6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: The historical events surrounding the leadership of Deborah. (Part 1 of 3 examining women in ministry and the opposing doctrines of complementarianism and egalitarianism.)

Dakota Community Church

September 28, 2014


In the Book of Judges you will recall there is a repeated cycle throughout the entire book; a cycle of sin, bondage, repentance, and devotion, followed by sin and bondage again.

Israel would follow the Lord when there was a leader who reminded them of the ways in which they should walk, but with his death they again wandered off into idolatry.

Judges chapters 4 and 5 describe the same events; one from the viewpoint of a historian and the other from a poet. I encourage you to read both again this week, noticing the subtle differences.

We will use chapter 4 for our purposes today.

Judges 4:1-4

And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord after Ehud died. 2 And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan , who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. 3 Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

Othniel delivered Israel from Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia after 8 years.

Ehud delivered them from Eglon the king of Moab after 18 years.

The oppression under Jabin king of Canaan is the harshest to date described as “cruel” and lasting for 20 years.

So what happened? (How many read Judges 4 this week?)

1. Deborah, Barak, and Jael

Judges 4:4-7

4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. 6 She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. 7 And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?”

• Deborah is a prophetess who teaches and preaches the Word of the Lord

• She is a commander of men

• She held court as a counsellor issuing judgement and settling disputes

• She is the closest thing to a godly leader to this point in the history of the young nation

• She does not simply rule by might; rather she leads from wisdom and character

• The Judges ruled by divine appointment, not by birth or by election

• Deborah stands alone as the judge who is not the solo star of her story

• From Othniel to Samson all the other judges are ruler, rescuer, and eliminator of the enemy

• Here there are three:

Ruler - Deborah

Rescuer - Barak

Eliminator - Jael

Judges 4:8-10

8 Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him.

• Some commentators see Barak’s refusal to go alone as a timid lack of faith resulting in him not getting the glory for the kill so to speak

• A more likely reality is that Barak recognizes Deborah as God’s chosen leader and she is merely making a prophetic statement.

• This would be more in keeping with his place in the “Hall of Faith”

Hebrews 11:32-34

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

• Throughout the story Barak shows faith and obedience to God

• In the face of 900 iron chariots he charges into battle

• He does not draw back when it is revealed that someone else (a woman) will have the ultimate glory for the kill.

Judges 4:11-16

11 Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh.

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