Deborah

Posted: April 23, 2009 in Hebrews

Judges 4-5, “Deborah”
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Introduction:
With the list of leaders in Hebrew history going from man to man to man (Moses, to Joshua, to the judges, to the kings, etc.) – it’d be understandable to women to say, “Where are all the ladies?!” Tonight, we find out. Not only are the women covered in Ch 4-5 providing leadership for Israel & working in the gifting God has given them – they are the ones God uses to bring the victory for Israel & free them from the enemy!

Judges 4 (NKJV)
1 When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD.

A. Who was Ehud? The left-handed judge who stuck a dagger in Eglon king of Moab & couldn’t pull it out again… He was followed by Shamgar the judge, but obviously there was some overlap in their years…

B. What happened after Ehud died? The spiral of apostasy began again…
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2 So the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim. 3 And the children of Israel cried out to the LORD; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.

A. Who sold Israel? God. This was His loving discipline. As our heavenly Father, God doesn’t sit back & wring His hands & worry if we fall into sin…He does something about it! Throughout Judges, He sells Israel into the hands of their enemies (various enemies at different times). This is the consequence for Israel’s sin & God let’s them experience it in full.
__a. God does the same thing for us. PTL that we never need experience the wrath of God (that was placed upon Christ), but we do often experience the discipline of God for our sin. He allows us to face the consequences for our actions… The church is actually encouraged to do that as a last result in discipline – [context] 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (4) In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, (5) deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. [] Very specific purpose! … God wants our flesh to be destroyed (we’re called to reckon ourselves dead to it – Rom 6:11) & if it takes facing the consequences of our sin to get us to that point, then God loves us too much NOT to let us experience them…

B. Sold them to a very strong & demanding enemy. Jabin (royal name of the king) ruled harshly & he had access to a mighty arsenal. Iron chariots were the top of the line in the day & surely helped quench any thought of rebellion… This was a bad time for Israel!
__a. Is every spiritual battle we face bad? It may seem so at the time, but it may be exactly the thing God uses to get us to fall to our knees & seek His face.
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4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.

A. Deborah: the female judge. Deborah isn’t mentioned outside of Judges 4-5, but she makes a big impact! Normally, we wouldn’t expect to find a woman judging the land of Israel, but obviously that’s what happened. Opinions vary as to why God would raise up a female judge when God normally did otherwise…but in the end, it’s speculation. The historical fact is that she was a judge & God blessed it.

B. Not only was she a judge; she was a prophetess. Interestingly enough, none of the other judges are mentioned to have been prophets – so Deborah is unique among them. Several women are mentioned as prophetesses throughout Scripture: Deborah, Miriam (Moses’ sister), Anna (Luke 2:36), & Philip’s daughters (Acts 21). Women are encouraged to prophecy within the NT church within Scriptural guidelines (1 Cor 11:5-6). Spiritual gifting is not limited to males! The Holy Spirit distributes gifts to everyone individually within the church as He wills (1 Cor 12:11).
__a. Are you using the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given you? The Afterglow services are a perfect time to do so…

C. Does God value women? YES! OT & NT alike show this… The roles between men & women are different, but women are no less capable than men, nor are they any less valued by God. There is neither male nor female at the cross; we are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28)…
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6 Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “Has not the LORD God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; 7 and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?”

A. Deborah gives Barak a call to battle – not her words, but the Lord’s. God had determined the time of discipline was enough & was sending Barak to war.

B. But it wasn’t just a call to battle; it was a promise of victory! God wasn’t sending Barak to defeat, but to witness the deliverance of the Lord.
__a. What God calls us to do, God equips us to do. That doesn’t mean every challenge we face will be a bed of roses (Barak still had to go to battle!), but it does mean that even in the times when we feel overwhelmed, God is still equipping us & providing for us. Sometimes He gives us immediate victory; sometimes He gives us His presence in the fellowship of His suffering. But He will always equip us through His strength!
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8 And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” 9 So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.

A. What’s going on with Barak? And why is he listed in the Hall of Faith when Deborah isn’t? We may not know why Deborah isn’t listed in Hebrews 11, but it’s surely the grace of God that Barak is. He faltered in his faith, but yet God still used him. We may falter in our faith, but it doesn’t mean God’s done with us…

B. Deborah will go; but there’s a cost for Barak. He won’t get any credit among Israel for the victory – instead it’ll go to a woman (and not Deborah!)…
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10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him. 11 Now Heber the Kenite, of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, had separated himself from the Kenites and pitched his tent near the terebinth tree at Zaanaim, which is beside Kedesh. 12 And they reported to Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. 13 So Sisera gathered together all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth Hagoyim to the River Kishon.

A. Everyone is prepared for battle. Barak got a massive army from among the various tribes in Israel. Sisera is equipped with the latest in weaponry: 900 iron chariots… (Iron is stronger than bronze…) Both sides are ready for a massive showdown…

B. Keep Heber in mind. Although he’s a Kenite (usually on friendly terms with Israel), he apparently warned Sisera about the coming battle. His family’s going to come into play later on.
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14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the LORD gone out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him.

