Summary: Two woman who got honored over 2 men, not because they were necessarily better, but because they trusted God. Thanks to Guy Caley for his insights on faith from "Mud Wrestling".
About thirty years ago, a young woman tennis star named Billie Jean King was challenged to a tennis match in what was billed as the “Battle of the Sexes” Another American tennis star, Bobby Riggs, 55, had been considered the best player in the world years earlier. He won Wimbledon and 3 U.S. Open championships. But years later he thought he still “had it” and could beat a 29-year-old—because she was a woman. Riggs even practiced in a T-shirt that said “If I am to be a chauvinist pig, I want to be the #1 pig.”
Before a live audience of 30,000 and a viewer audience of about 50 million, Billy Jean King trounced Bobby Riggs in consecutive sets 6-4, 6-3, and 6-3.
Riggs was humiliated. It was discovered that a young woman could beat an older man (something few people today would even question.) But clearly the honor went to a woman. This mornings passage in Judges isn’t about a tennis match…but it’s about 2 woman who got honored over 2 men…(not because they were better tennis players)…but because they trusted God. They teach us the bottom line lesson that “If you fail to put your faith and trust in God…you lose opportunities with God.”
So rather than seeing this as a battle-of-the-sexes message, I want you to see the more significant spiritual message: “When you know what God wants you to do, but you tell Him, “I’ll obey, IF. . .” you’ve put conditions on your obedience. And when you put conditions on your obedience, God doesn’t lose out …YOU do! So, we’re going to look at 4 different kinds of faith this morning and at the end of the message, I want you to determine which kind of faith you have. Turn in your bibles to Judges 4,5….
Judges 4:1: After Ehud’s death…Those of you who were here last week remember Ehud don’t you? Ehud was the left handed judge/deliverer who stuck a sword into fat ole King Eglon’s gut. (Dads got a package of pork rinds to help you remember him). He was followed by Shamgar the judge. He defeated 600 Philistines with an ox goad, leading us to rename him “Sham-wow”!
You say, “What happened after Ehud died?” Vs. 1 continues… the Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight. In otherwords, the spiral of apostasy that we’ve been talking about (and that we all find ourselves in at one time or another) begins again…vs.2-3…So the LORD turned them over to King Jabin of Hazor, a Canaanite king. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Haro-sheth-haggo-yim. 3 Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help.
Who turned Israel over to the King Jabin of Hazor? The Lord did! This was His loving discipline. See, as our loving heavenly Father, God doesn’t sit back, wring His hands & worry when we fall into sin…He does something about it! Throughout Judges, He sells Israel into the hands of their enemies. This is the consequence for Israel’s sin, & God let’s them experience it in full. He does the same thing for us. He allows us to face the consequences for our actions. Not to destroy us, but to get us to turn back to Him.
So He sells them to a very strong, very demanding enemy…Jabin. A King who ruled harshly & had access to a mighty arsenal. His top commander had 900 iron chariots. Now iron chariots were the “smart bombs” and “drones” of their day. They were basically “killing platforms” used to roll over and chop down their enemies while they were in retreat. So this was a pretty bad time for Israel! They were under the iron fist of Jabin and Sisera for 20 years, before they finally cried out to the Lord for help. And because God is a merciful, caring and loving God…who keeps His promises. Even though He has every right to turn a deaf ear to us…He answers once again!
Enter a woman named Deborah…vs.4 Deborah, the wife of Lappi-doth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time. The name “Deborah” lit. means, “honey bee”. And like a “honeybee she was very productive”, but as we’re going to see, while she was a “bee” in peace, she was a “wasp” in war! vs.5 She would sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would go to her for judgment. Of all the “deliverers” in the book of Judges, Deborah is the only female. Now that in itself is an astounding thing, since she lived in a male dominated society. But Deborah was an exception. And she held a very high position. People came to her for arbitration in their disputes. But not only was she a ‘judge”, she was a wife (probably a mother), and a “Prophetess”. i.e. People looked to her for direction, as a spokesperson for God. So if you ever wondered if God values women, the answer is “yes”. The bible says in Gal.3:28…There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. (READ) What that verse is saying is that the ground is level at the base of the cross.