Monday, April 15, 2019

Heaven's Heroes #5: Deborah the Daring

Heaven's Heroes #5: Deborah the Daring

Judges 4

Joke: Today we are going to be looking at Deborah Daring one of the Judges of Israel. Now some men have a problem understanding strong women like Deborah, so I’ve got a little guide to communication that might help you.

Words Women Use and Men Should Understand
FINE This is the word women use to end an argument when they feel they are right and you need to shut up.  Also never use "fine" when asked to describe how a woman looks. This will cause you to have one of those arguments, that ends with, fine!

FIVE MINUTES This is closer to half an hour.  It is equivalent to the "five minutes" that your tv sporting event is going to last before you take out the trash, so it's pretty much an even trade.

NOTHING This is heard when a man asks a woman, what’s wrong. Contrary to literalness, nothing means something, and you better be on careful.  "Nothing" usually signifies an argument is coming that will last "Five Minutes" and end with the word "Fine."

GO AHEAD (With Raised Eyebrows) This is a dare.  One that will result in a woman getting upset over "Nothing," and will end with the word "Fine."

GO AHEAD (Normal Eyebrows) This means "I give up" or "do what you want because I don't care." You will get a Raised Eyebrow "Go Ahead" in just a few minutes, followed by "Nothing"
and "Fine," and she will talk to you in about "Five Minutes" when she cools off.

LOUD SIGH This is not actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men.  A "Loud Sigh" means she thinks you are acting like an idiot at that moment, and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over "Nothing."

SOFT SIGH Again, not a word, but a non-verbal statement.  "Soft Sighs" mean that she is content.  Your best bet is to not move or breathe, and she will stay content.

THAT'S OKAY This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can make to a man.
"That's Okay" means that she wants to think long and hard before paying you back for whatever it is that you have done.  "That's Okay" means it is not okay at all.

PLEASE DO This is not a statement, it is an offer.  A woman is giving you the chance to come up with whatever excuse or reason you have for doing whatever it is that you have done.  You have a fair chance with the truth, so be careful and you shouldn't get a "That's Okay."

THANKS A woman is thanking you.  Do not worry everything is good,  Just say you're welcome.

THANKS A LOT This is much different than "Thanks." A woman will say, "Thanks A Lot" when she is really ticked off at you.  It signifies that you have offended her in some callous way, and it may be followed by the "Loud Sigh." Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the Loud Sigh," as she will only tell you "Nothing” And things will only get worse from there.

Deborah Dares, Barak Balks Judges 4:1-9

And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.  And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.  And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.  And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.  And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.  And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh naphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?  And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.  And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.

Deborah Encourages Barak

Deborah was already the Judge of Israel when God sends her His message to deliver the Israelites from the Jabin. No other female judge is ever named. She is unique in her calling. God spoke to Deborah as judge and prophet and then Deborah called for Barak. Barak has one condition, “If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.” It has been thought that Barak was fearful but I think at most he was simply needing the assurance of God’s messenger being with him. Deborah agrees to go but tells Barak, “Even though you have agreed to go, the honor of the victory will go to a woman.”

Now Barak has reason to balk, Sisera had 900 iron chariots! This was the tank of the ancient world, the wheels were iron and often the hubs had swords and blades attached to them so as they drove through the armies they would literally mow down people by cutting through their legs.  Israel had nothing but foot soldiers with bronze swords and perhaps some slingers. They were an untrained army, really just a militia called up to serve from their farms and villages. Sisera had 900 iron chariots filled with trained drivers and spear men or bowmen riding beside them.

Encouraged To Serve

Implicit in the call to salvation is the call to service. You cannot separate one from the other
Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

We are very familiar with the call of Jesus to come to Him but we often neglect to read the rest of the invitation. Jesus says, “Take my yoke” Jesus is telling us to give up our burden which will break us and even drag our souls to Hell. Give up our burden and take His yoke. His invitation is to quit laboring in our own power and to enter into his service, to take on His yoke. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Our burden of sin and shame will destroy us but Christ’s burden of faith and service will lift us.

Will I serve and be as daring as Deborah? Serving whenever, wherever and however God sees fit to use me? Perhaps I have balked or hesitated in answering that call as Barak did?  There is no sin in that hesitation unless it becomes a lifestyle. Barak need the word of God in the form of the prophetess Deborah, to give him assurance and then he was ready to serve. You and I don’t have or need a live prophetess because we have a the living word of God. And if you need assurance to go and do what God has called you to do then pick up your Bible read the commands of God and you’ll find the confidence to continue in God’s calling.

Scripture: Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick (living), and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, …

Because it is living it is the assurance and comfort you need for every decision you will make and every future you will face.

Illustration: Facing my heart surgery with my tabbed New Testament and Ps 27 on my wrist

Transition:Once Barak has his assurance the deliverance of Israel begins.

Barak Begins, Sisera Sails Judges 4:10-16

 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.  Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.  And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.  And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.  And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him.  And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.  But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.

Beginning The Battle

Deborah and Barak march with ten thousand to the upper slopes of Mt Tabor.
Camped there is Heber from the family of Hobah or Jethro the father in law of Moses. It seems that Jethro or some of his descendants, settled in this area. As the Bible gives us a foreshadowing here, these people have a long and strong relationship with the Hebrews.

Barak and his army of footsoldiers are up the slope on Mt. Tabor having taken the high ground from Sisera and his chariots. Chariots are useless in mountains or on rocky terrain both of which were probably true here.

