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Leaders Guide

Exploring the Old Testament Historical Books

A 13-Week Adventure
in the NIV Discovery Study Bible
Objectives
Through this 13-week course your group members will:
Read major portions of the historical books of the Old Testament for
themselves
Actively study persons and events that convey vital lessons for Gods
people of every era
Grow closer to God as they hear and respond to his Word

Why teach the NIV


Discovery Study Bible?
You teach the Bible
just the Bible!
You get your group
members into Gods
Word!

Materials
FOR THE LEADER

An NIV Discovery Study Bible


A notebook for recording study insights
This free on-line Leaders Guide

You can teach the


whole Bible in eight
13-week courses!

FOR EACH GROUP MEMBER

An NIV Discovery Study Bible


A notebook for recording study insights

Procedure
During the week before each group session, group members will complete the Assignments in one or two
of the Study Centers built into the NIV Discovery Study Bible and record their discoveries in a notebook.
During the group session, you will ensure that your group members understand the significance of what
they have studied and help them grasp contributions to their personal relationship with the Lord.

Lesson Plans
Each lesson plan for Exploring the Old Testament Historical Books states specific goals for that group session and lays out a variety of activities that will help you reach those goals. The group session will usually
include five segments: Introduce, Inform, Interact, Internalize and Inspire.
Introduce
You will choose
from several activities that will get
the group session
started.

Inform
You will provide
input (such as a
mini-lecture or
chalkboard illustration) that will bring
the significance of
the Bible passages
into clear focus.

Interact
You will actively
involve your group
members in probing the passages
they have studied.
Each lesson plan
gives you several
activities to choose
from.

Internalize
You will provide
your group members with an opportunity to explore
their own experiences and personalize the truths
studied. (This is
an optional section
that may be used
for groups that
meet for longer
than one hour.)

Inspire
You will encourage
personal application of the truths
studied and motivate your group
members for the
following weeks
fresh discoveries
in Gods Word.

Getting Started
WITH AN ESTABLISHED GROUP

Six weeks before the first group session, tell your group members about the exciting opportunity they have
to explore Gods Word using the unique NIV Discovery Study Bible. Determine how many NIV Discovery
Study Bibles you will need to order.
Two weeks before the first group session, distribute the NIV Discovery Study Bibles and inexpensive
loose-leaf or spiral-bound notebooks. Ask your group members to read the NIV Discovery Study Bibles
Introduction to the Historical Books (page 259) and complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 21 (Jos
112) in preparation for the first group session. Encourage them to use their notebooks to record discoveries, thoughts and any questions they may have.
WITH A NEW GROUP

Eight weeks before the first group session, begin promoting the NIV Discovery Study Bible and the Exploring
the Old Testament Historical Books elective. Encourage potential group members to sign up immediately.
Five weeks before the first group session, order NIV Discovery Study Bibles for those who have signed
up. You may also wish to order additional Bibles for late enrollees.
Two weeks before the first group session, distribute the NIV Discovery Study Bibles and inexpensive
loose-leaf or spiral-bound notebooks. Ask your group members to read the NIV Discovery Study Bibles
Introduction to the Historical Books (page 259) and complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 21 (Jos
112) in preparation for the first group session. Encourage them to use their notebooks to record discoveries, thoughts and any questions they may have.

A 13-Week Overview
The NIV Discovery Study Bible contains 20 built-in Study Centers to be used in conjunction with this
Exploring the Old Testament Historical Books course. You will cover the 20 Study Centers in just 13 group
sessions. Your group members will be asked to complete selected Study Center Assignments before each
group session and review three Study Centers on their own. Although they will not necessarily read every
word in the Old Testament Historical Books, they will read and study the key passages that are essential for
understanding the message of the Historical Books of the Old Testament.

Exploring the Old Testament Historical Books


LESSON

STUDY CENTER

REFERENCE

FOCUS

21

Jos 112

The Conquest of Canaan

22

Jos 1324

Occupying Canaan

23
25*

Jdg 1:13:6; 1721


Ru 14*

The Era of the Judges


The Story of Ruth

24

Jdg 3:716:31

Meet the Judges

2627

1Sa 115

Samuel and Saul

28

1Sa 1631; 1Ch 110

Saul and David

2930
31*

2Sa 121; 1Ch 1120


2Sa 2224; 1Ch 2129*

Davids Successes and Failures


Davids Last Days

32

1Ki 111; 2Ch 19

Solomons Reign

33, 35

1Ki 1222; 2Ki 117

The Northern Kingdom

10

34, 36

2Ki 1820; 2Ch 1032

The Southern Kingdom

11

3738

2Ki 2125; 2Ch 3336

The Fall of Judah

12

39
40*

Ezr 110; Ne 113


Est 110*

Return to Judah
The Story of Esther

13

Review

* optional reading and study to be done on their own

LESSON 1
study

enter

21

The Conquest of Canaan


LESSON AIMS

To appreciate the historical and theological significance of the Israelites conquest of Canaan
To sense the necessity of obedience for victorious Christian living
PREPARATION

Read the Introduction to the Historical Books (page 259 in the NIV Discovery Study Bible).
Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Center 21.
Complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 21.
Create your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
Set Goals. Quickly review the Introduction to the Historical Books with your group members. State the benefit of studying the Historical Books by quoting from the Introduction: You will have a grasp of the flow of
the Old Testaments story. But even more, you will learn truths from the experience of others that can
change your life here and now.

Inform
Time Line Preview. Draw a time line identifying pivotal points in Old Testament history. This time line will
supplement material in the NIV Discovery Study Bibles Introduction to the Historical Books (page 259),
which your group members should have read before the group session. Encourage your group members to
copy the time line in their notebooks. Draw on material from the Introduction to comment briefly on the
significance of each pivotal point.

Conquest

Era of
Judges

1400 B.C.
Canaan Won

Anarchy

Saul
Crowned

David
King

Solomon
King

1050

1010970 970930

Monarchy United Kingdom

ISRAEL Northern Kingdom


Israel falls
to Assyria

930

722

Divided Kingdom
JUDAH

586
Judah falls
to Babylon

Babylonian
Captivity

538

458

444

Return
to Judah

Ezra

Nehemiah

Southern Kingdom

Interact
Team Bible Study. Divide into teams of five or six persons to work on the Assignments in Study Center
21. Have a third of the teams work on Assignment 2, a third work on Assignment 3, and a third work on
Assignment 4. Each team is to answer the questions in their Assignment and determine what they can
apply from the reported incident to their lives. Have the teams report to the group.

Internalize

(OPTIONAL)

To reach your goals in this course, it is essential to actively involve your group members not only in exploring the events recorded in the Historical Books, but in applying them to their lives as well.
Role-Play. Assign half of your group to play the role of Rahab (Jos 2) and half to play the role of other
citizens of Jericho. Give your group members five minutes to read Joshua 2 and take on their roles. Then
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have the Rahabs and the other citizens discuss the following questions from their own viewpoints: What
do we know about the Israelites? About their God? How does this make us feel? How should we respond
when the Israelites come? Why would we make this choice?
After thoroughly exploring these questions, have your group members drop their roles and answer the
following questions: What was the critical difference between Rahab and the other citizens of Jericho? What
can we apply to our lives from her story?

