After Ehud was gone the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord. Yes - again! These humans never learn. How are we the exact same way? Never learning. Always seeking our own way. This time the Lord sold them to ‘Jabin king of Canaan: God used an entirely different oppressor this time. God can, and will, use anything to get our attention and keep us in line with His will.’
The leader of Jabin’s army was Sisera. They had 900 iron chariots. 900!! They ruled over Israel for 20 years before Israel called out to God. Why does Israel keep allowing so much time to pass everything goes wrong before they call out to God again?
“Now came along Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.” Judges 4:4-5
In the OT the role of a prophetess was to hear from God – then speak for God. The priests job was to represent the people to God. The prophets job was to represent God to the people. The prophets were God’s servants.
Some things we can learn from Deborah:
First, Deborah heard from God – and spoke on behalf of God. The primary goal of being a woman should be to hear and live out God’s word. This is our greatest calling to the world. For us to do this for our children, family, friends and community. This is how we share the Kingdom which is the most important mission we have on the planet.
Secondly, Deborah was called the wife of Lapidoth – Lapidoth wasn’t called the husband of Deborah. Even though she was a household name and her fame eclipsed any notoriety her husband had. Still Deborah honored God by honoring the covenant she had with her husband. And women are told to honor their husbands.
Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22-24
So we are getting into some boy vs. girl stuff here about the role of women in OT times – and how their role was actually more defined in the NT. But ultimately us women folk are supposed to submit today. Yes. I used the word submit.
“From 1 Corinthians 11:5, we find that the essential element to a woman’s ministry as a prophetess in the early church was her clear submission to the male leadership in the church (evidenced by her wearing of a veil). In the New Testament church, a woman was to use her gifts in the context of order established by the leaders of the church – just like anyone’s gift.”
Ok ladies, hear me out. As young girls we all want the love and affection of a father. Some of us had that dad, some did not. And for virtually all of us our dads were flawed in some way (as are we). What was it we were seeking from an affectionate father? Guidance and affirmation. This isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s being human and healthy humans are vulnerable and desire guidance and affirmation.
This desire does not dissipate with age. As a 40-something I still desire guidance and affirmation. Seeking wise counsel for these things makes me better - not weaker.
The shift is that it is normal to want that from our fathers and father-like influences in our lives as children. But suddenly we are thrust into being an adult and our feminist culture says we are weak if we continue to desire guidance and affirmation from a man our own age. I’m not saying a man is smarter or knows better. But a man will think things out differently and provide a perspective you would never consider (spaghetti vs. waffles).
Ultimately we need to pick the right men - and teach girls to pick right men - so that the issue of submission isn’t debatable. It’s the natural state of our homes and churches. The right man will consider every word you say, covet every experience you bring to the table, and weigh that in with his own words and experiences. You should come to a decision together. But if it’s in debate he does get the final word so you had better align yourself with the right man.
Back to the story …
God is about to deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Canaanites and give the army of Jabin, the king of Canaan, into the hand of Israel’s army leader Barak. But Barak is willing to only partially obey, so God raises up as deliverer Deborah the judge – a woman to fill the gap left by weak and ineffectual Barak. (Youssef)
“She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “It has become clear that GOD, the God of Israel, commands you: Go to Mount Tabor and prepare for battle. Take ten companies of soldiers from Naphtali and Zebulun. I’ll take care of getting Sisera, the leader of Jabin’s army, to the Kishon River with all his chariots and troops. And I’ll make sure you win the battle.”
“Barak said, “If you go with me, I’ll go. But if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.””
She said, “Of course I’ll go with you. But understand that with an attitude like that, there’ll be no glory in it for you. GOD will use a woman’s hand to take care of Sisera.” Deborah got ready and went with Barak to Kedesh. Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together at Kedesh. Ten companies of men followed him. And Deborah was with him.
