Summary: Today’s sermon revolves around a working mother who is a judge-prophetess, a superstitious general, some really bad weather, and a headache to end all headaches.
A Splitting Headache
1. Billy, a 4 year old boy, goes to the doctor with a number of symptoms, including a headache.
The doctor asks, "Billy, can you tell me what's bothers you the most?"
Billy replies: "I'd have to say my little sister."
2. What do you take when you get a headache? Some of you suffer from migraines. The rest of us don’t know what headaches are, compared to you.
3. I used to be plagued frequently with sinus headaches. They were bad. I found nothing helped like aspirin. Not Tylenol, not ibuprofen, not Aleve. For other headaches, like a fever, Tylenol worked great.
4. There are different kind of headaches, but today’s sermon revolves around a working mother who is a judge-prophetess, a superstitious general, some really bad weather, and a headache to end all headaches.
Main Idea: The story of Deborah demonstrates how God can empower men and, in this instance, women to accomplish His purposes.
I. Two Women – in Co-operation with Men – Deliver Israel Primarily by Their BRAINS.
We know, ultimately, God delivered Israel. But these women used their brains in the process. A few of these details come from Deborah’s song in chapter 5.
A. Judge Ehud died, and, in time, Israel turned to OTHER gods.
• Under Ehud, Israel experienced 80 years of peace and rest, the longest in Judges.
B. Jabin, a CANAANITE king, oppressed part of Israel.
C. The Israelites became so miserable they REPENTED and cried to the Lord.
1. Israel’s real problem was not military, but spiritual.
2. This is the shallow repentance brought about by misery. They forsook their idols and began trying to obey the Lord, but under duress. Then, in time, they returned to the idols.
3. Rapid, fad-like repentance is inferior to spiritual transformation.
D. God raised up the prophetess DEBORAH as a judge (leader).
1. Judges did not just give rulings, they were viewed as rescuers. When they gave fair rulings, they rescued the oppressed; when they fought off Israel’s enemies, they rescued their nation
Psalm 82:1,4 passim, God …holds judgment….Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
2. There are three types of people in the world, those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who ask, “What happened?”
E. Deborah relays a MESSAGE from God to Barak, a military leader.
1. Deborah had something the other judges didn’t, she was a prophetess. At the same time, they had something she didn’t: they were warriors, she was not.
2. Deborah tells Barak, an Israelite general, that God commands him to take 10,000 soldiers from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun and attack Jabin's army and prepare for battle.
3. Barak refuses to go to battle apart from Deborah’s presence; she makes the concession, but tells him that the military glory will go to a woman, not him.
4. Barak leads his 10,000 men against Sisera's army, including 900 chariots of iron.
5. Barak's army grew to 40,000 volunteers from Benjamin, Ephraim, and part of Manasseh…
6. God sent a huge rainstorm that flooded the river (5:20-22), so the chariots were worthless. Barak’s army killed all Sisera's men—except for Sisera. He hid in a friend’s tent, Heber.
F. Jael gives Sisera a splitting HEADACHE.
1. Heber's wife, Jael, goes out to meet Sisera and offers to hide him.
2. While he is sleeping she drives a tent peg through his head. Nice hostess.
Application: The Holy Spirit can empower all believers. In Christ, we may have different responsibilities in the home and church based upon gender, but we have equal status in our relationship to the Lord. Our gender goes down to our very souls, but the genders are not superior or inferior to one another, just different. And that difference is not just physical.
II. This Account Suggests a Number of LESSONS.
A. We must let the Bible – not our culture, traditions, or assumptions, determine GENDER roles.
1. People are sometimes surprised that Israel had a female judge.
2. Although priests – who were also responsible to teach – had to be male, there was no such restriction on judges, and the OT mentions a number of prophetesses, such as Miriam and Huldah, as does the NT, including Philip’s four daughters.
3. Prophets speak words inspired by God, not to be confused with preaching or teaching.
4. The early church had female prophets, but not elders or pastors or teachers. They obeyed the restrictions of I Timothy 2:8-15,but did not exceed them. Based on order of creation & the fall.
5. My viewpoint is that women are allowed to do everything that is not forbidden them.
B. PERSONALITY, not just gender, affect who we are.
1. Deborah was not a soldier, but she had brains and took initiative.