Inspire
Option 1
Summarize. Joshua 21:45 expresses the spiritual significance of the story of the conquest: Not one of all
the LORDs good promises . . . failed. The story of the conquest also taught important lessons:
Through Rahab, we are reminded of the importance of trust.
Through Jericho, we are reminded of the importance of obedience.
Through the story of the Gibeonites, we are reminded of the importance of seeking Gods
leading before making important decisions.
Promise your group members that during this study they will learn important truths about their relationship with God and their relationships with others.
Option 2
Responsive Reading. Psalm 105 celebrates events that culminate in the conquest of Canaan. Read this
psalm responsively, alternating the reading of verses between yourself and the group.
Close in prayer, thanking God for each group member and for the confidence that he will enrich each
life as you study his Word together.

ASSIGNMENT

As background, have your group members carefully read the Landmark The Abrahamic Covenant at
Genesis 12 and the Landmark The Law Covenant at Exodus 20. They should then study the Mastery
Keys in Study Center 22 and complete Assignments 15. Encourage your group members to take the
Self-Test (located in the back of the NIV Discovery Study Bible) when they complete the Assignments in
each Study Center.

LESSON 2
study

enter

22

Occupying Canaan
LESSON AIMS

To understand the significance of the Abrahamic covenant and the law covenant as background to the
conquest and the Historical Books
To see the distributed land as a direct gift of God
To have each group member sense his or her special place in life as a gift from Gods hand
PREPARATION

Prepare a background lecture from material in the Landmarks The Abrahamic Covenant at Genesis 12
and The Law Covenant at Exodus 20.
Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Center 22.
Complete Assignments 15 in Study Center 22.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
Recall. Break into groups of three persons. Have each person share with the other persons in the group
what he or she dreamed of being during his or her teen years. Then have each one share his or her
response to the question, Has life turned out to be disappointing or satisfying?

Inform
In Canaan the Israelites were sure they were exactly where God wanted them to be. As background, your
group members need to understand the Abrahamic covenant. It is equally important for your group members to understand the relationship between the Abrahamic covenant and the law covenant.
Option 1
Illustrated Discussion. Discuss the Landmark The Abrahamic Covenant at Genesis 12. On the chalkboard
list the column headings Promises for Abrahams Lifetime and Promises Beyond Abrahams Lifetime.
Together list appropriate promises under each heading. Carefully go over how the beyond promises are
being fulfilled in history, noting especially the promise of the land of Canaan in Genesis 12:7.
Although Israels occupation of Canaan in 1400 B.C. was not complete fulfillment of Genesis 12:7, it was
a fulfillmentevidence of Gods commitment to his people and to the promises he had made Abraham
and his descendants.
Option 2
Illustrated Mini-Lecture. The conquest was possible only because the new generation of Israelites was obedient to God. Help your group members see the critical difference between the Abrahamic (promise)
covenant and the law covenant, as explained in the Landmark The Law Covenant at Exodus 20. Focus on
the relationship of the law to the promises given to Abraham for the generations of Jews who lived before
the final fulfillment at historys end.

The Two Covenants


c. 1830 B.C.

c. 1400 B.C.

Christ

Historys end

Abrahamic ____________________________________________________ Fulfilled


Law______________________|
You may wish to refer to Galatians 3:1723, which emphasizes the temporary nature of the law and the
fact that it was in force only until Christ.
Be sure that your group members understand the relationship between eschatological blessings (blessings at historys end) promised in the Abrahamic covenant and the contemporary blessing available to generations of Israelites who were faithful to God and kept his law. Use the following illustration: Suppose a
teen has a trust fund of one hundred million dollars that will be turned over to him at age 50. It is his moneybut he will only receive it when he reaches age 50. Suppose, however, that under certain conditions he
will receive the interest earned by the trust before age 50. The Abrahamic covenant is like the one hundred
million dollars; it is to be paid out at historys end. The Mosaic Law is like a statement of the conditions
under which the Israelites would receive interest on the promisesblessings in their here and now.
The conquest generation had been obedientthey were where God wanted them to be, and God had
blessed them by giving them the land. In fact, the history of Israel demonstrates the following principle:
When Israel obeyed, the people were blessed; when they failed to obey, they knew troubles and tragedy.

Interact
Option 1
Assignment Response. Ask your group members about the events recorded in Joshua 22. What do they
reveal about the dedication of the Israelites at that time? What was the significance of the replica of the
altar?
Option 2
Assignment Response. Ask your group members about their discoveries as they completed Assignment 5.
What is meant by covenant renewal? What seems significant about the chapters in which covenant
renewal is mentioned? Let your group members discuss whether something similar might be significant for
believers todaywhether for individuals, local churches or the entire Christian community.

Internalize

(OPTIONAL)

Mini-Lecture. In Psalm 16 David praises God, saying, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; you
have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance (Ps 16:56). David was looking back to the conquest and referring to the fact that the land
was distributed by lot (Jos 14:12; cf. Pr 16:33).
To the Israelites this implied that God had personally given each tribe, each clan, even each family, its
own homesteadits own place in the promised land. David applied this image to his own life. God had
assigned him his portion in life and his cup (his experiences). God established the boundary lines within
which David lived and had worked to accomplish whatever purpose he had in Davids life.
This is an important truth for us to apply to our lives. God has assigned to each of us our role in life.
It may not be the role we dreamed of, but he is the one who has established the boundary lines within
which we live. Within those boundary lines we can find our fulfillment and our role in his plan. Ask your
students to meditate on these verses in Psalm 16 and silently thank God for the place he has prepared
for them.

Inspire
Responsive Reading. Read Psalm 16 responsively, as an expression of praise.

ASSIGNMENT

Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Center 23. Complete the Assignments. Be prepared
to discuss Assignment 2, 3 or 4 in depth.
6

LESSON 3
study

enter

23

The Era of the Judges


LESSON AIMS

To
To
To
To

provide an overview of conditions during the era of the judges


understand the causes of the spiritual breakdown during this era
identify the consequences of the spiritual breakdown during this era
relate characteristics of the era of the judges to our own time

PREPARATION

Read the Introduction to Judges and the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Center 23.
Complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 23.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
Evaluate. Draw a horizontal line on the chalkboard. At the right end of the line, write Holy; at the left end
of the line, write Corrupt. Label the line with the present year. Ask your group members to mentally place
a mark on the line, indicating where they feel our current society falls on the continuum. Then ask each
group member to indicate where he or she wants you to place his or her mark, giving one or two reasons
why he or she chose that point.
Leave this marked continuum line on the chalkboard.

