Kid’s Corner

Kid’s Corner

Kid’s Corner
The Spiritual Keys to Victory
June 18, 2017
Judges 11:4-11 & 29-31

Judges 11:4-11, 29-31
(Judges 11:4) It came about after a while that the sons of Ammon fought against Israel.
Jephthah (meaning to open, God opens, or to release) was driven out of Gilead (meaning heap of stones or monument of testimony) by his half-brothers. Gilead was also the name of Jephthah’s father. The Ammonites were descendants of the youngest daughter of Lot, whose son was named Ben Ammi (meaning son of my kinsman). The Ammonites worshiped the idols Ammon and Molech (also Moloch), and worshiping these idols required child sacrifices, which was forbidden by the LORD. Later, King Solomon built altars to the idol Molech to please his Ammonite wives, which led to the decline and destruction of both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
(Judges 11:5) When the sons of Ammon fought against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob;
The location of Tob is not known exactly. Jephthah gathered an army of adventurers and located in Tob after he was forced from his home by his half-brothers and the elders of the town. The Ammonites, who lived in the area of modern day Jordan (note: Amman is now the capital of Jordan), were fighting Israel. These elders (probably including Jephthah’s half-brothers) went to him for help since he had the qualities of a military leader and a band of fighters.
(Judges 11:6) and they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our chief that we may fight against the sons of Ammon.”
God did not “raise up” Jephthah as a judge. Jephthah was recruited by the elders in Gilead, and later God gave Jephthah the strength and wisdom to lead the Israelites to defeat the Ammonites. In a similar way, the Israelites demanded a king at the close of the period of the judges, and they chose King Saul before they allowed the LORD through Samuel to choose King David. Jephthah was a judge for only six years.
(Judges 11:7) Then Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me and drive me from my father’s house? So why have you come to me now when you are in trouble?”
Jephthah asked two excellent questions. His half-brothers hated him because of his mother, and they did not want him to have any share of their inheritance from their father. The Bible gives strong indication Jephthah was Gilead’s oldest son. His half-brothers now wanted him to help them protect their inheritance from the Ammonites. They did not come to him with brotherly love or repentant hearts: they only came because they were in trouble and wanted to use Jephthah to help them preserve their inheritance from the Ammonites who would steal it.
(Judges 11:8) The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “For this reason we have now returned to you, that you may go with us and fight with the sons of Ammon and become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
After driving Jephthah away, these leaders were now so desperate that they offered to make him their commander and head, both before and after he defeated the Ammonites (if he defeated the Ammonites). As their head, Jephthah would enjoy benefits far above his half-brothers’ inheritance, but only for a short six years.
(Judges 11:9) So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back to fight against the sons of Ammon and the LORD gives them up to me, will I become your head?”
Based on his previous experiences with them, Jephthah had no reason to trust the elders from Gilead. He declared to them that it would be the LORD who would use him to defeat the Ammonites. Furthermore, Jephthah wanted to make certain that if the LORD helped him defeat their enemies that he would indeed be there supreme leader.
(Judges 11:10) The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The LORD is witness between us; surely we will do as you have said.”
The elders made an oath to the LORD that they would keep their promise to Jephthah or be subject to punishment by the LORD. As a tribe, they knew what it meant to suffer from disobeying the LORD; therefore, Jephthah had some assurance they would not want God to punish them further for breaking their promise to the LORD and him.
(Judges 11:11) Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the LORD at Mizpah.
Jephthah went with them and they made him their head, but before battle Jephthah affirmed their promises to him before the LORD. Mizpah (meaning watchtower or look out, and “LORD watch over me”) was a place where promises between people were made before the LORD (see Genesis 31:49). He may have also made vows before the LORD at this place while seeking the LORD’s help. Between Judges 11:11 and Judges 11:29, Jephthah tried to negotiate peace between the Israelites and the Ammonites. In doing so, Jephthah demonstrated his knowledge of the history of Israel and the history of the Promised Land.
Genesis 31:49, 49 And Mizpah; for he said, The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.

Judges 11:11, 11 Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh.

Judges 11:29, 29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.
(Judges 11:29) Now the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon.
Though God had not called Jephthah to be a judge as He had Gideon, Jephthah called upon the name of the LORD for help, and he acknowledged that God would be the One to give them victory; therefore, the Spirit of the LORD came upon him. His victory was the result of God’s grace and mercy toward His people, not because the Gileadites and others in Israel deserved His salvation. Notice: The Spirit of God did not come “into” him as the Spirit comes “into” and “dwells within” those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The Spirit of God worked upon and used Jephthah to defeat the Ammonites at his request: as a tool in (or an extension of) a person’s hand to achieve a task.

(Judges 11:30) Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand,
The Spirit of the LORD did not direct Jephthah to make this vow. Jephthah made this foolish vow to God despite the fact that the Holy Spirit had come upon him with power. He did not need to make, nor did God demand or require, this vow. The vow was so foolish that God did not use Jephthah to defeat the Ammonites because of that vow. In spite of, not because of, Jephthah’s foolish vow, God used him to gain a great victory over the enemies of Israel to free His people from their oppressors.
(Judges 11:31) then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
Notice Jephthah said “whatever,” not “whoever.” Jephthah sinned and made a mistake when he decided and vowed to offer a burnt offering to the LORD that was not approved of, or authorized by, but strictly forbidden by the Law of Moses. Burnt offerings were supposed to be made by Levitical priests according to the strict standards established by the LORD in His Law. [King Saul also violated the Law of God when he offered an unauthorized sacrifice and lost his dynasty (1 Samuel 13:9-14).] Obedient Levitical priests would never have made such an offering as Jephthah vowed to make. Jephthah was more influenced by the pagan burnt offerings and practices of his day than he was by the official requirements for burnt offerings by Levitical priests according to the Law of God.
1 Samuel 13:9-14, 9 And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.
10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.
11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lordcommanded thee.
Human sacrifices were totally forbidden by God in His Law, but practiced almost exclusively by those who worshiped the pagan idols of the Ammonites (who sacrificed their own children by passing them through the fire to guarantee their success, usually in agriculture). Jephthah could have immediately repented for his foolish vow when his daughter was the first person out of the door of his house. If he had repented, God would have forgiven him to prevent her murder (Jephthah sacrificed his only child, a virgin daughter). Jephthah had an additional two months to come to his senses and repent of his sin while his daughter was in the mountains, but he did not. His daughter was a willing sacrifice to the LORD, and obedient to her father, but she would have been justified before the LORD if she had fled from her father rather than be sacrificed in violation of the Law of God (but that would have been too much to expect at that time and in that pagan culture). Jephthah died six years later, and that was the end of the line of Jephthah: he had no descendants other than the daughter he murdered.

The Spiritual Keys to Victory
June 18, 2017
Judges 11:4-11 & 29-31

“Jephthah said to them, ‘Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?’” (Judges 11:7).
Jephthah’s brothers hated him, and they turned the elders of Gilead against him, for they drove him away from their town. Jephthah went to the land of Tob and gathered a small army of adventurers, perhaps outcasts as he himself. Since the Israelites had once again turned from serving the LORD to worshiping idols, God once again removed His protection from them and they began to suffer. If they suffered enough and discovered that without God they were defenseless against all their enemies, perhaps they would repent of their sins and return to the LORD. Finally, after the Ammonites kept defeating them, the elders of Gilead went to Jephthah for help as a last resort. Jephthah rightly asked them why they had waited until they were in trouble before trying to make things right between them and him. They obviously had no concern for Jephthah and only concern for themselves. Jephthah told them he would lead them only if they would make him their commander. And if the LORD gave him victory over their enemies, then they would make him head over them. They agreed and Jephthah made them promise with the LORD being their witness. If they broke their promise, God would bear witness against them. Though God did not raise up Jephthah to be a judge, Jephthah told the elders that victory depended on God alone. Then, the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah and he defeated their enemies. Today, the followers of Jesus Christ have the Holy Spirit upon and within them; therefore, they can defeat all their spiritual enemies.

Thinking Further
The Spiritual Keys to Victory
June 18, 2017
Judges 11:4-11 & 29-31
Name ____________________________

1. Since God did not speak to Jephthah as He did to Gideon. do you think God wanted Jephthah to be a judge? Give a reason for your answer.

2. Jephthah was rejected by his brothers and the elders of Gilead. Can you think of anyone else in the Bible who some people rejected but God chose to do His will?

3. What did Jephthah do right in his relationship with God?

4. What did Jephthah do wrong in his relationship with God?

5. What is one truth you learned from the life of Jephthah?

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further
1. Since God did not speak to Jephthah as He did to Gideon. do you think God wanted Jephthah to be a judge? Give a reason for your answer.
Yes. God does not always use the same means with every person when He calls them to serve Him. Jephthah was prepared to be an army commander and leader to defeat the Ammonites; he prayed to the LORD, and the LORD put His Spirit upon him and used him to save Israel from their enemies. Sometimes (probably most often?) God uses circumstances and our desires and our previous experiences and preparations and the Bible’s teachings and the Spirit’s leadings to call us to serve Him without saying a word.
2. Jephthah was rejected by his brothers and the elders of Gilead. Can you think of anyone else in the Bible who some people rejected but God chose to do His will?
King David and Jesus Christ.
3. What did Jephthah do right in his relationship with God?
He prayed to the LORD and declared to others that his success depended on the LORD.
4. What did Jephthah do wrong in his relationship with God?
He made a foolish vow and violated the Law of God when he made a sacrifice and murdered his daughter.
5. What is one truth you learned from the life of Jephthah?
We may be rejected by others and have lived imperfectly, but God can still choose to call us and empower us to help others and serve Him. After God uses us to fulfill His will, we still need to continue to obey God according to the Bible’s teachings

Word Search
The Spiritual Keys to Victory
June 18, 2017
Judges 11:4-11 & 29-31
Name ___________________________________

B S C G U Y D L R W B O X A G
H U R Z M R O H Y T L E M Y V
M B H E O L A E S R I M Q G J
H K D L D P U S Z F O R W O L
E J U A Z L E V B N J T I R M
S L V I E N E Z I S Y E C P U
S E M Q T H X T A Z C H S I S
A Z T I Y U E C D I Y M B U V
N I W I Z S R E S P X J N G S
A D A E L I G T X G V Q F W R
M U N R F E H A H T H P E J D
B V F I W G A H E L B U O R T
D O C A T O I R O X N C Y L I
B E T J H R V Y S Y R S B F E
C O M M A N D E R I D P T S P

Ammonites
Israelites
Gilead
Jephthah
Tob
Commander
Head
Hate
Trouble
Elders
Lord
Witness
Mizpah
Spirit
Manasseh
Vow
Victory
Sacrifice

True and False Test
The Spiritual Keys to Victory
June 18, 2017
Judges 11:4-11 & 29-31
Name __________________________

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

1. Jephthah was admired by his brothers because he was the oldest. True or False
2. The Ammonites were related to Lot and Abraham. True or False
3. The elders of Gilead went to Jephthah for help. True or False
4. The LORD appeared to Jephthah at the Oak of Ophrah. True or False
5. The name Gilead means monument of testimony. True or False
6. The name Mizpah means the LORD watches over me. True or False
7. The Ammonites knew the history of Israel and tried to make peace with Jephthah before he attacked them. True or False
8. Because of Jephthah’s vow, the LORD gave him a great victory. True or False
9. The Spirit of the Lord came upon and indwelt Jephthah. True or False
10. Jephthah became the head of the Gileadites for twenty-two years. True or False

Answers to the True and False Test
1. False
2. True
3. True
4. False
5. True
6. True
7. False
8. False
9. False
10. False

Prayer

We ask, O God, that You help us find, train, and follow leaders who will accomplish Your will among us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

ADULT LESSON

 

