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Standing on the Lord's Side: A drama about Joshua, Caleb, and the other spies (Numbers 13,14; Joshua 7,24)

Cast

Storyteller
Child, sitting with storyteller
Moses: a very old man
Joshua
Caleb
Ten other spies (one spokesperson)
Crowd 1, with three spokespersons (for scene 1 the crowd could be the entire church school or the entire congregation)
The Voice of God
Crowd 2 (for scene 2 the crowd should be a group of children led by Joshua and Caleb)

Staging Notes

If desired, prepare (or have the children prepare) a background mural that contrasts the bleak desert country with the beautiful green trees and hills of Canaan across the Jordan River. The only prop you'll need is a "brick" wall. Preschool cardboard "bricks" work well for the wall; they are sturdy and easy to collapse.

SCENE 1: THE DESERT OF PARAN

Storyteller: Are you ready for another story?

Child: Oh, yes. What is this one about?

Storyteller: It's about two brave men who didn't go along with the crowd. Remember how Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt?

Child: I remember. They finally escaped when that wicked old King Pharoah drowned in the Red Sea.

Storyteller: Right. Well, that long journey toward the Promised Land had a lot of twists and turns and delays and disasters. But Moses and the Israelites finally reached a place just on the border between the desert and Canaan. The people were so happy! They would have their very own home at last. And it would be a wonderful place to live. But first they had to find out about the people living there. So Moses appointed twelve men, one from each tribe, to spy out the land. Two of the men were Joshua and Caleb. Listen to the instructions Moses gave.

[Joshua, Caleb and the others stand at attention as Moses speaks.]

Moses: Hide behind a tree. See what you can see. Be careful as you plan, but find out all you can. Are the people tall? Or are they very small? Are they strong or weak? Arrogant or meek? What about the land? Is it only sand? Are there crops that grow? Vineyards row on row? If you climb a wall, make sure you do not fall. Take a look around. Make sure you are not found.

Storyteller: The spies were gone for forty days. When they returned, the people were eager to hear what they had to say. But twelve people don't always agree, and in this case there was a decided difference of opinion. Joshua and Caleb knew what it meant to trust. But they were a minority of two.

Joshua: Crops are growing, streams are flowing; vineyards row on row.

Caleb: We are saying, "No delaying; Let us enter now."

Other spies: Don't go near them.
We must fear them.
You should see their height.
It's our fear that we appear
like insects in their sight.

Joshua: We can take them. God will make them fall before his might.

Caleb: He will give us what he promised. What he says is right.

Other Spies: Oh, what sadness. That is madness;
it would be so wrong.
We are smaller. They are taller;
giants fierce and strong.

Joshua: Stop your weeping and start reaping blessings through the years.

Caleb: Start believing. Stop deceiving with your foolish fears.

Other Spies: If we fight them, our true plight will be a tragic tale.
Then we'll quake and weep and shake but all to no avail.

Speaker 1: Did you hear that? As big as giants, they said.

Speaker 2: Oh, no. What terrible news!

Joshua:Do not be afraid. The Lord is with us.

Speaker 1: If only we had died in Egypt! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?

Speaker 3: Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?

Caleb: No, no. Do not rebel against the Lord. God is able to help us.

Joshua: Don't you remember how the Lord saved us from the Egyptians? Do you think he is no longer able to do now what he did then?

Speaker 1: Let's get rid of them and choose another leader and go back to Egypt!

Speaker 2: Yes, we must!

Speaker 3: We have no choice!

[Joshua and Caleb continue to try to persuade the crowd as they become more and more upset, finally shouting]

Crowd 1: Back to Egypt! Back to Egypt! Back to Egypt!

[All ate suddenly silenced by the voice of God]

Voice of God: How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs 1 have performed among them? As surely as I live, I will do the very things I heard you say. In this desert your bodies will fall, every one of you twenty years old or more who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land except Caleb and Joshua. But I will bring your children in to enjoy the land you have rejected.

Storyteller: So after coming to the border of the Promised Land, the Israelites had to turn back. The people who were slaves in Egypt were still slaves in spirit.

Speaker 1: We could have had the land our Lord had promised. But we couldn't see beyond our foolish fears.

Speaker 2: Now we will only see it from a distance and wander in this desert forty years.

Crowd 1: We could have had it all.
We could have had it all for the taking,
if only we had trusted in God's word.

Speaker 3: We could have had the land of milk and honey. We could have known the blessing of the Lord.

Speaker 1: We should have known his strength could conquer weakness. If only we had trusted in his word.

Crowd 1: We could have had it all.
We could have had it all for the taking,
if only we had trusted in his word.

Child: Why couldn't they trust? Why couldn't they believe? That part of the story makes me feel sad.

Storyteller: It is sad. But God still loved them and cared for them all the time they wandered in the desert. But finally the forty years came to an end. The older people had died, and the next generation was ready to cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land. Joshua was now the leader.

Crowd 1: [Sing the following words to the tune TALUS CANON (PsH 441, PH 535, RL 77, SFL 78, TH 401). To be sung by all, first together, then as a round, in a processionat of all those in the crowd for scene 2]

Through many dangers we have passed.
We've reached the Promised Land at last.
O Joshua, take us by the hand
and lead us into Canaan land.

SCENE 2: THE CITY OF JERICHO

Storyteller: After crossing the Jordan River, the Israelites prepared to capture some of the fortified cities of Canaan. One of these was Jericho. God told Joshua exactly how to go about it.

Joshua: [to crowd] March around the city once for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets in front of the ark. On the seventh day march around the city seven times. When you hear a loud trumpet blast, everyone shout!

Storyteller: What do you think of those instructions?

Child: Strange. Very strange. But if God said to do it, I hope the people learned their lesson and obeyed this time.

Storyteller: I'm happy to say that they did.

Crowd 2: [all sing "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho" (SFL 106). During the singing, the crowd marches around the wall. At the end of the song, everyone shouts, and the wall collapses.]

Storyteller: Once again, the Israelites had seen that God is the one who would fight their battles for them. Joshua fought many more battles and was a courageous and fearless leader. He never forgot whose side he was on. He wanted to make sure the people never forgot either. This is the challenge he gave them.

Joshua: Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!

["Standing On the Lord's Side" (SFL 227) sung by Joshua and Crowd 2, as follows]

Joshua: Tell me, whose side are you standing on?

Crowd 2: I'm standing on the Lord's side.

Joshua: Whose side are you standing on?

Crowd 2: Standing on the Lord's side.
I stand, I stand, I stand, I stand-
standing on the Lord's side.
I stand, I stand, I stand, I standó
standing on the Lord's side.

Joshua: [turning to congregation] Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!

Congregation: We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.

Congregation: [sung to the tune of TALUS CANON (all hold and raise hands)]

Our trust in God will cast out doubt.
All people praise him with a shout!
We will with children's children raise
our hands and hearts in joyous praise!