Questions to Consider
1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. We will be examining the periods of the three judges in today’s passage against that pattern. How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?
Review also your answer to the second part of question 5, every individual vs. the vast majority of Israel. If there were not a remnant of faithful Israelites in each era, where did faithful men like Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar come from? Are you part of the faithful remnant of genuinely regenerated Believers in the visible church today? What is it like to remain faithful to Christ and His Word when professing Christians around you are mired in sin, false doctrine, or idolatry? Consider what it must have been like for the remnant of faithful Israelites to stay true to the Lord while surrounded by “God’s people” who were immersed in sin, false doctrine, and idolatry.
2. As you study today, use your Bible’s maps to identify as many of the locations mentioned in the text as possible.
Were Mesopotamia (8), Moab (12), and Philistia (31) pagan nations, or nations that worshiped the Lord? Why did God judge and discipline Israel for their idolatry by raising up pagan nations against them? Does God discipline Believers’ sin in a similar way today?
Did the pagan nations triumph over God and His people in the end? (10, 30, 31) What happened to them? How does this point ahead to Christ ultimately conquering the enemy?
3. Read 7-11. What do we know about Othniel besides what is mentioned here? Read these passages. What do we know about Caleb? Two faithful brothers. What might we be able to infer about their parents and they way they raised Othniel and Caleb? Why is it important to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
How does the period of Othniel’s judgeship in 7-11 fit Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23?
4. Read 12-30. What was God’s message to Eglon (20)? As I read this passage, the thought occurs to me that God’s judgment of sin is often messy, bloody, gross, and painful. Think about the physical gore that accompanied God’s judgment against the sin of Eglon. Now think about the physical gore of Christ’s scourging and crucifixion that accompanied God’s judgment of our sin poured out on Him. How does this physical, tangible gore in judgment paint a picture for us of how messy, bloody, gross, and painful sin itself is?
5. Compare the intricate details God gives us about Ehud and his victory over Eglon to the one sentence He gives us about Shamgar and his victory over the Philistines (31). Why do you think there’s such a discrepancy in the amount of detail God gives us? Is this an indicator that Ehud was more important or more faithful than Shamgar was? Why not? How might this help us understand, especially in light of today’s evangelical celebrity culture, that neither fame nor obscurity are a measure of a Christian’s faithfulness to the Lord or effectiveness in the work of Kingdom?
6. How long was Israel under the oppression of Mesopotamia (8)? Of Moab (14)? As we continue our study in Judges, take note of how long Israel was under oppression before God intervened. Do you think it was a case of the Israelites keeping a stiff upper lip as long as they could before they finally humbled themselves and threw themselves on the mercy of God? Or, do you think the Israelites were crying out to God during the entire time of their oppression, and God decided it would be good for them to suffer for that certain period of time before He intervened? Why do we as individual sinners often experience the same thing, a) running from God for years, or even a lifetime, before humbling ourselves and bowing the knee to Christ or b) crying out to God for an extended time before He intervenes at last?
7. As we continue to study Judges, notice that after each judge conquered the enemy and remained alive, the people followed and obeyed God, but after he died, the people forgot the Lord and wandered away from Him (10-12). Jesus, our perfect and permanent Judge, conquered the enemy by His death burial, and resurrection, and remains alive today and for eternity. How does the fact that Christ is living and will never die affect His followers’ obedience and faithfulness to Him? If Jesus had stayed in the grave, would people still be following Him today?
- In today’s passage, we see Israel whoring after the gods of pagan nations, and God raising up those nations in judgment and discipline against Israel. How does this paradigm demonstrate that the very sin we love and cling to will destroy us if we don’t repent of it? Read my article When Animals Attack. Are there any sins in your life that you’re “cuddling up to”? How could that sin turn on you and destroy you? Spend some time in prayer, confessing your sin and repenting. Ask God for the strength to turn away from that sin and to resist temptation.
- Notice in today’s passage how difficult times led Israel to humble themselves and cry out to the Lord, putting themselves in the right and godly posture of fully depending on His grace and mercy. Also notice that in times of peace and ease, when the land had rest for many years (11, 30), that this was conducive to Israel forgetting the Lord (7), and pridefully trusting in themselves, giving in to the lusts of their flesh, and wandering off into idolatry. Have you ever experienced this in your own life? Think about a difficult time you’ve been through that led you to cry out to the Lord and depend more fully on Him. How is it sometimes more challenging to stay faithful to God when life is going well for us? Make a list of some ways you can fortify yourself spiritually during the good times that will help you stay faithful to Him during those good times and will also help you to depend on and trust God during the hard times.