Inform
For several hundred years after the death of Joshua, the Israelites lived as separate, rather than united,
tribes with no central government. During those centuries, the failures described in Judges 1:13:6 directly
led to the terrible religious, moral and social corruption of Israel described in Judges 1721.
Option 1
Group Bible Study. Identify the causes of the dark days of the judges. As you work through Judges 1:13:6
together, be sure that your group members understand that while the Canaanites had been defeated by
Joshua, not all were driven from the land. As a tribe grew in number, it was expected to take and occupy
more of the land it had been given (Jdg 1:126). But in time, rather than driving out the Canaanites, the
Israelites allowed them to stay on as forced labor (Jdg 1:2736). An angel then confronted the Israelites,
identified their sin (2:15; cf. Jos 23:17), and spelled out the consequences that would follow (2:1123).
The remaining Canaanites would corrupt Israels faith and lead Gods people into idolatry and immorality.
Option 2
Mini-Lecture. Cover the material from Option 1 in a mini-lecture.

Interact
Team Study. Divide into teams of five or six persons. Give each team one of the following three sets of
questions to discuss and report on to the group.

Team 1: Review Judges 1718. List evidence that the faith of Israel had been corrupted.
What beliefs and actions show an ignorance of Gods laws? What impact did this
ignorance have on individuals and even tribes? Where on the continuum line
between Holy and Corrupt would you locate Israel in the time of the judges?
Team 2: Review Judges 19. List evidence of moral corruption in Israel. What actions were
clear violations of Gods laws? What actions would violate anyones sense of
morality? Where on the continuum line between Holy and Corrupt would you
locate Israel in the time of the judges?
Team 3: Review Judges 2021. List evidence of a breakdown in Israels society as a
whole. What actions taken by the tribe of Benjamin were wrong? What actions
taken by the other tribes were wrong? Where on the continuum line between
Holy and Corrupt would you locate Israel in the time of the judges?

Internalize

(OPTIONAL)

Option 1
Revisit the Continuum. Draw another continuum line above the one drawn at the beginning of the group
session. Label this line 1950. Ask each group member to decide where he or she would place our society
on the 1950 continuum line. Record each group members mark along this new continuum. Then compare
the two lines. Where do most marks fall on the present-day continuum? On the 1950 continuum? Is our
society becoming more holy or more corrupt?
Option 2
Discuss. In view of the causes of the moral corruption of Israels society in the era of the judges, what can
be done to prevent a similar slide into corruption by our nation today?

Inspire
Preview. Give a brief preview of the book of Ruth, which pictures a godly family living in the dark days of
the judges. Even in a corrupt society, individuals can live lives that honor God. Encourage your group members to look at the book of Ruth on their own (see Study Center 25), even though the book of Ruth will not
be covered in a group session.

ASSIGNMENT

Examine the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Center 24 and complete Assignments 14. Encourage your group members to spend extra time on Assignment 3.

LESSON 4
study

enter

24

Meet the Judges


LESSON AIMS

To understand the repeated cycles of human failure and divine grace that marked the era of the judges
To glean lessons for our lives from the experiences of three of the major judges
PREPARATION

Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Center 24.


Complete Assignments 14.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
Be sure your group members understand the repeated cycles that marked this era. They reveal Israels failure to learn from past sins and Gods patient grace in restoring his people when national disasters forced a
return to him.
Option 1
Chart. Have your group members list the six elements of the cycles (see the chart Overview of Judges
at Judges 4).
Option 2
Identify. Using either Judges 3:711 or Judges 3:1230, have pairs of group members work together to
identify verses or phrases that reflect each element in the cycles. Have group members report their findings
by reading the appropriate verse or verses and listing the corresponding element. Record these on the
chalkboard.
Option 3
Quiz. Using Judges 3:1230, have each group member identify each element in the repeated cycles that
marked the age of the judges. Then have them write beside each element the specific verse or verses that
describe that element.

Inform
No judge governed all the Israelite tribes; judges governed one tribe or, at most, several tribes. The judges
in the Bible also fought against a number of different oppressors. Talk to group participants about the following five narrative cycles that occur in the book of Judges, and the light they shed on the variety of challenges faced by Gods people during this time:
1. Ehud (3:12-30), a lone hero from the tribe of Benjamin who delivered Israel from
oppression from the Moabites in the east.
2. Deborah (chs. 4-5), a woman from one of the Joseph tribes (Ephriam, west of the Jordan) who judged at a time when Israel was being overrun by a coalition of Canaanites
under Sisera.
3. Gideon and his son Abimelech (chs. 6-9), whose story of battle against the Midianites
forms the central account. In many ways Gideon was the ideal judge, evoking memory
of Moses, while his son was the very antithesis of a responsible and faithful judge.
9

4. Jepthah (10:6-12:7), a social outcast from the other Joseph tribe (Manasseh, east of the
Jordan), who judged at a time when Israel was being threatened by a coalition of powers under the king of Ammon.
5. Samson (chs. 13-16), a lone hero from the tribe of Dan who delivered Israel from
oppression from the Philistines in the west.
(Above information paraphrased from the Zondervan NIV Study Bible, p. 328. 2002 by Zondervan.)

Interact
Team Study. The experience of each judge contains spiritual lessons that Christians today can apply to their
lives. Divide into teams based on the judge each group member chose to study for Assignment 3. Give
each team a list of questions about their chosen judge. Then have each team report to the group.
Team 1: Who was Gideon? What doubts did he have when the angel of the Lord
appeared to him? How did he express his doubts (Jdg 6:1123)? When Gideon
realized that the Lord had called him, how did he show both faith and fear (Jdg
6:2436)? Did Gideon seek a sign from God before or after he obeyed Gods
command? What was the purpose of putting out the fleece (Jdg 6:3740)? Why
did God reduce the size of Gideons army so greatly (Jdg 7:18a)? Why do you
suppose God let Gideon overhear the dream he had given to a Midianite (Jdg
7:8b15)? Go back over each passage indicated above and list lessons that can
be applied to our lives today.
Team 2: Who was Jephthah? Why wasnt he acceptable to his half brothers (Jdg 11:12)?
Why did the elders later appeal to Jephthah? How did Jephthah respond? Why
did he respond this way (Jdg 11:311)? What does Jephthahs letter to the
Ammonite ruler reveal about his knowledge of, and his relationship with, the Lord
(Jdg 11:1427)? What was the nature of Jephthahs vow? Why do you suppose
he made it? Why do you suppose both he and his daughter were committed to
keeping the vow (Jdg 11:2940)? Go back over each passage indicated above
and list lessons that can be applied to our lives today.
Team 3: Who was Samson? What was unusual about Samsons birth and upbringing (Jdg
13:125)? What did Samsons passion for a Philistine woman reveal about his
character? How and why do you suppose God intended to use this particular passion of Samsons (Jdg 14:17; 15:15)? How do you explain Samsons failure to
be supported by his fellow Israelites when the Philistines set out to capture him
(Jdg 15:617)? What does Samsons end reveal about him and his judgeship
(Jdg 16:2131)? Go back over each passage indicated above and list lessons that
can be applied to our lives today.