Sunday School Lesson
June 18
Jephthah

Devotional Reading: Acts 15:6-21
Acts 15:6-21, 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
Background Scripture: Judges 11
Judges 11:4-11, 29-31
4 And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.
5 And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob:
6 And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.
7 And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?
8 And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.
9 And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver them before me, shall I be your head?
10 And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The Lord be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.
11 Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh.
29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.
30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.
Key Verse
Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver them before me, shall I be your head? —Judges 11:9
Lesson Aims
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Summarize the conditions of the agreements made between Jephthah and the elders of Gilead.
2. Compare and contrast the vow of the elders of Gilead with the vow of Jephthah.
3. Dramatize a situation in which participants work to overcome suspicion of one another.
Introduction
A. Imperfect Leaders
Who are the greatest leaders you can name? Chances are, even though those on your list accomplished great things, some parts of their lives were far from virtuous.
Abraham Lincoln is known as the Great Emancipator. Nevertheless, he once wrote, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it.” Mahatma Gandhi led India to independence. Yet, he opposed the adoption of modern technology that would have helped his nation become more prosperous, freeing them from decades of poverty. Henry Ford was a pioneer in automotive engineering. But Ford also sponsored a weekly newspaper that published anti-Semitic views. Steve Jobs was undoubtedly a tech genius responsible for many innovations that changed the way we receive, store, and interact with information. But he was known for eccentricities such as odd diets and a refusal to bathe!
It is obvious that no human leader is perfect. Even the most popular and most effective leaders have flaws. Today we will look at a judge in Israel who was used by God in spite of the man’s huge imperfections.
B. Lesson Background
The land of Israel was undisturbed for 40 years after Gideon defeated the Midianites (Judges 8:28). That is the last period of peace mentioned in the book of Judges.
Judges 8:28, 28 Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.
Peace came to an end after Gideon died when Abimelech, one of Gideon’s 70 sons, attempted to kill all of his brothers (Judges 9). He had a three-year reign, but it was more as a ruler of a city-state, not as a ruler over all Israel.
At the conclusion of a rebellion, Abimelech captured a nearby city where people had taken refuge in a fortified tower. But he ventured too close to the tower and died after being hit in the head by a millstone (Judges 9:50-55; compare 2 Samuel 11:21).
Judges 9:50-55, 50 Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it.
51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower.
52 And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire.
53 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull.
54 Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A women slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died.
55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place.

2 Samuel 11:21, 21 Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.
The judges Tola and Jair came next, with their services lasting 23 and 22 years, respectively (Judges 10:1-3). It is generally concluded that the two men were judges at about the same time, but in different parts of Israel.
Judges 10:1-3, 1 And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim.
2 And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir.
3 And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years.
The axiom “The only thing learned from history is that no one learns from history” was verified in Israel time after time. Israel’s sin-cycle repeated itself anew as the Israelites again embraced idolatry (Judges 10:6). Consequently, the Lord sold them into the hands of the Ammonites and the Philistines for 18 years (10:7, 8). This is estimated as having been on both sides of 1100 BC. When the Israelites cried out for deliverance, the Lord challenged them to cry out to the gods that they had chosen (10:14). The people eventually repented and appealed to God again (10:15, 16).
Judges 10:6-8,6 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not him.
7 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.
8 And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.

Judges 10:14, 14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.

Judges 10:15, 15 And the children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.
Judges 10:16, 16 And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.
The Ammonites had come from the east and oppressed the Israelites on both sides of the Jordan River (Judges 10:7-9). The people had repented, but they needed someone to organize them and lead in the effort to expel the Ammonites. That man was Jephthah, and he is the delivering judge in this lesson.
Judges 10:7-9, 7 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.
8 And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.
9 Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.
The opening verses of Judges 11 provide background information about Jephthah himself. His father, Gilead, had sons by his wife, but Jephthah had a different mother. This factor caused his brothers to drive him from home. Jephthah went north to the land of Tob. He had the ability to lead, and soon other men came to him. They are called “vain” in Judges 11:3, which may speak to their being of low character. It is usually assumed that Jephthah’s guerilla force raided nearby areas, even in Ammon itself.
Judges 11:3, 3 Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.
How to Say It
Abimelech Uh-bim-eh-lek.
Ammon Am-mun.
Ammonites Am-un-ites.
Bezaleel Bih-zal-ih-el.
Gilead Gil-ee-ud (G as in get).
Jephthah Jef-thuh (th as in thin).
Mahatma Gandhi Muh-hot-muh Gon-dee.
Manasseh Muh-nass-uh.
Midianites Mid-ee-un-ites.
Mizpeh Miz-peh.
Philistines Fuh-liss-teenz or Fill-us-teenz.

I. Reluctant Ally (Judges 11:4-7)
A. Present Need (vv. 4-6)
4. And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.
The historical review was a reminder about what was given early in Judges 10:7-9—that idolatry in Israel has consequences. Israel is attacked by people immediately to the east. These raiders are intent on looting, and they often commit atrocities against anyone who resists.
Judges 10:7-9, 7 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.
8 And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.
9 Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.
5. And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob.
Gilead, located east of the Jordan River, is territory allocated to two and a half of Israel’s 12 tribes (Deuteronomy 3:12-17). The elders of Gilead apparently can find no one locally who is willing and able to lead a military resistance. So in desperation and shame, they travel northeast as a group to the land of Tob to ask Jephthah to return. Conjectures have been made that he knows some of these men personally. He may have looked up to them in his youth. But in figurative terms, they are crawling to him for help.
Deuteronomy 3:12-17, 12 And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, and half mount Gilead, and the cities thereof, gave I unto the Reubenites and to the Gadites.
13 And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants.
14 Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi; and called them after his own name, Bashanhavothjair, unto this day.
15 And I gave Gilead unto Machir.
16 And unto the Reubenites and unto the Gadites I gave from Gilead even unto the river Arnon half the valley, and the border even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon;
17 The plain also, and Jordan, and the coast thereof, from Chinnereth even unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, under Ashdothpisgah eastward.
What Do You Think?
How should we deal with people who come to us only because they need our help?
Points for Your Discussion
Regarding fellow believers
Regarding unbelievers
6. And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.
The elders of Gilead make their offer to Jephthah, and the task that they have for him is very specific. They do not ask him to become a fellow elder, etc. The request to be our captain is that Jephthah serve as a military leader.
As that leader against the Ammonites, Jephthah is aware that he and his men will have the spoils of war if they are the victors. Jephthah, however, has no assurance of victory. His situation is different from that of Gideon in the previous lesson. Gideon was called by the Lord. Jephthah is being called by men who need help.
How Do We Respond?
The war in Vietnam was one of the more troublesome military ventures in American history. It was a proxy war: North Vietnam supported by Communist China and the Soviet Union vs. South Vietnam backed by America and its allies. American involvement was significant by the mid-1960s, and the country became deeply divided over the war. Protests sprang up all over the country. Many believed the government had lied to them about the reason for the war, the need to escalate it, the number of casualties, and the chances for victory. The military draft became increasingly unpopular, and many thousands were accused of draft dodging.
Providentially for Israel, Jephthah was willing to serve! (Apparently Israel had men willing to fight as soldiers, but no one qualified to lead them.) Most of us never have had to face the danger of armed warfare. But we are called to demonstrate spiritual courage now, as our country struggles through another wrenching time of cultural decline. This applies to both spiritual leader and “foot soldier.” When the challenge comes to engage in spiritual battle, do you respond “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8)? —C. R. B.
What Do You Think?
Under what circumstances, if any, would you refuse to serve in your country’s armed forces? Why?
Points for Your Discussion
Considering cases of armed intervention on behalf of another country (rescue)
Considering cases of self-defense after being attacked
Considering service as a noncombatant
B. Past Abuse (v. 7)
7. And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?
Jephthah responds to the invitation with two rhetorical questions. The first one confirms that at least some of these leaders were involved in his being sent into personal exile. Jephthah makes the accusation that they had hated him, and that they had at least concurred with the decision of his brothers when they drove him from home. He rebukes the elders of Gilead for their part in his expulsion from the area many years before.
Jephthah’s second question serves as a reprimand. Since they are congenial toward him only in their hour of need, their hypocrisy is clear.
Comparisons have been made with the occasion in Egypt centuries prior to this event when Joseph’s brothers appeared before him. That family situation also involved more than one mother, but that factor was not as important as it is here (see the Lesson Background).
What Do You Think?
In what circumstances, if any, should past mistreatment be considered in making decisions?
Points for Your Discussion
In issues involving only family members
In issues involving governmental power structures
In issues involving only unbelievers
Other
II. Leadership Contract (Judges 11:8-11, 29)
A. Position Promised (vv. 8-10)
8. And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.
Jephthah’s rhetorical questions result in the conditional promise we see here. We notice that the elders of Gilead are using a negotiating tactic that is still used today. The decision had been made beforehand that whoever leads the fight against the children of Ammon will be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead (see Judges 10:18). But the initial offer in Judges 11:6 is only the position of “captain.” Getting resistance to that, the elders now make their best and final offer, an offer decided in advance.
Judges 10:18, 18 And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.

Judges 11:6, 6 And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.
9. And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver them before me, shall I be your head?

The new offer to be head gets Jephthah’s attention! If the Lord enables him to be victorious, are they definitely saying that that will happen? The last phrase in this verse is given as a question, but can also be taken as an affirmation: I will be your head.
A subtle change has taken place. In the previous verse it was the elders who gave the conditions for Jephthah’s becoming their head. In this verse the same conditions are repeated and become Jephthah’s conditions to them.
10. And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The Lord be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.
In verses 9-11, Jephthah seems to take a little revenge against his own people as they swear an oath to make him their head as well as captain over the fighting forces. It is either all or nothing! The sting of illegitimacy now becomes tolerable as Jephthah contemplates his change in circumstances.
It is a serious thing to incorporate the name of the Lord into a vow, and that is what the elders of Gilead do when they say that the Lord is their witness. The leaders of Gilead understand that Jephthah may not believe them, so they say that with the Lord as their witness, they will keep their word.
This type of oath is done in special situations. When Ruth made her pledge to Naomi, she incorporated the name of the Lord into her statement (Ruth 1:17). The high priest put Christ under oath when he commanded Jesus to say whether or not He was the Christ (Matthew 26:63, 64). Normally, however, the Christian is not to swear oaths in the name of the Lord (Matthew 5:33-37; James 5:12), although Paul takes a vow on at least one occasion (Acts 18:18). Christians are to be seen as trustworthy when they speak.
Ruth 1:17, 17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

Matthew 26:63, 63 But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

Matthew 26:64, 64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Matthew 5:33-37, 33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

James 5:12, 12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Acts 18:18, 18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
What Do You Think?
How should we respond when faced with the opportunity to take an oath or vow that is expected by culture?
Points for Your Discussion
Regarding legal, courtroom situations
Regarding oaths of office
Regarding wedding vows
Other
B. Commitment Confirmed (v. 11)
11. Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh.
The scene changes as Jephthah accompanies the elders of Gilead to a place named Mizpeh, also spelled Mizpah. There is more than one town of this name; one view identifies the location as being on the east side of the Jordan River. It was the elders who gave the original invitation to Jephthah, but now it is the people who have the final confirmation on his being their head and captain. The same two words that were used in verses 6 and 8 are used in reverse order. It is logical that Jephthah wants immediate authority to organize the people for the pending military campaign.
But first, Jephthah tries diplomacy. Judges 11:12-28 (not in today’s lesson text) informs us that he sends messengers to the king of Ammon to discover the nature of that man’s grievance against Israel. The king responds with the charge that the Israelites had taken his land when they came out of Egypt. Jephthah’s reply shows that he know the facts of history better than does the king of Ammon! Ultimately, however, that king reveals that he is not interested in the facts of history, as he refuses a peaceful solution that is based on those facts.
Judges 11:12-28King James Version (KJV)
12 And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?
13 And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.
14 And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon:
15 And said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon:
16 But when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to Kadesh;
17 Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh.
18 Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab.
19 And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place.
20 But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel.
21 And the Lord God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country.
22 And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan.
23 So now the Lord God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it?
24 Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.
25 And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them,
26 While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?
27 Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the Lord the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.
28 Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.
C. Spirit Strengthens (v. 29)
29a. Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah.
Verse 6 of our text indicates that it is men who call Jephthah to serve, not the Lord. In the verse before us, God sanctifies that decision, given that the Spirit of the Lord comes on Jephthah.
In Old Testament times, the Spirit of the Lord comes on select individuals to empower them for specific tasks. An example is Bezaleel, who received the Spirit of God to lead in the construction of the tabernacle (Exodus 35:30, 31). In the book of Judges, there are four judges who receive this special gift: Othniel (Judges 3:9, 10), Gideon (6:34, lesson 2), Jephthah, and Samson (14:6, 19; 15:14). The fact that the Spirit comes three times on Samson indicates that the gift is not permanent.
Exodus 35:30, 30 And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah;

Exodus 35:31, 31 And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;

Judges 3:9-10, 9 And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.
10 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the Lord delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.

