Summary: Message 5 in our exposition of Judges dealing with Deborah and Barak.
Judges Series #5
“Deborah/Barak: A Fearless Woman and a Fearful Man”
We should be familiar with the cycle by now.
For those of you who have just joined us, the book of Judges records the continuing history of the nation of Israel; picking up at the death of Joshua who led them to multiple victories over the occupying polluted nations God had slated for destruction. This is now the third generation after the grand Exodus out of Egypt’s 400 year servitude spanning over a hundred years. They rejected the teachings of their founders. They no longer passed on the stories of God’s amazing loving acts for His chosen people. They became enmeshed with the pagan nations that God commanded them to destroy. They purposely ignored God while picking up the dreadful beliefs and practices of those nations and worshiped multiple deities. They arrogantly did their own thing. Every man did that what was right in their own eyes. They lapsed into idolatry, immorality and anarchy. That about sums it up. That also sums up the state of a once God-following nation today.
Three main take away messages resonate all though this account of Israel’s next several hundred years of history.
Sin continually causes bondage
God mercifully grants deliverance
God powerfully utilizes unlikely people
I. Cycle Identified 1-2
II. Cycle Illustrated (Seven examples) 3-16
A. Othniel – God-empowered faithful servant 3 God empowers the faithful
B. Ehud: Strength perfected through weakness 3:17-31 God empowers the weak
C. Deborah / Barak: Fearless Woman Fearful Man 4:1 God empowers the disenfranchised
All though world history, attitudes toward women have not been very healthy.
Especially given the fact that…
God created male AND female in His image.
God blessed male AND female.
God commissioned male AND female.
Generally, the woman was views as inferior and led lives of demoralizing servitude to men.
Of course, exceptions arose from time to time but there were just that; exceptions. Amongst a disappointing and dismal historical portrait of women, the Bible highlights some very flattering snapshots of some most extraordinary women. Here in the middle of a deeply depraved and declining culture that included some degrading attitudes toward women, we find an exciting “short-film” featuring a most amazing woman who managed to garner significant private and public respect from men and women alike; the only woman to be identified as a Judge.
The author includes here in another cycle illustrating our three reoccurring principles.
Sin leads to bondage.
God graciously grants deliverance.
God powerfully uses unlikely people.
In today’s cycle, it happens to be two disenfranchised members of society; a woman named Deborah and a woman named Jael. Most everyone loves a good story. God revealed Himself to us through story rather than a classroom. Other than parables, the stories of the Bible happen to flow out of historical events rather than human imagination. In Bible study, we should always look for God in the story. We best understand God in the context of His interactions with His creatures. Scripture recounts the story of Deborah in a unique manner.
Chapter 4 uses prose or narrative to provide the basic chronology of events.
Chapter 5 employs poetry to include the emotional impact of the events.
I am going to try to superimpose the emotion of chapter 5 on top of the events of chapter 4.
We will explore the story and then search for God in the story. Let’s begin with the prelude in a duet sung by the prophetess Deborah and her military general Barak.
On that day Deborah and Barak, son of Abinoam, sang this song:
Praise the LORD! Men in Israel vowed to fight, and people volunteered for service.
Listen, you kings! Open your ears, you princes!
I will sing a song to the LORD.
I will make music to the LORD God of Israel.
O LORD, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the country of Edom,
the earth quaked, the sky poured, the clouds burst, and the mountains shook in the presence of the LORD God of Sinai, in the presence of the LORD God of Israel. Judges 5:1-5
They sang a praise song based on the events of their deliverance from Jabin. They recognized God’s supernatural intervention on behalf of the volunteers. Again, we observe the partnership between humanity and divinity in human history.
After Ehud’s death, the Israelites again did evil in the LORD’s sight. Judges 4:1
The use of the word “again” demonstrates the continual spiritual struggle throughout the nation. Again, the historian used a simple statement describing the relapse of the people living without a strong leader. It is likely Israel’s sin followed the same lines as before. They forgot God. They compromised with the pagan nations and ended up giving themselves to a multitude of morally despicable gods. The slide down this slippery slope generally starts with compromise.