Inspire
Option 1
Mini-Lecture. The era of the judges underlined realities stated in the law covenant (cf. Dt 28): Faithfulness
to God brings blessing; disobedience brings defeat. The persistent repetition of these cycles demonstrates
how deeply sin is ingrained in the human heart. It also reveals the fact that sinners always seem to expect
their actions to have no consequences. What is amazing is the fact that God remained faithful to his people
despite their repeated apostasies and failures. He was ever ready to deliver them whenever they turned
back to him. What a hope we have in him! We will fail at times, and sometimes we will fail repeatedly. But
God keeps on loving us, and when we turn to him, he will again pick us up and bless us.
Option 2
Responsive Reading. Read responsively Psalm 107:1016. Then close in prayer.

1 0

ASSIGNMENT

Next week we will look at the end of the era of the judges and Israels transition to a monarchy. The two
key figures in the transitional process were Samuel, the last judge, and Saul, Israels first king. Group
members are to read the Background and Mastery Keys of Study Centers 2627 and complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 26 and Assignments 16 in Study Center 27.

1 1

LESSON 5
study

enters

2627

Samuel and Saul


LESSON AIMS

To understand the factors in Israels transition from leadership by judges to leadership by kings
To understand the strengths, weaknesses and transitional roles of Samuel and Saul
To draw personal applications from the transitional period and its leading figures
PREPARATION

Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Centers 2627.


Complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 26 and Assignments 16 in Study Center 27.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
Mini-Lecture. Point out that Samuel was Israels most effective judge. Under his leadership the Philistines
were defeated and a spiritual revival brought a lengthy period of peace. But when Samuel was old, his
sons displayed a very different character, and the people demanded a king. The king they were given was
Saul, a man who looked the part but whose flaws made him ineffective and disqualified him as ruler of
Gods people.

Inform
Assignment Discussion. Write the questions from Assignments 16 in Study Center 27 on the chalkboard.
Invite volunteers to answer the questions. Listen to various viewpoints, but make sure each volunteer can
point to evidence in Scripture for his or her contribution.

Interact
Team Study. Have your group members look closely at the following incidents to see what God was teaching his Old Testament peopleand us. Divide into teams of five or six persons for these explorations. Have
each team report its findings to the group.
Team 1: The Capture of the Ark of the Covenant
Have these teams focus on the following verses and talk about their implications:
1 Samuel 4:111; 5:18; 6:121. These teams should see that both the
Philistines and the Israelites confused the ark of the covenant with God. We are
not to rely on a symbol but on the reality of Gods presence and power.
Team 2: The Desire for a King
Have these teams focus on the following verses and talk about their implications:
1 Samuel 8:19; 8:1922; 10:1726. These teams should see that the Israelites
were unwilling to trust God to provide what they needed (including leadership);
therefore, they wanted a hereditary monarchy like the nations around them. We
are not to rely on a particular form of government or on human leaders. We are
to rely on God.

1 2

Team 3: Sauls Flaws


Have these teams focus on the following verses and talk about their implications:
1 Samuel 13:115; 15:131. These teams should see that an inability to trust
God in difficult circumstances and a desire to please people rather than obey
God are serious flaws in spiritual leaders. For spiritual leaders to succeed, they
must trust God and be committed to doing his will, whatever others may think.

Internalize

(OPTIONAL)

Personalize. Divide into teams of three persons. Have each team come up with two lessons that Christians
today can learn from one of the following persons featured 1 Samuel 115: Hannah, Samuel or Saul.
Let each team briefly share its lessons with the group.

Inspire
Hannahs Prayer. Have your group members silently read Hannahs prayer (1Sa 2:110). Have them pick a
phrase in the prayer that expresses a spiritual principle illustrated in the story of Samuel or that of Saul. Let
each group member share the verse he or she chose and relate an incident or story that illustrates the principle. Then close in prayer.

ASSIGNMENT

After Saul failed as king, Samuel was sent to anoint a person who would become the Old Testaments
prototype king and the ancestor of Jesus, the promised Messiah. Your group members are to read the
Background and Mastery Keys in Study Center 28 and the Landmark David at 1 Samuel 17 and complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 28.

1 3

LESSON 6
study

enter

28

Saul and David


LESSON AIMS

To introduce David, one of the major figures of the Old Testament


To contrast the relationships that David and Saul had with the Lord
To draw personal applications from the stories recorded in 1 Samuel 1631
PREPARATION

Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Center 28.


Complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 28.
Read the Landmark David at 1 Samuel 17.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
Option 1
Comment. Have your group members briefly respond to the question, What would be the best thing about
having a person like David as a friend?
Option 2
Comment. Have your group members briefly respond to the question, What quality of David do you most
admire?

Inform
First Samuel powerfully contrasts David and Saul as persons and their relationships with God.
Option 1
Mini-Lecture. Prepare a brief mini-lecture contrasting the relationships David and Saul had with God.
Option 2
Reports. Ask three group members to read aloud the paragraphs they wrote contrasting David and Saul
(Assignment 3).
Option 3
List. Invite your group members to list the contrasts between David and Saul that they identified when
completing Assignment 3.

Interact
Stories about David in 1 Samuel 1631 reveal much about Davids character and his relationship with God.
They also illustrate spiritual truths that we can apply in our lives today.
Team Bible Study. Divide into teams of five or six persons. Assign each team one of the following passages describing an incident in Davids life. Each team is to title its passage and then come up with principles for living that can be applied to our lives today. Encourage your group members to look for more than
one principle in each incident. Have each team briefly describe the incident and list the principles they
defined. Feel free to change or add to the passages suggested below.
1 4

Team 1: 1 Samuel 17:155


This team might come up with principles such as:
Keep your eyes fixed on God, not your circumstances.
Learning Gods faithfulness in small things prepares us to trust him
when big challenges come.
Team 2: 1 Samuel 22:623
This team might come up with principles such as:
Dont ignore first impressions.
Accept responsibility for your errors in judgment.
Team 3: 1 Samuel 23:14
This team might come up with principles such as:
Dont rely on the gratitude of those you have helped.
Keep seeking guidance from God every step of the way.
Team 4: 1 Samuel 26:111
This team might come up with principles such as:
Carefully evaluate the advice of your friends before acting on it.
Dont act hastily; trust God to deal with your enemies in his own time.
Team 5: 1 Samuel 27:112
This team might come up with principles such as:
Dont expect too much of godly people; every believer is vulnerable
to doubt or depression at times.
One wrong choice often leads to others.

Inspire
Unison Reading. The superscription to Psalm 57 tells us that this psalm reflects Davids emotions and his
prayer when he rejected the opportunity to kill Saul in a cave (1Sa 24). Remind your group members that
it is often difficult to do the right thingbut it is vital if we are to maintain a right relationship with God and
right relationships with others.

Internalize

(OPTIONAL)

Self-Examination. Ask each group member to silently examine his or her own life by reflecting quietly on
the question, Are any of the principles shared in this group session relevant to you today? Have each group
member meditate on this question and pray silently. Then close in prayer.

ASSIGNMENT

Study the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Centers 2930. Complete Assignments 14 in Study
Center 29 and Assignments 14 in Study Center 30. Tell your group members to be prepared for a quiz
covering these Assignments at the beginning of the next group session.

