Lesson 15 - The Judges and The Kings

    Suggested Bible Reading: Judges, I Kings, II Kings

    In our last lesson, we learned that God kept His promise, and led the Israelites into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. But, after Joshua died, the Israelites soon forgot God. They followed the ways of the nations that did not know the true and living God. They made idols and worshipped them instead of the One True God. God wanted to remove the people of Canaan from the Promised Land and give it to the Israelites. However, Israel refused to believe and obey God, so He allowed some of the Canaanite people to remain in the land.

    The Time of the Judges

    This period of time is known as the time of the Judges. The book of Judges in the Bible records for us the moral corruption of the nation of Israel. It is perhaps the saddest period in the entire history of Israel. The Bible says in Judges 21:25, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” In Joshua, the nation of Israel was a victorious people, but in Judges they became a defeated people. The only thing that changed was that the nation of Israel stopped believing and worshipping the One True God.

    God punished Israel, because they forgot him and worshipped the idols of the Canaanite people. There is a 4-step cycle that is repeated 13 times in the book of Judges. First, the nation of Israel would sin through worshipping the false gods of the Canaanites. Secondly, God allowed surrounding nations to overcome Israel and make them slaves. Thirdly, the nation of Israel would eventually repent and cry to God for deliverance. Finally, when Israel truly repented, God chose a man to deliver them from their enemies. The people chosen by God to deliver Israel, were called judges. After the judge died, the Israelites went back to idolatry, and the same cycle repeated itself for 350 years.

    The Time of the Kings

    The nation of Israel was the most fortunate of all the nations, because their ruler and king was God himself. After the period of the judges, Israel rejected God and asked for a king like all the nations around them. Many kings ruled over Israel for the next 450 years. A few of these kings would believe and trust God, but many would not.

    King Saul was the first king of the nation of Israel, but King David, the second king, was actually the greatest king of Israel. Unlike many of the other kings who ruled over Israel, David truly believed in God and wanted to obey him from his heart. David, like all of us, was born a sinner and was separated from God. David knew that he was a sinner and that the wages of sin was death. He knew his only hope was to receive God's mercy and forgiveness. David believed God’s promise that a Savior would come, and God accepted him like Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Joshua. God even promised David that the coming Savior would be one of his descendants!

    After David's death, Solomon his son reigned. His wealth grew beyond what anyone could wish. He built a beautiful temple for God's presence to dwell in. After Solomon's death, the nation of Israel argued over who should be king, and they split into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom is referred to as Israel, and the southern kingdom is referred to as Judah. The book of I Kings begins with the reign of Solomon, and the book of II Kings ends with the termination of the Kingdom of Israel to the Babylonian captivity, because of Israel’s wicked rebellion and idolatry.

    The Prophets Warn of Coming Judgment.

    God loves every person from every nation and culture. He wants every person to be delivered from the power of Satan, sin, and death. Therefore, from the very beginning, God spoke to Israel through his messengers to teach people his ways and warn them of his judgment as a result of their sin. God's messengers were called prophets. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel were some of the well known messengers of God. You will find these and the names of some other prophets used as titles to the Old Testament books of the Bible which these men wrote.

    God's prophets told the people to repent and trust only in God. Repentance means to have a change of mind which results in a change of attitude and direction in life. To repent is to agree with God about your own sin. Many Israelites worshipped God in the temple Solomon built and also worshipped idols. The prophets told the people to choose who they were going to worship, either God or idols. They told them they could not truly worship God if they were worshipping anything else.

    The majority of the Israelites refused to obey the words of God. They persecuted and killed many of God's prophets. They continued to worship idols and follow the wicked ways of the surrounding nations. Besides the prophets sent by God, Satan sent false prophets to speak lies to Israel. Satan wanted to confuse them about what was true and what was false. Satan is a liar and a deceiver. They told the people that everything would be all right and that God would not punish them. Satan is still the same today. He sends his messengers who say that God's Word is not true or that God will not punish sin.

    God Destroys the Kingdom of Israel.

    God is patient and does not immediately punish sinners. He warned the people in Noah's time for 120 years before the flood destroyed them. For many hundreds of years, God sent his messengers to Israel. They warned them of God's coming judgment if they did not repent. Israel did not believe God. Therefore, God eventually allowed their enemies to fight against them and conquer them, because Israel would not repent and believe.

    The Assyrian army conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and took them away as captives (II Kings 17). Several years later, when the southern kingdom of Israel refused to repent, God allowed the Babylonians to take them away into Babylon (II Kings 24-25). The Babylonians smashed down the stone walls of Jerusalem and burned the temple of God which Solomon had built. God did what he had warned them he would do if they did not repent.

    After 70 years, the people of Judah in Babylon repented and asked God to take them back to their own land. God heard their cries for his help, and he brought them back to Jerusalem (Ezra and Nehemiah). They rebuilt the city and the walls around it. They also rebuilt the temple. The Israelites who returned to their land were also given another name. They were called Jews. The Jews continued to worship God, although the majority did not do it from their hearts.

    Their descendants did not believe and obey God. After many years, God judged the Jews again by allowing the Greeks to conquer and control their country and taught them to speak the Greek language. Many years later, the Roman army conquered Greece, and they took control of Jerusalem. Even though many Jews did not believe God, there was always a small number who believed God and His Word, given through his messengers. They were waiting for the coming Savior promised by God.

    Prophecies About the Coming Savior

    Hundreds of years before the Savior came, God through these prophets foretold many things about the Savior. These were written down in the Bible. There are more than 300 prophecies about the Savior. The following list has 15 of the more famous prophecies about the Savior. God gave these prophecies so no one would miss Him when He arrived. God wanted them to know who the Savior would be and when He would come. All these prophecies were given 400-1000 years before the Savior was even born. To make a comparison, imagine making predictions about a person who would live 400, 700, or even 1,000 years from now. These predictions would include the person's birth city, mother, and family line, events in the last week of his life, and specific details about his death and burial. And they all have to be 100% correct! Is this easy to do? It is not even humanly possible! The prophets said that the Savior would be…..
    1. Descendant of King David (Isaiah 9:6-7)
    2. Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
    3. Born in the city of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
    4. Called back from Egypt (Hosea 11:1)
    5. Riding on a baby donkey (Zechariah 9:9)
    6. Betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9)
    7. Sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12, 13)
    8. Accused by false witnesses (Psalm 27:12)
    9. Hit and spit upon (Isaiah 50:6)
    10. No response to accusations (Isaiah 53:7)
    11. Rejected by the Jews (Israelites) (Isaiah 53:3)
    12. Hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16)
    13. Clothing was gambled for (Psalm 22:18)
    14. Buried among the rich (Isaiah 53:9)
    15. Return to Heaven (Psalm 68:18)

    In the remaining lessons, we will see how the all powerful God fulfilled these prophecies in the life of the Savior. They are recorded in the next major section of the Bible called the New Testament.

    Study Questions

    1. What caused the nation of Israel to be a defeated people during the time of the Judges?

    2. The 4-step cycle that was repeated 13 times in the book of Judges was: Sin, Slavery, Repentance, and .
    3. Who was the greatest King of Israel?
    4. God promised King David that the coming Savior would be one of his descendants.
    5. The nation of Israel eventually split into 2 kingdoms called the kingdom and the kingdom.
    6. God’s prophets preached to Israel that they should…
    7. Satan sent false prophets to come and preach lies to the nation of Israel.
    8. Do you think there are many false prophets in our country today?
    9. God overlooked the idolatry of Israel and never really brought judgment upon them.
    10. There are more than prophecies that were made by the prophets concerning the coming Savior.

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