Challenge 5 God’s people


The story shown in bold is explored in full in the Big Bible Challenge book

Stories in this challenge

Rules from God                     Exodus 20:2–8,12–17

The golden calf                      Exodus 32:1–14

Joshua, the leader             Joshua 1:1–11

Crossing the Jordan             Joshua 3:9–17

The fall of Jericho                  Joshua 6:6–20


COMMON tips for this and every challenge

  • Always have a Bible in a child-friendly translation available, as you take the Big Bible Challenge. Even when the Bible verses are printed in the Big Bible Challenge book, find them in a Bible as well. This will help the child gain confidence in handling the Bible and become familiar with its size and number of pages.
  • Finding your way around the Bible can be a challenge in itself! Each reading from the Bible is shown in a certain way, like this:

Genesis 2:15–22.

  • Use the Index or Contents page of the Bible to help you find the book (or books) in the Bible for the readings in this challenge. In this example, the book title is ‘Genesis’.
  • Each book of the Bible is in chapters. In this example, the reading is in chapter 2.
  • Each chapter is split into verses. In this example, the verses are 15–22. In most Bibles, the verse numbers are printed very small.
  • Many of the challenges have five readings from the same part of the Bible, so use a bookmark to keep your place and it will be easier to find the Bible reading next time.
  • The Bible consists of many ‘books’ collected together and presented as one. See if you can work out what sort of ‘book’ you are exploring: is it history or is it a letter? Are you reading words spoken by a prophet or written as a song?
  •  Spend time looking at and chatting about the artwork in the Big Bible Challenge. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’
  • When you have finished this challenge, use the simple evaluation sheet [here: hyperlink]. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’


COMMENCE: your introduction to this part of the Bible

God’s promise to Abraham involved land and family. Genesis tells the story of his first descendants. Exodus confirms the promise as the people of Israel are established by God as his people, yet they are still far from the land that God had promised.

The giving of the law is a key moment. They were chosen, loved and saved by God before the law was given (Exodus 19:1-6). The Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, not to lay down a set of rules to take away the people’s pleasure and freedom but, rather, to act as a framework for their relationships with God and each other, and their attitude to material possessions.

The land, too, is a gift; God opens the way, parting the Jordan and giving them victory in battle. Setting up the stone memorial, as they cross the river, would be a reminder for generations to come of what God had done. The land is given not so that they can exhibit a sense of superiority over other nations but so that they have a secure place in which to grow, to worship God and to be a witness of God’s saving power and love to the surrounding nations.


CONNECT: the five stories in this challenge

As you begin this Challenge 5, look together again at:

  • the picture of God promising Abraham that his descendants would be more than the stars in the sky (Big Bible Challenge page 16); and,
  •  the picture of Moses and God’s people crossing the Red Sea and escaping towards the land of promise (Big Bible Challenge page 28).

This set of 5 stories is about what happened next – how did this large group of people become ‘God’s people’ in their new land?

  • You may like to begin the challenge with the featured story: ‘Joshua the leader’. This key story brings together two strong themes: the fulfilment of the promise of God and God’s instructions to the new leader. You’ll need to explain that Moses actually didn’t take the people into the land that God had promised them – that job fell to Joshua. So this section takes place about 40 years after the crossing of the Red Sea. Build up the excitement that the people are – at last – about to enter their land.
  •  In this key story, God has reminded Joshua of the rules that he had given so that his people would know the best way to live. Guide your child back in time, 40 years, and find these in ‘Rules from God’.
  • The golden calf’ gives more background as to why God chose Joshua to be the leader, after Moses had died. Joshua understood God’s rules so well that he seems to be the only one who did not share in the making of the golden calf while Moses went ‘missing’ (clearly all the others had not understood Rule 2: even Moses’ brother Aaron got it wrong). So Joshua’s devotion to God made him Moses’ obvious successor. From this point on, he became a leader-in-training.
  • With Joshua as leader, the final two stories in Challenge 5 tell of his first great exploits. ‘Crossing the Jordan’ echoes the earlier crossing of the Red Sea and, again, God demonstrates his power as the battle begins in ‘The fall of Jericho’!


CONSIDER: what this challenge means today

Underpinning Joshua’s leadership is that there is a right way to live.  As you explore the stories together, draw out these themes:

  • The same rules apply today. Together, you could rewrite God’s ten rules or ‘commandments’ in ways that make sense to a child.
  •  It is very easy to make ’other things’ more important than God. A newspaper, magazine or TV programme might give clues to the form that this takes.
  • God still calls people of all ages to be different – and to see the power of God at work. There’s a spiritual battle going on and being on God’s side means being on the winning side.


CLARIFY: issues that may arise from this challenge

But I can’t possibly keep the Ten Commandments!

It will probably become obvious that no one can keep these. A child might wonder what the point is of rules we’re bound to disobey even if we try. These rules represent God’s highest standards – not because he is a harsh ‘schoolteacher’ who is waiting for us to make a mistake, but because he loves us and he wants us to live together in peace and enjoyment!

So it’s important to try to keep these rules because they make good sense – and because they will help us to show how different God’s people really are. But if we fail – and we all will – then we can go to God and admit how hard we find it, and ask for his help. Jesus’ life and death more than 1,000 years after the Ten Commandments were given, make it possible for us to remain friends with God, even though we can’t always live the way he wants. 

How could God tell his people to kill everyone in Jericho?

You and the child will just have read that Commandment 6 is: ‘You must not kill’. God’s instructions seem to directly contradict this – and to contradict his nature of compassion and fairness. It’s a hard question – one that you will each revisit many times as you continue your journey with God. Be prepared to admit it, if you find this a perplexing issue, and let your child know that you are willing to talk about it again.

We need to think about the context. The people living in Jericho (and much of Canaan) were very wicked. We read about this in Genesis 15:16. They lived their lives in ways that were completely the opposite of the rules that God had set his own people. God is loving – but he does not tolerate ongoing wicked behaviour. He has declared war against sin – and, in this passage, his people are called on to be part of that war.

Keep in mind that Rahab, who decided that she wanted to side with God’s people, was rescued. 2 Peter 3:9 points out that when people move towards God, he is more than willing for them to become part of his people.

COMMUNICATE: talk with God

God gives his people 10 rules (commandments) to show them how he wants them to live.

Those rules are still for us today. Without looking in a Bible, see how many you and your child can remember. Note them down; then look in a Bible at Exodus 20:1-17 and see how many you have got right. While you have the Bible to hand, flick over the pages of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy and show that God expanded these rules with lots of examples and details.

God wanted everyone to know how to live his way, so, when his people disobeyed him, God was sad and angry because it showed that they did not trust him to know what was best for their lives. Joshua, the leader after Moses, did obey everything God said and was able to defeat Jericho.

Discuss the rules you have at home, at school, in a football match, at the swimming pool and so on. Do you have rules about what time to go to bed, about what to watch on TV or maybe how long to spend on the computer? Why does your child think you have rules at home? Why is it important to follow the rules when you’re playing sport?

Explain that these rules are to help everyone live happily together, to be fair to one another and to keep safe and healthy.

Together, ask forgiveness for any of God’s rules you have broken. Assure your child that God forgives those who are sorry. Pray that God will help both of you to keep his rules and those at home, school, and so on.

  • clevon

    name 5 people in the Bible that had challenges

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