C.A.C SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR APRIL 16, 2023 : LESSON SEVEN: TOPIC – GOD’S GRACE IN THE ERA OF JUDGES
CHRIST APOSTOLIC CHURCH Nigeria & Overseas
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
THEME: Some Characters WHO GROW in the Grace and KNOWLEDGE
January to June, 2023
Unit Two: Spiritual Growth Before Christ Came
April 16 & 23, 2023
TOPIC: GOD’S GRACE IN THE ERA OF JUDGES
And the child grew in stature, and in favour both with the LORD and men (1 Samuel 2:26).
God’s grace manifest greatly in the era of the Judges. Deborah is a positive example of those of them who knew and grew in YAHWEH, manifesting His grace in special ways.
The gracious Lord, Who is just, righteous, and undiscriminating we with His grace, decided to replace Eli and his two sons, who were best described as sons of Belial, due to their worthless living. They were in the priesthood, with the little and gracious Samuel, who was in the place, an answer to the prayer of a barren woman, Hannah. Likewise, it was answer to the prayer of the people of God, who probably were tired of the atrocities of their existing priests, Hophni and Phineas.
Hophni and Phineas were examples of people who abuse the grace of God upon their lives. The grace of God brought, called and helped Samuel to grow. He grew in all ramifications–physically, spiritually, and otherwise. He was a sharp contrast to these usurpers who misappropriated the office graciously given to them. Samuel’s growth was like what is said about Jesus, as he too was growing (cf. Lk. 2:52). He was one of the judges under review, especially those who knew and grew in Yahweh. He kept growing before God and was maturing both spiritually and physically, including intellectually and emotionally, through the grace of God. He grew, until he knew God personally, and became mighty prophet and a judge in Israel. Christian must surrender themselves to God in order to experience full growth unto maturity, to be able to represent God at any level.
DEVOTIONAL BIBLE READINGS FOR WEEK ONE
Mon. 10: Gracious God Gives Deborah Victory (Jdg. 4:6-9)
Tue. 11: Gideon Encounters The God Of Grace (Jdg. 6:12-16)
Wed. 12: God’s Graciousness In Gideon’s Life (Jdg. 6:36-40)
Thur. 13: God Of All Grace And Jephthan (Jdg. 11:5-11)
Fri. 14: God is Interested In Your Vow (Jdg. 11:29-35)
Sat. 15: God Required Faithfulness To Vows (1 Sam. 1:24-28)
1. God’s grace is made readily available to us for the fulfillment of hiss purpose for our lives. The results are determined by our responses.
2. Yes! God’s grace is there to help us accomplish all He has for us; just that we have to positively respond to that grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, before it works for us accordingly.
3. The onus is on us to develop right attitude to the grace God has made available to us. That is when God will be glorified and happy with us while we are being fulfilled. Don’t be like some of the judges, the bad examples, who showed negative attitudes to the unlimited and sufficient grace of God.
BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 45:1-13
AIM AND OBJECTIVES
AIM: To show that people respond differently to God’s grace, and that determines what becomes of each individual.
OBJECTIVES: At the end of this lesson, learners should be able to:
i. explain how obedience to God is key to one’s level of spiritual maturity;
ii. prove that standing by the grace of God of all grace, against all oppositions, is a function of one’s level of growth in Him;
iii. show that God’s grace is never deserved by anyone, but is given by His prerogative; and
iv. explain how is that those who mishandle God’s grace will not go unpunished.
TEXTUAL SOURCES: JUDGES 2:11FF; 4:4-9, 21; 6:3FF; 13-16; 1 SAMUEL 1:1FF; 3:1FF
Glory be to God on the completion of lesson Six, titled: UNCOMMON GRACE IN MOSES’ MINISTRY. The uncommon grace at work in Moses life and ministry made him a god to Pharaoh. Miraculous signs were performed in Egypt through the hands of Moses, by the grace of God. He was able to lead the Israelites out of Egypt through the Mighty power of God. The grace of God inspired the people, and they gave generously towards the construction of the tabernacle. This kind of work had not been done before. Yet, God, out of His graciousness, released His Spirit on some men to be able to carry it out the way it was revealed to Moses. Honour to God for this wonderful grace!
