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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Judges 1-4

Story Summary

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the period of the Israelite Judges and to teach the children about one of those judges: Deborah.

The book of Judges began as the Israelites settled into the promised land. Judges 1 describes how some of the tribes drove the Canaanites out of the promised land completely, and how some of the tribes did not overtake them, but intermixed with them.

But after Joshua died, the Israelites settled into a disturbing pattern.  Judges 2:8-11 (NIV84) tells us what happened: "Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heresin the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord".

And Judges 2:16-19 (NIV84) summarizes the pattern the Israelites fell into: "Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways."

The 12 tribes of Israel did not have a formal government in place at this time, so they did not have any central leadership. In times of crisis, a judge would step in to lead them. These judges would speak out against their disobedience to God, and would also lead them militarily.

  • Some of the major judges were: Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson
  • Some of the minor judges were: Shamgar, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon

This lesson introduces us to Deborah, and we will learn about Gideon and Samson in the next 2 lessons.

In Judges 4, we see the pattern repeated: "Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead." (Judges 4:1)  Because of their disobedience, God allowed the Israelites to be captured by Jabin, king of Canaan. The leader of his army was Sisera. They had 900 iron chariots and were able to overwhelm the Israelites and force them into slavery for 20 years.

Deborah, who became the judge after Ehud, called for a man named Barak to lead the Israelite army against the Sisera and the Canaanites. Barak agreed to take 10,000 men with him to fight, but didn't want to go unless Deborah came with them. Deborah agreed, but told him that he would not be the one to receive the honor and glory from the victory - a woman would get the honor for this victory.

Barak and the 10,000 men attacked Sisera and the Canaanite army and the Israelites won! But Sisera got down out of his chariot and ran and fled. He fled to a woman name Jael's tent, thinking he could trust her. But while he slept, Jael killed him to finish the victory for the Israelites. The actual method she used to kill him (driving a tent pole through his temple) is rather gory and isn't important to the story, so it should be left out.

What You Will Need

Resource Sheet

Deborah & the Judges Coloring Sheet

This map depicts the time when Deborah and the Judges ruled Israel. Use this map to emphasize the historical context (out of Egypt, into the promised land, and in a cycle of disobedience and deliverance)

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

Look around the room. What patterns do you see?

Today, we are going to learn about a pattern that the Israelites fell into after Joshua led them into the Promised Land.

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children (if your storybook Bible contains this story).

For older children, read story straight from the Bible or tell the story yourself. Just be sure to concentrate on the main idea of the story and leave out aspects of the story that are of an adult nature.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Judges 2:8, 2:10-15, 2:16, 2:18

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • Where did Joshua lead the Israelites after they wandered in the desert for 40 years? (Canaan, or the Promised Land)
  • What happened after Joshua died? (the next generation of Israelites did not know God or remember how he delivered them from Egypt)
  • So what did the Israelites do? (they worshipped the false gods of the Canaanites and turned away from the true God)
  • What did God do to punish the Israelites? (gave them over to the Canaanites who forced them into slavery and beat them down)
  • Who took over ruling the Israelites during this time? (Judges)
  • What did the judges do? (they called the Israelites back to obedience to God and led the Israelite army)
  • What was the name of the judge we learned about today? (Deborah)
  • Who did she ask to lead the army against the Canaanites? (Barak)
  • Who was the leader of the Canaanite army? (Sisera)
  • What made the Canaanite army so difficult to defeat? (they had iron chariots)
  • How many Israelites formed the army that defeated Sisera? (10,000)
  • Who ended up killing Sisera? (Jael, a woman)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • The period of the Judges teaches us some very important truths about who God is: namely, that he will judge those who are not obedient to him.
  • Do you believe that God will judge those who aren't obedient to him and will punish them? Did you know that God gave us Jesus to take our punishment for us?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37

Reinforcement Activities

Learning 10 commandments- commandment #9

Scripture Do not give false witness against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16

Supplies colored beads, leather, string

  • Teach the ninth commandment.
  • When the child can tell you each commandment correctly, without assistance, they are given a bead for a bracelet.
  • Keep the bracelet in the classroom and when they have learned all 10 commandments, they get to take it home.
  • To help them remember the commandments, you can separate them into 2 groups for the children.
  • The first four commandments are concerning our relationship with God.
  • The last six are concerning our relationship with others.

Patterns

Scripture Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. Judges 2:19-20

Supplies items to create patterns with

  • Discuss patterns. Where in life do you see patterns? (Seasons, Daytime routine, bedtime routine)
  • The Israelites followed a regular pattern, as well.
  • There was a pattern of Israel falling into disobedience.
  • They would forget what God had done for them and begin worshiping other gods.
  • Create patterns for students using paper, toys, colored blocks, etc.
  • Challenge them to make their own patterns and guess what comes next in yours.

Forgetful Israelites

Scripture After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Judges 2:10

Supplies Memory game

  • The Israelites kept forgetting what the Lord had done for them.
  • Talk about remembering.
  • Play a traditional memory game to practice remembering or print of duplicate pictures onto card stock and create your own game of memory.

Israelite History Quiz

Scripture Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Judges 2:16, But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. Judges 2:19

  • It was important for the Israelites to remember what God had done for them over the years.
  • They had a pattern of forgetting His faithfulness and turning away from him.
  • Use the Israelite history quiz resource sheet to play a game.
  • The questions will help the students remember what God had done for Israel.

Remembering your Past

Scripture After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Judges 2:10

Supplies half size posterboard or card stock for each student, markers

  • The newer generation of Israelites disregarded all the Lord had done for them. They did not allow his past faithfulness affect their choices.
  • Show students the resource sheet map. Follow the path the Israelites took.
  • Review things that happened during their journey to the promised land. (Leaving Egypt by crossing the Red Sea, manna, water from the rock, etc.)
  • Have students make a map of their life. It can have places they have lived or a journey of important events. Challenge students to be creative.

Pattern Game

Scripture Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. Judges 2:18-19

  • The Israelites had a pattern of disobedience.
  • Sit students in a circle.
  • Begin a pattern (red, blue, green) (elephant, monkey, giraffe)
  • Have students go around the circle and repeat the pattern.
  • Add a color or animal each time you get back to the beginning of the circle.
  • Have each student try to repeat the pattern.
  • If a student cannot remember the pattern, he is out.
  • See how many you can add to the pattern.

Reminder Journal

Heads up! This activity was introduced in lesson 24

Scripture The stones will serve as a reminder to you. In days to come, your children will ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' Tell them that the Lord cut off the flow of water in the Jordan River. Joshua 4:6-7

Supplies small journal for each student

  • This activity was introduced as the Israelites were crossing the Jordan. How quickly they forgot the things God had done for them!
  • Encourage students to write down their prayer requests in a journal.
  • Looking back through a journal can help them see the way God has been working in their lives.