This lesson is part of a series we’re calling, “Hello, My Name Is… A Series on the Names of God.” You can find the latest when you follow Tara’s author archive. We’ll add links to the whole Bible study once it’s complete.
Lesson Ten: Judge (Shophet)/Intercessor
Main Idea: God is perfectly righteous and he demands perfect justice. The Judge has given us a way to be forgiven of our guilt through Jesus Christ.
Memory Verse: “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
- Read lesson, Scripture references, Romans 2:1-8, Revelation 20:11-15, Acts 10:42
- Gather: Bible, lesson plan, dry erase markers or chart paper and markers, a button or penny, index cards, one toilet paper tube per student, popsicle sticks, tape, crayons or markers
- To help keep track of the names of God learned over this series, write each lesson’s name of God on the board along with the main idea. Tape a strip of paper over the name, and one over the main idea. Use this to review the lesson as you go. Alternatively, use large flash cards with the name of God on the front and the main idea on the back. Create one of these every week and review with the class as you go.
- Take time to meditate on this lesson and apply it to your own life. Does thinking about God as a judge make you squirm? Surely you have heard people say, “Don’t judge me. Only God can judge me.” But do we submit to God’s just judgements of us? Often when one says, “Don’t judge me,” it is with the almost subconscious thought that God’s judgement will be that we are doing just fine, that we are only human and don’t have to own up to our sins. This is of course not the case. Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” I am not preaching a gospel of works. We can never do enough to please God. My actions are that of an impatient, prideful, woefully independent sinner. But there is one action that matters above all else. I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Because of this, because of Christ’s blood, I am deemed righteous. Because of Jesus interceding for me, I am acquitted by the judge of all my sins. Dear teacher, take time and pray. Have you taken that step of acceptance? Do you trust Jesus with your life? It is through Christ that we live and move and exist. (Acts 17:28.) Praise the Judge for taking away your guilt.
- Isaiah 33:22
- Isaiah 40:23
- Psalm 9:19-20
- Jeremiah 1:16
- Ecclesiastes 12:14
- Romans 6:23a
- Hebrews 7:25
- Micah 7:18
Game: Who’s Got the Button
This game requires the judge to pay close attention to the faces of his classmates to help them decide who has the button. Choose one child to be the judge. Have everyone else sit in a circle facing in, with the judge standing in the middle. Have the judge close his eyes while the rest of the students hold out their hands. In the hands of one of the students, place a button or penny. Then say, “Button, button, who’s got the button?” This will be the cue for the judge to open his eyes and everyone else to close their hands into fists. The judge must decide who has the button. While he looks around the circle and tries to discern who is guilty, the circle of students pretend to pass a button to the student on their left or right. The only people who know where the button is will be you and the student to whom you gave the button. This student must pass the button on without being caught by the judge. The button must keep moving, and everyone must continue to pretend to pass around the button. The judge may guess any name at any time. If he is wrong, he may keep guessing. He gets three guesses before he is out and whoever is holding the button becomes the new judge. Continue play until everyone has had a chance to be the judge or until you run out of time. If you have a large class, it may work best to have multiple groups playing at once, so there are no more than ten or so in a group. Otherwise it is really difficult for the judge to guess.
Message: Open in prayer, then say, before we start, let’s take some time to review. (Quickly go over your memory verses and the flashcards with the names of God from the previous lessons to help refresh your students’ memories.) We have learned a lot about God over the past several weeks! The more we know him, the more we love him. I find comfort in knowing all the different names of God and all the different roles he plays in my life. Today’s title for God however, makes some people uncomfortable. It makes some people cringe and squirm in their seats and stop listening. Are you curious what that name is? Turn with me to Isaiah 33:22 to find out what it is. (Read, or have a student read, Isaiah 33:22.) “For the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver, and our king. He will care for us and save us.” Today’s name of God is judge. (Write “judge” on the board.) What is a judge? (Allow students to answer.) Right, a judge is someone who decides cases in a court. The judge’s job is to listen to all sides of a story and decide what really happened. The ancient Hebrew word for judge is shophet. (Write “shophet” on the board. It is pronounced pretty much how it looks. “Show-fet.”) Shophet is such a cool word. Like many Hebrew words, it loses some of its meaning when you translate it into English. We say shophet means judge, and it does. But the ancient Jews, the people who followed God and spoke Hebrew, would define “judge” differently than we do today. A judge wasn’t just someone who decided cases in a court. A judge was a leader. The judge was in charge, like a king. You know in the Bible we have the book of Judges. It’s about people like Samson and Gideon, who were leaders of the Israelites. Before Israel had kings, they had judges. Let’s read Isaiah 33:22 again. “For the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver, and our king. He will care for us and save us.” Judge, lawgiver, and king. All these titles pretty much fit in the idea of shophet.
