Course Name: [ Old Testament Survey ] Lesson Four: [ Joshua, Judges, Ruth ] The Historical Books, Part One

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1 Course Name: [ Old Testament Survey ] Lesson Four: [ Joshua, Judges, Ruth ] The Historical Books, Part One Following the Old Testament books of the law, we discover our next major section of Scripture often referred to as the historical books. There are twelve historical books, beginning with Joshua and ending with Esther. These tell the story of Israel s history from their entrance into the Promised Land to their return from exile, covering a period of approximately one thousand years. We will survey this portion of Scripture in three parts: Joshua, Judges, Ruth 1 Samuel-2 Chronicles Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther 1. Joshua As this book begins, there are three important realities we need to know about the Israelites: An achievement. They had come out of Egypt, through the Red Sea and the wilderness to the edge of the Promised Land. A transition. They were about to cross the Jordan River to enter Canaan and begin laying claim to the land. A challenge. There were hostile people in the land who would oppose and fight against them at every turn. Joshua is charged with the task of leading the Hebrew nation into this land of promise. He is responsible to make sure they drive out the enemies from the land so that God s people will be free from ungodly moral and spiritual influences.

2 Conquering warfare and conquering faith are at the core of everything that happens in this book faith based on God s Word revealed to Israel in His Law. Joshua 1:8-9 (NIV) Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. The 24 chapters can be outlined as follows: Entering the Promised Land (1-5) Conquering the opposition (6-12) Inheriting the land (13-24) Chapters 1-5 focus on preparations for entering the land. This includes: Joshua s commissioning Reconnaissance of Jericho Crossing the Jordan River Confirming God s covenant The cessation of manna Then in chapters 6-12 we see Israel conquering the land with victories marked by God s supernatural intervention. Jericho taken Achan s sin Ai conquered The campaign extended to the north, south and central areas of the land Chapters record the division of the land according to the various tribes of Israel in fulfillment of God s promises. Joshua 21:43-45 (NLT) So the Lord gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies. 45 Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had Pastor Dale O Shields // The Historical Books, Part 1 // Page 2

3 spoken came true. Joshua s farewell sermon before he dies at 110 years old provides a strong conclusion to the book and exhortation for God s people to serve and obey Him in the Promised Land. Joshua 24:14-18 (NLT) So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. 15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. 16 The people replied, We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. 17 For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. 18 It was the Lord who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the Lord, for he alone is our God. 2. Judges This book describes the influence and importance of Israel s leaders called judges after the death of Joshua. Their leadership was especially crucial during times of moral crisis and the ensuing oppression by Israel s enemies. Samuel is traditionally seen as the author of these 21 chapters. Judges tells us about a frequent historical pattern for Israel during this period of time: Moral and spiritual compromise Oppression of Israel by one of her enemies A cry of desperation and repentance by the people of God The calling and promotion of a divine judge to deliver Israel and lead her to victory over her oppressor Peace and prosperity in the land This cycle is repeated at least six times: Judges 3:5-11. Mesopotamia oppressed Israel eight years and Othniel was raised up as the deliverer. Judges 3: The Moabites oppressed Israel for 18 years and Ehud and Shamgar were raised up as deliverers. Pastor Dale O Shields // The Historical Books, Part 1 // Page 3

4 Judges 4:1-5:3. The Canaanites oppressed Israel for 20 years and Deborah, with Barak, was raised up as a deliverer. Judges 6:1-10:5. The Midianites oppressed Israel for seven years and Gideon was raised up as a deliverer. Judges 10:6-12:15. The Ammonites and Philistines oppressed Israel for 18 years and Jephthah was raised up as a deliverer. Judges 13:1-16:31. The Philistines oppressed Israel for 40 years and Samson was raised up as a deliverer. Judges concludes with a summary of the terrible anarchy that prevailed in Israel during this era. Judges 21:25 (ESV) In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. 3. Ruth In the midst of this spiritual decline in the time of the judges, the story of Ruth shines a light of redemption and hope. This short book of four chapters is a moving love story that focuses on three main characters: Naomi Ruth Boaz Each chapter tells us something about Ruth s heart to love Naomi, serve God and fulfill His redemptive purpose. These can be outlined as follows: An important decision (chapter 1): Ruth commits to staying with her grieving mother-in-law Naomi. A servant s heart (chapter 2): Ruth gleans from Boaz s field to provide for Naomi. A submissive heart (chapter 3): Ruth submits to Naomi s desires to make herself available to Boaz. A divine reward (chapter 4): Boaz pursues and marries Ruth as her kinsman-redeemer. There is important typology in the book of Ruth that points ahead to the revelation of Christ and His church in the New Testament. As the kinsman-redeemer, Boaz sees, loves and marries. He can be seen as a type of Christ the Redeemer. Pastor Dale O Shields // The Historical Books, Part 1 // Page 4

5 As the bride, Ruth chooses, seeks and receives. She can be seen as a type of the church the redeemed people of God. These first three historical books reveal God s heart for Israel as He establishes them in the Promised Land. Joshua and Judges show us how He provides leaders to direct and deliver them. And Ruth reminds us that the Lord s redemptive love for His people prevails as His plan of salvation continues to unfold. Pastor Dale O Shields // The Historical Books, Part 1 // Page 5

6 Small Group Discussion Guide Getting Started Why is it important for us to understand the history of God s dealings with Israel? How does this impact us as followers of Jesus? Talking It Over Read Joshua 1:8-9. What do these verses tell us about God s pathway to success for His people? Look again at the frequent historical pattern of Israel revealed in the book of Judges. What lessons can we learn from this that will help us avoid the kind of spiritual decline they suffered? How does the story of Ruth provide a ray of light to Israel in the dark time of the judges? What does Ruth teach us about serving God s redemptive purposes? Putting the Word to Work Joshua has given us a tremendous challenge and exhortation to be strong and courageous through faith in God s Word and obedience to His commands. Take time to think and pray about one area of your life where you need to be faith-filled and courageous to take new ground, and begin to apply this to your situation. Memorizing the Word Joshua 1:8 (NIV) Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Pastor Dale O Shields // The Historical Books, Part 1 // Page 6

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