Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Divide into two groups. If you have two people, each person will constitute one group. If you have only one person, the leader is the second person/group. If you happen to have a large group with more than 20 people, limit yourself to two groups.
Form two lines, with one person standing behind another. The person at the head of each line faces the person at the head of the other line.
One of the two at the front asks a question of the person they are facing. That person, instead of answering the question, asks a different question. For example, if the first person asks, “What day is today?” the second person can’t answer with, “Sabbath.” Instead, a response with a different question could be, “Why didn’t you tie your shoes?”
The two people at the head of both lines go back and forth until one doesn’t ask a question or simply pauses or cracks. To make it more challenging, questions cannot be repeated.
When a person messes up, they go to the back of their line and the next person takes on the winner at the head of the other line.
If a person wins three times in a row, that person respectfully goes to the back of their own line and play resumes with the next two people.
What is the shelf-life for different kinds of candy? Did you know that hard candies like lollipops and butterscotch candies last for a year at room temperature? Candy corn lasts about nine months when sealed and 3-6 months after the package has been opened. Milk chocolate and white chocolate lasts 8-10 months. Dark chocolate lasts 1-2 years if wrapped in foil and stored in a cool, dark, dry place. For more on the shelf-life of candy, go to https://www.bestfoodfacts.org/halloween-candy-shelflife/
This week’s lesson includes the deception by the Gibeonites who presented moldy bread they claimed was fresh out of the oven when they left from the far country. Test fresh/preserved food options for Youth Sabbath School today. Offer an assortment for your participants to choose from. Keep in mind that candy has often been produced weeks or months before it appears on shelves in stores.
If you want to offer something other than or in addition to candy, here are some other options:
Give the youth an opportunity to choose one item. If they choose candy or fresh food, they can eat it—but make sure the youth don’t eat any food that is spoiled or was not properly stored. Note which items they choose.
As we consider this week’s lesson, you might recall this statement often attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Joshua and the leaders of Israel were fooled by the Gibeonites. They made a treaty without consulting God. And the consequences were far-reaching for many. What shall we do about those types of situations today?
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 relates to “Oops”—mistakes. We often prefer to point out the mistakes of others rather than humiliate ourselves. But most of us can readily admit that we have made mistakes, even if we want to put such mistakes in our distant past. Fortunately, God provides forgiveness for our mistakes, even though the consequences may follow us for quite some time! But God can even turn bad consequences into something good. Now that’s great news!
Ask someone in advance to create follow-up questions based on this video.
Get a quick overview of the entire book of Joshua with “The Bible Project” version of Joshua: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqOqJlFF_eU. This overview runs for 8:47, with the part for Joshua 9-10 running from 4:19-7:27. The entire video is worthwhile because it gives a great perspective of the whole book, of which this week’s lesson is only a part.
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 9:3-27; 10:1-27
Merriam-Webster defines a “miracle” as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs,” “an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment,” and “a divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law.” (Source: www.merriam-webster.com.)
What is your definition of a miracle? Let’s take a few minutes to discuss our definitions.
In our society, it seems like miracles happen less often than they used to. This is partly because science has advanced our knowledge of the world. For example, we now understand weather patterns, tides, eclipses, and gravity.
We may not notice miracles because we are consumed by our busy lives, or we may find an explanation that does not include God. However, you can still hear many fantastic stories of God’s unmistakable actions.
Ask several people in advance to share a 2-5-minute testimony about a miracle they experienced or heard about. Look for someone who has credibility in Youth Sabbath School such as a respected church leader, your pastor, one of the youth leaders, or even one of the youth. Ideally, your volunteers will be able to share situations they personally experienced. While there are plenty of miracle stories on the internet, the real power of a testimony is when you know the person.
Earlier this month, we learned about the miracle at Jericho where God delivered the city into the Israelites’ hands. We are going to begin the Bible story portion of this week’s lesson by reading about the Gibeonites’ response in Joshua 9:3-27 (CEV) when they heard about that miracle, along with the miracles in Ai and Egypt.
3 The people of Gibeon had also heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai. 4 So they decided that some of their men should pretend to be messengers to Israel from a faraway country. The men put worn-out bags on their donkeys and found some old wineskins that had cracked and had been sewn back together. 5 Their sandals were old and patched, and their clothes were worn out. They even took along some dry and crumbly bread. 6 Then they went to the Israelite camp at Gilgal, where they said to Joshua and the men of Israel, “We have come from a country that is far from here. Please make a peace treaty with us.”
7-8 The Israelites replied, “But maybe you really live near us. We can’t make a peace treaty with you if you live nearby.”
The Gibeonites said, “If you make a peace treaty with us, we will be your servants.”
“Who are you?” Joshua asked. “Where do you come from?”