1 5

LESSON 7
study

enters

2930

Davids Successes and Failures


LESSON AIMS

To
To
To
To

understand Davids accomplishments in unifying Israel


understand the significance of the Davidic covenant
realize that the greatest of saints may also be flawed
apply lessons drawn from Davids experience to our lives today

PREPARATION

Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Centers 2930.


Complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 29 and Assignments 14 in Study Center 30.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
There is much critical content that needs to be covered in this group session if your group members are to
have an understanding of the Old Testament Historical Books.
Option 1
Time Line. Reproduce the time line introduced in Lesson 1. Locate David and the establishment of the united Hebrew kingdom on the time line.
Option 2
Quiz. Have your group members list from memory Davids accomplishments (see Assignment 3 in Study
Center 29). Go over the list together, commenting briefly on each accomplishment. Be sure your group
members realize that Davids unification of Israel as a nation is a turning point in the history of Gods Old
Testament people.

Inform
The Davidic covenant represents a further revelation of how God intends to keep the promises given to
Abraham (see the Landmark The Abrahamic Covenant at Genesis 12).
Option 1
Discussion. Look together at the Landmark The Davidic Covenant at 2 Samuel 7. Read it aloud and comment on key provisions.
Option 2
Mini-Lecture. Give a mini-lecture on the historic and prophetic significance of the Davidic covenant, specifically relating this promise covenant to the earlier Abrahamic covenant.
Option 3
Group Bible Study. Follow the Repeated Theme Davidic covenant in the side column at 2 Samuel
7:1112. Read selected verses in the chain that reflect the prophets portrayal of this covenant as one being
worked out in future history.

1 6

Interact
David was committed to God, but he was also a flawed human being. As Martin Luther reminds us, believers are both saints and sinners. Only of Jesus can we say that it was impossible for him to sin.
Option 1
Discuss. Divide into teams of five or six persons. Each team is to identify Davids weaknesses and how they
affected his personal life, his family and his nation.
Option 2
Team Study. As a group, come up with a list of Davids flaws and weaknesses. Then divide into teams of
five or six persons to answer the following questions:
Team 1: How did Davids weaknesses affect his personal life?
Team 2: How did Davids weaknesses affect his family?
Team 3: How did Davids weaknesses affect his nation?
Have each team give a brief report on how Davids weaknesses affected him, his family and his nation.

Internalize

(OPTIONAL)

Meditative Scripture Reading. From David we learn that even the greatest saints are vulnerable to sin, and
we learn how gracious God is to forgive us when we turn to him. Read aloud Psalm 32:17. Before you
begin reading, tell your group members that you will pause for 1520 seconds after each verse to allow
them time to meditate.

Inspire
Mini-Lecture. David originally tried to deal with his sins by denial. Finally, in confession, he found forgiveness and peace. Encourage your group members to learn from Davids experience that sins do have consequencesfor those we love as well as for ourselves. Encourage them to face and deal with any sins by
admitting them and seeking the forgiveness God is so eager to provide. Incorporate verses from Psalm 32
and Psalm 51 into this mini-lecture. Invite volunteers to close with sentence prayers.
Close in prayer. Ask God to help your group members make wise choices and avoid sin. Ask God to
soften their hearts so they will quickly admit their failure and come to him for forgiveness.

ASSIGNMENT

Group members are to complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 32. They may look at Study Center
31 on their own whenever they choose, as that material will not be covered in a group session.

1 7

LESSON 8
study

enter

32

Solomons Reign
LESSON AIMS

To understand the significance of the temple Solomon constructed in Jerusalem


To develop lessons from Solomons life that we can apply to our lives today
PREPARATION

Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Center 32.


Complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 32.
Study the Closer Look Solomons Greatness at 1 Kings 3:10 and the Closer Look Solomons Last
Years at 1 Kings 11:4.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
Solomon was an individual who began his reign with an unquestioned commitment to God. But he lost his
bearings and ended his life alienated from the Lord and miserable.
Option 1
Brainstorm. Draw a time line of Solomons reign. Label the left side of the line 970 B.C. (when Solomon
began his reign) and the right side of the line 930 B.C. (when Solomon died). Have your group members
suggest critical events and choices in Solomons life (see Assignment 1). Estimate the location of these
events and choices along the time line. How might we characterize Solomons life? What seems to stand
out?
Option 2
Time Line and Mini-Lecture. Draw a time line depicting Solomons reign, as in Option 1 (above). Briefly
describe critical events and choices in Solomons life, such as those found in 1 Kings 3:49; 6:1; 8:1521;
8:2261; 9:35; 11:13; 11:48; 11:913. How might we characterize Solomons life? What seems to
stand out?

Inform
Solomon maintained and strengthened the united Hebrew kingdom forged by his father, David. Under
Solomon, Israel became wealthy as well as strong. Although Solomon unwisely introduced oppressive taxes
to support his building projects, his greatest contribution was the construction of the Jerusalem temple.
Mini-Lecture. Read 2 Chronicles 7:13. The phrase glory of the LORD in the Old Testament indicates
the Lords presence in a special way. God answered Solomons prayer to be present for his people in the
temple. From that time on, sacrifices and offerings were to be made only at the Jerusalem temple, and
praying toward the temple symbolized appealing to Israels God rather than another deity. From the temples dedication to its destruction in 586 B.C., the temple was the focal point of Israels worship, and the
spiritual condition of Israel was reflected in the peoples abandonment of, or emphasis on, temple worship.

1 8

Interact
Team Bible Study. Divide your group members into teams of five or six persons. Have each team go over
either Assignment 2 or Assignment 3 in Study Center 32. Allow teams to give brief reports.
Team(s) 1: Review the accounts of Gods communication with Solomon. What impressions do you have of each account? What are possible implications of the fact
that God spoke to Solomon directly rather than through prophets?
Team(s) 2: Review Solomons blessing of the people and his prayer at the dedication of
the temple. What seems most significant about his prayer? What does it suggest about Solomons relationship with God at that time?

Internalize

(OPTIONAL)

Share. Invite your group members to share any lessons they have learned from the life of Solomon. Sum
up by pointing out how important it is to remain committed to the Lord and not be distracted by accomplishments or turn aside to sin. Read Ecclesiastes 2:111 to illustrate how much we lose when we turn our
backs on God. Close in prayer, asking God to powerfully apply the lessons that relate to each group members life.

Inspire
Antiphonal Scripture Readings. Divide your group into two teams. Team 1 is to read 1 Kings 11:111, and
Team 2 is to read Ecclesiastes 2:111. After Team 1 reads 1 Kings 11:1, Team 2 will read Ecclesiastes 2:1.
The two groups are to continue reading, alternating between the passages, reading one verse at a time.
Have volunteers close in prayer.

ASSIGNMENT

Next week we arrive at another critical point in Israels historythe division of the united Hebrew kingdom of David and Solomon into the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Assign Study
Centers 33 and 35. Your group members should complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 33 and
Assignments 1 and 3 in Study Center 35.

