August 7, 2022 – Judges 4 – 9

Lesson Date: August 7, 2022

Focal Scripture Passage: Judges 4:1-9, 14-24; 6:1, 11-14, 35-40; 7:2-8, 20-22; 8:22-23, 28

AIM: To lead students to discover from the examples of the ancient Israelites and their judges that the only path to blessing, victory, and happiness is through trusting and obeying the Lord completely; and to urge them to listen to God, obey God, and depend on Him.

Before class: Read the notes on Judges 4 – 9 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Draw the Judges Cycle on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Read the following to the class:

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way

To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Tell the students those words come from the familiar old hymn, “Trust and Obey.”  Words such as those might bring back fond memories of growing up in church or of a godly parent or family member singing them at home.  Nostalgia over old familiar hymns is wonderful, but in reality, there are valuable truths in those hymns.

Read those words again.  Ask: “Do you really believe those words?  Do you really believe the only path to happiness, peace, and victory is through obeying God?  Do your actions and behavior demonstrate that you really believe this truth?”  Tell the class for the Christian there are only two ways to behave: God’s way or the wrong way.

Tell the students the title of today’s lesson is Trust and Obey.  We will learn about three more of Israel’s judges.  When they obeyed God explicitly everything turned out good, but when they didn’t fully trust God and obey Him, they were inevitably headed for trouble.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Briefly remind the class of the background of the book of Judges, which describes the time following the death of Joshua.
    • Direct their attention to the illustration on the board and remind them of the repeated cycle found throughout the book of Judges, which was:
      • Sin,
      • 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.
    • Unfortunately, that cycle is still common today because of our sinful human nature.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the high cost of compromise).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Judg. 2:10).
  2. Deborah and Barak.
    • Read Judges 4:1-5.
    • Explain the following:
      • Israel again did things their way rather than God’s way.
      • Refer to the cycle drawn on the board.
      • Israel again fell into SIN and idolatry, which resulted in OPPRESSION by an enemy.
      • They CRIED out to God, and He raised up JUDGES for them.
      • The next two judges were Deborah and Barak.
      • Deborah lived in the south, just north of Jerusalem, while Barak lived in the north, near the Sea of Galilee (locate these areas on the Map of the Promised Land).
    • Read Judges 4:6-7.
    • Ask: “What did Deborah tell Barak that God wanted him to do?” (gather 10,000 men and go to war against Sisera and his army; God promised Barak victory).
    • Read Judges 4:8-9.
    • Ask: “What condition did Barak place on obeying God and going to war?” (he wanted Deborah to go with him).
    • Ask: “What did Deborah say would be the result if she went with Barak?” (a woman would receive the credit for Sisera’s defeat).
    • Read Judges 4:14-16.
    • Explain the following:
      • Deborah told Barak that God promised victory.
      • Barak listened to God, obeyed God, depended upon God, and won a great victory.
      • The defeat was so bad that Sisera (the enemy commander) fled, and his soldiers committed suicide.
    • Read Judges 4:17-20.
    • Tell the students that Sisera thought he had found a safe haven in the tent of Jael.
    • Read Judges 4:21-24.
    • Ask: “What did the woman Jael do to Sisera?” (drove a tent stake through his head while he slept; she then showed the dead enemy commander to Barak).
    • Explain the following:
      • God gave Israel a great victory over her enemy.
      • Judges 5 contains Deborah’s song of rejoicing and praise to God for the great victory.
      • Because of Barak’s lack of faith (Judg. 4:8), a woman received credit for the victory (Judg. 5:24-27).
      • After the victory Israel had REST forty years (refer to the cycle on the board).
    • Summarize: Deborah and Barak trusted and obeyed God, resulting in a great victory. Barak’s lack of faith cost him the credit or praise for the great victory.
  3. Gideon’s Weak Faith.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 6:1.
    • Refer to the cycle on the board. Once again, Israel SINNED and God delivered them into OPPRESSION by a foreign power.  The people CRIED out to God for help.
    • Read Judges 6:11.
    • Tell the class the Angel of the Lord came to Gideon, who was to be Israel’s next JUDGE.
    • Ask: “What was Gideon doing when the Angel of the Lord came to him?” (hiding from the enemy).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 6:12-13.
    • Ask: “How did the Angel of the Lord address Gideon?” (“thou mighty man of valor”).
    • Explain that the Lord addressed Gideon with attributes He wanted to build into Gideon’s life, not attributes that were already there.
    • Ask: “What question did Gideon ask?” (if God is with us, why are we oppressed?).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle on the board and ask: “Why were the Israelites oppressed?” (because of their SIN).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 6:14.
    • Explain the following:
      • God told Gideon that He would use him to deliver Israel from Midianite oppression.
      • Due to his lack of faith, Gideon asked God for a sign (v. 17).
      • The Lord gave him a miraculous sign that confirmed His call upon Gideon
      • God told Gideon to tear down a pagan altar and build an altar for God.
      • Gideon obeyed the Lord.
      • Enemies came against Israel again and Gideon gathered a great army.
    • Read Judges 6:35-40.
    • Explain the following:
      • Gideon’s faith was weak, so he asked God for two more signs.
      • God never told Gideon to test Him with the fleece; it was Gideon’s lack of faith that caused him to do that.
      • Modern Christians sometimes think they are spiritual when they say they are “putting out a fleece” before God.
      • We need to learn God’s Word and obey His commands, without testing Him.
    • Summarize: God called and used Gideon, even though his faith was weak and he asked for signs to prove that God’s Word was true.
  4. Gideon’s Miraculous Victory.
    • Read Judges 7:2-8.
    • Tell the students that Gideon had an army of 32,000 men.
    • Ask: “Why did God want Gideon’s army to be smaller before he fought the battle?” (so they wouldn’t think the victory was gained by their power).
    • Explain the following:
      • God reduced Gideon’s army by more than 99%, from 32,000 to a mere 300 men!
      • Gideon divided his 300 men into 3 companies.
      • Each man had a torch hidden in a clay pitcher, along with a trumpet.
      • Gideon’s 300 soldiers surrounded the enemy camp.
    • Read Judges 7:20-22.
    • Tell the class at Gideon’s command the 300 men all broke their pitchers, revealing their lighted torches, and blew their trumpets.
    • Ask: “According to verse 22, what did the surprised Midianite soldiers do?” (killed one another, thinking they were enemy soldiers).
    • Tell the class the survivors fled in fear. Israel had a great victory!
    • Summarize: When Gideon trusted and obeyed God, he won an amazing victory over a much larger enemy force.
  5. Gideon’s Disappointing Legacy.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 8:22-23.
    • Ask: “After their great victory, what did the men of Israel want Gideon to do?” (rule over them as their king and establish an ongoing dynasty).
    • Ask: “What was Gideon’s reply to this request?” (he refused, saying the Lord should rule over them).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 8:28.
    • Tell the students after their victory Israel had REST for forty years.
    • Explain the following:
      • Gideon asked his soldiers for the gold they had taken from their defeated enemies.
      • Gideon used the gold to make a golden ephod (a short outer garment worn over a longer robe).
      • This ephod became an idol that Gideon and the Israelites worshipped (this was SIN).
      • Gideon also practiced polygamy (SIN), which resulted in many troubles.
      • Chapter 9 tells us that one of Gideon’s illegitimate sons killed his brothers and claimed to be king of Israel.
      • Many problems resulted from Gideon’s disobedient sin.
    • Summarize: After winning a great victory for God’s people, Gideon later led them back into sin.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students when Barak and Gideon trusted and obeyed God, they experienced miraculous victories.  Both these men, however, had times of weak faith when they doubted God.

