A few years ago, like 8 or more, our church went through the book of Judges as a series. One of the things they emphasized is how cyclical it was, in What’s in the Bible they call it “The Cycle of Apostasy.” This makes a good Sunday School lesson with kids to discuss how quickly sin pulls you in.
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What I learn from the Cycle of Apostasy
The scary thing to me is each time they started the Cycle of Apostasy over, it got worse. By the end of the book of Judges there is very little hope. Judges 21:25, the last verse ends like this:
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”
Did you see that? What was right in their own eyes, that’s a scary thought to me. If you’re not familiar the chapter leading up to that verse is about kidnapping, rape. The chapter before that is civil war. It’s a dark book.
And all because of the events in Judges chapter 1 and 2. All because they didn’t completely take the land.
The other thing that gets me is how quickly and how far sin takes you in. I’ve heard this quote several times in a sermon, but it’s worth repeating here: “Sin always takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you meant to stay, and will cost more than you meant to pay.”
I don’t know if you’ve ever done one of those quarter coin machines where you drop your coin in at the top and watch it spiral down, sin is like that. At first you are moving slowly and don’t notice the effects, but then you start moving faster and faster until there is no turning back without great cost.
The Cycle of Apostasy supplies
1 print out from Judges lesson per kid (if you printed it out for last lesson, then you don’t need to print again), cards A-E, Bible, scissors, glue or glue stick, something to color with (I’m personally fond of Colored Pencils*, but my kids like this Marker Tower)
Because these pictures make me happy, complete with Shrek donkey ears and all.
Cycle of Apostasy lesson
This is the true danger of not following God’s directions. Now there are these perfectly normal seeming neighbors who just happen to be worshipping this other god, and you can SEE this god, and everybody else is doing it, so why not worship them? So the Israelites did, starting the Cycle of Apostasy.
They were taken into slavery or oppressed, there are several different variations on it, but it’s all a result of their sin. Side note, bad times are not always a result of sin, just this particular instance is explicitly stated to be so.
Then Israel would cry out to God, “We’re sorry, we’re so stupid, why did we ever do this? Please rescue us!” Or that’s my imagination of how it happened, because I’ve certainly felt like saying that a time or two.
In came the judge to rescue them (should that be capitalized because it’s a specific title?). He would march in and save the day. You know what stood out to me as I read the book of Judges, the judges weren’t all that impressive in and of themselves. There’s a few you’d expect to do great (Samson, but his moral character, bleah), but it was always the unlikely ones who did well.
While the judge lived the Israelites followed God, usually. But as soon as the judge died they headed right back to their worship of idols. It’s really rather sad. Very very sad. Not that we in this modern times are really all that much better if you look at some of the cycles of our history. We just like to think we are.
Sorry, Judges makes me maudlin. And I’m a bit stressed right now, so I tend to muddle along.
Cycle of Apostasy resources
Not too surprisingly there’s not a whole lot on this topic, but there are a few really good resources.
Linking up to:
Phyllis at All Things Beautiful says
People are just people, and easily fall into sin.
Very very true. I guess I’m just feeling a bit maudlin right now with all of the things going on.
OoOo great lesson! thanks for sharing.
maryanne @ mama smiles says
I just wish there were a way for people to start thinking again that didn’t involve wars and famine.
I know, sadly it doesn’t seem to work that way, and each time I think it’s getting better I just have to turn on the news or read any online article that’s the slightest bit controversial (and watch all those flames, it’d be funny if it weren’t so sad).
I agree with MaryAnne – we only seem to repent while punished. Also, the whole point of not taking the whole land is rather hawkish in modern times 🙂
It really does seem so, doesn’t it?
My kids certainly seem to point to the evidence there’s only repentance while they’re being punished.
I agree with MaryAnne and Natalie. AND, my kids are like yours regarding repentance.
Tricia, This is brilliant and inspiring. Our family recently finished Judges during our family devotional time and I think I’ll print this out and we’ll go through it on Sundays to really drive it home for the kids. Loved it I’ll be pinning and G+ this lovely printable!
Ticia, for some reason this title has me giggling. It’s just so…uplifting 😉 Seriously though, this is a great hand-on lesson for the difficult book of Judges. We fizzeled out in Judges last year because I really didn’t know what to do with it for my little ones. This would have helped!
This lesson is great! I’m using it this week for our 1st-5th grade kids. I have a quick question, though. Do you have a copy of the Map of Canaan with the red and yellow colors? I want to make sure I am coloring it in correctly. Thanks!
The map we used is from Wonder Maps, which I’ve got a link to in the post you’re talking about. If you don’t have Wondermaps, in the printable I included a link to an online map you could print out. I don’t have a printed version with the map correctly colored, but that’s a good idea to have a completed version (I won’t be able to get it done in time for you, sadly, I’m working on a golden calf lesson for our church this Sunday).