August 14, 2022 – Judges 10 – 12
Lesson Date: August 14, 2022
Focal Scripture Passage: Judges 10:1-8, 10-14; 11:1-6, 29-35, 39
AIM: To lead students to recognize the danger of allowing their spiritual life and decisions to be influenced by the values of our ungodly and man-centered culture, and to decide on at least one specific action they will take this week to guard against such poor decision-making.
Before class: Read the notes on Judges 10 – 12 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Prepare the index cards or pieces of paper described in the “Conclusion” step. Draw the Judges Cycle on the marker board or chalkboard.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the following story to the class:
Randy is faced with a decision. He is a restaurant owner, but his business isn’t generating the type of income he had anticipated. In fact, he’s afraid it might go under. His friends in the business community have unanimously told him two things to do to make his business more profitable: (1) stay open on Sundays, and (2) serve alcoholic beverages. Randy’s friends at church have advised him not to do those things. Randy doesn’t know whose advice to follow. His church friends are very sincere, but they aren’t business people. His business friends are successful and have profitable businesses, but most of them never mention God except when they curse. Randy has even thought of making a bargain with God, promising to give more money to the building fund if selling alcohol and staying open on Sundays makes his restaurant more profitable. What should he do?
Tell the students that we face decisions every day. One thing that makes those decisions difficult is our values have been influenced by the wicked and ungodly culture in which we live. We are faced with the question of doing things God’s way or the world’s way. Sometimes we even try to bargain with God, promising to do things for him if He helps us with our problems. The title of today’s lesson from Judges 10 – 12 is Bargaining With God.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the class that the book of Judges describes Israel’s history during the 300 years following Joshua’s death.
- Direct their attention to the illustration on the board and remind them of the repeated cycle found throughout the book of Judges, which was:
- Oppression by foreign powers,
- Crying out to God for help,
- God raising up a judge to deliver them from oppression, followed by
- Rest and peace.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Deborah, Barak, and Gideon; the importance of trusting and obeying God).
- Israel Sinned Again.
- Tell the class that Judges 10:1-5 mentions two more judges: Tola and Jair.
- Read Judges 10:6-8.
- Ask: “What did the Israelites do?” (SINNED again by worshipping and serving idols).
- Explain that as before, God turned them over to OPPRESSION by wicked foreigners.
- Ask: “How long were they oppressed?” (18 years).
- Ask a volunteer to read Judges 10:10.
- Ask: “What did the Israelites do?” (CRIED out to God for help).
- Read Judges 10:11-14.
- Explain the following:
- The Lord initially rejected their pleas for help.
- He reminded them of all the things He had done for them in the past and told them to cry out to their false gods for help.
- Verses 15-18 reveal that the Israelites repented and put away their foreign gods.
- Because of this, the Lord felt pity for them.
- The Ammonites came against Israel, so the Israelites sought someone to lead them.
- Summarize: The Israelites once again fell into sin, causing them to be oppressed by foreign enemies. They needed a new judge to lead them.
- The Next Judge – Jephthah.
- Read Judges 11:1-3.
- Ask: “What does verse 1 tell us about Jephthah?” (he was a strong and brave fighting man, but he was the illegitimate son of a harlot).
- Using the Map of the Promised Land, explain that Jephthah lived in the region of Gilead, east of the Jordan River, near their enemies, the Ammonites.
- Ask: “Why did his half-brothers run him out of the territory?” (so he wouldn’t be an heir to their father’s property).
- Stress the fact that immorality always causes family strife.
- Ask: “Where did Jephthah go, and what kind of friends did he choose?” (he went to Tob, which was north of Gilead, where he gathered worthless, spiritually empty, and vain men around him).
- Ask a volunteer to read Judges 11:4-6.
- Explain the following:
- The leaders of Gilead called Jephthah to come back and lead them in their fight against the Ammonites.
- Jephthah had previously been thrown out of his homeland, but now the people who threw him out asked him to come back.
- They wanted him to be their leader, IF he could defeat the Ammonites.
- Through these circumstances God raised up Jephthah as a JUDGE to deliver them (refer to the cycle on the board).
- In this situation, victory for Jephthah was absolutely essential.
- Summarize: The people of Gilead didn’t like Jephthah, but because of his strength and bravery, they called him to lead them into battle.
- Jephthah’s Foolish Vow.
- Tell the students verses 12-28 reveal that Jephthah tried diplomacy to avoid war, but his efforts failed.
- Read Judges 11:29.