Judges 4:6-10 MSG
Deborah knew that God ever intended for her to battle Israel alone. She knew this was Barak’s battle. Yet it was wise for “Barak to ask Deborah to come with him - the fact that he demanded it showed that he trusted more in Deborah’s relationship with God than with his own relationship with God.” (Guzik)
Barak preferred the inspiration of Deborah’s presence to the invisible but certain help of Almighty God…He is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as one of the heroes of faith; but his faith lay rather in Deborah’s influence with God than in his own. Thus he missed the crown of that great day of victory. (Meyer)
The flaw in Barak’s character was that he thought he could offer partial obedience, conditional obedience, to God. Partial obedience is an affront to a holy God. It’s as if we are saying, “I don’t know if I can trust You, God. I need additional assurances. I need to protect myself in case Your promises fail. I need a little extra insurance and maybe an escape route or two – just in case You don’t come through for me.” We miss out on God’s blessing for our lives when we set conditions on our obedience. (Youssef)
“There will be no glory for you” Because of this, Barak would not be the one to personally defeat Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army – but a woman would be the one. We would expect this to be fulfilled by Deborah, but this prophecy will be fulfilled unexpectedly.” Guzik
So with great faith in God and Deborah at his side Barak headed down the amount of Tabor straight into battle with the 900 chariots that Sisera brought along.” They had essentially no weapons to fight with against a technologically advanced army (having 900 chariots of iron). In addition, God led them to fight on a plain, which gave great advantage to the forces with chariots.”
But God “routed” Siseras army and troops. We know from Judges 5:4-5 and 5:21 that God “routed” Israel to victory by bringing a flash flood. The muddy conditions made the chariots of iron a hindrance, not a help in the battle. The result was total defeat for Sisera – not a single soldier survived. And Sisera set off running.
He ended up at the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite: Here the story takes an unexpected turn. God promised that a woman would defeat Sisera (Judges 4:9). We would logically assume that this would be Deborah, but God had something else in mind. He instead used the wife of a Kenite to accomplish Sisera’s end.
Jael invited him into the tent for safety – and because there was peace between the people of Sisera and the people of Jael, he had reason to believe he could trust Jael’s invitation. In addition, “Any pursuer would hardly think to look in a woman’s tent for any man, let alone a weary fugitive, for this would be a breach of etiquette.” (Cundall)
Once he had some milk he took a nappy-poo - that’s when she got him by driving a tent spike all the through his brain and into the ground. “The gory detail of this matter supports the idea that this was an eye-witness account. Jael knew how to handle a tent-peg because it was customarily the job of women to set up the tents. She struck the peg so hard that it went down into the ground.” (Guzik)
“Jael broke a fundamental principle of hospitality and many in the ancient world would think her a treacherous woman. She broke her promise to Sisera and killed a man that her own husband had made peace with.
Yet God used even her treachery to accomplish His purpose. Surely, Sisera deserved to die; he fought against God’s people on behalf of a leader who had harshly oppressed the people of Israel (Judges 4:3). The lesson for us is important – God can make even the evil of man serve His purpose: Surely the wrath of man shall praise You (Psalm 76:10). Yet, that never diminishes the personal responsibility of the one doing the evil. Judas’ betrayal of Jesus served the eternal purpose of God, yet he still answered for that evil deed.” (Guzik)
“Charles Spurgeon preached a wonderful sermon on this passage titled Sin Slain on how the we can take Sisera as a type of sin, and his master (Jabin) as a type of Satan. He insisted that we should not be content to merely defeat sin, as Barak defeated Sisera in battle; we should not rest until sin is dead. And, just as Jael asked Barak to look at the dead body of Sisera, Spurgeon said we should look at sin slain by the work of Jesus, knowing He has already won the battle. “If you are content merely to conquer your sins and not to kill them, you may depend upon it, it is the mere work of morality — a surface work — and not the work of the Holy Spirit.” (Spurgeon)
So on that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan in the presence of the children of Israel. 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.
And the hand of the children of Israel grew stronger and stronger: The battle against Sisera was important, but it did not end the struggle. It was an important event that Israel had to continue to develop and walk in.” (Guzik)