People in time past, had a encounters with the gracious God, who is the God of the past, present and future, and knows the end from the beginning. For the next two weeks, we shall be studying a unique topic that makes us understand how the people, during the time of the judges, interacted with God of all grace, and its implication for us today. GOD’S GRACE IN THE ERA OF JUDGES is a study that evaluates the lives of some judges in the Bible, with respect to their responses to the grace of God. God had used people in time past to liberate His people from bondage slavery and so on. When His people sinned, He have them up to be punished. However, out of His graciousness, He had compassion on them when they realised their shortcoming, and raised judges for them to be delivered a various times.
Through this lesson, we shall see how some of the judges discovered their divine purpose in the grace of God, and their attitudes towards it. May the Lord help us through this lesson to maximise His grace, and not abuse it, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
This lesson is divided into two broad division further subdivided into A and B, respectively.
DIVISION I: SOME WHO KNOW AND GROW IN YAHWEH
This division reveals God as an embodiment and indiscriminate Giver of grace. He impartially gives grace to whoever He wishes. God endowed Deborah with His grace, and she served in Israel as a woman judge, and also, He gave Gideon, who hailed from the least family in Israel, including the stigmatised bastard, named Jephthan, grace. This grace also found Samuel, who was dedicated to God of all grace at a very tender age. The aforementioned responded positively to the unlimited and indiscriminate grace of God.
DIVISION II: SAMSON: A VERY BAD EXAMPLE
This division is particular about the extraordinarily powerful Samson, who was very special among all the judges. His grace was exceptional, starting from his miraculous conception, he grew to become a warrior and promising from his people from the Philistines. God gave him a smile to his barren parents and an answer to his people’s cry. He was a Nazirite, who was endowed with all he needed for success in life. Nevertheless, his untoward attitude to God, His grace and his Nazrite oath finished him, and made him a bad reference.
I. SOME WHO KNOW AND GROW IN YAHWEH
A. DEBORAH, GIDEON AND JAPHETHAN
B. SAMUEL GROWS IN GRACE
II. SAMSON: A VERY BAD EXAMPLE
A. HIGHLY ENJOYS UNDESERVED DIVINE FAVOUR
B. HIGHLY ABUSES GOD’S GRACE
April 16: I. SOME WHO KNOW AND GROW IN YAHWEH (Judges 2:1ff; 4:4-9,21; 6:3ff; 11:1ff; 1 Samuel 1:1ff; 3:1ff).
Knowing and growing in the grace of God is essential after receiving the grace. Growing unto maturity is encapsulated in the amount of knowledge one has, notwithstanding one’s background, gender, and circumstance. Attitude towards the grace matters a lot. God’s grace is unlimited, but kindly maximus the one you have received.
A. DEBORAH, GIDEON AND JAPHETHAN (Jdg. 2:11ff; 4:4-9,21; 6:3ff; 11:1ff)
And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judges (2:18a).
i. 2:11-16:YAHWEH is full of grace. He proved this to the Israelites, despite turning away from Him. He rose to solve their problems out of sheer mercy (cf. Lam. 3:22).
ii. 4:4-9, 21: Yes, God’s grace is not limited to any gender. He raised Prophetess Deborah, to oversee the victory that He graciously have to His people under Barak.
iii. Deborah’s efficiency evident in her having a home (the wife of Lapidoth; 4:4b), quality ministry (v.4), that she heard clear from God (vv. 6,7 must have resulted from her growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, over the years. You can’t do more than you know of the Lord (cf. Phil. 3:9, 10).
iv. Despite the devastating situation in Israel (6:3-6), God graciously found the industrious Gideon (“vv. 11). Why him? God must have seen something special in him. God sees us all and reckons with our levels of spiritual maturity (Jn. 6:12ff).