Judges 6:34, 34 But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.

Judges 14:6, 6 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
Judges 14:19, 19 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.

Judges 15:14, 14 And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.
What Do You Think?
How can we make sure we are not hindering the Holy Spirit in helping us meet life’s challenges?
Points for Your Discussion
In everyday living
On special occasions
In emergencies
29b. And he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.
Jephthah needs more men in his fighting force. (Contrast the Lord’s reduction of Gideon’s army in Judges 7:2-8.) It may be that the Spirit leads Jephthah to go on a recruiting tour throughout Gilead, and then north into the tribal territory of Manasseh. He would be well-known to the people of that area, for it is not far from Tob, where he lives. He returns to his starting point, organizes his forces, and begins his advance to the east to make contact with the foe.
III. Rash Vow (Judges 11:30, 31)
A. The “If …” Clause (v. 30)
30. And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands.
Previously a vow was made by the men of Gilead, who asked Jephthah to return. This time it is Jephthah who makes a vow. He is doing something that he has not done before. He is ready to lead an army into battle, and he may feel insecure. He might have made raids on these people in the past, but this was an entirely different type of operation. This was not Jephthah’s method—until now.
Jephthah’s vow is more than a wish, and it goes beyond a simple prayer. This is a vow made to the Lord with the condition of what he wants to accomplish in the impending battle. His desire is to have victory, and he uses a figure of speech to express it—that he wants the oppressors delivered into his hands.
B. The “Then …” Clause (v. 31)
31. Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.
This verse is the famous vow of Jephthah. There are different opinions on what he actually intended to say, and what he did as a result.
The verses that follow reveal that Jephthah’s army was successful. When he comes home, it is his daughter who comes out to meet him with tambourines and dancing—his only daughter. Jephthah is grief stricken. The middle part of Judges 11:39 reads this way in literalistic Hebrew: “he did to her his vow that he vowed.” Therefore it is certain that he kept his promise. It is also certain that the Spirit of the Lord had come on him earlier (v. 9), and it is certain that he is listed in Hebrews 11:32 as a person of faith.
Judges 11:39, 39 And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,

Hebrews 11:32, 32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
The older view about Jephthah is that he actually sacrificed his daughter when she returned from bewailing her virginity. The rationale for this interpretation includes these major considerations: (1) actual sacrifice is the natural sense of the text; (2) actual sacrifice was the interpretation for 2,000 years; (3) the old Greek translation of the Old Testament has “whoever” comes from his house, not “whatsoever”; and (4) neighboring people groups regularly sacrificed their children to their gods. The list could continue, but these are the major points.
In about AD 1200, Rabbi Kimchi proposed a different interpretation: Jephthah gave his daughter to the Lord to serve at the tabernacle (see 1 Samuel 1:23-28). Support for this theory is based on (1) translating the final phrase of the verse at hand as “or I will offer it up as a burnt offering”; (2) the fact that the Hebrews are not to imitate their neighbors’ practices, including human sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:30, 31; 18:10); (3) the daughter bewailed her virginity, not her death; and (4) Jephthah’s inclusion in Hebrews 11 argues against his actually sacrificing his daughter.
1 Samuel 1:23-28, 23 And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the Lord establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.
24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young.
25 And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.
26 And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord.
27 For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:
28 Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.
Deuteronomy 12:30, 30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.

Deuteronomy 12:31, 31 Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

Deuteronomy 18:10, 10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.
Jephthah was faithful. He knew the history of his people. He was not crushed by rejection or adversity, but rose above it. He could overlook the bad behavior of his brothers in order to help people in need. He received a special gift of the Holy Spirit, and he kept his word—especially to God.
Rash Promises
Remember as a youngster when you made a hasty promise “not to tell,” but you ended up doing so anyway? Perhaps it involved a pledge to keep a secret, but you couldn’t resist gossiping about such juicy information. Perhaps someone told you not to tell anyone of a prank he or she committed, but you violated trust and did so anyway. There are all kinds of rash promises people make; the promise “not to tell” is just one of them.
There’s a lot of overlap in meaning of the words promises, oaths, and vows. All involve the making of a commitment, and God takes such commitments seriously (see Deuteronomy 23:21-23; Matthew 5:33-37; James 5:12; etc.). Jephthah, Saul (1 Samuel 14:24, 43-45), and others did so as well. The ungodly King Herod found himself trapped in a rash promise he had made (Matthew 14:6-11).
Deuteronomy 23:21-23, 21 When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.
22 But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.
23 That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.

Matthew 5:33-37, 33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

James 5:12, 12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

1 Samuel 14:24, 24 And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.

1 Samuel 14:43-45, 43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.
44 And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
45 And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.

Matthew 14:6-11, 6 But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.
9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
Before committing ourselves too quickly to certain paths in our service for Jesus, it’s important to count the cost of doing so (Luke 14:28-33). The more significant the opportunity seems to be, the greater should be the depth of prayer about it (Colossians 4:3-5; etc.). The godly counsel of the spiritually mature can also keep us from making rash commitments (Proverbs 15:22). —C. R. B.
Luke 14:28-33, 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Colossians 4:3-5, 3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
Conclusion
A. On the Lookout for Leadership
There is no such thing as a perfect leader. And if the elders of Gilead were looking for one, they certainly did not find him in Jephthah! Yet God used that man for His purposes in His time.
There is a fine line to walk here when it comes to looking for church leaders. If the leadership values in 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9; etc., are taken as absolute qualifications, then the church may end up with no elders and deacons! There are no perfect church leaders. On the other hand, to view these characteristics as qualities rather than qualifications may put one on the path to “explaining away” a potential leader’s shortcomings—with disaster looming.
1 Timothy 3:1-13, 3 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Titus 1:6-9, 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
The solution is to be on the lookout for diamonds in the rough, potential leaders who are open to mentoring. Paul trained Timothy and Titus for years to assume leadership roles; tomorrow’s leaders need today’s training.
B. Prayer
We ask, O God, that You help us find, train, and follow leaders who will accomplish Your will among us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
C. Thought to Remember
The God who makes a lump of coal a diamond can create faithful leaders from imperfect people.

Page 22 of 22

Kid’s Corner
Doing What We Never Thought Possible
June 11, 2017
Judges 6:11-18

Judges 6:11-18
(Judges 6:11) Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites.
“The LORD” is the personal name of God, which God gave to Moses (see Exodus 3:14). “The angel of the LORD” is most often interpreted as being the Lord Jesus Christ prior to His conception by the Holy Spirit and being born. “The angel of the LORD” accepted Gideon’s offering, instead of refusing the offering as a typical angel would refuse worship (see Judges 6:21-24). The oak of Ophrah was a place of worship, but Joash (Gideon’s father) had also erected an altar to Baal and a pole to Asherah that the Lord commanded Gideon to destroy (see Judges 6:25-32). Gideon probably came from a wealthy and influential family: the family had wheat, goats, cattle, and could afford to erect altars for the townspeople (who also obeyed Joash when he saved Gideon’s life after Gideon did as the LORD commanded). The Midianites were relatives of the Hebrews who lived to the east of the twelve tribes of Israel. Midian was the son of Abraham and his wife after Sarah, Keturah (see Genesis 25:1-6). Ophrah means “a fawn.” Joash means either “Fire of Yahweh” or “Yahweh has given.” Abiezrite means “father of help.” Gideon means “hewer” (see Judges 6:25), and his new name became, Jerubbaal which means “Baal will contend.” (See Judges 6:30-31). Gideon had a threshing floor, but was in the winepress to hide from the Midianites (see Gideon 6:37).
Exodus 3:14, 14 And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.

Judges 6:21-24, 21 Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.
23 And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Judges 6:25-32, 25 And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:
26 And build an altar unto the Lord thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.
27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the Lord had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.
28 And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built.
29 And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they enquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing.
30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.
31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.
32 Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.

Genesis 25:1-6, 1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.
2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.
3 And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.
4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.
5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.
6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

Judges 6:25, 25 And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:

Judges 6:30-31, 30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.
31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.

Judges 6:30-31, 30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.
31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for
(Judges 6:12) The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.”
The story of Gideon reveals Gideon’s fear of the Midianites, his fear of his father and the townspeople, and most importantly and appropriately his fear of the LORD. Gideon also wanted to be certain that he was following the LORD and asked for signs he was talking to the LORD and doing God’s will. When the angel of the LORD appeared, he reassured Gideon and called him by what he was not yet but would be “mighty warrior.”
(Judges 6:13) Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Literally,” my lord” (Adoni) was a polite form of addressing someone; therefore, it can be translated “Pardon me, my Lord” or “Please, sir.” Though he did not immediately know he was speaking to a divine messenger, Gideon showed deep respect for others when he addressed him. He boldly, but respectfully, disagreed with the messenger, referring him to Israel’s history of the Exodus. Earlier, God had prepared Israel (and Gideon) for His actions by sending a prophet to proclaim what Gideon told the angel about their history and why they were suffering (see Judges 6:7-10). Gideon did not mention that they had been suffering from seven years of oppression by the Midianites.
(Judges 6:14) The LORD looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?”
“The LORD” in this verse strongly indicates that the Person talking directly to Gideon is the Lord Jesus prior to His birth, because the inspired writer changes from “the angel of the LORD” to “the LORD” in the middle of the conversation. The LORD commanded “go in the strength you have” which indicates that he could go as he was because “the LORD” was sending him. He did not need to wait for some special experience to fill him with power and emboldened him. He could go in his own strength, because the LORD would be with him in everything He was sending him to do. With God’s encouragement and guidance, Gideon did everything he did with the strength he had; therefore, God was right to call him “mighty warrior.” God would give Gideon all the instructions he needed to save Israel from the Midianites. He should not have any worries about success, because the LORD himself was sending him to do what the LORD wanted done to save His children (who finally in desperation had called out Him (see Judges 1:6).
Judges 1:6, 6 But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.
(Judges 6:15) He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”
Gideon knew his own abilities in and of himself. He said his family was the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh, and he was the least in the family. Moses, Jeremiah, and Isaiah also expressed their humility, unworthiness, and personal inabilities to serve the LORD, but the LORD used all of them in mighty ways. But God declared that Gideon would be a successful leader because He would be with him; as the Scriptures teach, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
1 Corinthians 1:2, 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
(Judges 6:16) But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”
In Judges 6:12, Gideon is told “the LORD, ‘Yahweh’ is with you.” In this verse, “the LORD” speaks to him again and says: “I will be with you.” God was with Gideon then, and God would be with Gideon in the future. God told Gideon what he would do, because God would be with him and make certain he accomplished everything exactly as the LORD planned. The LORD did not doubt what Gideon would do, because He would be with him, and everything Gideon did he did in the strength he had (Judges 6:14). Of course, all the existence and strength Gideon had was from God, but God did not want Gideon to delay his obedience while waiting for some special strength (as Samson would have later). What Gideon needed was assurance, courage, and obedience. The LORD did not want Gideon to doubt what He would do either, because He assured him twice that He was with him. Through Gideon, God would accomplish His will.
Judges 6:12, 12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, TheLord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

