued following God’s leading when they entered Canaan, they wouldn’t have had to face all of these later problems with the Philistines. If only…
Here are some more examples of the Israelites not following God’s leading:
This activity illustrates the need to deal with important issues in a timely manner, and why we need to take time to rest after exertion.
Can you spin a plate on the end of a stick? Don’t try this with expensive china, especially if you’ve never done this previously! You can actually purchase plastic plates made for this, plus a stick with a pointed end to make it easier. You can get the combination for less than $13 at https://www.amazon.com/Higgins-Brothers-Spinning-Plates/dp/B00886EUUO. You can get three spinning plates and sticks for just $23 at https://www.amazon.com/SchwabMarken-Spinning-Plates-Juggling-Wooden/dp/B01KIHHY7Q/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_21_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=H3NJ00Q11ENS9AFMXPQH or just get your own plates from a dollar store and sticks from a hardware or craft store. Watch a quick tutorial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_Uc8BAnAAI.
If you want to be blown away by professionals doing this, check out this YouTube video of Chinese acrobats doing lots of plate spinning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDKfC_Z4kd4.
You can choose to do this as a demonstration, but it’s better if you engage the youth in trying it. Some are likely to do it better than others. Go to YouTube and search “plate spinning” for more instructional videos, tricks, and examples of others who do it, including comedians who have long sticks and try to keep multiple plates spinning.
This lesson, “A Rest and the Rest,” started with Joshua 14:15 (NLT): “And the land had rest from war.” In this context, the Israelites rested from their many battles.
God’s rest is still available for us today. In fact, that’s why God gave us the Sabbath—it’s a way for us to rest and spend time in worship. Toward the end of the book of Joshua, we have a record of the Israelites experiencing God’s rest in Canaan in their day. Let’s repeat this longer passage from the beginning of our lesson today from Joshua 21:45-45 (NLT):
43 So the LORD gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 And the LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the LORD helped them conquer all their enemies. 45 Not a single one of all the good promises the LORD had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true.”
After the Israelites entered Canaan, the land experienced rest, but there were more conquests to be made. By the end of the book we read about rest on all sides and the benefits of experiencing God’s promises through trusting him. This example from the Old Testament is used as an example in the New Testament for us to trust God today so we experience the Sabbath rest not only on Sabbath, but even beyond. Let the Sabbath take you back to trusting God.
Today is the day for Sabbath rest. What are some of the ways you can experience rest this Sabbath? Consider physical rest, emotional rest, mental rest, and even social rest. Then take this to the rest of the week. How can you experience the rest of trusting God this week when it seems that things are not going your way or you are uncertain? Refer back to Hebrews 4:6-11 during the week as a reminder to trust God today (whatever day that happens to be). Make Sabbath your automatic reminder to trust God and then rest in that assurance.
Another option is to take a plate and stick and practice this week. Let that prompt you to spend just as much time practicing something even more significant: spiritual practices. Ask a spiritual mentor to help in guiding you in this vital practice.
This is a bonus just for the youth leader—a quick tip and an illustration to enhance your youth leadership. You may already know this idea, have learned it through trial and error, or just need a quick reminder.
You can determine a church’s priorities by examining its allocation of resources. The church’s budget and programs demonstrate what is important to the congregation. So does allotment of space. How much space is allocated for adults? What about youth? How about the children? Often different groups need to share the same space. When that happens, who chooses what that space will look like? This can be a matter of taste, but it can easily be a matter of power. When youth are given space at church to personalize it, that church becomes “their church,” which is what even the adults actually want.
If Sabbath School is just for us, we will spiritually die. We must share what we’ve been given, and we can do this both locally and globally. Listed below are several options you can put into practice over 3-4 weeks of reaching out.
Jesus told his disciples that they would “be witnesses” when they received power from the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Their witnessing would happen right where they were, and would spread out like rings when you throw a pebble into a pond. Here’s how you can make that happen by taking the words of Jesus and relating them to your Youth Sabbath School outreach and mission.
When you receive power from the Holy Spirit, you will be Christ’s witnesses in:
Jesus’ Day Today
Jerusalem Your Youth Sabbath School
Judea The Church where you attend
Samaria The Community around your Church
To the ends of the world The World beyond your Community
We’ll suggest options for these four target groups today. You may choose to follow all four or maybe start with one the first week of this month and choose several options over 3-4 weeks for reaching out.
For many teens, the “start of the year” means the start of the school year. Instead of January 1 marking a new year, returning to school is another natural beginning. Use this start of a “new year” to look beyond yourselves and think of the larger world.
OPTION A: YOUR YOUTH SABBATH SCHOOL
Adopt a mission or a missionary for this school year. Pick a mission or missionary in another country, whether that’s in Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, or Europe. It could be a young adult from your church who is serving as a student missionary this school year. Write letters of encouragement, pray for this person each Sabbath, send care packages, and plan a Skype or FaceTime call some Sabbath.
OPTION B: THE CHURCH WHERE YOU ATTEND
The adult Sabbath School quarterly includes a mission offering for September 28. This quarter’s offering is going to the South Pacific Division, which includes Australia, New Zealand, and the islands in the South Pacific. The three special projects that will benefit from this offering include:
To learn more and find mission stories from this part of the world, visit the Adventist Mission website: https://am.adventistmission.org
OPTION C: THE COMMUNITY AROUND YOUR CHURCH
Plan a short-term mission trip to your local community this school year. This might be done during a long weekend, spring break, or Christmas break. Choose a local project such as a church outreach or community center, or team up with local agencies.
OPTION D: THE WORLD BEYOND YOUR COMMUNITY
Go on a short-term mission trip this school year—maybe during spring break or even next summer. For more information and to find projects, check out Maranatha Volunteers International: https://maranatha.org/. If your group is small, join a Multiple Group Project for groups with 1-15 volunteers. Maranatha has such a project March 19-29, 2020, in Bolivia. If you are interested, we suggest immediately contacting Marantha. Find out more about Maranatha by attending or live-streaming Maranatha’s 50-year convention September 20-21 in Sacramento, California. For more information, go to https://maranatha.org/media-events/maranatha-convention/.
For another very current way of serving the world beyond your community, make a donation to ADRA now to the hurricane relief from Hurricane Dorian that devastated the Bahamas this past week. For every dollar your Youth Sabbath School donates, it will be doubled by a matching donor. To give now, go online to ADRA at