1 9

LESSON 9
study

enters

33, 35

The Northern Kingdom


LESSON AIMS

To
To
To
To
To

understand the reasons for the division of Solomons kingdom


understand the features of the counterfeit religion of the northern kingdom
understand the ministry of the prophets to the northern kingdom
review the two-century history of the northern kingdom
apply lessons from the northern kingdoms experience to group members lives

PREPARATION

Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Centers 33 and 35.
Complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 33 and Assignments 1 and 3 in Study Center 35.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
During its entire two-century history, the northern Hebrew kingdom (Israel) was not ruled by a single
godly king!
Option 1
Time Line and Discussion. Reproduce the time line introduced in Lesson 1. Focus attention on the divided
kingdom, specifically the line depicting Israel, the northern kingdom. Ask group members to list impressions
they gained of the northern kingdom while completing this weeks assignment.
Option 2
Time Line and Mini-Lecture. Reproduce the time line introduced in Lesson 1. Focus attention on the divided kingdom, specifically the line depicting Israel, the northern kingdom. During the two centuries of its existence, the northern kingdom had nine different dynasties and nineteen kings: eight kings died a natural
death; seven were assassinated; one was a suicide; one was killed in battle; one died of injuries suffered in
a fall; and the last disappeared into captivity. Scripture says that they all did evil in the eyes of the LORD.

Inform
Solomons sins led to the division of his kingdom; however, it was the false religious system instituted by
Jeroboam that set a religious course that doomed the northern kingdom.
Option 1
Team Bible Study. Look together at the account in 1 Kings 12 that records the division of the kingdom after
Solomons death. First read the promise God made to Jeroboam (1Ki 11:3739). Have your group members read Jeroboams response (1Ki 12:2533) and list the elements of the counterfeit religion Jeroboam
established in the northern kingdom. These include the following: worship at Bethel and Dan rather than
Jerusalem, erection of calf-idols, ordination as priests of men who were not descendants of Aaron, establishment of alternate religious holidays, and offering sacrifices on altars besides the altar of the Jerusalem
temple. Each element of his system directly violated Moses law.

2 0

Option 2
Mini-Lecture. Review 1 Kings 11:3739; 12:2533. List the elements of the counterfeit religion Jeroboam
established. Note that every ruler of the northern kingdom maintained this counterfeit religion.

Interact
Despite the persistent rebellion of kings who did evil in Gods eyes, the Lord sent prophet after prophet to
the northern kingdom in futile attempts to turn that nation back to him.
Option 1
Preview. Have two or three group members give their impressions of the difference between Davids
response to Nathan and the response of Israels kings to the prophets God sent them.
Option 2
Team Bible Study. Divide into teams of five or six persons. Each team will look at one ministry of a prophet
to Israel. Each team is to (1) describe the nature of the prophets ministry (e.g., warning, giving military aid,
etc.), (2) relate the response of the king, and (3) describe how this ministry showed that God was gracious
to Israel and her kings despite their rebellion against him. Have teams report their findings to the group.
Team
Team
Team
Team
Team
Team

1:
2:
3:
4:
5:
6:

Ahijah (1Ki 14:120)


Jehu (1Ki 16:16)
Elijah (1Ki 18:1644)
Micaiah (1Ki 22)
Elisha (2Ki 5:119)
Elisha (2Ki 6:823)

Option 3
Share. Give your group members the opportunity to share their impressions of the kings of Israel and the
history of that nation. Discuss lessons from Israels history that nations today would be wise to apply.

Inspire
One of the consequences of the religious apostasy of the kings and the people of the northern Hebrew
kingdom was the corruption of their society.
Review. Briefly review the religious, moral and social corruption that marked the era of the judges as a
result of a failure to obey God (see Study Center 23). Then read aloud the description of Israels society in
the time of Jeroboam II, as recorded by the prophet Amos (Am 5:415; 6:18).

Internalize

(OPTIONAL)

Epitaph. Have your group members read the summation of Israels fall found in 2 Kings 17:723. Have
each group member write an epitaph that might well have been engraved on the tomb of the northern
kingdom. After the epitaphs have been read aloud, ask each group member to write the epitaph he or she
would like on his or her own tombstone.
Close in prayer, asking that the personal history of each member of your group be the opposite of the
history of the fallen northern kingdom of Israel.

ASSIGNMENT

Next week your group members will look at the southern kingdom (Judah). They are to study the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Centers 34 and 36 and complete Assignments 13 in Study Center
34 and Assignments 14 in Study Center 36. Remind your group members of the option of college certification for completing this study. Have enrollment forms available for those who may want them.

2 1

LESSON 10
study

enters

34, 36

The Southern Kingdom


LESSON AIMS

To gain an overview of the history of Judah to approximately 700 b.c.


To learn the elements of the revivals that preserved the southern kingdom
To apply lessons from Judahs history to the lives of Christians today
PREPARATION

Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Centers 34 and 36.
Complete Assignments 13 in Study Center 34 and Assignments 14 in Study Center 36.
Memorize the characteristics of revivals identified in the Closer Look Revivals at 2 Chronicles 15:119.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
While some of the kings of the southern kingdom were evil, it was the dedication of godly rulers who stimulated spiritual revivals that preserved Judah as a nation when the northern kingdom fell.
Option 1
Brainstorm. Have your group members suggest critical differences between the kings and kingdom of
Judah and the kings and kingdom of Israel. List these on the chalkboard.
Option 2
Reasoning. Have your group members raise their hands to indicate whether they would have preferred to
live in Judah or Israel had they lived in 800 B.C. Ask group members to explain their choices. List their reasons on the chalkboard.

Inform
The critical difference between the northern and southern Hebrew kingdoms was spiritual. This is seen at
the division of the kingdom and throughout each kingdoms history.
Option 1
Mini-Lecture. After Solomons death Rehoboam of Judah ruled a single tribe, while Jeroboam of Israel ruled
ten tribes. But the numerical dominance of Israel was not as great as one might assume. When Jeroboam
set up his counterfeit religion, a significant number in Israel slipped over the border and settled in Judah,
where they could worship God as he had commanded. At the time of the division, Judah was able to field
an army of only 180,000 (2Ch 11:1). Just 18 years later, the army numbered 400,000 (2Ch 13:3).
Judahs greatest advantage was spiritual. Judah was not only populated by many individuals who truly
loved and worshiped God, but it also had a number of godly kings who provided spiritual, as well as political, leadership.

2 2

Option 2
Judah Overview. Each group member made a chart of the kings of Judah in Assignment 2 in Study Center
34 and in Assignment 1 in Study Center 36. Before the group session begins, place the framework for such
a chart on the chalkboard (see below) and list the names of the selected kings. Have your group fill in the
cells in the chart, indicating (1) whether the ruler was godly, evil or a mixture; (2) what happened to the
king; and (3) what happened to the nation under his leadership.
Chart Framework
KING

Abijah

Asa

Jehoshaphat

Jehoram

Ahaziah

Joash

Uzziah

Hezekiah

GOOD/
BAD
KING ?
NATION ?

When the chart is complete, have your group members identify any patterns that appear. Discuss the
significance of these patterns.

