Judges: Faithful God — Broken People: Deborah

Judges: Faithful God — Broken People  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Behind the “historical facts” of any event is the “theological truth” — God has providentially arranged the events. In chapter four, we have the events of Deborah’s Judgeship described, but in chapter five, we are told of God’s hand being behind it all.

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Deborah
Text:
Theme: Behind the “historical facts” of any event is the “theological truth” — God has providentially arranged the events. In chapter four, we have the events of Deborah’s Judgeship described, but in chapter five, we are told of God’s hand being behind it all.
Theme: Behind the “historical facts” of any event is the “theological truth” — God has providentially arranged the events. In chapter four, we have the events of Deborah’s Judgeship described, but in chapter five, we are told of God’s hand being behind it all.
Date: 07/09/2017 File Name: Judges_06.wpd ID Number:
Date: 07/09/2017 File Name: Judges_06.wpd ID Number:
I’m going to approach the story of Deborah as if it were multi-act play with five scenes. The cast of characters in this drama is as follows:
I’m going to approach the story of Deborah as if it were multi-act play with five scenes. The cast of characters in this drama is as follows:
Jabin: King of Hazor in Canaan; a tyrant
• Deborah: a Jewish judge; a woman of faith and courage
Deborah: a Jewish judge; a woman of faith and courage
Barak: a reluctant Jewish general
• Barak: a reluctant Jewish general
Sisera: captain of Jabin’s army
• Sisera: captain of Jabin’s army
• Heber: a Kenite neighbor, at peace with Jabin
Heber: a Kenite neighbor, at peace with Jabin
• Jael: wife of Heber; handy with a hammer
Jael: wife of Heber; handy with a hammer
Jehovah God: in charge of wars and weather
• Jehovah God: in charge of wars and weather
Now let the drama unfold.

I. ACT ONE: A TRAGIC SITUATION ()

I. ACT ONE: A TRAGIC SITUATION ()
“After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the LORD. 2 So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Because he had nine hundred iron chariots and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the LORD for help.” (, NIV84)
1. Jabin is the key person in act one
a. he is a Canaanite ruler God raised up to discipline the people of Israel
2. for eighty years, the Jews had enjoyed rest because of the leadership of Ehud, the longest period of peace recorded in the Book of Judges
longest period of peace recorded in the Book of Judges
a. but no sooner was this godly judge dead than the people lapsed back into idolatry, and God had to punish them ()
and God had to punish them ()
b. Israel as portrayed in the Book of Judges illustrates the difference between “religious reformation” and “spiritual revival”
“religious reformation” and “spiritual revival”
1) reformation temporarily changes outward conduct while revival permanently alters inward character
alters inward character
2) when Ehud removed the idols and commanded the people to worship only Jehovah, they obeyed him; but when that constraint was removed, the people obeyed their own desires
Jehovah, they obeyed him; but when that constraint was removed, the people obeyed their own desires
ILLUS. The nation of Israel was like the man in Jesus’ parable () who got rid of one demon, cleaned house, and then ended up with seven worse demons.
who got rid of one demon, cleaned house, and then ended up with seven worse demons.
3) the empty heart is prey to every form of evil
3. Canaan was made up of a number of city-states, each of which was ruled by a king
a. “Jabin” was the the King of Hazor, and he is also called “King of Canaan”
1) it’s possible that he was the head of a confederacy of Canaanite kings
2) Joshua had burned Hazor (), but the Canaanites had rebuilt it and occupied it
occupied it
b. with his large army and his 900 chariots of iron, Jabin was securely in control of the coast and much of the are south and west of the Sea of Galilee
coast and much of the are south and west of the Sea of Galilee
1) this would have been the land settled by the Israelite tribes of Zebulun, Isachar, and Naphtali
and Naphtali
4. as you read the narrative, however, you get the impression that Sisera, captain of Jabin’s army, was the real power in the land
Jabin’s army, was the real power in the land
a. Jabin isn’t even mentioned in Deborah’s song in !
5. once again, the people of Israel cried out to God, not to forgive their sins but to relieve their suffering
their suffering

