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"Judges Then ~ Judges Now"

A Special Lesson Set from the Writing Team

Lesson Summaries


By today's standards, the Book of Judges can be a rough and violent read -- especially for young children. Even its "heroes" Deborah, Samson, and Gideon use violence in a way that most modern Christians find unacceptable and un-Christlike. And yet, violence is in the Bible, and in our schools, on the news, even in some of our students' personal lives --- so as teachers and pastors, we can't stick our heads in the sand about that.

So we decided to take up the challenge to find the lessons and life applications in Judges for children who follow Jesus.

To that end, the five creative lessons about "Judges Then, Judges Now" were written to help us with the following:

1. Address the issue of violence which our kids and world are confronted with every day, and which permeates Judges.  ...And do so from Jesus' perspective, not ancient Judges.

2. Help teachers and students realize there are some amazing stories and people in Judges (and quite a bit of humor) who are trying to figure out what it means to follow God.  These stories should not be avoided simply because we want to avoid some unpleasant truths about the book.

3. Show how the followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace wrestle with and re-interpret how to create a "Kingdom" ...dedicated to serving God, and treat those around us who oppose or ignore that Kingdom.

4. And surprise!  We think the Book of Judges judges itself!  The Book REPEATEDLY admits the failures of the Judges and their tactics. Please read our Bible Background to see that understanding and many other insights that will rekindle your memories and give you a lot to share with your students.

The following four lessons complement each other. They were primarily written for Rotation Model Sunday Schools' that will take several weeks to explore Judges and Jesus' command to love our enemies. Traditional Sunday Schools are encouraged to teach at least two of the workshops, especially the Video Workshop which has an excellent overview.

Lessons and Resources in This Set

Bible Background

Not to be missed, especially if you are unfamiliar (or tried to forget) what's in Judges, and need a new perspective on why and how to teach this book of the Bible. Fasten your seatbelt!

Bible Skills and Games Workshop

Students play two games: (1) How Few Can You Do? ...a game to condense several Judge's stories into keywords to remember and share as the scripture for the day. (2) And a "Who and How Do You Follow?" game based on the crazy children's game, "Poop Deck, Quarter Deck, Main Deck." Lots of great teachable moments and "things to say" included in this lesson plan.

Video Workshop

infectionmaskThis video workshop lesson utilizes a terrific section of one of the What's in the Bible? DVDs. The lesson includes an awesome reflection activity involving surgical-infection-control masks to illustrate what Judges is concerned about, being made sick by the surrounding culture. The lesson plan contains an outline of the video and discussion "pause points."

"Yay Boo Huh" Cue Card Drama Workshop

An easy-to-produce Drama that presents a creative and fast-paced, interactive overview of the Book of Judges, mentioning every Judge (and at least a smidgen of info about each).  The "Cue Card Drama" technique detailed in this lesson plan is a great way to cover large swaths of scripture in a fun way. It can also be used as a children's sermon or presentation in a worship setting by the children.


The "What Would Jesus Say?" Workshop

We've found four terrific video-shorts about Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, and Samson and wrapped some great discussion questions around them. The videos are online, free, animated, and very well-done.

Students select and share QUOTES FROM JESUS from a handout that they think Jesus would have said to the Judges in each of the stories. The Jesus quotes are a collection of his most famous sayings about violence, peace, enemies, turning the other check, etc. Students consider other ways the Judges could have solved their problems instead of resorting to violence. This lesson is also titled:  "Judges Then, Jesus Now!"

"We Don't Need Another Hero" - A Younger & Older Youth Discussion with Music Videos

This lesson features two video clips that present the same poignant song, "We Don't Need Another Hero," in two different ways. The first version is sung by Tina Turner, "the Queen of Thunderdome," and the second is sung by Pilate and Jesus in The Passion.

This "youth lesson" is something of a departure for the Rotation Writing Team. Normally we focus on elementary kids. But while working on the "Judges Then, Judges Now" lesson set, we realized that every lesson in the set could easily be adapted for younger and older youth classes, ...and should be. The topic of "violence and outsiders" is especially important for this age group and very much in the news, in the movies, and in their lives.

The Writing Team


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Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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