About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 4

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Deborah (ch.4:1 - 23)   


Note in verse 1 we see the cycler nature of Israel's existence.  They do evil.  They repent and God provides a judge.  They do better for a while.  Then they do evil. They repent.  God provides another judge.  The cycle goes on.  If you look at church history, you will see the same pattern.  God, in various places and at various times, calls his people to repent through revivals often associated with men of God and their ministries.


We need to understand here that some of these judges overlapped each other because they weren't all national judges.  They were regional judges.  So, you might say that Israel had regional revivals as we have seen in the church over the centuries.


In verse 2 we see that God judged Israel at this stage in their history by selling her into the hands of her enemies.  This is often how God will judge a nation.  He will sell the nation into the hands of its enemy, or, allow the enemy to overcome the nation in one way or another, whether by military means, economic means, or by social means.  The enemy simply takes hold of the judged nation in one way or another.


Note the word "sell" here.  The Hebrew word translated as "sell" if often used for a man selling his daughter to a perspective husband.  It's also used as when a slave is sold, or, even selling oneself.  It is also used, as it is here, when God sells His people into the hands of their enemies. You might wonder what kind of payment that the Lord gets in this sale.  This is only my thinking, but in verse 3 you will note that because of this sale, Israel does repent farther down the road in time.  This might well be payment for the sale.  


You note in verse 3 that the oppression of Israel 's enemy here caused Israel to once again call out to the Lord.  That is the ultimate goal of God's judgment.  Of course God at some point in time, causes the nation to fall and never to return to existence.  This however, is not true with Israel.  At the end of this age, Israel will return to her God.


Note in verse 4 that the judge this chapter is concerned with is Deborah.  She is both a judge and a prophetess.  She is one of 4 prophetesses mentioned in the Old Testament.  The other 3 are, Miriam in Exodus 15:20, Huldah in 2 Kings 22:14, Anna in Luke 2:36.  Some might question Anna as being in the Old Testament, but what we must remember is that New Testament times really didn't start officially until Acts 2.   When Jesus was on earth, He ministered in Old Testament times.


In this chapter we see that another people invade Israel , then after a 20 year period, Israel invades that people and wins.  There two things going on here.  One is that when Israel is living for Yahweh, she will win battles.  Also, there is the Abrahamic Covenant in affect here.  He that blesses Israel will be blessed and he that curses Israel will be cursed.  Even though God used these Canaanites to invade Israelis as an act of His judgment, God later cursed them for doing so, when Israel attacked them in return and defeated them.  This is seen throughout Old Testament history.   


Verse 5 tells us that she held court under a palm tree in Ephraim.  Ephraim bordered on Judah. 


The Lord spoke to Deborah.  Barak was to take 10,000 men and capture the Sisera, the captain of the army of the people to whom Israel was subject.  Of course, Deborah could not lead the army because she was a woman, so that is why Barak was chosen by God.  Barak had great respect for Deborah and said that he would only go and fight if she came along, which I would think was a strange request for a man in those days.


Verse 7 tells us that Deborah would "lure" Sisera so Barak could capture him.


Also note the Kishon River in verse 7.  This is found in the same valley where the Battle of Armageddon will be fought.


In verses 8 through 10 we see that Barak would not go and fight unless Deborah went with him.  We obviously don't know the whole story, but it seems there was some kind of compromise between Deborah and Barak, because Deborah said that "because of the way Barak was handling this, he would not get any glory for the victory".  Actually it would be a woman who would actually capture Sisera and get the glory and the woman wasn't Deborah.  Some suggest that it might be possible that Barak didn't take the word of the Lord seriously, and that was the problem as Deborah saw it.   


Note in verses 11 to 13 that Sisera had 900 iron chariots.  You would think that this would be no match for Israel, but if God was with them, who could be against them.


Note in verse 14 that there was one particular day when Israel was to attack their enemy.  I've said this over and over again, but the Bible is clear, with scores of examples, God has a time table of events.  He does things exactly when He has already prearranged.  This is one example.  I believe that Jesus will return on a prearranged day.  This day is fixed in the mind of God and will not be changed no matter what we do. 


As we see with Israel throughout history, the Lord went to battle ahead of Israel and led the enemy into the lands of Barak, causing Sisera to flee his post.  It seems that Sisera would not fight to the death with his men.


Verse 16 states that Barak's army killed every soldier in Sisera's army by their swords.  Israel was no match for her enemy, but her enemy was no match for the God of Israel.  Nothing has changed.  When Israel goes to battle in the will of God, Israel will win the battle. This is true even today.  The Six Day War in 1967 is one recent example of this.


From this point on, to the end of the chapter, we see a Jewish lady named Jael, whose husband was a friend of Sisera.  She provided a place for Sisera to sleep and while he was sleeping she drove a tent peg through his skull and killed him immediately.  She then handed Sisera over to Barak.  As Deborah said, Barak would not get the glory for killing Sisera.  Jael got the glory.


Verse 24 tells us that the hand of the Lord was with Israel and they eventually freed themselves from this present enemy, that is, until the cycle continued and Israel would fall away from their Lord again.


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