II. ACT TWO: A DIVINE REVELATION ()

“Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided.” (, NIV84)
1. God had raised up a courageous woman named Deborah to be the Judge in the land
a. Deborah is unique in the history of Israel
1) she is the only woman in the Bible who was placed at the height of political power by the common consent of the people
power by the common consent of the people
2) some Bible historians have referred to her as the Joan of Arc of Israel
a) everything in the text reveals her to be a woman of great dignity, great
a) everything in the text reveals her to be a woman of great dignity, great authority, great wisdom, and great spiritual insight
authority, great wisdom, and great spiritual insight
2. she is both a Judge and a Prophetess which alludes to both her political and spiritual leadership among the Israelites
leadership among the Israelites
a. like many of the other Judges we are not told about Deborah’s background or how she rose to such an exalted position in Israel
she rose to such an exalted position in Israel
1) her husbands name is Lapidoth
2) Rabbinic tradition say that was a keeper of the Tabernacle lamps
b. a clue to her ministry is found in Deborah’s Song in
“Village life in Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel.” (, NIV84)
1) the sense is that Deborah became known as a wise counselor — a mother to Israel — and her fame began to spread among the people
Israel — and her fame began to spread among the people
2) in time she becomes a respected community leader deciding disputes among the people because she trusted God implicitly
the people because she trusted God implicitly
3. in time, when Israel needed a deliverer, God chose this woman to lead his people
a. Deborah summons Barak, one of Israel’s most capable military men to assemble and lead the Israelite army and draw Sisera’s troops into a trap near Mount Tabor
and lead the Israelite army and draw Sisera’s troops into a trap near Mount Tabor
b. it was there the Lord would defeat them
1) Mount Tabor lies at the juncture of where the tribal territories of Zebulun, Naphtali, and Issachar, meet, and is not far from the Kishon River
Naphtali, and Issachar, meet, and is not far from the Kishon River
2) if Barak would lead the Israelite army toward Mount Tabor, God would draw Sisera and his troops toward the Kishon River, where God would give Barak the victory
Sisera and his troops toward the Kishon River, where God would give Barak the victory
3) as we hear in Deborah’s Song, God chose the leader of His army, the place for the battle, and the plan for His army to follow, and God also guaranteed the victory
the battle, and the plan for His army to follow, and God also guaranteed the victory

III. ACT THREE: A RELUCTANT PARTICIPANT ()

“Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” 9 “Very well,” Deborah said, “I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh, 10 where he summoned Zebulun and Naphtali. Ten thousand men followed him, and Deborah also went with him.” (, NIV84)
1. Barak is not a Judge over Israel, but he evidently has the reputation of being a skilled military leader
military leader
a. since she is not a military leader, Deborah turns to him to lead the fight against Jabin, and his Canaanite confederacy
Jabin, and his Canaanite confederacy
b. Barak was from Naphtali, one of the tribes that would send volunteers to the battlefield (v. 6)
battlefield (v. 6)
1) like Moses before him (), and Gideon () and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1) after him, Barak hesitated when told what God wanted him to do
1) after him, Barak hesitated when told what God wanted him to do
2. Barak has a condition ... he will only muster the troops if Deborah goes with him
a. there has been debate among biblical scholars as to why Barak hesitates
1) his desire to take Deborah with him is not disobedience, but done out of a recognition that Deborah is a godly woman who has God’s ear, so-to-speak, and speaks God’s words
recognition that Deborah is a godly woman who has God’s ear, so-to-speak, and speaks God’s words
2) why wouldn’t he want her with him?
3. Barak is obviously a man of faith or he wouldn’t have been listed among the “heroes of the faith” in Hebrews, chapter 11 (vs. 32)
the faith” in Hebrews, chapter 11 (vs. 32)
a. we see his faith in asking Deborah to join the campaign — he want a prophetess with him
with him
b. we see his faith as he and his army courageously face overwhelming military odds
1) chariots where the “tanks” of their era, and Barak’s army is facing 900 of them
c. we see his faith in his humility and not honor-seeking, trusting God’s word that the victory will come if they are faithful
victory will come if they are faithful
4. Barak enlisted 10,000 men from his own tribe of Naphtali and the neighboring tribe of Zebulun (, ; , )
Zebulun (, ; , )
a. later, volunteers from the tribes of Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh (v. 14), and Issachar (v. 15), joined these men, and the army grew to 40,000 men (v. 8)
Issachar (v. 15), joined these men, and the army grew to 40,000 men (v. 8)
b. at a time when the Israelites were more loyal to their particular tribe rather to the nation, this was an unprecedented alliance
nation, this was an unprecedented alliance
5. when you consider that weapons were scarce in Israel (5:8; 3 ) and that there was no effective standing army, what Deborah and Barak did was indeed an act of faith
that there was no effective standing army, what Deborah and Barak did was indeed an act of faith
a. but God had promised to give them victory, and they were depending on His promise
promise