Judges 6:14, 14 And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
(Judges 6:17) So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.
Gideon wanted to make absolutely certain that it was the LORD’s messenger who was speaking to him, because God had appeared to him as an ordinary man: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). The LORD did not immediately appear to Gideon in a dazzling divine display that would make Gideon think he was about to die for having seen God (see Judges 6:22-24). Gideon asked for a sign, but did not specify the sign as he would later do with the fleece (see Judges 6:36-20). In Gideon’s circumstances, God did not reprimand him for asking for a sign of certainty for doing a dangerous but needed task. In a similar way, God gave Moses signs when He called him. God gave the Hebrews and the Egyptians many signs that He was God over all. Today, we have the Bible to teach us how to behave morally and spiritually (see John 20:30),
Hebrews 13:2, 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Judges 6:22-24, 22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.
23 And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Judges 6:36, 36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,

John 20:30, 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
(Judges 6:18) “Please do not depart from here, until I come back to You, and bring out my offering and lay it before You.” And He said, “I will remain until you return.”
The LORD agreed to accept an offering from Gideon, and the LORD agreed to wait until Gideon returned with the offering. Then, the LORD gave him a sign when He touched the offering with His staff and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the offering; immediately thereafter God disappeared. Gideon then knew he had seen the LORD and though unseen the LORD spoke to Gideon again and said “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die” (see Judges 6:19-24). In a similar way, the LORD appeared to Moses in a burning bush and the bush was not consumed (see also Elijah’s offering to the LORD in 1 Kings 18:30-40 where the fire of God consumed the offering).
Judges 6:19-24, 19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.
20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.
21 Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.
23 And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
What We Never Thought Possible
June 11, 2017
Judges 6:11-18

“When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The LORD is with you, mighty warrior’” (Judges 6:12).
God sees us as we are and what we will become. God sees us in ways we do not see ourselves and often enables us to do things we never thought possible. When the angel of the LORD, who scholars believe was Jesus Christ before he was born, met Gideon, He called him by what he would become, “mighty warrior.” Gideon truly saw his historical situation clearly. The Israelites had been oppressed by the Midianites for seven years. Their enemies stole their wheat, sheep, and cattle, and forced them to hide in caves and starve whenever they invaded the Promised Land. Gideon saw himself as the least in his family in the smallest clan in his tribe. He was filled with fears and uncertainties. Though his family had a threshing floor, Gideon used their winepress to hide whenever he thrashed their wheat. To him the future looked hopeless. When God first spoke to Gideon, He addressed him according to what Gideon would become, not as Gideon saw himself. God encouraged Gideon by saying He was with him and would stay with him. God gave Gideon a series of specific commands that Gideon obeyed. God helped Gideon overcome all his insecurities by helping him tear down the idols in his hometown, and together they changed history. Together, Gideon recruited an army. Together, they reduced the number of Israelite soldiers from thousands to 300. Together, they defeated thousands of Midianite soldiers and the Midianites never threatened Israel again; so, Gideon became a mighty warrior. Gideon was not mighty overnight, but Gideon’s valor illustrates what God can do through those who trust and obey Him.

Thinking Further
Doing What We Never Thought Possible
June 11, 2017
Judges 6:11-18
Name _________________________

1. From your reading and study of Judges 6:11-18, who appeared to Gideon at the oak?

2. From reading Judges 6:1-18, how did God prepare the people and Gideon for their salvation through Gideon?

3. Do you think Gideon and his family were rich or poor? Give a reason for your answer.

4. How did God encourage Gideon?

5. When would it be wrong to ask God for a sign?

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further
1. From your reading and study of Judges 6:11-18, who appeared to Gideon at the oak?
“The LORD” is the personal name of God: Jehovah, Yahweh, and YHWH. Gideon addressed the angel of the Lord with respect as” my Lord.” In verses 14 and 16, we learned that “the LORD turned to him and said” and “the LORD answered.” Many teach that these verses and other places in the Old Testament indicate that the Person who appeared to Gideon as “the angel of the LORD” was Jesus, the Son of God, before He was incarnated (conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary).
2. From reading Judges 6:1-18, how did God prepare the people and Gideon for their salvation through Gideon?
God sent a prophet who told them how God had saved them from slavery in Egypt and why they had been suffering for the previous seven years under the Midianites.
3. Do you think Gideon and his family were rich or poor?
Give a reason for your answer. Rich. They had goats, wheat, and cattle, though they still feared the Midianites’ attacks. The altar to God and to Baal the townspeople used had been erected by Gideon’s father.
4. How did God encourage Gideon?
God called him “mighty warrior.” He said twice that He was and would be with him in doing what He commanded. He gave him a sign as Gideon requested. Later God gave him a command to do a dangerous thing that could cost him his life, and God made certain he succeeded before sending him into battle.
5. When would it be wrong to ask God for a sign?
It would be wrong if we asked God to give us a sign that it was okay with Him for us to refuse to believe in Him or refuse to obey what the Lord has taught us in the Bible or what He has commanded us to do or not do in the Bible. God will not contradict what He has told us in His Word, the Bible; therefore, we should not ask God to give us a sign that it was okay to do something that was wrong.

Word Search
Doing What We Never Thought Possible
June 11, 2017
Judges 6:11-18
Name _________________________

V P U K M G S F Q Z H R M J D
K X F N A W E A K E S T E P W
U D A L N R T M W J H S L A M
H L W E A Q I A I X U J R O J
C I F A S R N T N S V R A O Y
G X P R S O A U E G I K A A T
T N K S E Z I J P O E S F B H
I G I I H G D T R F H L P A G
M Q N R K B I Y E N G I S N I
T D K J E H M H S R T M A D M
X I R G B F A Z S C Y Q U O U
F M T O T E F R P Q X V S N H
Y O W B L C D O H M U F R E F
E T I R Z E I B A P Z Q J D V
H U J C N O E D I G O G S E K

Angel
Lord
Oak
Ophrah
Joash
Abiezrite
Midianites
Winepress
Gideon
Mighty
Warrior
Abandoned
Israel
Manasseh
Clan
Weakest
Sign
Offering

True and False Test
Doing What We Never Thought Possible
June 11, 2017
Judges 6:11-18
Name _________________________

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

1. Though Gideon was fearful, the angel of the LORD called Gideon a mighty warrior. True or False
2. Gideon told the LORD that he would soon defeat the Midianites and save Israel.True or False
3. The LORD assured Gideon that He was and would be with him. True or False
4. Joash, Gideon’s father, was of the tribe of Malachi. True or False
5. The Midianites were unrelated to the Israelites. True or False
6. Gideon knew nothing about the beginnings of or history of Israel. True or False
7. Gideon said his clan was the weakest in Manasseh. True or False
8. Gideon asked for a sign that it was really the LORD who was talking to him. True or False
9. The LORD told Gideon that he needed to just believe without a sign. True or False
10. The LORD said He would wait until Gideon could come back to Him with an offering. True or False

Answers to the True and False Test
Judges 6:11-18
Sunday, June 11, 2017

1. True
2. False
3. True
4. False
5. False
6. False
7. True
8. True
9. False
10. True

Prayer
Thank you, O God, for the promise of Your presence in the battles against sin and for giving the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ—regardless. We pray this in His name. Amen.

 

ADULT LESSON

Sunday School Lesson
June 11
Gideon

Devotional Reading: Psalm 83:1-12, 18
Psalm 83:1-12, 1 Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.
2 For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.
3 They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.
4 They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
5 For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:
6 The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes;
7 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8 Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.
9 Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison:
10 Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:
12 Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.

Psalm 83:18, 18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth.
Background Scripture: Judges 6-8
Judges 6:11-18
11 And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
14 And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
16 And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.
Key Verse
The angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. —Judges 6:12
Judges 6:12, 12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, TheLord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
Lesson Aims
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Describe the encounter between Gideon and the angel of the Lord.
2. Explain Gideon’s three questions as they relate to their historical context.
3. Identify one struggle of life in which he or she views self as “the least” in being able to overcome it, and write a prayer for the Lord’s strength to do so.
Introduction
A. Against All Odds
The odds seemed to have been stacked against her, having been born into slavery in Maryland in 1822. As a child, she was often beaten and whipped by various masters. She received a head injury when a slave owner threw a heavy metal weight at another slave and hit her by mistake. The result was a lifelong struggle with epilepsy, dizziness, and pain.
Who would not expect such a person to live and die in obscurity? But that was not the case for Harriet Tubman! She escaped from slavery, but risked recapture as she returned to lead numerous missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved family and friends. Against all odds and led by a strong Christian faith, Harriet Tubman overcame slavery, injury, abuse, and disability. History now knows her as an abolitionist, a humanitarian, and a Union spy who helped guide a raid that freed 700 slaves during the American Civil War.
Very few people who live in Western democracies will ever face the challenges of a Harriet Tubman. Even so, we all experience what it’s like to have the odds stacked against us at one time or another. Today we will look at a judge of Israel who seemed to have little chance of success—until God stepped in!
B. Lesson Background
The lessons for this month feature four of the six major judges in the book of Judges. The previous lesson was about Deborah and Barak. This study moves directly to the next judge—Gideon, a member of the tribe of Manasseh. The final verse of Judges 5 states that Israel had rest for 40 years after Barak defeated Sisera and the Canaanites. During that time the memory of the previous oppression began to fade. A new generation arose and began to worship other gods.
Again God allowed others to oppress Israel—the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the sons or children of the east (Judges 6:3). The Midianites were descendants of Abraham and Keturah, his wife after Sarah died (Genesis 25:2). When Moses fled from Egypt he settled in Midian and married a daughter of a priest in Midian (Exodus 2:15, 16, 21).
Judges 6:3, 3 And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them;
Genesis 25:2, 2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.

Exodus 2:15, 15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

Exodus 2:16, 16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.

Exodus 2:21, 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.
The Amalekites had Esau as their progenitor (Genesis 36:10, 16). The Amalekites attacked the Israelites after they left Egypt and as they were approaching Sinai (Exodus 17:8-16). That was the battle when Israel would prevail only when Moses raised his hands. After the battle Moses stated that there would be war against Amalek from generation to generation.
Genesis 36:10, 10 These are the names of Esau’s sons; Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Bashemath the wife of Esau.

Genesis 36:16, 16 Duke Korah, duke Gatam, and duke Amalek: these are the dukes that came of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these were the sons of Adah.

Exodus 17:8-16, 8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:
16 For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
These two groups, plus children of the east (a general name for eastern groups of Arabs), came against Israel in great numbers. For seven years they came and destroyed the crops and livestock of the Israelites (Judges 6:1, 4).
Judges 6:1. 1 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.

Judges 6:4, 4 And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.
After seven years the Israelites cried to the Lord (Judges 6:7). The Lord sent a prophet to remind Israel of what He had done for them when they came out of Egypt and to rebuke them for their disobedience (vv. 8-10). This condemnation by God’s prophet is immediately before the text for today. God then moved to prepare another judge to deliver his penitent people.
Judges 6:7, 7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the Lordbecause of the Midianites,

Judges 6:8-10, 8 That the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage;
9 And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land;
10 And I said unto you, I am the Lord your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.
It had been 47 years since Deborah and Barak, with God’s help, subdued the Canaanites: 40 years of peace (Judges 5:31), followed by the 7 years of oppression (6:1). The approximate date for the events of this lesson has been determined to be about 1175 BC.
Judges 5:31, 31 So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.