Interact
Although the kings and people of Judah often drifted away from God, repeated revivals led by godly kings
in times of national distress preserved the nation. We, too, may drift away; and we, too, can be revived.
Option 1
Quiz. Assignment 3 in Study Center 34 instructed your group members to memorize the characteristics of
revivals stated in the Closer Look Revivals at 2 Chronicles 15:119. Ask each group member to look at the
account of King Jehoshaphat (2Ch 17; 1920) and identify verses in which each characteristic is mentioned.
Either have group members exchange papers or have them grade their own papers as the group
names the characteristics of revivals and identifies verses in which these characteristics appear in the
account of Jehoshaphat.
Option 2
Quiz. Assignment 3 in Study Center 34 instructed your group members to memorize the characteristics of
revivals stated in the Closer Look Revivals at 2 Chronicles 15:119. Have each group member list these
characteristics from memory.
Have each group member check his or her own quiz answers. Then, as a group, work through the
accounts of King Asa (2Ch 1416) and King Jehoshaphat (2Ch 17; 1920) to identify these characteristics
in the revivals led by these two kings of Judah.

Internalize

(OPTIONAL)

Ultimately it was trust in God and reliance on him that made the difference in Judahas it makes the difference in our lives as well.
Group Bible Study. Have group members identify references to trust and depend in 2 Kings 1820
(see Assignment 3 in Study Center 36). Invite volunteers to share the paragraph they wrote on the significance of trust in saving Judah. Then lead a discussion on the importance of trust in our lives today.

Inspire
Responsive Reading. Read Psalm 37:117 responsively. Ask volunteers to close in prayer, expressing their
personal commitment to trust in the Lord.
ASSIGNMENT

Next week begins a study of the last years of Judahs existence and includes an important review. Assign
Study Centers 3738, including all Assignments. Also take this opportunity to promote the next Exploring course from the NIV Discovery Study Bible.
2 3

LESSON 11
study

enters

3738

The Fall of Judah


LESSON AIMS

To understand conditions in the southern kingdom between 700 and 586 b.c.
To begin the process of reviewing the Old Testament Historical Books
PREPARATION

Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Centers 3738.


Complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 37 and Assignments 14 in Study Center 38.
Duplicate the list People and Events in the Historical Books (located at the end of this lesson plan)
for each group member.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
Despite the revivals led by Hezekiah and Josiah, the last 120 years of Judahs existence were marked by
precipitous spiritual, moral and social decline.
Option 1
Recall. Assignment 1 in Study Center 37 instructed your group members to pay careful attention to Manasseh and Josiah, two kings of Judah who ruled during this period. Write the names of these two kings on
the chalkboard. Under each name write everything that your group members can recall about the king and
his rule.
Option 2
Discuss. Who do your group members think had a greater impact on Judahs future, Manasseh or Josiah?
Have group members support their opinions with details from the rules of these kings, from the later history of Judah, and from the writings of the prophets Habakkuk, Ezekiel and Jeremiah (see Assignments 34
in Study Center 37).

Inform
After the fall of Israel to the Assyrians, Judah, now commonly called the surviving kingdom, lasted for just
over 150 years.
Option 1
Mini-Lecture Review. Despite the revival under Hezekiah that preserved Judah and Jerusalem from the
Assyrians (700 B.C.), the nation experienced a steady decline. This was accelerated during the 55-year rule
of Manasseh. Despite Manassehs late conversion and his futile efforts to undo the harm he had caused,
the revival led by the passionate king Josiah, and the ministry of the prophets Habakkuk and Jeremiah in
Judah, the people and society of the surviving kingdom were too committed to their sinful ways to turn
back to God.
God had given Judah repeated opportunities to truly repent. But when Gods grace is persistently
rejected, a line is finally crossed, and judgment is assured.

2 4

Option 2
Silent Scripture Reading. After the mini-lecture review, have your group members silently read the account
of the fall of Jerusalem that is found in Jeremiah 52.

Interact
Review is vital in learning any subject matter. It is especially important in understanding the Historical Books
of the Old Testament.
Option 1
Kingdom Time Line Review. Assignment 2 in Study Center 38 instructed your group members to draw a
time line covering the kingdom period (1050586 B.C.). Ask a volunteer to duplicate his or her time line on
the chalkboard, including approximate dates of significant events. Then ask another volunteer to add significant people to the time line.
Option 2
Expanded Time Line Review. Ask another volunteer to expand the time line to include the period from the
conquest to the establishment of the monarchy (c. 14501050 B.C.).
Option 3
Challenge. When the expanded time line is on the chalkboard, challenge your group members to locate
additional persons, events or Old Testament books along the time line. Present these one at a time, letting
group members volunteer. Be sure each group member has an opportunity to go to the chalkboard and
write in at least one person, event or Old Testament book (select from the list People and Events in the
Historical Books, which is located at the end of this lesson plan).

Inspire
Option 1
Brainstorm. With the time line complete, have your group members suggest lessons that believers today
might learn from either the history of Israel, specific events or the lives of individuals.
Option 2
Handout. Hand out the list People and Events in the Historical Books, which is located at the end of this
lesson plan. Encourage your group members to use the list for review, placing each item along an expanded time line (1450586 B.C.).

ASSIGNMENT

The people of Judah languished in Babylon for some 70 years. Then Cyrus the Great of Persia, who took
the Babylonian Empire, permitted captive peoples to return to their homelands. Group members are to
study the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Center 39 and complete Assignments 14 in Study
Center 39.

2 5

People and Events in the Historical Books


Be prepared to identify and locate each item on a time line covering 1450586 b.c.
MAJOR FIGURES

MAJOR EVENTS

OLD TESTAMENT BOOKS*

Abner
Absalom
Ahab
Ahijah
Amnon
Asa
Athaliah
Bathsheba
Caleb
David
Deborah
Eli
Elijah
Elisha
Gideon
Goliath
Habakkuk
Hannah
Hezekiah
Isaiah
Jehoshaphat
Jehu
Jephthah
Jeremiah
Jeroboam I
Jezebel
Joab
Joash
Jonathan
Joshua
Josiah
Manasseh
Naomi
Nathan
Nebuchadnezzar
Omri
Rahab
Rehoboam
Ruth
Samson
Samuel
Saul
Sennacherib
Solomon

Counterfeit religion set up in Israel


David becomes king
Davidic covenant established
Death of Joshua/covenant renewal
Defeat at Ai
Establishment of the monarchy
Fall of Jericho
God saves Jerusalem from the Assyrians
Hezekiahs revival
Jerusalem established as the capital
Jerusalem temple dedicated
Josiahs revival
Manassehs evil rule
Northern kingdom falls
Philistines capture the ark
Southern kingdom falls
United kingdom divides

Joshua
Judges
1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings
2 Kings
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
Ezra
Nehemiah
Esther

*Know the approximate time period covered and the major figures featured.

2 6

LESSON 12
study

enter

39

Return to Judah
LESSON AIMS

To understand the impact of the captivity on the Jewish people


To understand the nature of the return from captivity in Babylon
To continue to review and apply lessons from the Old Testament Historical Books
PREPARATION

Read the Background and Mastery Keys in Study Center 39.