When Deborah says “Up, for this is the day!” that was the assurance Barak had been waiting for. To he begins his attack down the mountain and God delivers the Canaanites to the army of Israel. Some commentators think the chariots had just forded a river and so were caught in soft mud, others point to a possible rainstorm that stalled the chariots in mud.  Judges 5:19-21 The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money. 

They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.  The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.
Either way or both, the negation and impotence of the chariots is so complete that Sisera has to abandon his and flees of foot.

Get Up, It’s Time!

When you consider the great victory against insurmountable odds won that day, I think we all could understand why Barak needed a Deborah in his life, to say, “Up, for this is the day.” I think we all could use someone like that in our lives to tell us “Get up, its time!”

No, I’m not talking about your wife telling you its time to mow the lawn, either. We don’t need haranguing, but we do need encouraging people to urge us on in God’s work. People who pick us up when we are discouraged, people who restore us when we have are wounded in the battle for faith.

This is what we read in Scripture:

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12  As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

Hebrews 3:13  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

We need the encouragers that God sends into our life and we also, in turn, should be encouragers like Deborah, to others who are lagging or hurting. Who has God placed in our life that we might exhort them? Who do we know that needs to be encouraged? It could be that you are part of God’s providence in the life of someone else to comfort and help them. This is a very important part of our calling as Children of God. We don’t need special training or schooling; we just need to be daring as Deborah and reach out and encourage those who are hurting.

My journalism teacher in College was a politically and religious liberal but he was a good newspaper man. His favorite saying was “The job of a journalist is to comfort the hurting and discomfort the comfortable.” The saying is even more true of a Christian.

On the other side of that providence is the question, how have I responded to the exhortation, encouragement and comforting from others acting as Deborah in my life? I believe God always sends certain people in my life to spur me to action or hope. So, am I heeding God’s voice through them and am I going to respond as Barak did and win the victory God has prepared? Or will I ignore those God has sent and miss the victory because I balked in my hesitation or fear?

Sisera Sleeps, Jael Jabs Judges 4:17-24

 Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.  And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.  And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.  Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and enquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.  Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.  And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.  So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.  And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

God Uses Jael

Sisera flees to the tent of Jael, first because his master was not at war with Jael husband, Heber and also because no one would look for him in a woman’s tent. It was forbidden by eastern custom to enter a woman’s tent.

Jael gives him milk to drink and being weary he falls asleep after urging her to stand guard at the tent door. After he is asleep, she takes a tent peg, and with a hammer in hand creeps back into the tent. It was often the job of women in nomadic tribes to set up the tents and so Jael know exactly how to do what she is about to do. She positions the peg at his temple and then with a mighty blow drives the nail through his head and into the ground. Probably, heads are softer than rocky soil.

When Barak come by with his search parties, she calmly take him into the tent and shows the great captain Sisera of the Canaanites dead. And believe it or not this is where we get the word, pegged as in “He was in the batters box but the pitcher made a wild throw and pegged the batter right in the shoulder.” Now that’s some really etymological studies right there.
And so Jael the woman earns the honor of the victory, just as Deborah had prophesied earlier to Barak.

Will God Use Us?

When God makes a plan he also plans the victory and with God, that plan cannot fail. It does not matter that the enemy has 900 iron chariots and you are on foot, God has a mountain and a rainstorm to bring victory. God always has a plan to victory, yet within that plan, drawn from the unalterable omniscience and inviolable omnipotence of God, is the variable of God using man and man’s freewill operating within the providence and plan of God.

It seems incredible to us that those who God has revealed his plan to, must determine if they will surrender to God, rebel against God or like Barak balk at first but then after encouragement from Deborah, be used of God?

Please understand God’ plan of victory is never dependent or conditional on any man’s choice but man can choose to be used of God greatly, insignificantly or not at all. God will still bring about his victory but we will have been bypassed and God will use someone else.

Deborah was willing to do her part and encouraged Barak to do his. Barak seemed to hesitate, but then fully and willing served after being receiving assurance from God’s messenger that is a good thing. Jael did not appear to be someone God could use in a battle. She was a woman, a wife and probably a mother, no where near the battle and certainly not a warrior, yet God used her and her loyalty to His people to accomplish His victory.

Do you remember Mordecia’s words to his niece, Esther in the book of Esther 4:14? God’s people were under a order of extermination even more terrible than that of Hitler’s Third Reich. The Persian king, who was at the zenith of his power and ruled and empire much greater than any modern day nation, had been tricked into signing a decree that all Jews could be killed by anybody, anywhere in his vast empire and to motivate the killing, the possession of the Jews could be taken by the people who killed them. Mordecia goes to Esther and tells her she must talk to the King but she is just a member of his harem, little more than a privileged slave and slaves don’t tell kings what to do or even talk to them without an invitation. Mordecia takes the role of the encourager, the spirit of Deborah and tells Esther, “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
He tells her God’s people will be delivered, no matter what you choose, but you are in this place and position by the providence of God, for just such a time as this.

In all of God’s plans there are people in place for such a time as this. Be that person who seizes the opportunity and is used by God.


Who then will you be when God reveals his plan?
Will you be Deborah, ready to step forward, encouraging others and going in service to God. Will you be Barak perhaps lagging for a while but still faithful and a great servant and warrior for God. Or simply Jael, no one that anybody notices or anybody even knew, except God, and isn’t His notice the only one that really counts?  Jael, knew God’s will without being told by a prophetess and using only what she had at hand slew a great and powerful enemy of God’s people.
God asks no more from any of us than simply that. Know His will, serve where you have opportunity and use whatever you have as God gives opportunity.

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