July 31, 2022 – Judges 1 – 3

Lesson Date: July 31, 2022

Focal Scripture Passage: Judges 2:1-5, 7, 10-23, 3:4-14

AIM: To lead students to discover from the experiences of Israel the disastrous results of compromising one’s commitments to God, and to examine themselves for areas of compromise so they can recommit to obeying Him.

Before class: Read the notes on Judges 1 – 3 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Draw the Judges Cycle on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

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

  • A parent pays his or her teenage son’s speeding ticket, and urges him to be more careful to obey the speed limit in the future.
  • A parent “buys” his or her adult child out of self-inflicted financial trouble, and says: “Don’t do that again.”
  • A judge dismisses the charges against a young first-time offender, urging him to straighten up.

Each of these scenarios involves someone who is delivered from their troubles.  Ask: “In light of the mercy and grace they have received, how should these persons behave?  How should they treat the person who delivered them?” (they should change their behavior so they don’t end up in the same trouble again, and they should treat their deliverer with the utmost respect, following the instructions they have been given).

Tell the students that is the way these people should respond, but, unfortunately, that is not human nature.  The title of today’s lesson is The Cost of Compromise.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review and Introduction to Judges.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (choosing whom we will serve).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Josh 24:15).
    • Tell the class that today we begin a five-week study of the book of Judges.
    • The book of Judges bridges the period from the end of the book of Joshua (approximately 1375 c.) to the beginning of Samuel’s ministry (approximately 1075 b.c.).
    • The purpose of the book is to remind us that, because of our sin nature, humans naturally regress into rebellion, sin, and idolatry.
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle drawn on the board and read the steps that make up that cycle.
    • Explain that this cycle is repeated throughout the book of Judges.
    • Tell the class that Judges 1 tells us that none of the 9½ western tribes (those living west of the Jordan River; locate on the Map of the Promised Land) drove out all the wicked inhabitants of their territory (see Judges 1:19, 21, 27, 29-31, 33-34).
    • God had clearly commanded them to do this, but they were all
    • This was a huge compromise, which set the stage for centuries of trouble (that continues even to this day).
  2. God’s Warning to Israel.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 2:1-5.
    • Tell the class that God sent an angel to the Israelites with an important message.
    • Ask: “What had God done for Israel in the past?” (brought them out of bondage in Egypt and given them the Promised Land).
    • Ask: “What did the angel say about their obedience?” (the Israelites had not obeyed God).
    • Ask: “What did God say would be the cost or consequence of their disobedience?” (He would not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before them; rather, they would be thorns and snares to the Israelites; see Josh. 23:11-16).
    • Ask: “What was the response of the Israelites to this message from God” (weeping and sacrifice).
    • Summarize: God warned the Israelites of the cost of the compromise of not obeying His commands.
  3. Israel’s Spiritual Condition after Joshua Died.
    • Explain that Judges 2:7-9 again tells about Joshua’s death (see also Josh. 24:29-31).
    • Read Judges 2:7.
    • Ask: “How long did the Israelites faithfully serve the Lord?” (throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the elders who outlived him).
    • Read Judges 2:10.
    • Ask: “What does this verse tell us about the next generation?” (they didn’t know God or the works of God).
    • Ask: “Will your life lead future generations to know God and His works?”
    • Tell the students we are all leaving a legacy for future generations; our behavior today will likely have a profound impact on our children and grandchildren.
    • Ask the class to listen for how this new generation behaved, as you read Judges 2:11-13.
    • Ask: “What did the Israelites do?” (forsook God and participated in wicked idolatry; the worship of these false gods involved terrible practices such as prostitution and even human sacrifice).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle drawn on the board, and tell them that “Israel SINNED against God.”
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 2:14-15.