Judges 6:1, 1 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lorddelivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.

I. Big Trouble (Judges 6:11-13)
A. Cowering Warrior (vv. 11, 12)
11a. And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah.
The first verse of the lesson provides several facts. It contains three personalities, explanations about them, two helps to identify the place of the event, the strange action that one of them is doing, and why he is doing it.
The angel of the Lord is the first person mentioned. The word angel may also be given as messenger, so a messenger of the Lord comes and sits under an oak tree in Ophrah. This town is in the territory of Manasseh (Judges 6:15). Later information about it is very negative (8:27; 9:5).
Judges 6:15, 15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.

Judges 8:27, 27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.

Judges 9:5, 5 And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
There are dozens of references in the Old Testament to “the angel of the Lord” or “the angel of God” (Judges 6:20). The first is Genesis 16:7, in the days of Abraham. This being makes the ground holy, as in Exodus 3:2-5 when Moses is first called to lead Israel from Egypt, or when he is called the captain of the Lord’s host in Joshua 5:15. This being receives worship and sacrifices. The terminology may change to “captain of the host of the Lord” (Joshua 5:14). The “angel of the Lord” appearing in Exodus 3:2 says “I am … God” in Exodus 3:6. The angel of the Lord is mentioned in chapters 2, 5, 6, and 13 in the book of Judges.
Judges 6:20, 20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.

Genesis 16:7, 7 And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
Exodus 3:2-5, 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

Joshua 5:15, 15 And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:14, 14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?
Exodus 3:2, 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

Exodus 3:6, 6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Many have suggested that this is actually Jesus, God’s divine messenger who appears as a man in the Old Testament era and then comes in the New Testament as one who experiences the totality of life in the flesh. In this regard, “messenger” would be intended, since angels do not receive worship (Revelation 22:8, 9; compare Hebrews 1:1-9).
Revelation 22:8, 8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

Revelation 22:9, 9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

Hebrews 1:1-9,1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
11b. That pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
Joash the Abiezrite and his family are of the tribe of Manasseh (Judges 6:15). Manasseh was the older son of Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 41:51), and Abiezer was a former leader in the tribe (see Joshua 17:2).
Judges 6:15, 15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.

Genesis 41:51, 51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.

Joshua 17:2, 2 There was also a lot for the rest of the children of Manasseh by their families; for the children of Abiezer, and for the children of Helek, and for the children of Asriel, and for the children of Shechem, and for the children of Hepher, and for the children of Shemida: these were the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph by their families.
The third personality in this verse is Gideon, a son of Joash. Judges 8:19 indicates that Gideon had brothers and that they had been killed by the Midianites. This could have caused him to have differing emotions about the invaders—anger, vengeance, and a certain fear for what they could do to him and others.

In this verse Gideon’s task is to thresh wheat. Threshing is usually accomplished by using a sledge pulled by animals. Gideon’s method is different, for he is hiding. The word used means that he is using a stick to beat the wheat. The result is the same—the seed is separated from the chaff and straw.
His place of work is strange—a winepress. This type of winepress is made by excavating rock to form a recessed area where grapes could be smashed by walking on them. The juice then runs in a trough to a collecting vat. Gideon is hiding so that the Midianites will have difficulty seeing him. It may be imagined that he is muffling the sound as much as he can.
12. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
To say that the angel of the Lord appears means that he makes his presence known, not that he has been invisible for a while as he sat under the oak tree. Gideon is absorbed in his work, and the noise of his beating the grain stalks can drown out the sounds of someone nearby.
The greeting to Gideon has two parts: a statement that the Lord is with him and that Gideon is mighty. There are two views about the meaning of the last part. The majority view is that he will become such a person because of what is about to happen. The minority opinion is that Gideon has already distinguished himself in combat, given that he is able to recruit a sizable army (Judges 7:3). The angel’s statement carries with it a humorous contradiction—that a man of such courage is hiding.
Judges 7:3, 3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
What Do You Think?
What are some ways Christians send contradictory, mixed messages to the culture at large? How do we fix this problem?
Points for Your Discussion
Concerning mixed messages about Christianity in general
Concerning mixed messages about individual Christians

Two Midianite leaders affirm later that Gideon resembles a son of a king (Judges 8:18). He therefore has physical features that help him to be a leader among men.
Judges 8:18, 18 Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.
B. Missing Miracles (v. 13)
13. And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
Gideon begins to question the stranger. Little does Gideon know that he is trying to debate God! This is indicated by the first Lord in the verse. The four letters are not all capital letters; the word involved could easily be translated as sir as the same Hebrew word is in Genesis 43:20. By contrast, as Gideon uses the word Lord (all capital letters), he is referring to Yahweh (three times), the sacred name of God. This is explained more fully in the front matter of many Bibles.
Genesis 43:20, 20 And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food:
Gideon’s questions reveal that he is aware of the glorious history of Israel. In his family, these things are being told by the older generation to the younger. Gideon knows about the bondage in Egypt and the miraculous events that followed. This includes the 10 plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the giving of the Law, the 40 years in the wilderness, and the crossing of the Jordan when it was in flood stage.
After the questions, Gideon makes a statement that is really seeking an answer for the oppression that he, his family, and his people are enduring. Gideon has heard about the wonderful works of God in the past, but now it seems to him that God is no longer concerned about His people.
What Do You Think?
How can we resist thinking that God has abandoned us? What will happen if we don’t?

Points for Your Discussion
In cases that affect you alone
When feelings of abandonment swirl around your group (family, Sunday school class, etc.)
When feelings of abandonment sweep across the nation
II. Weak Tribe (Judges 6:14-16)
A. Promised Presence (v. 14)
14. And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
The speaker is now not referred to as an angel, but as the Lord (again, Yahweh). We notice immediately that the Lord does not answer Gideon’s questions. Instead, He looks at Gideon and commands that he Go in this thy might. Gideon is the one who will save Israel from its oppressors.
Then God asks a question of His own: Have not I sent thee? This question has the force of a command. Obedience to this command is necessary, for the command is from the God of Israel, the only God there is.
What Do You Think?
What have you found to be the most reliable indicators of God’s will? Why?
Points for Your Discussion
Regarding bigger “callings”
Regarding smaller, daily activities
Considering the cautions of Job 42:7; Proverbs 15:22; James 4:13-17; 1 John 4:1; Revelation 22:18, 19
Job 42:7, 7 And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, theLord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

Proverbs 15:22,22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.

James 4:13-17, 13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

1 John 4:1, 4 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Revelation 22:18, 18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

Revelation 22:19, 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
B. Puny Pedigree (v. 15)
15. And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
Gideon does not like the oppression, but he does not think much of the idea of being the leader that lifts it either! So he responds with a question and statements about his unsuitability for such an important task. He suggests that he is a nobody. Gideon is not the first person to resist God’s call to leadership. Moses had similar reactions when charged to deliver Israel from years of oppression in Egypt (see Exodus 3:10-4:17).
Exodus 3:10-4:17, 10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
14 And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, TheLord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:
17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.
19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.
20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.
21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.
22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
4 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.
2 And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.
3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
4 And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:
5 That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.
6 And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
7 And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.
8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.
10 And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
11 And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I theLord?
12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.
14 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
17 And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

How to Say It

Abiezer Ay-buy-ee-zur.
Abiezrite Ay-buy-ez-rite.
Amalek Am-uh-lek.
Amalekites Am-uh-leh-kites or Uh-mal-ih-kites.
Barak Bair-uk.
Canaanites Kay-nun-ites.
Esau Ee-saw.
Keturah Keh-too-ruh.
Manasseh Muh-nass-uh.
Midian Mid-ee-un.
Midianites Mid-ee-un-ites.
Ophrah Ahf-ruh.
Sinai Sigh-nye or Sigh-nay-eye.
Sisera Sis-er-uh.
Yahweh (Hebrew) Yah-weh.
“I’m Not OK?”
The book I’m OK, You’re OK hit the New York Times best-seller list in 1972 and remained there for two years. This was an early book promoting what became known as Transactional Analysis. The book’s thesis is that relational problems can be addressed if we analyze our interactions with one another as transactions.
The author speaks of four life positions one takes in relationship transactions. They are (1) I’m not OK, You’re OK, (2) I’m not OK, You’re not OK, (3) I’m OK, You’re not OK, and (4) I’m OK, You’re OK. When God called Gideon to serve him, Gideon responded in the I’m not OK, You’re OK position. He listed reason after reason why he was not good enough to answer God’s call. Although this may sound like humility, it showed that Gideon was leaving God out of the transaction.
In essence, God responded from the I’m OK, You’re OK position. This position affirmed what Gideon could accomplish with divine help.
Most of us have areas in our self-perception in which we think I’m not OK. However, our relationship with God in Christ helps us realize that even though we are sinners, we have become new creatures. We are capable of doing whatever God calls us to do with Him. He does not call us to service only to abandon us later! —C. R. B.
What Do You Think?
What are some ways to overcome feelings of inadequacy when sensing God’s call to a task?
Points for Your Discussion
Regarding the content of prayer
Regarding the counsel sought of others
Regarding examples from Scripture
Other
C. Sure Success (v. 16)
16. And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
The second promise has been interpreted to mean that the battle to come will seem as if Gideon is in combat against only one man. That is indeed a remarkable prediction! Assurance of victory is most welcome, but should there be some type of sign or proof that the source of this prediction is God?
III. Security Sought (Judges 6:17, 18)
A. Asking for a Sign (v. 17)
17. And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
Gideon wants to know of a certainty that what he is concluding in his mind is true. Before he undertakes the difficult and dangerous task of gathering an army, he needs to know that what he is getting himself into has a good chance of succeeding. His politeness is shown in the phrase if now I have found grace in thy sight that prefaces his request for a sign.
Gideon’s caution does not necessarily demonstrate a lack of faith. The somewhat aggressive nature of his responses thus far seems to indicate that the guest has the appearance of just an ordinary man (contrast Judges 13:6). Gideon may be assuming that the messenger is a prophet, but still he wants a sign. Even Moses expressed a concern that the people of Israel would not believe him, so God gave him signs that he could employ to show that the source of his commission was none other than God himself (Exodus 4:1-9).
Judges 13:6, 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:

Exodus 4:1-9, 4 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.
2 And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.
3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
4 And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:
5 That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.
6 And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
7 And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.
8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.
Seeing Angels and Seeking Signs
Many people testify that they have experienced the presence of so-called guardian angels. Some even claim to have video proof! An Internet search for “angel appearances,” etc., will result in numerous hits. One video shows a figure with glowing hands appearing from nowhere to rescue a bicyclist who was hit broadside in an intersection by a truck. Immediately after the apparent collision, the figure and the victim disappear from the point of impact, only to be seen several yards away with the crash victim getting off a stretcher and limping to the curb. The figure that helped him is walking away.
Another site tells the story of a Christian man who survived a “10,000 pound truck axle” that crushed him while two angels came to his aid to save his life. He experienced what is said to be a “miraculous recovery.” Of course, it is possible for digital footage to be faked. Yet however we explain such matters, numerous biblical passages confirm angelic appearances.
In Gideon’s case, the angel’s presence gave him the needed courage to go into battle for the Lord. But does that mean it’s wise to anticipate, or even request, a visit of an angel? There is no indication that Gideon did either!
For those today seeking angelic visitation as a sign of some kind, the words of Jesus serve to remind that “a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign,” but the only sign He offered the people was the sign of Jonah (Matthew 16:4). Our faith is strengthened by the ever-present reality of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, not by a once-in-a-lifetime visit by an angel. —C. R. B.
What Do You Think?
In addition to studying Scripture together, how would you counsel a fellow Christian who claims to receive signs from God?
Points for Your Discussion
When the claim involves receiving miraculous signs
When the claim involves receiving non-miraculous signs