A. Gotta love this! Barak is facing overwhelming odds & yet he’s presented with the promise that God has already won the victory. Imagine leading an army on horseback against several hundred aircraft fighters. By any rational expectation, you’d think you were toast. But not if the Lord has gone out before you…
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15 And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16 But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth Hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.

A. How overwhelming was the victory? All the charioteers were defeated. All of Sisera’s army was killed. Sisera couldn’t even retreat in his chariot, but had to run away on foot! God completely turned the tables… Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. []

B. Question: Why is that? How come we can trust God despite overwhelming odds? Because nothing in all existence is overwhelming to God. Every demon in hell could rise up against Him, combined with the rebellion of every man & woman who hated God – and it still would be no contest. Fighting against the Lord is always futility because God is GOD! …
__a. Have there been times when you’ve lost sight of that? Have you gone through trials when you wonder “God, IF you could to ____ “… With God, the only “if” involved is “if” it is His will. With God, all things are possible… …
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17 However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. 18 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear.” And when he had turned aside with her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket. 19 Then he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him. 20 And he said to her, “Stand at the door of the tent, and if any man comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there any man here?’ you shall say, ‘No.’ ”

A. Sisera enters Jael’s tent to use it as a disguise. He may have commanded an army of 900 iron chariots at one time, but now his army is decimated & he’s basically hiding behind a girl.

B. For her part, Jael brings him into the tent, gives him milk instead of water (which makes him sleepy) & covers him up. Exhausted, he goes to sleep…which was exactly her intent. See vs. 21…
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21 Then Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. 22 And then, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, “Come, I will show you the man whom you seek.” And when he went into her tent, there lay Sisera, dead with the peg in his temple.

A. 100% true to Deborah’s prophecy. God sold Sisera into the hands of a woman…and not just any woman; Heber’s wife. The man who warned Sisera about the battle is the man who’s wife ended up killing Sisera after it was over.

B. Ouch…! Was this treachery? To an extent, perhaps. Sisera had come in under her hospitality (due to Heber’s alliance)…though we don’t know to what extent Jael had a choice in the matter. Tradition forbade women from taking any men other than their husband or father into their tent. Although it was an ideal place for Sisera to hide; his very presence was illegal & coerced & it seems like she took advantage of the 1st opportunity she had to take a stand for righteousness (unlike her husband) & strike for the God of Israel.

C. Keep in mind that many things within the Bible are accurate descriptions of the events; just necessarily prescriptions of what to do. There aren’t too many people God would have us drive a tent stake through their temple. But – that IS the way we ought to deal with sin in our own lives. Israel was oppressed by Canaan because of their sin – and God used a sinful people to bring discipline. Israel didn’t need to make deals with Canaan; they needed to get out from under them. The only real way of dealing with sin is through death…
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23 So on that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan in the presence of the children of Israel. 24 And the hand of the children of Israel grew stronger and stronger against Jabin king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

A. The battlefield victory was the start of a greater one. Eventually all of Israel was liberated from Canaan & they experience 40 years of freedom (seen in Ch 5:31)
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Judges 5 (NKJV)
1 Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying: 2 “When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the LORD! 3 “Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

A. Praising God for the victory… No doubt who Deborah is giving credit to – she’s repeatedly using the covenant name of God. “Bless the LORD … sing to the LORD… sing praise to the LORD God of Israel” Give GOD the glory! He deserves the praise. Every victory we experience in our walk with Christ belongs to God. Every trial we endure to the end we’ve endured because of the grace of God. Whether you’re singing out of joy or sorrow, we can praise God in all things because He is worthy to be praised…if for no other reason, then for your salvation in Christ!

B. It’s a beautiful thing when leaders lead…that’s why God put them there in the 1st place! Many times leaders don’t lead; they abdicate responsibility & show up for the accolades. Barak almost was in this category, but in the end he did what God had called him to do…and that’s a reason to praise God.
__a. Note it’s not just a matter of leaders leading; the people need to willingly follow as well. The two always go together – and anytime a leader is hogging all the credit for himself & giving none to the people behind him, he usually won’t be a leader for too much longer.
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4 “LORD, when You went out from Seir, When You marched from the field of Edom, The earth trembled and the heavens poured, The clouds also poured water; 5 The mountains gushed before the LORD, This Sinai, before the LORD God of Israel.
A. Recounting past history with Moses…
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6 “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, In the days of Jael, The highways were deserted, And the travelers walked along the byways. 7 Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel, Until I, Deborah, arose, Arose a mother in Israel. 8 They chose new gods; Then there was war in the gates; Not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.
A. Recounting how Israel fell (again)…
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9 My heart is with the rulers of Israel Who offered themselves willingly with the people. Bless the LORD! 10 “Speak, you who ride on white donkeys, Who sit in judges’ attire, And who walk along the road. 11 Far from the noise of the archers, among the watering places, There they shall recount the righteous acts of the LORD, The righteous acts for His villagers in Israel; Then the people of the LORD shall go down to the gates.

