August 28, 2022 – Judges 17 – 21

Lesson Date: August 28, 2022

Focal Scripture Passage: Judges 17:1-13; 18:1; 19:22-30; 20:4-6; 21:25

AIM: To lead students to discover and describe the terrible consequences of doing things man’s way instead of God’s way, and to examine themselves so they can confess their sin of doing things their way and commit to doing things God’s way.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Judges 17 – 21 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Display a copy of the Ten Commandments somewhere in your classroom.  Write some or all the following on the marker board or chalkboard: “School Shooting,” “Sex Trafficking,” “Child Pornography,” “Serial Killer,” “Sexual Assault.”

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the board and read the things you have written there.  Tell them that we read disturbing headlines about terrible crimes such as these almost every day in the news and on social media.

Ask: “How do people react when they hear about such horrendous crimes?” (they express shock, amazement, sorrow, and surprise).  We often hear people say things like, “How could anyone do such a terrible thing!” or “I can’t believe such a terrible thing happened here in our community!”

Tell the students that people express shock and amazement when awful, ungodly crime and violence occur; but those awful things are just the natural result of turning from God to follow our own sinful lusts.

Tell the class our modern world has told God He is not welcome in our schools, courtrooms, or government.  Stress the fact that when there is no absolute moral law, people do whatever they want, and whatever their selfish sinful flesh desires.  Israel at the time of the judges was in the same situation.

