Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Deborah - hearing God clearly

Last time that we looked at our passage in Judges, we met the king of the Canaanites (the Jabin) and we also met Deborah.

Deborah was a very special woman; she was wise, and she had a close relationship with God. She listened when God spoke, and she heard Him clearly. This was the secret of her leadership. People came to her for arbitration in disputes, and they also came to her when she spoke as a prophetess. We can all aspire to be like Deborah -- it is an attitude of our heart when we are sensitive to His voice. It doesn't require a special talent or skill. It's a matter of passion, of giving priority to seek Him with all our hearts.

God knew that Deborah would listen, so He spoke to her and laid out the plan for deliverance of the children of Israel. He not only gave her the plan, but He told her the person that He wanted to lead the war.

So, Deborah summoned Barak, who lived in another town, in another whole section of the country. And when he arrives, she gives him a seemingly impossible mission . . . she tells him he needs to recruit ten thousand men, and go to war against Sisera, the general of the Jabin's armies.

What does Barak tell her?
"If you go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go. (Verse 8)
I wish we had more details, don't you?
Was Barak afraid? Was he stubborn? Was he overwhelmed? Did he want the assurance of God's being with him, by having God's prophetess alongside?
When we look at Deborah's response, I kinda think we can guess that he was reluctant, and perhaps a bit afraid . . .

             I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on 
             the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into 
             the hands of a woman. (verse 9)

God had commanded him to go; He had chosen him by name; He had promised that He would deliver. But that wasn't enough. Barak said he would only go if God's representative went with him.
There are consequences for the times that we are afraid; there are consequences for our lack of faith. God can use us mightily if we just put ourselves in His hands and trust Him to deliver on His promises . . . but what about when we don't?
Deborah's words are so telling here . . . our lives really are journeys. And the way that we respond to God's call, and the choices that we make, will determine what success, and what honors come along the pathway. In this instance, God didn't disqualify Barak. He didn't choose someone else. He says, you will still be the warrior here, but the glory will be diverted.

So, Barak recruited his soldiers, and Deborah, Barak, and the ten thousand men went up to Mount Tabor. Word came to Sisera, the general of the Jabin's armies, that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone there. Sisera gathered all of his warriors, and all of his awesome chariots, and assembled them on the plain. Deborah told Barak to "get moving!" (well, actually she didn't use those words) and he went down from the Mount with his soldiers.

                   Arise! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your
                   hands; behold the Lord has gone out before you. (verse 12)

And the Lord delivered on his promise. He put the general, his men, and all his army of chariots into a panic. The victory song and the commentaries tell us that they forced those iron chariots into the area of the river Kishon. They apparently got bogged down in the mud and sand and some were swept away in the water. God can use anything that He wants to, to accomplish His purposes, right?
So, Barak and his men were able to kill every last one of them, except Sisera. He fled on foot, to the tent of Jael. And that is another story for us to study, another time. (Grin)
The kings came and fought; then fought the kings of Canaan at Taanach near the waters of Megiddo;They took no plunder in silver. "The stars fought from heaven, from their courses they fought against Sisera. "The torrent of Kishon swept them away, the ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon.O my soul, march on with strength. "Then the horses’ hoofs beat from the dashing, the dashing of his valiant steeds. (Judges 5)
When God goes out before us, when He promises His deliverance, who can overcome us? The Bible says that God subdued the king of Canaan, and the children of Israel were delivered.
So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the sons of Israel. The hand of the sons of Israel pressed heavier and heavier upon Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin the king of Canaan. (from Judges 4)
We started our story with a wise woman who could hear God clearly. What does she do when God is faithful to His promises?
We see in Judges 5 that she sets an example for the people by singing a song of victory. That song started right where it should -- with praise to God for His intervention and His deliverance!
Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying, "That the leaders led in Israel, that the people willingly offered themselves, Bless the LORD! "Hear, O kings; give ear, O rulers! I—to the LORD, I will sing, I will sing praise to the LORD, the God of Israel. "LORD, when You went out from Seir, when You marched from the field of Edom,The earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, even the clouds dripped water. "The mountains quaked at the presence of the LORD, this Sinai, at the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel. (Judges 5:1-5)

Deborah and Barak re-told the story in their song, to remind the people of their misery in bondage, and of the wonderful way that God delivered them. They finish with a blessing that all who love the Lord will shine like the rising sun.

What a testimony!
We'll conclude our study of Deborah tomorrow.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

“Behold, the Lord goes before you” what a wonderful promise. And one that I, a person afraid of going into a room full of strangers, even if those strangers be Christians, will remember and repeat to myself for encouragement.