Conflict and Crisis: The Judges

English
(Judges 4, 6, 7 & 14-16)
Year: 
2016
Quarter: 
1
Lesson Number: 
4

Copr. 2016, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: . Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Do you deal with fear? Do you struggle with a lack of faith and a lack of faithfulness? I know that I do. A couple of months ago, I was scheduled to argue before a U.S. Court of Appeals - a court directly below the U.S. Supreme Court. That created fear. However, shortly before I argued I preached a sermon about trusting God and that sermon put steel in my spine. God blessed and the argument went very well. This week our study is about men and women facing great danger. Let’s dig into our study of the Bible and see if we can find some steel in dealing with our problems and our fears!

  1. Judge Deborah
    1. Read Judges 4:1-3. Who are the “bad guys” here? (King Jabin and army commander Sisera.)
      1. What gave them power over God’s people? (God “sold them” because they were unfaithful. There is also the matter of 900 hundred iron chariots - a huge military advantage for the bad guys.)
    2. Read Judges 4:4-5. Who is leading God’s people at the time? (Deborah.)
      1. What are her qualifications to lead? (She is a prophet of God. God’s people come to her to resolve their disputes - this shows that they recognize her authority.)
  2. The Battle Plan
    1. Read Judges 4:6-7. What is the battle plan God has given Deborah? (Barak is to assemble 10,000 troops and go to the Kishon river.)
      1. Do you see any weakness in this battle plan? (Other than using a “lure,” it does not explain the battle strategy. What about the chariots? God says He will give them victory.)
    2. Read Judge 4:8-10. Why do you think God selected Barak to command the troops?
      1. Consider his words. Is he willing to disobey God? (Yes! He says he will do this only if Deborah goes along.)
        1. What does this say about Deborah? (She is confident and confidence inspiring.)
          1. (1) Is there any other explanation for this that is more favorable to Barak? (It could be that Barak is concerned about Deborah’s honesty. He figures that if she is willing to risk her life, she is not lying about God’s instructions.)
        2. We have not discussed the unusual nature of Deborah being the leader of Israel. How does Deborah confirm this cultural problem? (She says God will hand Sisera over to a woman - as if that is something unexpected or negative.)
    3. Read Judges 4:14-16. What happens despite the clear military advantage of horses and chariots over foot soldiers? (The Israelites win. They kill the entire enemy army and collect many chariots!)
    4. Read Judges 4:17-21. Men, are women to be trusted? (Notice that they are trusted by God.)
      1. Is this the reason most men these days live in houses and not tents?
      2. Re-read Judges 4:9. I thought Deborah meant that God would hand Sisera over to her. What is the point of God handing Sisera over to Jael? (This is a point about gender.)
        1. What is that point? (The point seems to be that if men will not lead, God will select women to lead. God has an initial tilt towards men. (Perhaps because of Genesis 3:16, which we recently studied.) But, at the end of the day God chooses the person who trusts Him, regardless of gender.)
    5. Read Judges 4:22-24. Have women changed the course of military history here? (Yes, they trusted God and this resulted in crushing a military powerhouse that opposed God’s people.)
  3. Judge Gideon
    1. Read Judges 6:1-2. Who are the bad guys now, and why do they hold power? (God’s people let Him down, again, and so God allows the Midianites to oppress His people.)
    2. Read Judges 6:3-6. What strategy do the Midianites use to control God’s people? (They either destroy or eat all the food.)
    3. Read Judges 6:7-10. When the people call out to God, does He ignore them? (No, God sends a prophet who explains the reason for their problems.)
    4. Read Judges 6:11. Why is Gideon threshing wheat in a winepress? What difficulties does that entail? (A winepress is a big wood barrel. You need wind to blow the chaff away when you thresh wheat. A big barrel is exactly the place not to be if you are threshing. We can only conclude Gideon is doing this to hide his food from the Midianites.)
    5. Read Judges 6:12. Is the angel mocking Gideon? “Hey mighty warrior, nice barrel!”
    6. Read Judges 6:13. Who does Gideon blame for the fact that the “mighty warrior” is hiding in a barrel? (He seems to say, “I would be a lot braver if God would show up and do something mighty.” Gideon, like Adam, appears to be blaming God.)
    7. Read Judges 6:14-16. Does Gideon, like Barak, need a woman to put some steel in his spine?
      1. Tell me what you think God is saying in verse 16? (God says “All you need to win is Me. You say I’ve not been helping? I’m here, let’s do this together.”)
    8. Read Judges 6:17. What do you think about Gideon’s faith?
    9. Read Judges 6:20-23. Gideon says, “Please wait, I want to bring an offering.” What does God do for Gideon? (Gives him a sign. Notice the patience of God and how He works with Gideon’s doubts.)
    10. We are skipping over much of this amazing story. Read Judges 6:33 and Judges 7:19-22. How many men are with Gideon to attack the Midianite horde? (One hundred.)
      1. What do the one hundred attackers have in their hands? (A music instrument and a jar with a light in it.)
      2. Re-read Judges 6:15. What was Gideon’s concern about taking on the Midianites? (He was weak and few in number.)
      3. What is the lesson for us today? (All that is necessary to defeat the bad guys is God and you working together.)
  4. Sampson
    1. Read Judges 14:1-2. Why should Sampson demand that his parents retrieve a wife for him? (Read Exodus 22:17. Fathers were to approve a marriage.)
    2. Read Judges 14:3. Do Sampson’s parents approve? Should they? (Read Deuteronomy 7:1-3. They should not approve because Sampson seeks to marry someone who does not worship the true God.)
    3. Read Judges 14:4. What lesson can parents learn from this? That every command comes with a footnote saying that God makes exceptions in certain circumstances?
    4. Read Judges 14:5-9. Why did Sampson not brag about killing the lion and the bonus of the honey? (Leviticus 11:39-40 reveals that Sampson’s parents would think eating the honey made them unclean.)
      1. What do these two events teach us? (Sampson does not care about the rules.)
    5. Read Judges 13:6-8 to understand the back story about Sampson’s birth. How do you think Sampson’s parents feel about his lax attitude towards God’s rules? (I’m sure they are very unhappy, and are thinking that they let God down.)
    6. Read Judges 15:20 and Judges 16:1. Sampson is a Judge! What kind of man is he?
    7. Sampson ends up being captured and blinded by his enemies. Read Judges 16:25-30. Does God hear the prayers of sinners? (Yes.)
    8. Read Hebrews 11:32-33. How do you explain these men being listed in the faith “hall of fame?”
      1. God’s people were turned over to the bad guys when they failed to follow God. How are these men different? (The key is reliance on God. They were wobbly (or worse) in their actions, but when it counted, they relied on God.)
    9. Friend, will you determine today to place your reliance on God - to always trust Him?
  5. Next week: The Controversy Continues.