v. vv. 25ff: Gideon’s total obedience to the divine injunction to destroy Baal’s paraphernalia couldn’t have stemmed from anything other than his growing spiritual maturity. The more mature you are, the easier it becomes to obey God wholly.
vi. 11:1ff: Only grace could have located the stigmatised bastard, Jephthan, to make him chief over those who had once despised him. Thank God he appreciated this undeserved favour.
vii. How he told the history of God’s dealing with them to the enemy king shows a deep level of growth in the knowledge of God’s dealings. That boosted his confidence in YAHWEH. How much do you know of the goodness of Jesus?
viii. vv. 29ff: His attitude to his vow to the LORD is a function of his level of maturity in his relationship with YAHWEH. God cherished integrity and faithfulness (1 Cor. 4:2).
ix. The receipt of God’s grace is not determined by one’s past, background, gender, or prevailing circumstance. Yet one needs to make judicious use of it when it has eventually located one, just like some of the aforementioned judges.
B. SAMUEL GROWS IN GRACE (1 Sam. 1:1ff; 3:1ff)
And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favour both with the LORD and men (2:26).
i. 1:3: Samuel was God’s grace to a devoted family, obviously growing in the LORD. He was a product of God’s grace (v. 20), prayerfully dedicated to God to be growing in His grace and knowledge (2:1,11).
ii. vv. 11b-8: Samuel was graciously brought into the ministry. He was a sharp contrast to the wayward sons of Eli as he grew in the LORD. Those who know their God won’t follow the multitude of sin (Exod. 23:2; cf. Dan. 1:8).
iii. vv. 21:b, 26: …the child Samuel grew before the LORD. He was growing both before, and in the LORD. Though young, he didn’t waste the opportunity of sleeping in his place, close to the Ark of God (3:3). Not just his body, his heart was indeed close to Him. How close are you to the Lord?
iv. 3:1ff: Samuel’s consistent growth in the LORD distinguished him, by God’s grace, even in the midst of the spiritual laxity and moral decadence championed by Eli’s sons. He was privileged to see what others, including the ‘big’ Eli couldn’t see.
v. vv. 19-21: As he cooperated with God and continued to grow in grace, God did not allow his words fall to the ground (v. 19), and his calling as a prophet was confirmed.
vi. The Church, home and lives that lack the Ward of God are undoing themselves; it spells doom (“Lam. 2:9). Try to know and grow in Christ to increase your chances of being fruitful and productive with His grace bestowed on you.
1. The grace of God is available to all, irrespective of your gender, background, exposure and prevailing situation.
2. Stand out for the God of all grace wherever you are; don’t follow those who dishonour His grace.
WORK TO DO
God’s grace is available to all;;our responses to it determine the results we get. Discuss this in the light of the lifestyles of Hophni, Phinehas and Samuel.
SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO
i. Yes, God’s grace is available to all, irrespective of colour, age, gender, family background, or past, whether rough or not.
ii. Of course, our attitudes towards the grace of God determines the outcome of our lives. Our choices determine the consequences we get.
iii. Hophni, Phinehas and Samuel were all ministers of God. What a privilege! But. Pitifully, of the three, only Samuel utilised the grace of God to serve as priest, well. The other two, Eli’s sons, abused the grace.
iv. 1 Sam. 2:27 implies that Hophni and Phinehas were more privileged than Samuel, to be priests after Eli, their father, had they been faithful.
v. Since it is not possible for God’s grace to abound with sin (Rom. 6:1), these evil brothers’ lives were cut shut in a single day, when their father also painfully died.
vi. Meanwhile God, the gracious and just, paid Samuel handsomely for his faithfulness and integrity.
vii. No one can mock God;;whatever anyone sows, he reaps. If you cooperate with God’s grace, and appropriate it, you will be rewarded bountifully, but if otherwise, expect the other side.
viii. The 3 men mentioned here were privileged to be priests. The difference is in their attitudes/ responses to that grace. Only Samuel would live to thank God for his actions.
ix. How faithful are you to God and humanity?