Our Promised Land is Heaven. Includes a teaching guide and 2 games.
Intro Game: Crossing the Jordan
Place two ropes parallel to each other on the floor. Explain to the students that the space between the ropes is a raging river. If they touch it, they’ll be swept away and drowned. Now, have students jump across the “river” one at a time or in a group. Continue to widen the area between the ropes until it is impossible to cross. Ask, How are we going to get across the river if we can’t jump over it? I guess we’ll have to find out in our Bible story how the Israelites crossed a big river like this.
Summarize Joshua 1-6 , asking the included questions as you read.
The Israelites had been living in the desert for a long time, ever since Moses freed them from slavery in Egypt. But now, Moses was dead and the time had come for the Israelites to go into their new home, the country of Canaan that God had promised to give them. Their new leader, the man whom Moses had picked to be the next leader, was named Joshua.
“Joshua,” God said to him, “I will be with you and will help you just like I was with Moses and helped him. Now, be strong and brave because you are the leader who will bring the Israelites into their new home.”
What do you think Joshua will have to do to bring the Israelites into their new home?
He will have to fight the people who are already living in Canaan and make them move out so that the Israelites can have their country.
Why do you think God would let Joshua and the Israelites take over someone else’s country?
The people who were living in Canaan were bad and didn’t believe in God, so God was punishing them and giving their country to the Israelites instead.
So, Joshua told the Israelites, “Get ready and get all your stuff packed up. In three days, we will cross the Jordan River and start taking over the land of Canaan.”
That night, Joshua sent two men to go spy on the city of Jericho in the country of Canaan. They found a prostitute named Rahab in Jericho and went to sleep in her house for the night.
But someone went and told the king of Jericho, “Two men from the Israelites came into the city tonight to spy on us.”
So, the king of Jericho sent his soldiers to Rahab’s house. The soldiers said, “Rahab, send those two spies out to us so that we can kill them.”
But Rahab helped the two Israelite spies hide under a pile of hay she had and she told the soldiers, “Those two men came here, but they left. They’re not here anymore.” Then, when the soldiers left, Rahab went and told the two Israelite spies, “I know God is going to give you our country. We’ve heard about how God brought you out of slavery in Egypt and made the water of the Red Sea divide in two so that you could walk across on dry ground. Now, look, I have been nice to you and didn’t tell the soldiers you were here. So, please be nice to me and do not kill me or my family when you come in to take over our country.”
“We won’t kill you or your family,” the two spies answered, “just as long as you don’t tell anyone that we’re here.” Then, Rahab helped the two men escape the city, and they returned to Joshua.
A couple of days later, Joshua led the people out of their camp and up to the Jordan River. The Jordan River was a big river and it was flooding over the sides when the Israelites got there. The people all wondered, “How are we going to get across such a big river?”
How do you think the people will get across the river?
God told Joshua, “Tell the priests to walk into the river first, carrying the Ark of the Covenant with them.”
Does anyone know what the Ark of the Covenant was?
(Show your picture of the Ark of the Covenant.)
The Ark of the Covenant was a special chest inside the Tabernacle church. It held the two stone tablets that God wrote the Ten Commandments on, a piece of the manna bread that God gave the Israelites the whole time they were in the desert, and Aaron’s staff with flowers growing out of it to show he was the one God chose to be the first priest. God’s Spirit sat on top of the Ark of the Covenant in between two statues of angels.
So, Joshua told the priests to take the Ark of the Covenant and to walk into the river. As soon as the toes of the priests’ feet touched the water, the water of the river stopped flowing! The people could still see the water a few miles away, but it wasn’t moving toward them anymore. It was just standing still! So, all the Israelites walked on the bottom of the dry river and crossed into the country of Canaan. As soon as all the Israelites were across, God made the water of the river start flowing again.
Joshua and the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and marched toward the city of Jericho. When they got close to the city, a man came and suddenly stood in front of Joshua. The man had his sword out, so Joshua asked him, “Whose side are you on? Are you on our side or are you on our enemy’s side?”
Whose side do you think the man is on?
“I’m on no one’s side,” the man said. “I am an angel, the commander of the Lord’s army, so I have come to you.”
“Does God have a message for me?” Joshua asked.
“Take off your sandals,” the man said, “because you are standing on holy ground.” So, Joshua took off his sandals.
Then, God said to Joshua, “Joshua, I will help you defeat Jericho and its king and its army. Here’s what you have to do: Take your whole army and do a full march around the city for six days. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times and then, have seven priests blow on their trumpets. When the seven priests blow on their trumpets, all of the soldiers in your army should yell as loud as they can, and then, I will make the walls of Jericho fall down so that your army can run in and attack the city.”
So, that’s what Joshua and the Israelites did. They marched around the city one time for six days, and then, on the seventh day, they marched around it seven times. Then, the priests blew their trumpets, the army yelled as loud as it could, and God made the walls of Jericho fall down! The whole Israelite army ran in and attacked the city, but they did not hurt Rahab or her family because she was the one who had helped the spies get away when they came to spend the night in her house.
This is the first battle that the Israelites fought to take over their new home. God helped them to defeat the people of Jericho and God helped them to defeat their other enemies as well. Eventually, the Israelites conquered the whole country of Canaan and they renamed it the country of Israel.
Map Activity: Making it Real!
Show your map or globe and have students search for the country of Israel. Then, show your map of the Exodus journey. Point out Egypt, where the Israelites were slaves, the Red Sea where they crossed out of Egypt on dry ground and God drowned the Egyptian army, the area west of the Jordan where the Israelites wandered in the desert, and the Jordan River where they crossed into the largest portion of Canaan.
Game: Holy Ground
Divide students into two or more teams for a relay race. Remind students of how the angel told Joshua to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground. Dim the lights. Tell students that when you shine your flashlight on them and call their name, they have to stop whatever they’re doing and take off their shoes before they continue. You can even shine your light on kids who are still standing in line for their turn. The first team to have all of their runners complete the race wins.
Afterward, say, I had you take off your shoes just like the angel told Joshua to take off his shoes. Does anyone know why the angel would tell Joshua to take off his shoes?
We have to remember how special God is and we need to show Him respect. In those days, they took off their shoes to show respect. Today, we can show respect to God by stopping what we’re doing and listening to God when He wants to talk to us. We can show respect by paying attention in church. We can show respect by listening when someone is praying or reading the Bible or teaching us about God. Those are all ways that we can show God that we understand how special He is.
Play the game again if time allows.
Father, we thank You for the lessons You teach us through Moses and Joshua. We see how You led the Israelites out of Egypt into the land You promised to give them. And we’re know that You’re leading us too. You’re leading us to Heaven. We pray that we’ll always listen to You so that You’ll be with us our whole lives and that we’ll be with You when we die. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
This lesson is included in my book, Slaves to Conquerors: Children’s Sunday School Lessons for Exodus – Joshua.