Summary: God is willing to use anybody that is willing to be used for His glory. This sermon is about God using an unlikely character to accomplish something big. If He can use this person, He can use anybody.
Deborah and Barak
Judges 4 and 5
Intro: Some people never seem to learn. A man pulled into a gas station, walked over to a soda machine, and stared at the sign, which read, “Soda: $2.00.”
“Two dollars for a soda – that’s incredible” the man said.
“Wall, it ain’t really two dollars”, said the attendant. “That machine’s broke. I put up an outa-order sign, but people kept puttin’ their money in anyway, and I’d hafta get it out agin, so I put up that sign and I ain’t had no trouble since.”
Ill. Einstein, known for his theory of relativity, said something else that may have an even greater impact on humanity than the other: he said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
The Jews were in trouble again. You’d think they’d learn. It was instead an example of mass insanity, it seems, as Einstein described it. It was the same old cycle of peace and prosperity, rebellion and punishment, remorse and repentance, restoration and recovery. Then the downward spiral would begin again. The cycle never seemed to end. And they were in the middle of it once again.
In Chapter one, they failed to drive out the inhabitants from the land.
They forgot God, they served the Baals, they forsook the Lord, and they followed and worshiped various gods of the people around them.
They prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. God sold them into the hands of their enemies, just as He said He would. They cried out to The Lord because they were oppressed by the peoples around them.
The Lord raised up judges who saved them out of the hands of the raiders. They obeyed God as long as the judges lived, but once they were dead, the people went back to their rebellion and turned from God. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways (2:19).
God became angry at their stubborn ways and said, “Because this nation has not kept the covenant that I laid down for their fathers and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out from them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel to see if they will keep the way of the Lord.”
Read Judges 4:1-3
Now the Israelites once again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord sold them into the hands of the Canaanites. Their king was Jabin, and he reigned in Hazor. The general of the Canaanites was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. The army had 900 iron chariots and cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years.
Then they cried out to the Lord.
App. Have you ever cried out to the Lord? If so, about what? Did you confess your sins and the trouble as being your own doing?
Ill. Jean Valjean was in a dilemma. An old man arrested for stealing apples had been falsely identified as the notorious and long-sought after ex-convict, Jean Valjean. What should the real Valjean do? A crises of the soul began. All night long he wrestled with the most difficult choice. Should he keep silent, or should he reveal his identity and return to prison?
His first impulse was to say nothing and do nothing. The next morning, however, his carriage arrived to take him to the court where the innocent man was to be sentenced. He arrived just as the sentence was to be pronounced, and he stood up and said, “I am the real Jean Valjean.”
As he left the courtroom in chains, he said, “All of you consider me worthy of pity, do you not? When I think of what I was on the verge of doing, I consider that I am worthy to be envied. God, who is on high, looks down on what I am doing at this moment, and it is enough.”
Ill. A number of years ago, a Lutheran church in Pittsburgh established “The Listening Ear” service. It enabled people to telephone ministers at the church, confessing any guilt or burden they had. For the most part, the ministers said nothing; they simply listened until the person got it off his chest.
Sometimes, all we can do is cry out to God. Psalm 40:1-3 says,
PS 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
PS 40:2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
PS 40:3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And put their trust in the LORD.
Now comes a judge that is different from all the others. This judge is a woman. A woman! Can you imagine that? A woman. A woman. What goes through your mind when I say it like that? A woman? In our culture, that doesn’t sound implausible. We say that a woman can do anything, that she has equal rights with the men, and though that does not get carried out perfectly in reality, we are still a far cry from ancient Israel, where women were more or less viewed as property owned by men. In a world of men, run by men, it was a bit unusual to have a woman hold such an important post.