9 We are your servants, and we live far from here. We came because the Lord your God is so famous. We heard what the Lord did in Egypt 10 and what he did to those two Amorite kings on the other side of the Jordan: King Og of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth, and King Sihon of Heshbon.
11 Our leaders and everyone who lives in our country told us to meet with you and tell you that all of us are your servants. They said to ask you to make a peace treaty with our people. They told us to be sure and take along enough food for our journey. 12 See this dry, crumbly bread of ours? It was hot out of the oven when we packed the food on the day we left our homes. 13 These cracked wineskins were new when we filled them, and our clothes and sandals are worn out because we have traveled so far.
14 The Israelites tried some of the food, but they did not ask the Lord if he wanted them to make a treaty. 15 So Joshua made a peace treaty with the messengers and promised that Israel would not kill their people. Israel’s leaders swore that Israel would keep this promise.
16-17 A couple of days later, the Israelites found out that these people actually lived in the nearby towns of Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-Jearim. So the Israelites left the place where they had camped and arrived at the four towns two days later. 18 But they did not attack the towns, because the Israelite leaders had sworn in the name of the Lord that they would let these people live.
The Israelites complained about their leaders' decision not to attack, 19-21 but the leaders reminded them, “We promised these people in the name of the Lord God of Israel that we would let them live, so we must not harm them. If we break our promise, God will punish us. We’ll let them live, but we’ll make them cut wood and carry water for our people.”
22 Joshua told some of his soldiers, “I want to meet with the Gibeonite leaders. Bring them here.”
When the Gibeonites came, Joshua said, “You live close to us. Why did you lie by claiming you lived far away? 23 Now you are under a curse, and your people will have to send workers to cut wood and carry water for the place of worship.”
24 The Gibeonites answered, “The Lord your God told his servant Moses that you were to kill everyone who lives here and take their land for yourselves. We were afraid you would kill us, and so we tricked you into making a peace treaty. But we agreed to be your servants, 25 and you are strong enough to do anything to us that you want. We just ask you to do what seems right.”
26 Joshua did not let the Israelites kill the Gibeonites, 27 but he did tell the Gibeonites that they would have to be servants of the nation of Israel. They would have to cut firewood and bring it for the priests to use for burning sacrifices on the Lord’s altar, wherever the Lord decided the altar would be. The Gibeonites would also have to carry water for the priests. And that is still the work of the Gibeonites.
Joshua and the Israelite leaders believed the Gibeonites. Yet even after this major “oops!” God still performed miracles for his people.
Science shows evidence of God’s power and design for the world. Before reading the next chapter, conduct a simple science experiment. Here’s a YouTube video showing fairly simple science experiments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MHn9Q5NtdY. They require basic equipment, such as baking soda, white vinegar, a balloon, a bottle or pan, a string, etc. Choose one or two experiments to demonstrate and then provide a scientific explanation.
Next, let’s read about another episode involving God’s miracles in Joshua 10:1-27(CEV). Note the Israelites’ active role in this story. As we read this chapter, watch for a specific event that would yield scientific evidence.
Have one person read the story aloud dramatically (have them practice in advance). When it sounds like a miracle, have the listeners react by ringing bells, clapping hands, shouting something like “Woo-eee, Woo-eee!” or whatever you choose. Then have the reader continue.
1 King Adonizedek of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured and destroyed the town of Ai, and then killed its king as he had done at Jericho. He also learned that the Gibeonites had signed a peace treaty with Israel. 2 This frightened Adonizedek and his people. They knew that Gibeon was a large town, as big as the towns that had kings, and even bigger than the town of Ai had been. And all of the men of Gibeon were warriors. 3 So Adonizedek sent messages to the kings of four other towns: King Hoham of Hebron, King Piram of Jarmuth, King Japhia of Lachish, and King Debir of Eglon. The messages said, 4 “The Gibeonites have signed a peace treaty with Joshua and the Israelites. Come and help me attack Gibeon!”
5 When these five Amorite kings called their armies together and attacked Gibeon, 6 the Gibeonites sent a message to the Israelite camp at Gilgal: “Joshua, please come and rescue us! The Amorite kings from the hill country have joined together and are attacking us. We are your servants, so don’t let us down. Please hurry!”
7 Joshua and his army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal. 8 “Joshua,” the Lord said, “don’t be afraid of the Amorites. They will run away when you attack, and I will help you defeat them.”
9 Joshua marched all night from Gilgal to Gibeon and made a surprise attack on the Amorite camp. 10 The Lord made the enemy panic, and the Israelites started killing them right and left. They chased the Amorite troops up the road to Beth-Horon and kept on killing them, until they reached the towns of Azekah and Makkedah. 11 And while these troops were going down through Beth-Horon Pass, the Lord made huge hailstones fall on them all the way to Azekah. More of the enemy soldiers died from the hail than from the Israelite weapons.