B. Receiving Assurance (v. 18)
18. Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.
Gideon seeks assurance that his unexpected visitor will not make an unexpected exit, and the request is honored. The messenger promises to remain until Gideon returns.
The word that Gideon uses for his special gift (my present) usually refers to a grain offering, similar to what is described in Leviticus 2. This may be a time of scarcity, but Gideon is still able to provide a meal for his unusual guest. Gideon probably anticipated that a miraculous sign of some sort after the meal will further credential the messenger and his message. Gideon wants to be certain that this is a commission from the Lord.
Leviticus 2, 1 And when any will offer a meat offering unto the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon:
2 And he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord:
3 And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire.
4 And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.
5 And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil.
6 Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering.
7 And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in the fryingpan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.
8 And thou shalt bring the meat offering that is made of these things unto the Lord: and when it is presented unto the priest, he shall bring it unto the altar.
9 And the priest shall take from the meat offering a memorial thereof, and shall burn it upon the altar: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.
10 And that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire.
11 No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the Lord, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the Lord made by fire.
12 As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the Lord: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour.
13 And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.
14 And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the Lord, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears.
15 And thou shalt put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon: it is a meat offering.
16 And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
A sign is indeed given, but not in the way Gideon may anticipate. The verses that follow reveal that Gideon prepares a young goat, bread, and broth. The angel tells him to place the meat and unleavened bread on a rock (which is about to serve as an altar) and to pour out the broth. It is assumed that the broth is poured on the offerings. The angel then touches these gifts with the end of his staff. Fire erupts from the rock and consumes the gifts. The angel then vanishes from sight (compare Judges 13:20).
Judges 13:20, 20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.
After Gideon recruits his army from four tribes, he asks for another sign to make certain that the Lord really will deliver Israel through him (see Judges 6:36-40). First, Gideon says he will place a fleece on the threshing floor. He wants the fleece to have dew on it the next morning, but the ground surrounding it to be dry. It happens.
But Gideon wants even more of these blessed assurances. It is natural for dew to evaporate more quickly from other surfaces, so he asks that the procedure be reversed on the next morning. That is, he desires that the fleece be dry, and that the ground be covered with dew.
But that is not the end of the story. If Gideon can ask for signs, then God himself can also make some unusual requests! After Gideon recruits 32,000 men (Judges 7:3) to go against 135,000 Midianites (8:10), God states that his army is too big! He instructs Gideon to reduce his fighting force to 10,000 and then to a mere 300. Thus the force ratio increases from more than 4-to-1 against Gideon’s army to 450-to-1. But that is just right for God. The remainder of Judges 7 through 8:28 gives the account of Gideon’s thrilling victory that results in 40 years of peace.
Conclusion

A. What’s Your Excuse?
Gideon was called by God for a special task, and the man went to work to deliver his people. God had Gideon employ an unusual strategy (see Judges 7:16-25), and the sword of the Lord won a great victory.
Judges 7:16-25King James Version (KJV)
16 And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.
17 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.
18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.
19 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.
20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.
21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp; and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.
22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.
23 And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.
24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan.
25 And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.
If God were to tell you that He had special plans for you, how would you respond? Perhaps your excuses sound like some of these: I’m too weak; I’m tired; I don’t know what to say; I can’t do it alone; Everyone is against me; Nobody cares about me; This world is changing so fast; Satan is making my life miserable; I just feel lost; I can’t do anything right!
Like Gideon, we may be tempted to answer a perceived call from God with excuses. But each of these excuses and more are answered in promises God gives to those who trust Him. When God calls, He also provides the resources for us to answer.
B. Prayer
Thank you, O God, for the promise of Your presence in the battles against sin and for giving the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ—regardless. We pray this in His name. Amen.
C. Thought to Remember
God plus one is a majority.

 

 

 

Kid’s Corner
No Good Excuse
June 4, 2017
Judges 4:1-10

Judges 4:1-10
(Judges 4:1) Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died.
The Book of Joshua shows that those who remembered the conquest of the Promised Land and remained faithful to the LORD experienced victory after victory. The Book of Judges shows how the Israelites repeatedly turned to false gods and evil practices so the LORD had to punish them by making them slaves of their enemies. Some of these enemies were those they had not driven out of the Promised Land (such as the Canaanites) and others were their foreign neighbors. The Book of Joshua also shows how our merciful God raised up judges to save them repeatedly in spite of their rebellious ways and idolatry. They usually returned to their evil ways after the death of a judge. In some cases, after a judge freed them from oppression, the judge led them back into idolatry or became a bad example to others with their evil or unwise decisions.
(Judges 4:2) And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim.
Because of their evil and idolatrous ways, God sold the Israelites into slavery under Jabin, probably a dynastic name (such as the Davidic dynasty established by King David through his children). The name Jabin means: “the wise,” and probably everyone who was a king of Hazor took that title from their father. For example, the first Jabin was king of Hazor when Joshua entered the Promised Land (see Joshua 11:1). The next Jabin listed in the Bible lived during the time of Deborah, the judge. Since the Canaanites still inhabited the Promised Land, they did not need to invade the land to enslave their neighbors. Hazor means “fortified:” it was a fortified city or fortress. Hazor was north of the Sea of Galilee. The name Sisera means “servant of Ra,” an Egyptian idol. Sisera, the military commander, made the reign of the Jabin dynasty possible. If Sisera could be defeated decisively, the Israelites would be freed.
(Judges 4:3) The sons of Israel cried to the LORD; for he had nine hundred iron chariots, and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years.
The name “Harosheth Haggoyim” means “smithy of the nations.” A “smithy” was a worker in iron,” similar to “blacksmiths” in the old west in America. The Israelites were in the process moving out of the Bronze Age and were no match for armies with new Iron Age weapons, which were made as an industry in Harosheth Haggoyim. The Israelites had to be cruelly oppressed for twenty years before they realized that their idols were powerless to help them and before they repented of their sins and cried out to God to save them. They looked for a judge to save them as God had done in the past.
(Judges 4:4) Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.
The name Deborah means “Bee.” Deborah was both a judge and a prophet. As such, she was the most morally mature, godly, and spiritually sensitive of all the judges in the Book of Judges. Unlike the other judges, she consistently pointed her people to the LORD. She was the fourth judge listed in the Book of Judges. Four other women prophets are named in the Old Testament: Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Isaiah’s wife (Isaiah 8:3), and a false prophetess, Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14). The prophetess, Anna, is named in the New Testament (Luke 2:36).
Exodus 15:20, 20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

2 Kings 22:14, 14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

Isaiah 8:3, 3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.

Nehemiah 6:14, 14 My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.

Luke 2:36, 36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

(Judges 4:5) She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment.
As a judge, Deborah did not sit at a city gate as was the custom of the elders of a city who decided cases between citizens at the gate. She probably camped in an oasis type setting well-known as the Palm of Deborah: well-known because of who she was. As a judge, similar to Moses and those he appointed under him, she settled cases as in a court of law between disputants. Perhaps most of those who went to her for judgments were from the tribes of Ephraim, Naphtali, and Zebulun, since the Israelites were still twelve tribes and not yet united under a king until the time of King Saul. The country of Ephraim is quite prominent in the Book of Judges.
(Judges 4:6) Now she sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali, and said to him, “Behold, the LORD, the God of Israel, has commanded, ‘Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun.
The name “Barak” means “lightning.” Some translations interpret her remarks to Barak as a question, as though he had been delaying his obedience to God. In the original Hebrew, we do not know if she asked him a question about a former command, or gave him a direct command as God’s prophet at the time she spoke to him. The command was specific as to where he was to get the soldiers to fight, how many to get, where they were to go. Barak obeyed the LORD’s command explicitly. Chariots would be useless fighting mountaintop defenders except as a vehicle at the foot of a mountain from which to shoot arrows.
(Judges 4:7) ‘I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his many troops to the river Kishon, and I will give him into your hand.’”
As God can do with anyone, God himself would influence all of Sisera’s actions in the forthcoming battle and lead him to a decisive defeat: “In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him” (Proverbs 21:1). God would lead the Canaanite army into a valley through which flowed the Kishon River (see Judges 5:21). There, God would defeat them by sending rain and floodwaters to mire the heavy iron chariots in the mud; then, the Israelite army could more easily defeat them totally, which they did. To punish the Israelites for their idolatry and rebellion, God often fought with their enemies against them. To save the Israelites from slavery, God would fight with them against their enemies.
Proverbs 21:1, 1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

Judges 5:21, 21 The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.
(Judges 4:8) Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.”
Women did not lead men into battle at that time, but Barak would not go into battle without Deborah; perhaps he wanted her to intercede with God as they fought to assure them the victory. She was the recognized spokesman for the LORD, so she readily agreed to go with the army. She would be able to give Barak additional orders from the LORD as Barak needed them.
(Judges 4:9) She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.
Located in Naphtali, Kedesh means “sanctuary,” and it was one of the sanctuary cities (cities of refuge) in the Promised Land. In the Bible, Deborah diplomatically agreed to go with Barak. The reader is left with the impression that Deborah would be the hero of the battle, but we learn later in chapter 4 that Jael is the woman who will kill Sisera after his army is totally defeated. Indeed, the honor of defeating Sisera went to a woman.
(Judges 4:10) Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together to Kedesh, and ten thousand men went up with him; Deborah also went up with him.
The Bible tells us that Barak obeyed the command of God and Deborah honored his request to go with him. She was probably a great help in recruiting the 10,000 soldiers he was told by God to take into battle. She could be the witness that God indeed wanted no more and less than 10,000 soldiers to follow Barak in order to defeat the army of Sisera, which the Israelites did with the help of God. After the Canaanites were defeated, the Israelites had peace for forty years until they once again did evil in the sight of God, so God had to punish them again, and later raise up a new judge to save them again.

No Good Excuse
June 4, 2017
Judges 4:1-10

“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, now that Ehud was dead” (Judges 4:1).

The Book of Judges can illustrate the biography of almost every person at one time or another. The cycle is familiar. First, we repent and begin obeying God. Second, we begin disobeying God. Third, God disciplines us. Fourth, we cry out to God for help. Fifth, we begin obeying God again. Sixth, we disobey God again. The cycle repeats itself. God sent the Israelites prophets and judges to interrupt the cycle so they could enjoy many years of peace under the leadership of a judge until he died. Then, the Israelites turned back to worshiping the idols of their neighbors and to practicing the evil these idols required. As punishment, God would send enemies to defeat the Israelites in battle, and when they cried out to God to save them from their cruel oppressors, God raised up judges who with God’s help led them to victory. Deborah was the most godly, morally mature, and spiritually sensitive of all the judges. She conveyed the Word of God to God’s chosen commander and told him how many soldiers to recruit, which tribes in Israel they should come from, where they should go, and where they should fight. Deborah accompanied him and he obeyed everything God commanded through her. Then God fought on the side of Israel by leading the Canaanites into battle where God chose, and then God sent torrential rains to make their 900 iron chariots useless in the mud. The Israelites probably gave many poor excuses for their cycle of disobedience, but the followers of Jesus have no excuse for cycles of disobedience, because Jesus Christ lives within them to empower and guide them.

Thinking Further
No Good Excuse
June 4, 2017
Judges 4:1-10
Name __________________________

1. Why were the Israelites defeated so many times after the death of Joshua and Caleb?

2. Why did God raise up judges among the Israelites?

3. Who was the most moral, godly, and spiritually sensitive judge in the Book of Judges?

4. When Barak agreed to do what he was commanded, what condition did he set before he would take action? Why do you think he did so?

