Last Sunday we began our study of the book of Judges. Following Joshua’s death, the Israelites began a spiraling pattern downward by abandoning their worship of God alone and instead participating in idol worship. As punishment and loving discipline, God frustrated the efforts of the Israelites to fight for themselves by removing His protection and allowing them to suffer at the hands of the unconquered pagan groups. Finally, we saw God provide judges to rescue the oppressed Israelites and lead them to reform. However, once the judge died, the Israelites returned to their sins and were oppressed once again.
So, today we see God has sent someone to lead the Israelites, not only as a judicial, religious and military leader but as a spiritual spokesperson to other Israeli leaders. We will see that Deborah is an example of how one person’s courage in taking a stand for God gives courage to others in similar situations. Her example helps others overcome hesitation caused by doubts in strategy and perhaps even a lack of self-confidence, as we discussed in the Tom Landry example. Today we will see how God used Deborah and Barak to work together to accomplish His purposes.
Actually, before we read the verses in today’s lesson, we should read the first 3 verses of chapter 4:1-3 to help understand Barak’s assignment. And, since verse 11 is left out, we are going to leave it out because (in my opinion) it distracts from the flow of the story and becomes relevant if verses 17-24 are studied. Perhaps that’s what our author thought too. We will read verse 11 if we have time to read verses 17-24.
Read “An Updated Request” Judges 4:1-7
So, what was going on during verses 1-3? The Israelites had again rebelled against the Lord and He had allowed them to be oppressed for 20 years by Jabin, king of Canaan. Jabin, his army equipped with 900 iron chariots, treated the Hebrews harshly. When the Hebrews repented, the Lord gave them judge Deborah.
What made Deborah unique as the judge of Israel? She was a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth and the only female judge of Israel.
When Barak was summoned to Deborah, what did she want to know? Why haven’t you done what God told you to do?
How did Deborah know what God had told Barak to do? She was a prophetess so God had probably told her what to tell Barak.
In verse 6, what does Deborah quote God as commanding Barak to do? “Go, deploy the troops on Mount Tabor, and take with you 10,000 men from the Naphtalites and Zebulunites? Then I will lure Sisera, commander of Jabin’s forces, his chariots, and his army at the Wadi Kishon to fight against you, and I will hand him over to you.”
Here we see that God had called Barak to not only rescue God’s people and defeat Sisera’s army but had guaranteed him victory in verse 7. God had commanded but Barak had delayed in moving.
Why is obedience so important when God calls us to a task? Our task needs to be accomplished on God’s time frame, not when it is convenient for us.
Is delayed obedience really obedience? No, your procrastinating may not be in God’s will.
We see that Barak was slow to obey God’s command to deploy the troops and in the next verses we see he was finally willing to go but only under certain conditions.
Read “A Deal Struck” Judges 4:8-10
What was Barak’s response to Deborah? I’ll go if you will go with me. He would obey God only under certain conditions.
What was Barak’s problem with doing as God commanded him? His faith in God was weak which led him to be timid in his response to God.
What was the condition Deborah placed on the deal with Barak? I’ll go with you but you get none of the glory for the victory God has promised and Sisera will be done in by a woman.
Look at the top two paragraphs on page 97 of the PSG, then consider the two questions following the paragraphs.
In what kinds of situations do you need courage to take a stand for God? All kinds of situations, particularly daily when living in the world.
What blessings might one forfeit due to unfaithfulness and unwillingness to serve God?
Read “The Orders Issued” Judges 4:12-14
When Sisera, the enemy of Israel found out about Barak’s troop movement, what did he do? Sisera gathered his 900 chariots and warriors and began the march to cut off Barak at the Kishon River.
At this point, what was Deborah’s role? She had the assurance of God’s presence and the confidence that God was going before them into battle. Because of her assurance and confidence, she was able to inspire Barak to get up and go fight because God was going before him.
Read “The Victory Won” Judges 4:15-16
During the battle, who won the victory? The Lord. Think back to previous lessons, this is not the first time the Lord used confusion to defeat the enemy. Now, He did use Barak and his army to carry out God’s victory. Not a single man was left.
In God, we have the perfect leader, and if we are willing to trust Him, He can do great things in and through us.
Given Barak’s concerns, how is this victory important for us today?
- What God promises, God delivers.
- Our response should be to trust and obey.
- We should not be timid when it comes to serving God and obeying His commands.
As we saw in the Tom Landry example, when those on a team follow a true leader, they in turn can achieve great things.
Close with prayer asking God to bless those who lead our church, our community and our country.