Complete Assignments 14 in Study Center 39.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Introduce
After the Babylonian captivity, nothing would be the same for the Jewish people.
Option 1
Mini-Lecture. Only a small number of Jews returned to what became the tiny district of Judah in the vast
Persian Empire. The Jews would not have a truly independent nation of their own until the establishment of
modern Israel in 1948. Yet the captivity proved to be a turning point in other respects. No longer were the
Jewish people attracted to idolatry, the sin that had led to their exile from the promised land. And while the
temple was rebuilt, the captivity had seen the invention of the synagogue and a renewed focus on the
Scriptures. The scribal movementthe development of a class of professional students of Scripturebrought
a renewed respect for, and focus on, Old Testament law, and many dedicated themselves to obey Gods
commands.
Despite these positive developments, the last books of the Old Testament show a spiritual decline similar to the earlier books of history. God would have to do something truly radical to bring the inner transformation that he desired in his people.
Option 2
Impressions. Invite your group members to share their impressions of the return based on Assignments
14 in Study Center 39. Take as much time as needed to ensure that your group members have an accurate picture of the return and of the social and spiritual conditions of the little colony of Jews who lived in
Judah at this time in history.
Option 3
Expand Time Line. On the chalkboard expand the time line to cover the captivity and the return and to indicate key events and people (see below).
586 B.C.

538

515

458

444

Judah falls (Captivity)

First return
(Zerubbabel)

Temple rebuilt
(Haggai, Zechariah)

Second return
(Ezra)

Walls rebuilt
(Nehemiah)

Have your group members expand their own time lines to include the period from the return to Judah
to the close of the Old Testament (Malachi). Also have them add the events and persons on this time line
to the list People and Events in the Historical Books, which you handed out last week.
2 7

Interact
Option 1
Team Quiz-Down. Draw a time line on the chalkboard covering the period from 1450 to 444 B.C. Divide
into teams of five or six persons. Be sure to have an even number of teams. Each team is to choose ten
persons or events found in the Historical Books, at least eight of these must be on the People and Events
in the Historical Books list that was handed out at the last group session. Each team is to pick one person
to represent it in the quiz-down.
Prepare numbered slips of paper. Have as many slips as there are teams. The representatives should
draw slips. The representative who draws number one will compete with the representative who draws
number two, number three will compete with number four, etc.
To conduct the quiz-down, the representative of Team 1 will select one of his teams ten persons or
events and challenge the representative of Team 2 to identify the person or event correctly and to approximately locate the person or event on the time line. The representative of Team 2 then selects from his
teams list and challenges the representative of Team 1. The first person to fail to identify a person or event
correctly or to approximately locate the person or event on the time line is eliminated. Note: If a representative is about to use all ten of the persons or events selected by his team, his teammates may select five
more persons or events and pass them to their representative.
This same procedure is followed for the remaining teams. The winners of the various matches then
play each other, until only one representative remains.
Option 2
Group Quiz-Down. Have the whole group participate individually in the quiz-down. Using this format, you
select the persons or events that group members are to identify and locate on a time line. Seat your group
members in a circle and question them from left to right. Be sure to prepare your list of individuals and
events before the group session begins, beginning with relatively easy items. Also, go back to the text and
come up with 1015 persons or events that are not on the People and Events in the Historical Books list.
Use these when only a few group members remain. The winner is the last person remaining after all the
others have been eliminated.
Note: In the quiz-down, it is not only permissible to have co-winners, it is desirable!

Inspire
Encourage. There is nothing as motivating as success! Praise your group members for their understanding
of the Old Testament Historical Books. Encourage everyone to keep up the good work as they prepare for
the last group session.
Close in prayer, thanking God that he speaks to us today through the Word he gave so long ago.

ASSIGNMENT

Your group members are to review the Background and Mastery Keys for Study Centers 2139. They
should also add any persons or events to their time line. Finally, they should make a list of lessons for
Christians found in the Old Testament Historical Books. These lessons may be drawn from the stories of
individuals in the Historical Books or from any events recorded there. Study Center 40 introduces the
book of Esther. Esther became queen of Persia some 20 years before Ezra led the second group of Jewish exiles back to Judah. Emphasize that Study Center 40 is an optional study that will not be covered in
a group session.

2 8

LESSON 13

Review
LESSON AIMS

To conduct a final review of the Old Testament Historical Books


To gain an appreciation for the many lessons God can teach believers today through these books
of Scripture
To share what God has been teaching group members through this study
PREPARATION

Continue to review the time line showing persons, events and Old Testament books.
Develop your own complete list of lessons for Christians found in the Old Testament Historical Books.
Develop your own lesson plan by selecting from the options below.
Pray daily for your group members.

Interact
Let your group members know that this group is dedicated to review and celebration. Divide your time
between any or all of the options below.
Option 1
Team Quiz-Down. Draw a time line on the chalkboard covering the period from 1450 to 444 B.C. Divide
into teams of five or six persons. Be sure to have an even number of teams. Each team is to choose ten
persons or events found in the Historical Books, at least eight of these must be on the People and Events
in the Historical Books list that was handed out at the last group session. Each team is to pick one person
to represent it in the quiz-down.
Prepare numbered slips of paper. Have as many slips as there are teams. The representatives should
draw slips. The representative who draws number 1 will compete with the representative who draws number 2, number 3 will compete with number 4, etc.
To conduct the quizdown, the representative of Team 1 will select one of his teams ten persons or
events and challenge the representative of Team 2 to identify the person or event correctly and to approximately locate the person or event on the time line. The representative from Team 2 then selects from his
teams list and challenges the representative of Team 1. The first person to fail to identify a person or event
correctly or to approximately locate the person or event on the time line is eliminated. Note: If a representative is about to use all ten of the persons or events selected by his team, his teammates may select five
more persons or events and pass them to their representative.
This same procedure is followed for the remaining teams. The winners of the various matches then
play each other, until only one representative remains.
Option 2
Group Quiz-Down. Have the group participate individually in the quiz-down. Using this format, you select
the persons or events that group members are to identify and locate on a time line. Seat your group members in a circle and question them from left to right. Be sure to prepare your list of individuals and events
before the group session begins, beginning with relatively easy items. Also, go back to the text and come
up with 1015 persons or events that are not on the People and Events in the Historical Books list. Use
these when only a few group members remain. The winner is the last person remaining after all the others
have been eliminated.
Note: In the quizdown, it is not only permissible to have co-winners, it is desirable!

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Option 3
List. Seat your group members in a circle. Appoint two secretaries to write down the lessons Christians can
learn from the Old Testament Historical Books as suggested by your group members. Continue around the
circle, with each person adding a lesson that has not previously been mentioned.
Ask the secretaries to give you their lists. Promise your group members that you will combine and
organize the lists of lessons and duplicate a copy for each group member.

Internalize

(OPTIONAL)

Personal Praise. Go around the circle again, asking each group member to share one blessing he or she
has derived from this study and for which he or she praises God. When all your group members have
shared, close with a time of spontaneous prayer.

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