Tell the students the title of today’s lesson is Doing Your Own Thing.  As we study the final chapters of the book of Judges, we will see the extent of Israel’s moral and spiritual decline.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that at the time of Joshua’s death and throughout the lives of the elders who outlived Joshua (see Judges 2:7) Israel was following God.
    • The early judges (Barak and Gideon) obeyed God, but did not have much faith.
    • By the time Jephthah came along, Israel had accepted much idolatry and sinful behavior.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Samson and his self-centered, irresponsible lifestyle).
  2. The Spiritual Climate in Israel.
    • Read Judges 17:1-6.
    • Direct the students’ attention to the copy of the Ten Commandments.
    • Tell them that several of the Ten Commandments were violated in these verses.
    • Ask them to identify the commandments that were violated (Thou shalt not steal; Honor thy father and thy mother; Thou shalt not bear false witness; Thou shalt not covet; Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image; Thou shalt have no other gods before me).
    • Tell the class that verse 6 describes the moral climate in Israel at the time.
    • Ask: “By what standard did people live?” (their own, not God’s).
    • Tell the students that we will find this repeated three more times in today’s lesson.
    • Stress the fact that whenever man’s standard of right and wrong replaces God’s standard, trouble is bound to follow.
    • Summarize: Near the end of the era of the judges, Israel had fallen into spiritual and moral decay, following the desires of their hearts rather than the laws of God.
  3. Religious Confusion and Disobedience.
    • Read Judges 17:7-9.
    • Explain the following:
      • God had set aside certain cities in which the Levites were supposed to live.
      • In defiance of God’s commands, this young Levite left his home in the territory of Judah, and traveled north to the territory of Ephraim.
      • He ended up at the home of Micah, the man described in verses 1-6.
    • Read Judges 17:10-13.
    • Ask: “What job did Micah offer the Levite?” (serving as his personal priest).
    • Explain the following:
      • All Levites were not qualified to be priests, only those directly descended from Aaron.
      • God ordained only one place of worship in Israel.
      • Individual Israelites had no right to establish their own place of worship and hire their own priests.
    • Ask: “What did Micah think the Lord thought of his disobedient and idolatrous ways?” (he thought the Lord would bless him).
    • Tell the class that’s an indication of how far Israel had sunken spiritually: they thought God would bless them while they were disobeying Him. Sadly, that belief is popular today.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 18:1.
    • Ask: “What does that verse tell us about Israel?” (there was no king to lead the people to obey God).
    • Explain the following:
      • The tribe of Dan was disobedient in not driving out the inhabitants of their appointed land.
      • The rest of this chapter tells us that the tribe of Dan moved far to the north and conquered another territory.
      • They took with them the Levite and the idols mentioned in chapter 17, and set them up in their new land.
      • Idolatry was a foundational building block of the territory of Dan.
    • Direct the students’ attention to the copy of the Ten Commandments.
    • Ask them to identify the commandments that were violated in this passage (Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image; Thou shalt have no other gods before me).
    • Summarize: Near the end of the era of the judges, idolatry was commonplace and officially sanctioned in places such as the tribe of Dan.
  4. Moral Depravity.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 19:1.
    • Ask: “What problem still existed in Israel?” (there was no king to give moral or spiritual leadership).
    • Explain the following:
      • This is a different Levite than the one described in chapters 17 and 18.
      • Having a concubine (a slave/wife) was culturally acceptable in that day, but it was never approved by God.
    • Ask what Commandment was broken in this verse (Thou shalt not commit adultery).
    • Tell the students that the Levite and his concubine were traveling and spent the night in the town of Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin, where they lodged in the home of an old man.
    • Read Judges 19:22.
    • Ask: “Why did the men of the town beat on the door? What did they want?” (they were homosexuals who wanted relations with the Levite, a practice expressly forbidden by God in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13).
    • Ask what Commandment was broken in this verse (Thou shalt not covet).
    • Tell the class that the next events were terribly bizarre.
    • Read Judges 19:23-25.
    • Ask: “What bizarre and sinful thing did the host offer to try to protect his guest?” (he offered his virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine to the men to satisfy their sexual perversions).
    • Ask: “What bizarre and sinful thing did the Levite do to protect himself from the wicked men?” (he put his concubine out for the perverts to abuse).
    • Explain the following:
      • While this atrocity was going on outside, the Levite and the old man ate, drank, and slept inside, showing no concern for the safety of the woman.
      • The Israelites broke the Commandments against coveting and adultery.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 19:26-30.
    • Ask: “What did the Levite find in the morning?” (the woman was dead at the doorstep of the house).
    • Ask: “What bizarre thing did the Levite do after taking the woman’s body home?” (cut her body into twelve pieces and sent the pieces to the twelve tribes).
    • Tell the class that all the Israelites were shocked by the terrible thing done to the woman, even though it was the natural result of Israel’s sin and idolatry.
    • Ask: “Why do you think the Levite was shocked by the woman’s terrible death, when he was the one who threw her outside so the perverts could abuse her as they pleased?” (he was ungodly and had a very twisted value system).
    • Summarize: Near the end of the era of the judges, moral depravity was rampant, but the people expressed shock when they saw the result of that depravity.
  5. Outrage, Civil War, and Bizarre Schemes.
    • Tell the students that after receiving the dismembered parts of the woman’s body, all the Israelites gathered to find out what had happened to the Levite’s concubine.
    • Read Judges 20:4-6.
    • Explain the following:
      • The Levite blamed the wicked men of Gibeah for the woman’s death, but never mentioned the part he and his host played in it.
      • When we see wickedness in America today, we often think everyone is guilty but us.
      • A terrible civil war ensued, in which 40,000 Israelite soldiers and over 25,000 men of Benjamin were killed.
      • The men of Israel had sworn not to give their daughters to any of the surviving men of Benjamin.
      • Chapter 21 tells how the Israelites devised two bizarre schemes to supply wives for the surviving men of Benjamin so their tribe would not cease to exist.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 21:25.
    • Tell the class that verse is a summary of this wicked period in Israel’s history.
    • Summarize: Near the end of the era of the judges, sin, self-righteousness, and bizarre and ungodly behavior were commonplace.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students that Israel had no godly leadership, so they sank into terrible sin and wickedness.  God had given them a clear code of conduct by which to live, the heart of which was the Ten Commandments.  Near the end of the era of the judges, there was little regard in Israel for doing things according to God’s commands.  Everyone did as they pleased.  Ask the students to name some of the terrible consequences of doing things man’s way instead of God’s way that they read about in today’s lesson.

Ask: “In what ways is our modern society like that of Israel near the end of the era of the judges?” (we have no godly, moral leadership, so there is little regard in our land for the things God has said; most people are ruled by their own desires, and ignore God’s guidelines for living).  Tell the class the standards presented in the Ten Commandments are viewed almost as a joke in our society.

Direct the students’ attention to the terrible things written on the board.  Tell them those are natural results of turning away from God and godly standards.  We hear about wickedness, violence, and bizarre behaviors every day.  We are reaping what we have sown; yet we express shock and amazement when the ugly results of sin make the news.

Tell the students we can’t change the entire culture in which we live, but we can change the way we live.  Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Tell them to examine themselves for evidence of ignoring God and doing what is right in their own eyes.  Tell them you don’t want them to have to face the awful results of doing things their way.  Urge everyone to confess the sin of doing things their way and commit to do things God’s way.  Voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Judges 17:6.  Remind them that sin begins in the mind.  The sin you ponder in your mind will eventually find a way to be lived out in the flesh.  Remember that sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.  Sin will ultimately ruin your life.

Be sure everyone has a Sunday School Member Quarterly for the new quarter.  Next week we begin a six-month study of the book of Acts.  Urge everyone to begin the Daily Bible Reading Guide tomorrow.

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