12-13 The Lord was helping the Israelites defeat the Amorites that day. So about noon, Joshua prayed to the Lord loud enough for the Israelites to hear:
“Our Lord, make the sun stop
in the sky over Gibeon,
and the moon stand still
over Aijalon Valley.”
So the sun and the moon
stopped and stood still
until Israel defeated its enemies.
This poem can be found in The Book of Jashar. The sun stood still and didn’t go down for about a whole day. 14 Never before and never since has the Lord done anything like that for someone who prayed. The Lord was really fighting for Israel.
15 After the battle, Joshua and the Israelites went back to their camp at Gilgal.
16 While the enemy soldiers were running from the Israelites, the five enemy kings ran away and hid in a cave near Makkedah. 17 Joshua’s soldiers told him, “The five kings have been found in a cave near Makkedah.”
18 Joshua answered, “Roll some big stones over the mouth of the cave and leave a few soldiers to guard it. 19 But you and everyone else must keep after the enemy troops, because they will be safe if they reach their walled towns. Don’t let them get away! The Lord our God is helping us get rid of them.” 20 So Joshua and the Israelites almost wiped out the enemy soldiers. Only a few safely reached their walled towns.
21 The Israelite army returned to their camp at Makkedah, where Joshua was waiting for them. No one around there dared say anything bad about the Israelites. 22 Joshua told his soldiers, “Now, move the rocks from the entrance to the cave and bring those five kings to me.”
23 The soldiers opened the entrance to the cave and brought out the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon. 24 After Joshua had called the army together, he forced the five kings to lie down on the ground. Then he called his officers forward and told them, “You fought these kings along with me, so put your feet on their necks.” The officers did, 25 and Joshua continued, “Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged. Be brave and strong. This is what the Lord will do to all your enemies.”
26 Joshua killed the five kings and told his men to hang each body on a tree. Then at sunset 27 he told some of his troops, “Take the bodies down and throw them into the cave where the kings were found. Cover the entrance to the cave with big rocks.”
Joshua’s troops obeyed his orders, and those rocks are still there.
Today we considered the topic of miracles and heard several testimonies about God acting in people’s lives. Our story in Joshua 9-10 describes multiple miracles. In addition to biblical records, scientists have discovered parallel accounts of these miracles in Egyptian and Mesopotamian text. Archeologists have also unearthed evidence which have identify cities mentioned in the book of Joshua. These chapters, along with scientific evidence, present an important reminder of God’s power.
Take time each day this week to reflect on extremes—two ends of a pole. A good time to do this is toward the end of the day (not as you’re falling asleep—before that). Here are seven extremes for you to reflect on this week. As you do this reflection each day, have it lead you to prayer—prayers of gratitude, confession, and requests. You can replace or adapt these with your own. It’s also available as a handout you can download and give to the youth.
I saw Jesus today when . . .
I didn’t see Jesus today when . . .
I felt most alive today when . . .
I felt the least alive today when . . .
I experienced the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 2:22-23) today when . . .
I didn’t experience the fruits of the Spirit today when . . .
I sensed a connection with God today when . . .
I didn’t sense a connection with God today when . . .
I seemed the most alive today when . . .
I didn’t seem alive today when . . .
I felt most grateful today when . . .
I didn’t feel grateful today when . . .
I anticipated being with Jesus today when . . .
I didn’t anticipate being with Jesus today when . . .
BASED ON JOSHUA 10:1-27
Here’s a relational Bible study that takes Joshua 10:1-27 and provides discussion prompts for your group. If you have a large group of 10+, divide into smaller groups. Ideally groups of four allow each person to be part of the discussion.
For a relational Bible study, a dependence on an active Holy Spirit to be present means God can speak through any of the people in the group. While the prompts give options (including the “other” option), there is often more than one right answer.
The study begins with a question to level the playing field so no one person is the expert compared to the others in the group.
We recommend that the passage be read aloud in the group. Then give some time for individuals to note their responses on the sheet of paper (one sheet; two sides). That gives people a head start to think through some of the questions before launching into the discussion. When you finish discussing one item, move on to another one.
While discussing, keep going back to how you can live out the messages God is revealing to you and your group as you consider the passage from Scripture.
When have you seen (or been part of) something in which one side was completely overwhelmed by the other side?
Read Joshua 10:1—27.
