Summary: Barak wasn’t much more than just present at first; but he eventually got the vision...
“Deborah said to Barak, “Arise! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hands; behold, the LORD has gone out before you.” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. 15 The LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16 But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not even one was left.”
Here’s a revelation for you. It’s not easy picking a title for a sermon about a Bible character when it’s difficult even to figure out what that character did that deserves mention.
I saw that Deborah means ‘honeybee’, and Barak means ‘lightning’, so I thought of calling the sermon “The Adventures of Honeybee and Lightning”.
As this sermon progresses however, you will see that even that would not have been entirely appropriate.
I was certain that I remembered the writer to the Hebrews mentioning these folks in the eleventh chapter of his letter so I went there. Much to my surprise, Barak is mentioned but Deborah is not, even though she seems to be more of a major player in this story than her General, Barak.
He doesn’t even catch the bad guy!
Sisera, the bad guy, is taken down by a woman named Jael. Jael means ‘mountain goat’ and Sisera means ‘battle array’. But the title, “Mountain Goat Meets Battle Array” just didn’t do it for me either.
The more I thought about it, and after reading Judges 4 about three times, the more I felt the biggest complement I could give Barak was that he was present. He was there.
Now I don’t like to be too critical of Bible characters, especially when they have found their way into the Hebrews Hall of Faith. So when I find myself thinking disparagingly of them I try to compare myself to them and that usually takes the wind out of my sails a little bit.
When I applied that exercise to Barak it occurred to me that very, very often, little can be said of me other than that I am present.
If you can agree with that assessment and are willing to admit that the same can occasionally be said of you, then we are ready to go to this story and find some nuggets of gold.
THE SETTING AND THE PLAYERS
Let’s begin by naming the key players and putting them in their respective roles:
Jabin: King of Hazor in Canaan; a tyrant
Deborah: a Jewish judge; a woman of faith and courage
Barak: a reluctant Jewish general
Sisera: captain of Jabin’s army
Heber: a Kenite neighbor, at peace with Jabin
Jael: wife of Heber; handy with a hammer
Jehovah God: in charge of wars and weather
(above from Wiersbe, W. W. 1996, c1994. Be available. An Old testament study. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL)
Now we see from the last part of chapter 3 of Judges that under the leadership if Ehud, a Benjamite, Israel was delivered from the Moabites and thus enjoyed peace for 80 years.
Verse 31 is a very interesting post script to that chapter.
”After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel.”