This last session for the Conference is on Deborah:
The stage is set; it describes a cycle that is repeated at least 7 times in Judges:
God’s chosen covenant people were being disobedient. God’s is concerned with the homes of His people. The people of Israel do what is evil in the sight of the Lord. This was a period in the life of Israel of spiritual apostasy, “doing what was right in their own eyes”, they abandoned God and his laws, they pursued after Baal and Canaanite gods.
God sold them – he disciplined them. God in his mercy and love, he gave them up to be oppressed by the enemy. The chastening hand of God. God allows people and instruments to come into our lives to show us where we have disobeyed him.
It took intense discipline over prolonged time (20 years of oppression by the Canaanites) for the Lord to get the attention of His people. This is an amazing demonstration of the longsuffering of God, of his patience and mercy. We will be shown the redeeming hand of God.
v. 4 – Deborah comes in as a judge. Deborah was the answer to the cry of the people. She is utilizing her God-given gifts, living her life for other people, and she was content to fulfill the call of God on her life.
She was a prophetess. She was called and gifted by God to declare His Word to His people.
She was a wife. God inspired this little detail. This was her primary human relationship. She didn’t neglect this relationship.
She was a judge. Judges were people God raised up to rescue his people from their oppressors. God, in his sovereignty, raised this woman up. She just said, ‘”Yes, Lord.”
Deborah first heard from the Lord for herself. Then she gave the message. Deborah didn’t know any better other than just believe what God had said – God would win the battle. There is no doubt here – she is only confident in the Word of God. She had wisdom greater than her own. Today – we need women who know the Word of God. Others will seek us out. They will look for the wisdom that flows through us – the very Words of God.
Deborah agreed to go and arose. She went out of her comfort zone, out of her home; she marched into the face of danger. She went because she was a woman of faith and believed the promises of God. She had no choice but to be involved because God had put a call of God on her life. We get a display of a woman who stands and is strong in the power and Word of God.
God uses foot soldiers and women in this story. God chose the weak to confound the strong. Why? So God would get all the glory. God chooses the needy, helpless, and dependent. We go in the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.
The period of the Judges was not one of strong male leadership. I see Deborah as one who inspires male leadership. Her goal was not to lead but to serve. (5.7) Her heart was a mother. She simply saw herself as a mother – to the troops of Israel. She exuded a nurturing instinct. That is what motivated her, she wasn’t driven by power, position, or prestige – she was driven to be a mother – to sustain and nurture life.
Biblical womanhood looks different in different relationships. Deborah worked to nurture male leadership. She didn’t command Barak to do something – she wasn’t threatening him. She is relaying a message from God. We see Deborah in a responsive, helper role – she went at Barak’s appeal. She is delighted to see men rise up and take leadership. She is delighted to see it happen. When men are inspired to lead, she is happy (5.2). She affirms these men and expresses her gratitude to God. She doesn’t male bash.
Deborah is a woman of faith and courage. The legacy of her life – the men of her day became men. They came forward to fight evil and to defend their wives and children. She wasn’t looking to be the hero of the story. (Heb 11 mentions Barak and not Deborah). We would be totally bent out of shape. Deborah would have been thrilled to see Barak reach that point of faith – a man of great faith. Though she too had faith, in the end, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it is Barak’s faith that gets listed.
The battle: v 12 – Barak is in a life-threatening position – but Deborah encourages him to move forward in faith. The power of a woman’s word has great influence on a man. Do your words encourage men to be men in whatever realm they are in? Or do they tear him down and make him timid. This isn’t just for your husband, but also for your pastor, your father, your brother, your friends. Our words can either tear up or tear down. Do your words bring fresh new life into the lives of men who are in your circle of influence?
Deborah is not the hero. Barak is not the hero. GOD is the hero. He won the battle. God is the champion of the story of our lives. God is the victorious warrior. We go into battle with that confidence. The battle is the Lord’s. God used human means but he also used supernatural means to win the battle. Jehovah was over this war – and over the false gods. God reminded both the enemy and His people that He is the God over all.
Don’t ever underestimate the power or the grace of God.