A force to contend with
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. – Judges 21:25
18 Whenever the LORD raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the LORD took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering.
19 But when the judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways, behaving worse than those who had lived before them. They went after other gods, serving and worshiping them. And they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
Life is filled with daunting situations. We face challenges big and small. What do we do? Some freeze and shrink back in uncertainty. Others plow ahead and take a chance. While others may rise to the occasion and perform heroic acts. Most folks who perform one-time acts of bravery (like rushing into a burning building or rescuing someone from the path of an oncoming train) are not significantly different from everyone else.
However, others live lives of lifelong heroism. Consider firemen and other first-time responders. Professional nurses who regularly comfort the sick and dying tend to be lifelong heroes. Such nurses share personality traits or qualities that set them apart from non-heroes. They possess a strong moral code (personal values), are empathic and nurturing. They live by their values and are willing to take personal risks to protect and maintain those values. The prophet Deborah was such a person. Deborah was a force to contend with.
The book of Judges was written 1045-1000 BC. It covers the period between the Exodus, 1445 BC and the time of Solomon (1 Kings 6:1). It is the tragic story of ancient Israel’s cycle of disobedience, rebellion and idolatry. Over and over again the people went from short periods of righteous living to failure and sin. When things became unbearable, they would repent and callout to the Father for help. The Father remained true to His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Father would send a leader, a judge to save His people from their oppressors. All would be well for a short time, and then the cycle would repeat. This lasted for a span of about 400 years.
The cycle began with the death of Joshua and the other leaders of the conquest. The Israelites turned their backs on the Father and entered into idolatry. They had no loyalty to the Father and took Him for granted. They openly rebelled, evoking His displeasure and inviting His discipline (Judges 2:8-16). The Israelites never learned.
Sadly, each of us can probably identify with this behavior and see ourselves doing similar things. It is eerily familiar to the apostle Paul’s experiences in Romans 7.
21 I have discovered this principle of life– that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
Against this horrid background, the Father raised up a force to contend with, Deborah, the fourth judge of Israel. She is revealed as a housewife and mom, not a soldier. She was neither an Amazon warrior nor a WWF female superstar. Rather than being mighty in stature, I envision her as a tiny, petite woman perhaps only 5′ 2″ or so. Her strength came from within, her character and integrity. She was powerful, resourceful, and resilient. She was taken seriously and had great personal power and influence. Deborah was steadfast and devoted to the Father and His Word. She inspired Israel’s forces to confident victory. She encouraged them to faith and righteous living.
In addition to her natural strengths, Deborah was a prophet. She heard from the Father directly (Amos 3:7). The Father would give her the battle strategy to defeat the enemies of Israel. She would in turn pass it on to Barak, leader of Israel’s forces. When Barak carried out her instructions, victory was won.
The Father has two criteria for service: availability and willingness. Only one person measured up to the task at hand, Deborah. No man was willing or able to do the job. In fact, Barak would not go out to war against the enemy without Deborah’s leadership.
Ancient armies were not a coed endeavor. The leaders and strong warriors were typically all-male. The fact that Israel’s all male army would not go to war without Deborah’s leading them, was a slap in their faces. There was no honor in it for the men. Deborah sought no honor for herself. She was only doing the task that she had been assigned by the Father.
8 Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”
9 “Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the LORD’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.”
It had to be very humiliating to the male warriors of Israel in their male-dominated society. But the choice got down to following a woman into battle and having victory. Or going it alone and facing certain defeat. Ultimately however, the honor and glory belong to the Father. It was His battle plan and His intervention On Israel’s behalf that brought about the victory.
“When God wants to glorify Himself through His people, He always has a perfect plan for us to follow. God chose the leader of His army, the place for the battle, and the plan for His army to follow. God also guaranteed the victory.” (Wiersbe)!
REFLECT & PRAY
Prov 21:31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.
Father encourage my heart to have the spirit of Deborah.
Is it possible to have the spirit of Deborah today? Can we be full of faith and courage, and be energized by our zeal for God?
Mark 10:27 “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
In Deborah’s day, there were real physical enemies to contend with, large opposing forces, not to mention 900 iron chariots. But today most of us are not a war and our enemies are internal: fear of failure, a sense of inferiority, concerns over what others think, poor self-image, and often even stubborn unwillingness
While each of us have our individual callings and gifts, any of us can have the spirit of Deborah. Any of us can hear from the Father, take Him at His Word, trust, commit, and take action. Frequently we do not see ourselves as the Father sees us. The Father wants to free us from our internal nemeses!
The spirit of Deborah, a spirit of faith and trust is available to us all. As the Father exposes what needs to be done in our lives we do not have to draw back from these internal enemies. His spirit is at work in us.
Phi 2:13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
It is past time to stop doubting our faith and believing our doubts. Rather doubt your doubts and believe your faith.
By the way the name Deborah means bumblebee.
For many years, in spite of the obvious visible evidence to the contrary, it was thought that short and stubby bumblebees should not be able to fly at all. For such a creature to fly was seemingly a violation the law of aerodynamics. But bumblebees not knowing aerodynamics, having never attended science or physics classes, flew anyway. In the 1930s, French entomologist August Magnan concluded the insect’s flight is actually impossible, a notion that has stuck in popular consciousness since then.
However, the enigma was solved in 2005 by Dr. Michael Dickinson, a professor of biology and insect flight expert at the University of Washington. He used high-speed photography to capture the wing movement of flying bees. It turns out that bumblebees do not flap their wings up and down. This is a common misconception. Rather, they flap their wings back and forth. This is been dubbed a “bug flap.” Such movements provide sufficient lift to allow the bumblebees to fly. Who would’ve guessed? Perhaps instead of going to class, they were outside watching hummingbirds, or even helicopters.