- Ask: “What came upon Jephthah?” (the Spirit of the Lord).
- Use the Map of the Promised Land to show that Jephthah led his people from Gilead through Mizpeh to fight against the Ammonites.
- Ask a volunteer to read Judges 11:30-31.
- Tell the class that Jephthah made a vow (a solemn promise) to God.
- Ask: “What did Jephthah promise God?” (if God gave him victory in battle, he promised to offer as a burnt offering whatever first came out of the door of his house when he returned home).
- Ask: “What do you suppose Jephthah thought would be first to greet him?” (a dog, a goat, a servant?).
- Explain that vows such as this were not uncommon among pagan kings and generals; this was an acceptable practice in Jephthah’s wicked culture.
- Ask: “Did God tell Jephthah to make this vow?” (no; his foolish vow was the result of the influence of his wicked and idolatrous culture, without any consideration of what might please God).
- Read Judges 11:32-33.
- Ask: “Who gave Jephthah’s army victory over the Ammonites?” (the Lord).
- Ask: “Does the Bible say this victory came as the result of Jephthah’s foolish vow?” (no).
- Summarize: Jephthah bargained with God, making a foolish vow. In spite of this, God gave Jephthah and the Israelites victory.
- Jephthah’s Foolish Action.
- Ask a volunteer to read Judges 11:34-35.
- Ask: “Who was first to greet Jephthah when he returned home from his great victory?” (his daughter, who was his only child).
- Ask: “Why was Jephthah upset?” (because he knew he couldn’t go back on the foolish vow he had made to God).
- Explain the following:
- A vow to God was a very serious thing for the Israelites.
- The Law was clear that if a man made a vow to the Lord, he must keep it (Num. 30:2; Eccl. 5:4).
- God never, however, told anyone to vow to offer their child as a human sacrifice.
- In fact, God made specific provisions for vows relating to people; Leviticus 27:1-7 tells exactly how much an Israelite was to pay to redeem a person pledged to God in a vow.
- Even though Jephthah made a foolish and rash vow, he did not have to sacrifice his daughter as a burnt offering.
- He could have redeemed her and still satisfied his vow to God by paying as little as 10 shekels of silver (Lev. 27:4-5).
- Jephthah allowed his daughter two months to “bewail” her virginity.
- Read Judges 11:39.
- Explain the following:
- Jephthah kept his foolish vow by offering his daughter as a burnt offering.
- Human sacrifice was a pagan practice that had crept into Israel through centuries of intermixing with the pagans in the land.
- Tell the class that Judges 12 tells us about civil war in Israel and three more judges.
- Summarize: Jephthah, because he was shaped by his wicked culture and didn’t know the scriptures, foolishly sacrificed his daughter, thinking he was pleasing God.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Stress the fact that God has never sanctioned or approved of human sacrifice. That wicked practice is inspired by the devil and followed by pagan groups.
Tell the students Jephthah was a man whose values were shaped by his ungodly culture. In the face of battle, he made a foolish vow. God used Jephthah to win a victory, but we have no record that Jephthah ever asked God for help or direction.
Stress the fact that God never told Jephthah to make his vow or to sacrifice his daughter. Jephthah did those things because he had been influenced by the paganism and idol worship so prominent in Israel. The pitiful thing about Jephthah is that he thought he was being spiritual by keeping his vow, but he was actually being foolish.
Tell the class that there are only two sources of wisdom available to us: (1) the wisdom of the world, and (2) God’s wisdom. Read James 3:13-18.
Tell the students if we faithfully read and study God’s Word, we won’t be fooled by the world’s so-called “spirituality.” We will know what is right (by God’s standard – the Bible), and we will not be tempted to bargain with God or make foolish promises. BUT, if we won’t take time to put God’s Word in our minds, we WILL fall prey to the world’s deceptions and make foolish and hurtful decisions. Ask: “The choice is yours – which course will you follow?”
Ask students to name specific actions they can take to guard against poor decision-making (read the Bible daily, pray daily, memorize and meditate on God’s Word, attend Sunday School and Worship each week, seek counsel from mature Christians, don’t seek advice from worldly sources, etc.). Encourage them to pick at least one of those actions to put into practice this week. Lead a closing prayer of commitment.
CONCLUSION: Give everyone an index card or piece of paper on which you have written or printed the text of Proverbs 3:5-6. Encourage them to memorize those two verses this week. Remind everyone to do the Daily Bible Readings found in their Sunday School Member Quarterly.
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