5. In all of the battles that Israel fought in the Book of Judges, what side did God fight on in each battle?

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. Why were the Israelites defeated so many times after the death of Joshua and Caleb?
They did evil in the sight of the LORD. As punishment, God would help their enemies or allow their enemies to defeat them in battle and enslave or oppress them.
2. Why did God raise up judges among the Israelites?
To decide disputes between Israelites, similar to the judges Moses appointed. To defeat the enemies of the Israelites after they called out to God to help them, thus giving them peace until they turned to evil and idolatry once again.
3. Who was the most moral, godly, and spiritually sensitive judge in the Book of Judges?
Deborah, who was also a prophetess.
4. When Barak agreed to do what he was commanded, what condition did he set before he would take action? Why do you think he did so?
He wanted Deborah to go with him. Then, he could learn from her the LORD’s commands if they were needed in battle; to encourage his soldiers to fight courageously; to help recruit the 10,000 soldiers that he needed to fulfill God’s command to him.
5. In all of the battles that Israel fought in the Book of Judges, what side did God fight on in each battle?
When God needed to punish the Israelites, He fought on the side of their enemies. When
God needed to free the Israelites from oppression and slavery, on the side of Israel.

Word Search
No Good Excuse
June 4, 2017
Judges 4:1-10
Name _______________________________

N Z N U L U B E Z S O E S D F
F A N A P H T A L I H E V O E
X P A C E I Q K W K T N P I A
J K R N X M X P A I O R B Q L
S C I T A T B R L H O D T U G
F T O N H C A E S P J E M E W
R Q S M E B A I H C V A V R Q
A I V K M R K E W I J D Y F E
L N W Q S A T F D E B O R A H
S E T I Y E N S T O I R A H C
A I H Z H G Y D Z U S N T N Y
O X S U O D A X E E O I P E U
S H M E D U L R Y R W B U S V
I Q O F R J W E P K F A V K C
C N M T O A K I N G H J F J I

Israelites
Eyes
Evil
Ehud
Dead
Jabin
King
Canaan
Sisera
Commander
Chariots
Deborah
Prophet
Judge
Barak
Naphtali
Zebulun
Kishon

True and False Test
No Good Excuse
June 4, 2017
Judges 4:1-10
Name ___________________________

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.
1. An Israelite judge had only one job: making decisions in official courts of law regarding property rights. True or False
2. The Israelites were unfairly enslaved by evil Canaanites. True or False
3. People doing evil can have serious consequences for a tribe or nation. True or False
4. Judges were sometimes prophets. True or False
5. Deborah commanded Sisera to surrender or die at the River Kishon. True or False
6. Barak received great honors and immense wealth from King Jabin. True or False
7. God fought for the Israelites against the army of a Canaanite king. True or False
8. The iron chariots of the Canaanites were superior to bronze age weapons. True or False
9. Deborah had time to be a judge because her husband, Lappidoth, did all the real work around the house. True or False
10. Barak took his troops to Mount Tabor and Sisera took his troops to Kishon River.True or False

Answers to the True and False Test
Judges 4:1-10
Sunday, June 4, 2017

1. False
2. False
3. True
4. True
5. False
6. False
7. True
8. True
9. False
10. True

Prayer
Almighty God, grant us the wisdom to select godly men or women as our heroes and mentors! But most of all, empower us by your Spirit to imitate Christ. We pray this in His name. Amen.

ADULT LESSON

 

Sunday School Lesson
June 4
Deborah and Barak

Devotional Reading: Hebrews 11:29-40
Hebrews 11:29-40, 29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Background Scripture:Judges 4, 5
Judges 4:1-10
1 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead.
2 And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.
3 And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
5 And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.
6 And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?
7 And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.
8 And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.
9 And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.
10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.
Key Verse
[Deborah] said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. —Judges 4:9
Lesson Aims
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Describe the relationship between Deborah and Barak.
2. List possible reasons for doubts and fears on the part of Barak and evaluate their legitimacy.
3. Commit to helping one fellow believer overcome doubts regarding his or her leadership role in a ministry project.
Introduction
A. “Let’s Ask Granny!”
“Granny” was one of the sweetest, kindest, most humble persons in the congregation. “Let’s ask Granny!” was frequently heard when the leaders of the church needed additional input on an issue.
Granny knew the Bible’s precepts and principles better than many. Her wisdom had been accumulated through decades of Bible study, personal experience, and observations of the flow of events in her world. She held no official position of authority. But people willingly received her counsel, and she was willing to give it—especially when biblical concepts were involved.
Some are leaders by position. Others are leaders by their very natures. (And, of course, some are both.) A church’s official leaders demonstrate wisdom when they recognize what has been called “leadership from below” and seek to learn from those such as Granny.
Today’s lesson will help us better understand the importance of leadership skills as we examine how a leader of Israel, known as a judge, led her nation through a trying time.
B. Lesson Background
Joshua had been appointed by God and commissioned by Moses to lead Israel in conquering Canaan (Deuteronomy 31). But something was different when Joshua passed off the scene in about 1370 BC: no one was appointed to succeed him! The solution was very simple. God was in charge, and each tribe or unit would obey God and take care of its area.
In Joshua’s farewell addresses (Joshua 23, 24), he warned the Israelites again, just as Moses had done, of what they would experience if they served other gods. But they did serve such gods, and Judges 2:10 explains why: “there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord.” What followed was disaster after disaster. If one generation does not teach the next generation about God, then tragedies follow.
Judges 2:10, 10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
The book of Judges is concerned primarily with the sin-cycles that Israel experienced during the period of the Judges. To date that era with precision is difficult. By one calculation, there were 330 years between the appearance of the first judge (Judges 3:9) and the passing of the last (1 Samuel 25:1). But depending on the interpretation of Acts 13:20 and other factors, some calculate the period to span 450 years.
Judges 3:9, 9 And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.

1 Samuel 25:1, 1And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.

Acts 13:20, 20 And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
Regarding the sin-cycles themselves, these have been summarized in terms of four stages: sin, sorrow (or servitude), supplication, and salvation. A different way of stating this cycle is rebellion, retribution, repentance, and restoration. When the Israelites worshipped other gods, they suffered. When the people eventually repented, the Lord would send a deliverer, known as a judge. Then the cycle repeated itself (see Judges 2:10-19).
Judges 2:10-19, 10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim:
12 And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger.
13 And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
14 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.
15 Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.
16 Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so.
18 And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
The lessons of this unit are biographical studies of 4 of the 12 judges recorded in the book of Judges: Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. These 4 plus Othniel and Ehud are traditionally said to be the 6 “major judges” in light of all that is recorded about them. They were military deliverers; thus the word judge should not cause us to think exclusively in terms of civil magistrates.
The longest period of peace recorded within the book of Judges is the one of 80 years between Ehud and Deborah (Judges 3:30). Today’s lesson takes us back to about 1225 BC as that period of peace comes to an end.
Judges 3:30, 30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.
I. Cry to God (Judges 4:1-3)
A. Sin and Subjugation (vv. 1, 2)
1. And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead.
The phrase Israel … did evil occurs seven times in the book of Judges, and this is the fourth of those. Since the first occurrence in Judges 2:11 is a general reference (see the Lesson Background), the phrase’s use here indicates the beginning of the third sin-cycle.
Judges 2:11, 11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim:
To consider what evil consists of in this context, we look to the use of the phrase Israel … did evil in Judges 3:7, which introduces the first sin-cycle. The sin mentioned there is summed up with a single word: idolatry. The nations the Israelites had failed to destroy had become a snare to them in this regard (Deuteronomy 7:16; 20:16-18; Joshua 23:12, 13; Judges 3:5, 6).
Judges 3:7, 7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves.

Deuteronomy 7:16, 16 And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee.

Deuteronomy 20:16-18, 16 But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:
17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:
18 That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord your God.
Joshua 23:12, 12 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:

Joshua 23:13, 13 Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.

Judges 3:5, 5 And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:

Judges 3:6, 6 And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
The exploits of Ehud, the second major judge, are noted in Judges 3:12-30. The non-major judge who follows him is accorded only a single-verse description (3:31) as the author hastens to move to the next sin-cycle.
Judges 3:12-30, 12 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord.
13 And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.
14 So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
15 But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.
16 But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.
17 And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.
18 And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.
19 But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.
20 And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.
21 And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:
22 And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.
23 Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.
24 When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.
25 And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.
26 And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.
27 And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.
28 And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the Lord hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.
29 And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.
30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.

Judges 3:31, 31 And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.

What Do You Think?
What are some ways to prevent negative things from happening during times of leadership vacuum in the church?
Points for Your Discussion
Regarding coverage of ministry tasks
Regarding use of church resources
Regarding political viewpoints
Regarding teaching or leadership roles
Other

What’s Right in Whose Sight?
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on June 26, 2015, that declared same-sex marriage to be a constitutionally protected right. An amazing cultural shift had taken place in a ten-year period: in 2004, opinion polls showed about 60 percent of Americans opposing same-sex unions with about 40 percent supporting them; by 2014, those numbers had reversed.
The five justices who created this decision seemed to hold to the theory that the U.S. Constitution is a “living document.” This theory, known as loose constructionism, asserts that courts are free to interpret the Constitution in light of prevailing cultural winds. What’s illegal in one decade can become a “right” in another.
We must recognize that God and humans often do not share the same conclusions regarding what is good and what is evil (compare Isaiah 5:20). This is true whether or not one embraces a loose-construction theory for interpreting a country’s founding documents. The book of Judges offers this sobering observation twice: “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). The step from doing what is right in one’s own eyes to doing “evil in the sight of the Lord” (4:1) is smaller than one may think! —C. R. B.
Isaiah 5:20, 20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Judges 17:6, 6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Judges 21:25, 25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Judges 4:1, 1 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead.
2. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.
The oppression arises from northern Canaan, since the city of Hazor is located about eight miles north-northwest of the Sea of Galilee. Before 1400 BC, Joshua had destroyed Hazor utterly (Joshua 11:10-14). Mention of “Jabin king of Hazor” occurs in conjunction with that military action of at least 175 years previous (11:1). Therefore we don’t know if the word Jabin is a title that is passed along or is simply a favorite name for kings.
Joshua 11:10-14, 10 And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.
11 And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire.
12 And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded.
13 But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.
14 And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.

Joshua 11:1, 1 And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph,
Despite Joshua’s success, pockets of unconquered peoples remained by the time he had become elderly (Joshua 13:1-6). It was these people who rebuilt Hazor as a royal city. The mopping-up operations had been left to the individual tribes, but they did not follow through (Judges 1:27-34). In this particular case, it seems to have been the tribe of Naphtali that dropped the ball, since Hazor is in its tribal allotment (Joshua 19:32-39). Instead of obeying Joshua or the Lord, the tribes just became content with what they had.
Joshua 13:1-6, 13 Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the Lord said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.
2 This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,
3 From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites:
4 From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:
5 And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.
6 All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephothmaim, and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.

Judges 1:27-34, 27 Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.
28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.
29 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.
30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries.
31 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:
32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.
33 Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath became tributaries unto them.
34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:

Joshua 19:32-39, 32 The sixth lot came out to the children of Naphtali, even for the children of Naphtali according to their families.
33 And their coast was from Heleph, from Allon to Zaanannim, and Adami, Nekeb, and Jabneel, unto Lakum; and the outgoings thereof were at Jordan:
34 And then the coast turneth westward to Aznothtabor, and goeth out from thence to Hukkok, and reacheth to Zebulun on the south side, and reacheth to Asher on the west side, and to Judah upon Jordan toward the sunrising.
35 And the fenced cities are Ziddim, Zer, and Hammath, Rakkath, and Chinnereth,
36 And Adamah, and Ramah, and Hazor,
37 And Kedesh, and Edrei, and Enhazor,
38 And Iron, and Migdalel, Horem, and Bethanath, and Bethshemesh; nineteen cities with their villages.
39 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Naphtali according to their families, the cities and their villages.
Israel must confront Sisera, the military commander, not the king. Sisera’s base of operations at Harosheth of the Gentiles, near the Kishon River that flows into the Mediterranean, is perhaps 30 miles southwest of Hazor and 16 miles northwest of Megiddo. These factors become an important part of the battle plan that God designs.
B. Score of Suffering (v. 3)
3. And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
The nature of the 20-year oppression that the children of Israel suffer isn’t specified. It may take the form of servitude (example: Joshua 16:10), a periodic taxation of gold and/or silver (example: 2 Kings 23:33), and/or a confiscation of crops and livestock (examples: Deuteronomy 28:51; 2 Kings 3:4). The latter could be collected as marauding groups go from place to place (example: Judges 6:2-6).
Joshua 16:10, 10 And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute.