A. Praising God for the leaders & people rising up & going to battle. They didn’t just hear the call-to-arms & do nothing about it; they went to fight for the Lord.
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12 “Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, sing a song! Arise, Barak, and lead your captives away, O son of Abinoam! 13 “Then the survivors came down, the people against the nobles; The LORD came down for me against the mighty.

A. God raised up an army… All very poetic as if God was awakening Deborah & Barak to their roles. Like Esther (raised up for such a time as this – Esth 4:14), God had a role & a purpose in mind for Deborah & Barak.
__a. Likewise, God has a role & purpose in mind for you & me. It may not be “big” in our own mind, like going to war. But God has called you to be a Godly husband & father – or Godly wife & mother – or a Sunday School teacher or whatever… Perhaps He’s even saying to you “Awake!” tonight…

B. Going to list it off from the various tribes – which came & which didn’t…
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14 From Ephraim were those whose roots were in Amalek. After you, Benjamin, with your peoples, From Machir rulers came down, And from Zebulun those who bear the recruiter’s staff. 15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; As Issachar, so was Barak Sent into the valley under his command; Among the divisions of Reuben There were great resolves of heart. 16 Why did you sit among the sheepfolds, To hear the pipings for the flocks? The divisions of Reuben have great searchings of heart. 17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan, And why did Dan remain on ships? Asher continued at the seashore, And stayed by his inlets. 18 Zebulun is a people who jeopardized their lives to the point of death, Naphtali also, on the heights of the battlefield.
A. Some tribes fought; others didn’t…
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19 “The kings came and fought, Then the kings of Canaan fought In Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; They took no spoils of silver. 20 They fought from the heavens; The stars from their courses fought against Sisera. 21 The torrent of Kishon swept them away, That ancient torrent, the torrent of Kishon. O my soul, march on in strength! 22 Then the horses’ hooves pounded, The galloping, galloping of his steeds.

A. Shows how God intervened in the battle. This wasn’t an ordinary military conflict; the stars & heavens got involved. God apparently sent a torrent of rain & a flood along the river Kishon to immobilize the chariots & bog them down in the mud…

B. Isn’t it amazing that those that seem to be the biggest challenges to us are so easily handled by the Lord? The 900 iron chariots were enough to strike fear into the heart of Barak – these were huge armaments against Israel. But for God, He just takes them all out at once with a bunch of mud & water! … …
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23 ‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the LORD, ‘Curse its inhabitants bitterly, Because they did not come to the help of the LORD, To the help of the LORD against the mighty.’

A. Where’s Meroz? Most likely, a city in Naphtali. It seems that although the rest of the tribe had come to fight (even to the point of death – vs. 18), Meroz stayed home & let the others do the fighting for them.

B. What was their crime? Not doing anything… When it came to the battle, the cry was “All hands on deck!” & Meroz just yawned & said, “Can’t someone else do it?” We get the impression sometimes that only wrong actions are sin…but sometimes inaction is just as sinful.
__a. Vividly illustrated in the parable of the talents! [5, 2, 1 talent – buried in the ground] Matthew 25:26-28 (26) “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. (27) So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. (28) So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. [] Harsh words & a fitting response! “Talent” in the parable was money – but the concept applies to anything the Lord has given us. If it’s a spiritual gift, God expects us to use it. If it’s a ministry or calling, God expects us to fulfill it. If it’s a gift, God expects us to give it. The one thing we’re NOT supposed to do with it is nothing! To not use what God has entrusted to us is foolishness, poor stewardship, and ultimately sinful.
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24 “Most blessed among women is Jael, The wife of Heber the Kenite; Blessed is she among women in tents. 25 He asked for water, she gave milk; She brought out cream in a lordly bowl. 26 She stretched her hand to the tent peg, Her right hand to the workmen’s hammer; She pounded Sisera, she pierced his head, She split and struck through his temple. 27 At her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; At her feet he sank, he fell; Where he sank, there he fell dead.

A. That’s what you call a “splitting headache”… 🙂
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28 “The mother of Sisera looked through the window, And cried out through the lattice, ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarries the clatter of his chariots?’ 29 Her wisest ladies answered her, Yes, she answered herself, 30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoil: To every man a girl or two; For Sisera, plunder of dyed garments, Plunder of garments embroidered and dyed, Two pieces of dyed embroidery for the neck of the looter?’

A. Jael is contrasted with Sisera’s mother. One expected defeat; the other victory, but the tables were turned…
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31 “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD! But let those who love Him be like the sun When it comes out in full strength.” So the land had rest for forty years.

A. One day, all of God’s enemies will perish. We’re not to curse our enemies, but this is just a fact. One day, Satan & all the demons will be suffering in a lake of fire for eternity. And that actually gives me a lot of hope!

B. The blessing for those who love the Lord is basically to have an abundant life. And that’s exactly what Jesus promises…He gives life in abundance to those who trust Him as Savior & Lord!

Conclusion:
Another cycle of apostasy down (and there will be many more to go in Judges) – but God brought deliverance through a most unexpected source. Not only did Israel’s top general back away a bit from the battle – not only did God use the only recorded female judge to stir Barak on – but God used a Gentile woman to kill the most powerful commander in Canaan! Our God delivers – sometimes in the most unexpected of ways…

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