IV. ACT FOUR: A VICTORIOUS CONFRONTATION ()

“Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law, and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh. 12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera gathered together his nine hundred iron chariots and all the men with him, from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River. 14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, followed by ten thousand men. 15 At Barak’s advance, the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot. 16 But Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim. All the troops of Sisera fell by the sword; not a man was left. 17 Sisera, however, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there were friendly relations between Jabin king of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she put a covering over him. 19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up. 20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say ‘No.’ ” 21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. 22 Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead. 23 On that day God subdued Jabin, the Canaanite king, before the Israelites.” (, NIV84)
1. the Lord, Himself, is the leading actor in this scene
a. we learn from Deborah’s Song in chapter five that, not only has God controlled the enemy army and brought it into the trap, but He also controlled the weather and used a storm to defeat Sisera’s troops
enemy army and brought it into the trap, but He also controlled the weather and used a storm to defeat Sisera’s troops
b. we also learn that God has brought a Kenite named Heber into the area
1) the Kenites were descendants of Hobab who was Moses’ brother-in-law
a) Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law was a Kenite
b) the Kenites are, in the language of our day, “kiss’n cousin”
2) they were a nomadic people who resided on the desert fringes south and west of the Dead Sea
the Dead Sea
a) though distantly related to the Israelites, the Kenites were essentially neutral, attempting to live at peace with both the Canaanites and the Israelites
attempting to live at peace with both the Canaanites and the Israelites
3) this particular Kenite had migrated further north to near Kedesh, a city located in the Jewish tribal territory of Naphtali
the Jewish tribal territory of Naphtali
a) Heber is married to Jael, who, as we will discover, is good with a hammer
2. the battle takes place on the lower slops of Mount Tabor
a. according to the text, the outcome is not in doubt
“Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, followed by ten thousand men.” (, NIV84)
b. Mount Tabor is located in lower Galilee at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley
1) if you would Google Mount Tabor you would notice that it looks like a great pimple raising abruptly out of the level valley floor to a height of almost 2,000 feet
pimple raising abruptly out of the level valley floor to a height of almost 2,000
feet
a) it’s a highly strategic hill that controlled major both north-south, and east-west trade routes
trade routes
2) Christians know it better as the Mount of Transfiguration
c. the text tells us that at Deborah’s insistence, Barak leads his army up the slope of Mount Tabor so that they will have the tactical advantage
of Mount Tabor so that they will have the tactical advantage
1) if attacking it would be very difficult for Sisera to employ his chariots going up a steep, and rocky hill side
steep, and rocky hill side
2) on the other hand, if Barak attacks, his army is moving down hill
3. the Canaanites depended on their 900 iron chariots to give them the advantage they needed as they met the Jewish army
needed as they met the Jewish army
a. chariots were the tanks of their day — the Canaanites have them and the Israelites don’t
don’t
1) from a purely human perspective, the odds are not in Barak’s favor
b. a Canaanite chariot would have carried three, perhaps four men — a driver, a shield bearer, an archer, and perhaps a spearman
bearer, an archer, and perhaps a spearman
1) this would have been an armored force of 2,700-3,600 men not counting Canaanite foot soldiers
Canaanite foot soldiers
c. but we discover in Deborah’s Song that God sends a roaring thunderstorm and a flash flood to negate the advantage of Sisera’s chariot division
flash flood to negate the advantage of Sisera’s chariot division
“ “O LORD, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the land of Edom, the earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water.” (, NIV84)
“From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera. 21 The river Kishon swept them away, the age-old river, the river Kishon. March on, my soul; be strong!” (, NIV84)
• “From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera. 21 The river Kishon swept them away, the age-old river, the river Kishon. March on, my soul; be strong!” (, NIV84)
1) this thunderstorm is even more significant when you remember that the Canaanite god Baal was the god of storms
Canaanite god Baal was the god of storms
2) had their own god Baal turned against them? Was the God of Israel stronger than Baal?
than Baal?
3) if so, then the battle was already lost, and the wisest thing the soldiers could do was flee
was flee
4. God’s promise comes true, and the enemy army was wiped out
“At Barak’s advance, the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot. 16 But Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim. All the troops of Sisera fell by the sword; not a man was left.” (, NIV84)
a. while Barak and his men were pursuing and killing the fleeing Canaanites, the Canaanite captain Sisera was running for his life, probably heading toward Hazor and safety
Canaanite captain Sisera was running for his life, probably heading toward Hazor and safety
b. but weariness got the best of him, and providentially he was near the tents of Heber
c. since Sisera knew that Heber and his people were neutral, this settlement seemed a good place to stop and rest
good place to stop and rest
d. bad choice Sisera!
“Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she put a covering over him. 19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up. 20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say ‘No.’ ” 21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.”
1) I’m not sure the author had to add “and he died” part, but to alleviate any
e. Deborah’s prediction had been fulfilled
1) Deborah sings, "Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent" (5:24)
be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent" (5:24)
2) for a commander to flee from a battle was embarrassing; for him to be killed while fleeing was humiliating; but to be killed by a woman was the most disgraceful thing of all (9:54)
while fleeing was humiliating; but to be killed by a woman was the most disgraceful thing of all (9:54)
3) the Canaanites will not be singing songs about Sisera