2 Kings 23:33, 33 And Pharaohnechoh put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold.

Deuteronomy 28:51, 51 And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.

2 Kings 3:4, 4 And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.

Judges 6:2-6, 2 And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.
3 And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them;
4 And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.
5 For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.
6 And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the Lord.
It is serious when oppressors take food that your family depends on to get through the rainy months of the winter season! Frustration and anger follow, as the Israelites watch the results of their labor snatched away. Prayers for deliverance undoubtedly begin far in advance of the 20-year point mentioned here. But it can take time for repentance to be joined with prayer. Even today, many people call upon the Lord in a crisis, but do not accompany that prayer with repentance.

A reason for the seeming hopelessness of Israel’s situation is the nine hundred chariots possessed by the enemy. The note that these are of iron is not a reference to the entirety of their construction. Rather, the chariots are made of wood, with iron covering strategic parts.
This is not the first time the issue of iron-reinforced chariots has come up; some Canaanites had them when Joshua divided the land among the 12 tribes in about 1400 BC (Joshua 17:16). The Iron Age is dated as beginning about 1200 BC, but some nations get technological advances later than others. Some Canaanites apparently know the techniques of processing iron ore that are yet unknown to the Israelites.
Joshua 17:16, 16 And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.
II. Challenge Others (Judges 4:4-7)
A. Deborah’s Role (vv. 4, 5)
4. And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
Deborah’s position in the line of judges is noted in the Lesson Background. She seems to have abilities that are recognized by the people, resulting in her having become a leader in Israel in a twofold way: that of judge and prophetess. The latter means she is a spokesperson for the Lord. This passage is the only place in the Bible that mentions her husband, Lapidoth.
5. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.
Deborah’s role as civil magistrate is revealed by the fact that Israelites come up to her for judgment (compare Exodus 18:13). The term mount Ephraim refers not to a mountain, but to the central hilly part of Israel (compare Joshua 17:15). The distance between Ramah and Bethel is about five miles, the towns lying about five and 10 miles, respectively, due north of Jerusalem.

The location of the palm tree of Deborah between the two towns probably places it within the tribal territory of Benjamin. We say “probably” because Bethel lies just outside the tribe’s territorial boundary, in Ephraim (Joshua 18:13).
Exodus 18:13, 13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.

Joshua 17:15, 15 And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.

Joshua 18:13, 13 And the border went over from thence toward Luz, to the side of Luz, which is Bethel, southward; and the border descended to Atarothadar, near the hill that lieth on the south side of the nether Bethhoron.
What Do You Think?
How do we keep cultural expectations regarding gender roles from being a greater influence in the church than the Bible itself?
Points for Your Discussion
Before such influence occurs (preventive measures)
After such influence occurs (curative measures)

B. Barak’s Call (vv. 6, 7)
6a. And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying.
Deborah fulfills her role as a prophetess: having received a message from the Lord God of Israel, she delivers it to Barak as the one to lead Israel in battle. Barak is a popular name, so the man is further identified by the name of his father and his place of origin. Abinoam is mentioned only here and in Judges 5:12. The word Kedeshnaphtali combines the name of the town Kedesh within the tribal territory of Naphtali. A bit of uncertainty exists regarding the location of this town. One proposal locates it on the southwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee; another proposal places it about 35 miles farther north (compare Joshua 12:22; 19:37; 20:7; 21:32; 2 Kings 15:29).
Judges 5:12, 12 Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.

Joshua 12:22, 22 The king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam of Carmel, one;

Joshua 19:37, 37 And Kedesh, and Edrei, and Enhazor,

Joshua 20:7, 7 And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.

Joshua 21:32, 32 And out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Hammothdor with her suburbs, and Kartan with her suburbs; three cities.

2 Kings 15:29, 29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.
6b. Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?
Barak receives his orders in terms of route of march and recruitment. Keeping in mind the current location of Deborah and Barak according to verse 5, mount Tabor is roughly 50 miles to the north and about 11 miles east of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee. This rounded mountain, which has been described as an upside-down teacup, lies just within the northern border of the tribe of Issachar, very close to where the border meets those of both Naphtali and Zebulun.
Men from these areas are likely to respond positively to a call to arms, for their families are likely to have suffered the most from two decades of oppression. The areas Naphtali and Zebulun form part of what is later called “Galilee of the Gentiles” in Matthew 4:15.
Matthew 4:15, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
7. And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.

How to Say It
Abinoam Uh-bin-o-am.
Canaan Kay-nun.
Ephraim Ee-fray-im.
Esdraelon Es-druh-ee-lon.
Harosheth Huh-roe-sheth
Jephthah Jef-thuh (th as in thin).
Kedeshnaphtali Kee-desh-naf-tuh-lye.
Kishon Kye-shon.
Lapidoth Lap-ih-doth.
Manasseh Muh-nass-uh.
Megiddo Muh-gid-doe.
Naphtali Naf-tuh-lye.
Sisera Sis-er-uh.
Zebulun Zeb-you-lun.

The Lord promises to do His part in the forthcoming battle: He will arrange for the enemy to gather near the river Kishon, which flows through the Jezreel Valley. The Israelite army at Mount Tabor will be several miles to the northeast. Once Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, hears that Israel has formed a fighting force, his natural reaction will be to muster his chariots and his multitude for a showdown (Judges 4:12, 13).

Judges 4:12, 12 And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.

Judges 4:13, 13 And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.
The reason for Barak to have been instructed to take his force to Mount Tabor becomes clearer: his force of foot soldiers will have a great defensive position there against chariots. Wheeled conveyances don’t function well in rugged, hilly terrain! But if Barak imagines the forthcoming battle to be defensive in nature, his thinking will change soon enough. The victory for his army is assured, but the manner of the victory will probably not be what Barak expects.

Prophets, True And False
Yogi Berra (1925-2015), legendary baseball player, manager, and coach of the New York Yankees, was notable for his incongruous statements. One such is his purported lament that “it’s tough to make predictions—especially about the future.” Our laughter should not cause us to forget that false predictions have consequences. God’s people of the old covenant were beset with false prophets (Jeremiah 14:14; Ezekiel 22:28; etc.); Jesus warned of the same for our era (Matthew 24:11).
Jeremiah 14:14, 14 Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.

Ezekiel 22:28, 28 And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken.

Matthew 24:11, 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
How right He has been! In September 2013, a purportedly Christian blog prophesied an earthquake of magnitude 9.7—the largest in recorded history—to strike the California coast on October 3. As with all such failed predictions, the primary result was to make Christianity seem a little less credible.
In striking contrast, true biblical prophets were always right (compare Deuteronomy 18:22), and Deborah’s prophecy of Israelite victory over the Canaanites came true just as she had relayed that assurance from the Lord (Judges 4:15). Jesus says we can recognize false prophets “by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15, 16). A track record of 90 percent accuracy isn’t good enough. Would you be able to explain why to a friend? —C. R. B.
Deuteronomy 18:22, 22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

Judges 4:15, 15 And the Lord discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.

Matthew 7:15, 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Matthew 7:16, 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
III. Collaborate as Needed (Judges 4:8-10)
A. Barak Balks (v. 8)
8. And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.
Although Barak knows the outcome that is promised, he voices the ultimatum we see here: he will go only if she will as well. His reasons are not given, so different ideas have been suggested. One theory is that Barak wants to have Deborah with him in case there are further instructions from God.
Another theory is that Barak lacks courage. Some object to this theory because Barak is listed as a man of faith in Hebrews 11:32 and is listed among other great leaders of the past in 1 Samuel 12:11 (there he is called Bedan, but the old Greek version, translated before the time of Christ, has the name spelled Barak). But courage can fail in even the greatest of leaders (example: 1 Kings 19:2, 3).
Hebrews 11:32, 32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

1 Samuel 12:11, 11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe.

1 Kings 19:2, 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.

1 Kings 19:3, 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
What Do You Think?
What are some ways to encourage others in their ministry tasks?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
In contexts of doubt regarding spiritual giftedness
In contexts of doubt regarding abilities
In contexts of previous ministry failures
Other
B. Barak Backed (vv. 9, 10)
9. And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.
Deborah follows the Lord and has the ability to make good decisions quickly. This may explain why she is a recognized leader. She is also one who is prompt in encouraging others to fulfill their roles. This trait is a positive factor in the lives of the people who consult her.
What Do You Think?
What has to happen for Christians to exhibit the leadership qualities of Deborah?
Points for Your Discussion
In terms of supporting appointments of others to leadership positions
In serving as an example to those already in leadership roles
In preventing godly confidence (2 Thessalonians 3:4; etc.) from becoming overconfidence (1 Timothy 1:7; etc.)

2 Thessalonians 3:4, 4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.

1 Timothy 1:7, 7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

Other
Deborah gives an additional prophecy, and Barak probably misunderstands the meaning of the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. He probably anticipates that it will be Deborah who brings an end to Sisera. However, the verses that follow the lesson text reveal that it will be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, who ends Sisera’s life (see Judges 4:11, 18-21).
Judges 4:11, 11 Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.

Judges 4:18-21, 18 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.
19 And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.
20 Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and enquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.
21 Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
10a. And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh.
The Kedesh that is located on the southwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee (see v. 6a, above) is an ideal place to muster troops from Zebulun and Naphtali before advancing to Mount Tabor. Men traveling in small groups toward Kedesh in answer to a call to arms will not attract much attention, since movement toward Kedesh is away from Sisera’s base at Harosheth (v. 2, above).
10b. And he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.
As ten thousand men follow Barak with Deborah accompanying, they can think about the years of oppression that their families have endured. The thought of ridding themselves of such misery may be what attracts men of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Issachar to participate as well (Judges 5:13-15a). Members of other tribes, however, do not participate (5:15b-17). By and large, the latter are located in areas away from the oppression that originates from the north, so they may feel that it is not their fight. Even so, the result will be victory and 40 years of peace (4:23, 24; 5:31).
Judges 5:13-17, 13 Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the Lord made me have dominion over the mighty.
14 Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.
15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart.
16 Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
17 Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches.

Judges 4:23,23 So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.

Judges 4:24, 24 And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

Judges 5:31, 31 So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.
Conclusion
A. Pick Your Heroes Carefully!
A counselor asked his client to think of the people he knew whom he admired. Then he was asked to consider what those people had ever done that was worthwhile. The client replied, “As I think about it, all they have ever done is to complain. They never do anything else.” He was advised to evaluate what he had said, and then to find some new heroes.
The account of Deborah and Barak illustrates that each respected the other. It also suggests that the soldiers in Barak’s army trusted his leadership. The combination of interpersonal respect and God’s help were the ingredients for success. And so it is yet today. Hebrews 11 encourages us to pick our heroes carefully! If their lives are not godly, how can they be our heroes?
What Do You Think?
What character traits do you look for in those whom you would accept as mentors? Why?
Points for Your Discussion
Regarding spiritual issues
Regarding vocational proficiency
Regarding consistency
Other

B. Prayer
Almighty God, grant us the wisdom to select godly men or women as our heroes and mentors! But most of all, empower us by your Spirit to imitate Christ. We pray this in His name. Amen.
C. Thought to Remember
Who we follow today shapes who we become tomorrow.