Do you ever look around at the spiritually dark condition of our culture and wonder how we got here?
Where are the spiritual leaders of our day?
How has the Church fallen to ungodly cultural pressure?
Where are the men who can lead us in spiritual battle?
When I read the book of Judges, it seems almost a metaphor of the Church’s story. God’s people, the Israelite nation, fell into a destructive cycle:
Idolatry is the root issue that’s at work when I remove God from His rightful place as ruler of my heart. When I look to anything or anyone other than God for my: comfort, help, satisfaction, security, personal sense of value, or lasting joy . . . that is what I idolize.
Idolatry happens when I replace God with something else. Period.
When I slip into idolatry (which can happen several times within a single day), God is gracious to bring conviction. What is really sad, though, is sometimes I ignore Him and that’s when things get messy. If a believer continues in a lifestyle of disobedience, because we belong to God and He desires what is best for us (to fulfill our purpose of glorifying Him), He promises to bring discipline into our lives.
Throughout Israel’s history, God placed His people under the oppression of heathen nations (the second point in the cycle—judgment or discipline), so that Israel would recognize their sin and their great need for God. God was merciful to bring judgment to them—just as He is merciful when He disciplines us.
When Israel hit rock-bottom under her oppressors, the people would cry out to God for help. That’s where you’ll find me quite often—in the mode of brokenness and desperation for God. It’s a painful spot, but really, desperation is the place of great potential, because desperation opens the door for God to work.
Desperation is that place of humility where God promises to meet us with His grace.
God is always faithful to respond to our cries for help. When we reach the point that we’re willing to admit we need Him, we yield to Him our disobedient hearts, and confess that we need a Rescuer—that is when God graciously brings deliverance!
Israel waited twenty long years for their deliverance from Jabin, the King of Canaan.
The Israelites had endured two decades of heavy oppression from their enemies when our story opens. The first line of Judges Chapter four opens with the statement: “Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD . . .” It seems that Israel’s standard operating procedure after Joshua’s death was “rebel until disciplined.” But the season of discipline was coming to a close and God was preparing a deliverer for His people once again. But this deliverer would be quite different than ones He’d used in the past.
God never ceases to surprise or amaze me by who He chooses to use!
Could it be that Israel had reached such a severe state of wickedness because of a lack of courageous male leadership? I think so. Where were the men who should have stood and communicated: “Thus says the Lord . . .” when the nation was obviously turning to idolatry and rebellion?
Where were the spiritual leaders who should be confronting Israel in her wickedness?
It seems they were AWOL.
But God was actively at work, preparing a warrior, but not your ordinary warrior.
This warrior was a woman!
Deborah was known for her wisdom and dependence on God. This noble warrior was considered a “mother” to Israel, a prophetess, and a fierce woman who held on tight to the hem of God’s will and wouldn’t let go!
The woman who boldly trusts in God’s character, has no reason to fear!
God used Deborah to challenge Barak to go to battle under God’s direction. He feared facing the enemy without this wise and godly prophetess, so he appealed to Deborah to go with him. From the reading of Scripture, it appears she went with him to Mount Tabor in preparation for the battle and waited there to receive word from God on the timing. When she delivered that message to Barak, he went into battle, (there is no mention of Deborah going with him to do the fighting):
[box]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. 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. (Judges 4:14–15)[/box]
Did you notice that it was the Lord who won this battle? Sisera placed his trust in his chariots, Barak placed his trust in Deborah, but Deborah placed her trust in the Lord.
Deborah functioned under God’s leadership as a woman of wisdom and influence. She played a unique role as she served God as a “mother” to Israel. Some have used Deborah as an example to argue for women functioning in the role of pastors or church elders (for my take on that topic see this post), but it is clear that Deborah was not serving in a priestly office.
And isn’t it interesting how Deborah sees herself:
[box]The peasantry ceased, they ceased in Israel, until I, Deborah, arose,
until I arose, a mother in Israel. (Judges 5:7)[/box]
Deborah was a spiritual mother to Israel during the darkest portion of their history. She provided the example of a spiritual warrior, placing her complete trust in God’s providence and salvation.
In this Advent season, Deborah will serve as my example in facing spiritual battles as a warrior, a mother, a woman of faith, and one who is ready to obey God’s call. She was one who waited through twenty long years of severe oppression before deliverance came, so she will also be my encouragement as I wait for my Beloved Bridegroom’s return.
What is a takeaway for you from Deborah’s life?
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