Don’t miss the most important part. It says, “He will care for us and save us.” When people think of judges these days, they thing of really mean people who like to slam the gavel and shout, “order!” and send people to prison for fun. So when they hear that God is our judge, they think he’s mean, and wants to punish us. But that is totally NOT what the Bible says! Let’s see for ourselves what the Bible has to say about God’s judgement. I’m going to break you up into three groups, and each group will look up a different verse about God’s judgement. (Divide your class however works best for you. Give them team names, such as Teams Awesome, Incredible and Fantastic.) Team Awesome, look up Isaiah 40:23. Team Incredible, look up Psalm 9:19-20. Team Fantastic, look up Jeremiah 1:16. After you read the verse, talk with your group about what we can learn about God’s judgement from them. Then, we’ll talk about all the verses together. (Give your class time to read and discuss their given verses. Stop in with each group and make sure they are on the right track. Have each team appoint a speaker to read and explain the verse. If it works better for your class, write each verse on index cards instead of having them look it up.)
Alright Team Awesome, read Isaiah 40:23 and tell me what I can learn about God’s judgement from this verse. (Isaiah 40:23 says, “He judges the great people of the world and brings them all to nothing.”) It means that all rulers, kings and presidents will be judged by God, and they will find out that they are not the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sometimes being in charge can go to your head, and God the Judge will humble prideful people. (On the board write, “God will judge and humble rulers.” Or something to that effect, paraphrasing the student’s explanation.)
Team Incredible, go with Psalm 9:19-20. (“Arise, O Lord! Do not let mere mortals defy you! Judge the nations! Make them tremble in fear, O Lord. Let the nations know they are merely human.”) Sometimes people can think they live in the best country or kingdom in the whole wide world, and that their country will last forever and can never do anything wrong. God will judge countries and show that it’s just a group of people all living in the same place and the same time. Only God’s kingdom will last forever. (On the board write, “God judges nations and shows them they won’t last forever.)
Last but not least, Team Fantastic, explain Jeremiah 1:16 to us. (“I will pronounce judgment on my people for all their evil—for deserting me and burning incense to other gods. Yes, they worship idols made with their own hands!”) This verse tells us that we, the people who say we love God, will be judged for saying we love him and then not following him. (On the board write, “God judges us for the wrong things we do.”
Nice work, teams. Now if we look at the board, we see that God judges everyone. He judges nations and rulers and us. That is WHO God judges. Now let’s look at HOW God judges. Let’s have a sword drill. Take all fingers and bookmarks out of your Bibles and hold them above your heads. When I say go, turn to Psalm 96:10-13. Go! (Read, or have a student read, Psalm 96:10-13.) “Tell all the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’ The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. He will judge all peoples fairly. Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth.” So this verse tells us three ways God will judge the world. Can anyone tell me? (Allow students to answer.) God will judge fairly, with justice and with his truth. (On the board write, “God will judge fairly, with justice and with his truth.”) God is not a mean judge. He will always be fair, righteous, and truthful, because that’s who he is. God is always fair, always righteous and always truthful. He will judge us based on what we do. The Bible says so in Ecclesiastes 12:14. “God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”
Wait a second. God will judge us for everything we do. Everything? Even the sins I do in secret when there are no other people around? I deserve to be punished for my sins. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” Shophet, God the Judge, will judge everyone fairly, justly and truthfully. And the truth is, I deserve to die for my sins. I deserve to be cut off from God forever. But God loves us. He wants to be with us forever. So he sent his son Jesus to die for us. Jesus lived a perfect life and never sinned. He’s the only one who can be judged by God and found righteous, because he is God. But still Jesus died on the cross. He took the punishment that we deserve so we don’t have to be punished. And after he died on the cross, he came back to life! Jesus is alive and he will live forever. Because of this, Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” This means that when we believe in the Gospel—that Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sins—Jesus goes to God the judge for us and takes our punishment. (On the board write “Jesus takes our punishment.”)
That was God’s plan all along. Micah 7:18 says, “Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love.” God delights in showing us unfailing love. (On the board write “God delights in showing us unfailing love.”)
Picture this. You rob a bank and are arrested. You appear before the judge and he finds you guilty. Your punishment is to pay back all the money you stole and to go to jail for ten years. As you are being taken away to jail, the judge stands up and says he will pay what you owe. He will go to jail for ten years for you and you are free to go. You are forgiven. That is a small picture of what God did for us. God is perfectly righteous and he demands perfect justice. The Judge has given us a way to be forgiven of our guilt through Jesus Christ. So we don’t have to be uncomfortable when we think of God as the judge. We can rejoice that he loves us enough to judge us, and save us from the punishment we deserve!
Close in prayer.
Explain to the class that a gavel is a tool used by judges to signify the beginning and end of a trial. A gavel is a symbol of a judge’s power. The class will each get to make their own gavels to remind them that God is our judge. To make the gavel head, each student will decorate a toilet paper roll. If you don’t want to use toilet paper rolls, kids can decorate an index card and then roll that into a tube and tape the ends together. Help them cut a tiny slit in the center of each roll. Insert a popsicle stick just a little way into the hole and tape it into place for the handle. Somewhere on the gavel, be sure the students write something along the lines of “God is a just judge.”
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