1. What would you do if you were threatened to an extreme extent?
2. Should the Israelites have rescued the Gibeonites?
3. Why did God give Joshua the assurance of victory in advance?
4. Why were the Israelites able to defeat the five-king coalition?
5. What’s the meaning of “the sun standing still over Gibeon”?
6. What’s the crazy stuff about with the five kings and the cave?
7. Who would come to your aid, no matter what? Whom would you aid, no matter what?
8. What’s an example of something so unusual that it hasn’t happened at any other time in your life?
After the Gibeonites deceived Joshua and the Israelite leaders into signing a peace treaty with them, five other Canaanite kings and their towns joined forces and attacked the Gibeonites. That drew in the Israelites because of the new treaty. Through multiple miracles, God gave the Israelites victory over these five kings and their towns.
Share your testimony from question #8 above with someone this week. Ask someone else to share their testimony after you’ve shared yours. You can also apply questions #7 above by communicating with someone who came to mind for you for either the first question or the second one by #7.
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.
Do you have a clear purpose for your youth ministry? Some do it because they have a soft spot in their heart, an idea, or a request they weren’t able to decline. But why are you doing this? The cartoon shows that some people have the purpose of making disciples for Christ. Pray and discuss your purpose for ministry with others. Purposes that should rank high would include connecting with God, loving God and others, worship, fellowship, and service. Having fun, eating food, getting together with friends, and discovering something new are great, but shouldn’t be your main purpose for youth ministry.
Here’s a question a teen is asking, with a response from a youth pastor. This might be a question your teens are asking. Use the response to springboard into discussion with your Youth Sabbath School participants.
QUESTION: Why is there so much killing in the Bible?
ANSWER: The Bible could be rated “R” for violence. From Genesis to Revelation you can find story after story about people killing one another even though the sixth commandment reads, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13, KJV).
So why is there so much killing in the Bible? Because there is so much rebellion against God. Clear back in the Garden of Eden God warned Adam and Eve to obey Him rather than to rebel, otherwise they’d die (Genesis 2:17).
It sounds absolutely absurd, but humans who receive life from God will end up dying and/or killing each other when they rebel against God, their source of life (Genesis 2:7). It’s a form of suicide, yet people continue to do it! Isn’t it amazing that so many people in rebellion against God continue to be oblivious to the fact that it’s the goodness of God that sustains them, even while they rebel (Matthew 5:45)?
God really is merciful. In the Bible when entire groups of people got killed via God’s orders, as brutal as it sounds, God had already given these people years—often centuries—to get their lives back on track with Him. Instead, they persisted in their rebellion. For example, God gave the Amalekites 400 years to turn their lives around. Talk about being stuck in a rut!
You can find another example of God’s grace in action in His instructions to the Israelites after He freed them from slavery in Egypt. God’s retaliation rules mercifully went against current custom. In Exodus 21:24, 25 you can read about an “eye for eye” and a “tooth for tooth,” etc.
At that time if you poked out one of my eyes, current custom dictated that I could poke out both of your eyes. And if you knocked out one of my teeth, I could knock out 10 of yours to teach you a lesson.
Trying to shape his people to be more merciful than those around them, Jesus took retaliation to another level. He said to “turn the other cheek” instead of repaying an “eye for eye” and “tooth for tooth” (Matthew 5:38-42).
In recent lessons about the Israelites going into the Promised Land, there are several stories of complete destruction of Canaanites. Taken as isolated stories they sound like genocide. Taken in context there is both mercy and judgment. Rahab and her family were saved from the destruction of Jericho. God’s people marched around the city seven days. Why didn’t others leave their lives of immorality and child sacrifice and killing each other so they could join God’s people with guidelines for living Godly lives? The Gibeonites deceived Joshua and Israel’s leaders simply because of their fear and intimidation of the Israelites. But then they began to worship Israel’s God. Why didn’t the others in Canaan do the same instead of continuing their pagan practices?
The real reason there’s so much killing in the Bible is that the Bible records the stories of God and His people on a planet in rebellion. But let’s up the stakes even higher!
The two largest massacres spoken of in the Bible originate with God. The first one already happened—the Flood (Genesis 6-8). Only Noah and his immediate family survived, even though everyone received an invitation to enter the ark Noah built so they could be saved. (Those are very important points to remember.)
The second massacre will take place in the future in the lake of fire that consumes all who aren’t with Jesus at the end of the millennium—1,000 years after He comes a second time and takes His followers to heaven. (An important point to remember is that everyone receives an invitation to go to heaven with Jesus.) Then Jesus will bring His followers back to Earth and set up a New Jerusalem on a clean Earth (Revelation 20:7-9; 21:1-4).
I could actually respond to your question with a counter question: “Why is there so much living in the Bible?” People would’ve wiped each other out long before now if God hadn’t intervened and provided life even for those in rebellion. There’s God’s mercy at work again.
To help us understand how we should act during this great war between good and evil on planet earth, Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (John 10:10, NLT). His followers do the same, taking life to so many on a planet full of killing, until He remodels Earth and makes it new.