These small group studies of Judges contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Judges 1 Inductive Bible Study
The people of Judah conquer many cities (1-10)
Caleb conquers his inheritance (11-15)
Failure to conquer all the cities (16-26)
More failure to drive out the Canaanites (17- 36)
Why did God give the nation of Israel the promised land?
When did God give it to them? (See Genesis 12-)
Four main points for chapter 1.
1. Discuss the historical background for the book of judges.
a. Go briefly through Genesis, Exodus and the wilderness years.
b. Discuss major figures Abraham, Moses, and Joshua.
2. Why should we study judges? What are the main points of the book?
a. In Judges we can see man’s gross sin and immorality, even for those who know God. We see man’s problem. This sin is sometimes shown quite vividly and is a horrible reminder of how far man can fall when he does things without God and according to “what is right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25
b. This problem is highlighted by the fact that continues to show grace again and again, yet they repeatedly rebel against Him. So, man’s sin, God’s grace. It is part of the entire Old Testament saga preparing people for the coming of Christ.
c. The book shows us many examples of the power of faith and how God blesses those who are faithful to Him.
d. The book gives many examples of leadership qualities that a godly leader should possess.
e. The book shows us the weaknesses and strengths of many believers so that we can learn from their lives and avoid the same mistakes that they made.
f. The book shows a repeated four step cycle that takes place seven times in the book. That is 1. Falling into sin, idolatry, and apostasy. 2. God’s punishment. 3. Israel cries for help. 4. God delivers via a judge. We should try to avoid this “sin cycle” in our lives.
3. It was God who gave this land to the people of Israel. God promised it to Abraham centuries before. Genesis 13:14-18. God owns the entire world and it is His right to give it to whom He pleases. He so pleased to give this small piece of land to the people of Israel. At that time it was relatively unpopulated. Abraham showed great faith in the Lord and God rewarded him with this blessing. This tells us many things about God’s nature.
He is sovereign. He is the Creator so everything belongs to Him. See. Psalms 50:10. He giveth and He taketh away. He chose to give this land to the people of Israel. But at various times in Israel’s history He also chose to take it away for short or extended period of times. His concern was for what was best for the people of Israel.
God’s ways are not our ways. He is not obligated to follow our criteria or our set of principles or rules. He is just and everything He does is just. Isaiah 55:8-9
God bestows His grace abundantly on those who believe in Him and trust in Him. He gives us everything we need and more. 2 Corinthians 12:9. Jonah 2:8 (Notice that this grace could belong to anyone, but because people reject God and turn to idols they don’t get it.) Galatians 3:18. This was completely based on grace, not based on anything they had done.
He is also just. For Jews or non-Jews alike who didn’t follow Him, God punished them.
4. Commands to wipe out the Canaanites and the answers to one common question many ask of God.
Overview of Canaanite religion and culture – Their religion included such practices as child sacrifice (some in fire). Numerous pits have been discovered filled with skeletons of small children, probably sacrificed by the Canaanites. It also included incest, bestiality, homosexuality, and cultish prostitution, both male and female. There is evidence that other peoples besides Israel disagreed with some of these practices, but the Canaanites were totally sold out to them.
Many people ask, “how can a righteous God murder so many people, including children?” How would you answer this question?
What are some of the reasons why God gave this command?
What do you know about the Canaanite religion and culture?
What other similar examples can you see in Scripture where God judged whole peoples?
What can we learn about God from this?
Why was God just in doing this?
What principles can we learn and what applications can we make from this in our culture and lives today?
(God’s command to destroy the Canaanites) –
This was not a new command. It had been given concerning all of the Canaanites in Deuteronomy 7:2-6 and it was applied specifically to the Amelikites in Deuteronomy 25:17-19. There are several reasons given in the Bible why God told Israel to utterly destroy them. Firstly, they were evil. Their practices were abominable to God. We know both from the Bible and from other historic documents that the Canaanite civilization was perhaps the most wicked and vile ever known in the world (see above). Their sin was a stench in God’s nostrils and the very land spewed or vomited them out (Leviticus 18:25). They were descended from Esau and also were exposed to the Israelites and the true teaching from God. Yet they rejected it in favor of a vile, sensuous, and brutal religion. God’s just character requires Him to punish evildoers. Generally He is patient (and He did wait hundreds of years to use Israel to wipe out the Canaanites), but His patience doesn’t last forever and He decided to judge the Amalekites sooner rather than later. Secondly, according to Deuteronomy 7 and other Scriptures, if any portion of these wicked nations were allowed to remain they would ensnare Israel and lead them away from the true God to worship their false gods and also practice abominations. Israel did not completely wipe out those nations and what God prophesied did happen, not only once but numerous times (1 Kings 14:22-24, Jeremiah 32:35). At various times in their history they not only worshipped false gods, but also had hundreds of false prophets who practiced bloodletting (during the time of Ahab), had male cult prostitutes, and sacrificed their children by fire to Molech.
God doesn’t need justification or to “prove” Himself to us when He acts. However, it is clear that He had plenty of reason to give the command to wipe out the Canaanites. Some ask about “innocent” babies. First of all, not one is innocent. Babies are also guilty from the time of their birth. Secondly, the sin of parents does effect and have consequences of others. Thirdly, if indeed babies go to heaven it was a blessing for them. Fourthly, it was necessary to destroy everyone. If any were left they would grow up and almost surely practice the same sinful abominations that their parents practiced.
God also judged other nations and peoples at various times. He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (from this example and Abraham’s talk with God we know God doesn’t generally destroy the righteous with the wicked). Also God judged the entire world, which was “filled with violence”, with the flood. Somehow it is easier to accept when God uses natural forces, yet it is the same using His people or wind or water and God is just as just no matter which method He chooses.
We can learn some principles from this. We CANNOT say it is good for us to kill sinners or practice genocide as some have said before. This is a narrative passage, yet we can glean some principles from it, ones that are supported by other Scripture or by commentary from God or the author. One clear one is that God is just and judges sinners. Another is that we need to be extremely careful not to be influenced by culture or unbelievers around us, and also not to leave any sin or foothold for Satan (Ephesians 4:27) in our lives. If we give a foothold to Satan he will use it and influence our lives negative, trying to turn us from God. Different applications can be made from this principle and could include such things as getting rid of music, dvds, magazines, or books that are influencing us in worldly things. Or we can learn to renew our minds in God’s Word regularly, establish fellowship with people who can keep us accountable, or the like.