    • Ask: “What did God do in response to Israel’s rebellion, disobedience, and idolatry?” (He delivered them into the hands of their enemies, and He actually worked against them).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle drawn on the board, and tell them that “God allowed foreigners to OPPRESS
    • Summarize: The Israelites turned from God to idols, causing Him to deliver them into the hands of their enemies.
  4. Israel’s Cycle of Sin, Oppression, and Deliverance.
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle drawn on the board, and tell them that in their defeat and oppression, “Israel CRIED out to God for help.”
    • Tell the class that verses 16-19 are a summary of the behavior of the Israelites throughout the book of Judges.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 2:16.
    • Ask: “According to verse 16, what gracious thing did God do for Israel?” (He sent judges to lead them and deliver them from oppression).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle drawn on the board, and tell them that “God raised up a JUDGE to deliver Israel.”
    • Read Judges 2:17-18.
    • Note that even when God sent a judge, the Israelites still went after other gods.
    • Ask: “What does verse 18 say happened while the judge ruled?” (the judge delivered Israel from her enemy).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle drawn on the board, and tell them that while the judge ruled “Israel had REST and peace.”
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 2:19.
    • Ask: “What happened when each judge died?” (Israel went back to their wicked ways).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle drawn on the board, and tell them that once again, “Israel SINNED against God.”
    • Tell the class that this cycle is repeated throughout the book of Judges.
    • Ask: “What does verse 19 say about the spiritual condition of each successive generation?” (each one was worse).
    • Tell the students there is an old adage that says, “What the parents allow in moderation, the children will do to excess.” This was certainly true of the Israelites.
    • Read Judges 2:20-23.
    • Ask: “How did God feel about Israel’s sin?” (He was angry with the Israelites).
    • Ask: “Why did He leave the heathen nations among the Israelites?” (to test Israel, whether they would obey and follow God or not; this fact is stated again in Judges 3:4).
    • Summarize: God sent judges to deliver Israel, but the people always returned to their sin.
  5. The First Three judges.
    • Refer to the cycle drawn on the board throughout the remainder of the lesson.
    • Read Judges 3:5-7.
    • Remind the class that God had clearly told the Israelites not to intermarry with the inhabitants of the land (Josh. 23:12), but once again Israel SINNED.
    • Read Judges 3:8.
    • Ask: “What did God do?” (allowed a foreign nation to OPPRESS Israel for 8 years).
    • Read Judges 3:9-11.
    • Ask: “What did the Israelites do when they were oppressed?” (CRIED to the Lord).
    • Ask: “What did God do when Israel cried out to Him?” (sent a JUDGE to deliverer them).
    • Explain that Israel’s first judge was Othniel, who delivered Israel from oppression by the Mesopotamians, after which Israel had REST for 40 years.
    • Read Judges 3:12-14.
    • Ask: “What happened when Othniel died?” (Israel SINNED again and God delivered them into foreign OPPRESSION again).
    • The rest of chapter 3 tells the colorful story of Ehud, Israel’s second judge and briefly mentions Shamgar, Israel’s third judge. If time permits, read those verses.
    • Summarize: Israel continued the cycle of sin, oppression, crying to God who sent a judge to deliver them, followed by temporary rest and peace, before starting the cycle over again.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students that the Israelites repeatedly compromised their convictions, broke their commitments to God, and forsook the Lord.  Tell them this lesson should lead us to examine our lives to see if we are living up to the commitments we have made to God.

Ask: “Have you compromised your commitments to God, returning to your old sinful ways?  Are you dabbling with the entertainment, lifestyle, and vocabulary of the world?  Are you less committed to the Lord than you once were?”  Such compromise will cost us dearly.

Tell the students to bow their head and ask the Lord to show them any areas of compromise or disobedience in their lives.  As they silently pray, suggest some areas in which they may have compromised (daily Bible reading, daily pray time, faithfully attending Sunday School and worship, tithing, witnessing, etc.).  Urge everyone to confess their sin and recommit themselves to faithfully following and obeying God.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Judges 2:10, and to follow through on their commitments this week.

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