SDA Sabbath School Lessons
April 6, 1996
#1 Unfinished Business
Read for this week's study:
Memory text: Judges
Since God was always faithful in keeping His covenant promises to His
people, the Israelites continued to be successful in occupying the Promised
Land as long as they relied upon Him. But as they neglected their covenant
with God and disobeyed Him, they failed to make headway against their enemies.
Disconnected and Dissonant.
A teenage student of classical piano discovered what it means to be
disconnected and dissonant. He learned the first movement of Schumann's
Piano Concerto in A Minor. His first performance of the work was
memorable--too memorable for comfort. As always, he prayed before the
recital that God would be with him. And He was. It was going well.
Enjoying success, he forgot about God and began thinking about how good a
pianist he was. Mistakes began happening, which led to insecurity,
nervousness, and finally, sheer panic. The final arpeggio consisted of
wrong notes all the way up the piano! Instead of bowing, he wanted to crawl
underneath the Steinway grand piano and hide behind the pedals.
What went wrong? He had disconnected from God, forgetting that success
depended upon Him. For the ancient Israelites, it was far more serious.
They knew that God had covenanted to give them victory if they trusted in
Him. The scale was much larger, and the consequences were tragic.
- Sunday March 31: Success Through Following God (
The book of Judges begins with the statement that after the death of Joshua,
the Israelites asked the Lord who would lead them into battle against the
1:1). Joshua was their leader during his lifetime, just as Moses had
led them earlier. But no single individual was named as Joshua's successor.
Whom did God intend to be Israel's leader after Joshua?
God had promised that the Israelites would occupy the Promised Land completely (
a 1:2-4). Now they took Him at His word and asked Him for direction.
It appears that the Israelites inquired of the Lord at this time by the Urim
and Thummim, precious stones in the breastplate worn by the high priest. (See
27:21.) Even though Urim and Thummim could only reply "yes"
or "no," answers such as "Judah" could be arrived at by
a process of elimination. (Compare
Why was additional conquest necessary after the death of Joshua?
Judges 1:21, 27-33. Had the Israelites already conquered the land?
The tribes had not yet fully occupied all the areas allotted to them. They
needed to trust in the leadership of their divine King and move forward
courageously. When they did so, their efforts were rewarded with success.
Are we following God's leading in our lives? What are the means by which we
know His will?
- Monday April 1: Promises Kept
(Judges 1:11-15, 20).
Caleb motivated Israelite soldiers by offering Achsah, his daughter, in
marriage to the man who would conquer Kiriath-sepher. Othniel, a relative
of Caleb, took the town, so Caleb gave her to him and granted her request
for springs of water in addition to land in the Negeb, the arid southern
part of Palestine.
1, which primarily describes conquests by tribes, why should private
matters of an individual family (
ses 12-15) be significant? In other words, why is this story about
Caleb and his family here in the book of Judges?
Which of the following answers are the most likely?
The story is here because it explains the conquest and distribution of part
of the Promised Land.
Caleb is significant because he had been one of the 12 spies sent by Moses
to spy out the land of Canaan (
). The story in Judges 1 shows that after the death of Joshua, Caleb was
still working to take over the land.
Othniel is important because he later became the first judge to deliver Israel (
The story illustrates the theme of faithfulness in keeping promises.
The story describes good and honorable treatment of a woman, in contrast to
later episodes in the book of Judges. (Compare
All the above.
Do we keep our promises? (See
5:4, 5.) Do we trust others to keep theirs? Do we pray as though we
believe that God is willing to give good things to us, His children (
11:9-13), just as Caleb was willing to give good gifts to his daughter?
Tuesday April 2: Failure to Keep Promises
(Judges 1:19, 21, 27-36).
1:19, summarizing the conquests of the tribe of Judah, introduces a
disturbing note: Although God was with Judah so that it succeeded in taking
possession of the hill country, it failed to take the plain, where chariots
of iron gave the Canaanites an advantage.
21 gives a similar notice regarding the tribe of Benjamin: It could not
drive out the Jebusites.
Why did the Israelites fail to drive out all the Canaanites?
Judges 1:19, 21, 27-36. What went wrong?
1:19 refers to chariots of iron as the reason for Judah's failure.
Deborah and Barak later led the Israelites to victory against an army that
had 900 chariots of iron
4). The deeper reason for Judah's failure must have been a limited
supply of commitment.