Refer to the cycle on the board and tell the class today’s lesson again shows the repetitive cycle found throughout the book of Judges: (1) sin, (2) oppression by foreign powers, (3) crying out to God for help, (4) God raised up a judge to deliver them from oppression, and (5) rest and peace.

Without erasing the cycle, write the words “Listen,” “Obey,” and “Depend” somewhere on the board.  Explain that when the ancient Israelites listened to God, obeyed God, and depended on God, they experienced good results.  When they did not listen to God, obey God, and depend on God, bad things happened.

Tell the students the same principle is still true today.  Whenever we listen to God, obey God, and depend on God, good things will result.

Tell the class that most of our troubles come from not doing things God’s way.  Ask: “Have you been trying to do things your way, without listening to God, obeying God, and depending upon God?”  Tell them if that is the case, they should admit their mistakes to God.  They should cry out to God and ask for His help.  They should turn from their sin of idolatry (doing things their way instead of God’s way) and begin obeying God right now.  They should obey God in the things they already know to do and then commit to obey Him in other things He may show them.

Urge everyone to do these things.  Lead a closing prayer of commitment to listen to, obey, and depend fully upon God.

 

CONCLUSION: Urge the students to follow this pattern of listening, obeying, and depending as they face decisions this week.  Encourage them to read their Bibles every day and to come to Sunday School next Sunday.  Attending Sunday School and worship are great ways to learn more about God’s will for our life.

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