V. ACT FIVE: A GLORIOUS CELEBRATION ()

1. when they wanted to celebrate special occasions, the Jewish people often expressed themselves in song; so the writer shifts from narrative prose to jubilant poetry
themselves in song; so the writer shifts from narrative prose to jubilant poetry
a. future generations might forget what the history book said, but they were not likely to forget a festive song
to forget a festive song
2. while I’ll not read the chapter to you, I encourage you to read it
a. it’s a song that gives us the theology behind the history
b. Deborah’s Song re minds both Jew and Christian alike that nothing happens in this world that God doesn’t either allow or directly bring to pass
world that God doesn’t either allow or directly bring to pass
c. we God’s providence at work in this story
3. as the curtain comes down on our drama, we read in the last verse of , And the land had rest for forty years
the land had rest for forty years

Application

1. God’s Plan for His People Is Not Bound by Th Plans of Earthly Rulers
a. God overcomes all obstacles to bring about his purposes for those who belong to him, using those who are willing to be used to restore his people to freedom and faithfulness
using those who are willing to be used to restore his people to freedom and faithfulness
b. despite our frailty and fear, God turns our trepidation into triumph by his patience and power
power
2. If You Have God’s Promise and Know God’s Will, Then Move Forward by Faith
3. When God Grants Victory, Despite Numerous Difficulties, We Are to Pause and Praise God “From Whom All Blessings Flow”
God “From Whom All Blessings Flow”
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