Caleb was exceptional, as he had been years before when he spied out the land
bers 13, 14). Because he wholly followed the Lord
bers 32:12), not even the sons of Anak, who were giants, could
The northern tribes failed not only because of the power of the Canaanites;
in some cases, the Israelites were strong enough to drive them out but chose
to benefit from their forced labor instead
(Judges 1:28, 30, 33, 35). These Israelites lacked sufficient
commitment to cooperate with God so that His promise regarding the land
could be fulfilled; they actually disregarded His promise and allowed
Canaanites to dwell among them.
In our daily, individual battles with evil, are there "chariots of
iron" or "giants" that intimidate us? How can we increase
our commitment and courage?
Wednesday April 3: Promises Broken
es 2:1, 2).
The Israelites failed to occupy all the Promised Land. They lacked
commitment and attempted to profit from Canaanite labor. In
s 2:1, 2, the Angel of the Lord states a more serious reason. Although
God had kept His covenant promise to give the land to the Israelites, they
had not kept their part, which involved their making no covenant with the
Canaanites and their breaking down the heathen altars. (See
Why did God call for such harsh treatment of the Canaanites? See, for example,
Which of the following best answers the above question?
The Israelites could not have covenants with God and with the Canaanites at
the same time. Tolerance of Canaanite worship of other gods defiled God's
sanctuary and profaned His holy name
20:3. This was disloyalty to God and a breach of His covenant.
The Canaanites had progressively rejected God, who had been revealed to them
by His created works, as well as by people such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,
1:20-32 describes what happens to people when they turn away from God.
This is an apt description of what we know about the Canaanites from the
Bible (see, for example,
) and from archaeological evidence. They emulated the immorality of their
gods. Their probation had closed, and they deserved to die (see
1:32), just as surely as did the inhabitants of Sodom or the people who
lived at the time of the Flood.
The Israelites could not handle having idolatry in their midst, because they
were likely to be attracted to it and to serve other gods themselves (
All the above.
Are the covenants/partnerships that we make acceptable to God? (See
3:3.) What is their influence upon us?
2 Cor. 6:14-7:1.)
- Thursday April 4: Lost Opportunity
Having indicted the Israelites for failing to keep God's covenant, the Angel
of the Lord pronounced their punishment: God would not fulfill His promise
to drive the Canaanites out before them. (Compare
s 23:28.) The Canaanites would remain to cause them trouble, and the
gods of the Canaanites would be snares to them. (See
Since God did not want the Israelites to fall into false worship, why did He
punish them by allowing the gods of the Canaanites to be snares to them?
Having the Canaanites and their gods in their midst was the punishment for
the Israelites, but it was also the natural result of the course that they
had chosen. In life, time is of the essence. An opportunity does not last
forever. When the Israelites under Joshua entered the land and broke the
main Canaanite resistance, they could have finished the job.
Why should we now take full advantage of the opportunities God is giving us?
God has called us not to conquer human beings, but through fellowship with
Christ, to overcome the power of Satan in our lives (
Eph. 6:10-18). We are to tell the world the good news of salvation
through Jesus (
. 28:18-20). Time is of the essence.
What kind of personal and corporate trouble do we avoid by following God's
- Friday April 5:
Further study: The early failure of the Israelites resulted in long-lasting
s. 106:34-43. Read Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets,
"The Earlier Judges," pp. 543, 544.
"It is not safe for Christians to choose the society of those who have
no connection with God, and whose course is displeasing to Him." . . .
"The influence thus exerted is similar to that which resulted from the
association of the Hebrews with the godless Canaanites."--Ellen G.
White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 1001.
How can we shield ourselves and our children from evil influences and at the
same time be a good influence on others? If we are to spread the gospel to
those who are perishing, what kind of contact should we have with them?
Both the period of the judges and the period of the kings began with high
hopes and covenant promises, but both deteriorated into faithlessness and
idolatry. Can you find other parallels? Why did history repeat itself in
Have some characteristics of the period of the judges been repeated in the
Christian Era? Are some of these still present in our time and in our
3.) If so, what should we do?
The success and well-being of the Israelites depended upon the health of
their covenant relationship with God. He was eager to bless them in every
way, but they neglected to cooperate with Him and chose to disregard His
promises. He offers a covenant to us, as well, and our ultimate success
depends upon the way we treat it.
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Last updated on March 7, 1996.