Questions for Week 4 – Jephthah
1. Read Judges 10:6-18. Can you find the four steps (rebellion, retribution, repentance, & renewal) that are typical of the pattern of failure and rebound in Judges? Unlike earlier episodes, here there is an extended dialogue between God and the people. What do you make of this exchange?
2. Read Judges 11:1-11. In the first three verses what is the portrait which emerges of the young Jephthah? What are the disadvantages of his upbringing? Any advantages?
3. Verses 4—11 describe the interaction between Jephthah and the elders. Why would either of the sides in this negotiation have concerns? Which side do you find yourself favoring? Why?
4. What do you make of Jephthah’s attempts to make peace both with countries he might pass through and also with the enemy Ammonites (vss. 12-28)? Should he have been more aggressive or was his care in trying to negotiate a good thing? Why? Does his example have anything to say to us as a world military power in the 21st century?
5. In verses 29—33 we have a very brief description of the victory and a longer note about a vow Jephthah makes. What do you make of the vow? Was it needed? What case can you make for Jephthah making a vow before the battle?
6. The remainder of the chapter deals with the result of the vow. Over the centuries, Jewish and Christian commentators generally believe that Jephthah indeed sacrificed the life of his daughter. But a second school of opinion favors the idea that her life wasn’t in danger but her status as a potential mate to carry on the family line (vs. 39). What do you think the writer of Judges is trying to tell us about the vow? Does it make a difference to the meaning of the story if she died or was consigned to perpetual virginity?
Here are the questions for your small groups that accompany the sermon preached by Kristi Ivanoff this morning.
1. Judges 3:12-30 tells the story of Ehud. Read it again. What strikes you as different between Ehud and Othniel (the judge who came before him)? What seems the same?
2. What elements in the story of Ehud seems odd to you living now in the 21st century? How do you deal with those parts of this story?
3. Judges 3:15 notes that the people cry out to God after 18 years of oppression. How does this compare with the earlier generation’s experience of crying out to the Lord (vss. 8-9)? Can you share a story of God answering a cry for help from your own life? How did God answer?
4. In verses 15 and 21 we are told that Ehud did not use his right hand (literally: “restricted to his left hand”). Perhaps he was just naturally left handed (considered a handicap in that day), or he had a physical problem with his right hand. Either way how might his “condition” have shaped his life? How does this fact play a part in the success of his endeavor for God?
5. As you consider the story of Ehud, what are the basic patterns of this story that help you understand how you relate to God?
Week 1: Background and First Judge (Othniel)
1. It has been suggested that Judges 17:6 “all the people did what was right in their own eyes.” sums up the lifestyle of the people in the days of the judges (@1200 B.C.). How contemporary is that observation for our own day? Give examples.
2. Judges 3:7-11 tells the story of Othniel. Read it again. What do we know about Othniel’s background (Judges 1:12-13)? How do you think his background plays into his success later in his life?
3. What is so bad about worshipping the Baals and the Asherahs (the male and female fertility gods of the Canaanites mentioned in vs. 7)? Are there gods of our land which threaten our standing with the true God? What are some of those gods?
4. Does the fact that it took eight years for the people to cry out about their bondage tell us anything? What have we noticed about how long it takes to cry out for God’s help in our own lives?
5. What in your own life do you need to cry out to God for deliverance from? Do you have expectations about “HOW” God should deliver you? What did God give Othniel that he needed to deliver Israel from her captors (v. 10)?
6. As you consider this passage, what is the basic pattern of what how the people relate to their God? Discuss how this pattern fits or doesn’t fit our own spiritual experience.
We hope we'll have many contributors from our congregation. I imagine we will have regular and occasional contributors. If you'd like to contribute a poem, a photo, a devotion or anything that you believe enhances our life together, please contact Pastor Criss to learn about posting.