The 49ers had a motto they pumped themselves up with before and after each game in 2011-2012. Jim Harbaugh shouted: “Who’s got it better than us?” Team responded: “Nobody!”
Our next section of Judges, begins with the repeated refrain (1). Why did they do it? Psalm 73:1-10. However, notice where Asaph ends in vv.23-26. There’s the key difference between the Israelites in Judges and Asaph!
Ch.1 – Political failure. Ch.2 – Spiritual failure. Ch.3 – Deliverance! Yet, take away Ehud and what are you left with? The pattern repeats itself because the people had forgotten all the Lord had delivered them from (3:7). They had forgotten the presence, guidance, counsel, and heavenly glory that God had promised to them.
What about you? Have you forgotten the goodness of the Lord? May He grant you eyes to see his sovereign grace this morning.
Read Judges 4:1-24
Deborah’s Prophecy (1-7)
Evil > Enslavement > Cries out > Unique judgeship. The prophetess Deborah judges Israel and summons Barak to lead the military.
Why isn’t Deborah listed in 1 Sam 12:9-11 and Heb 11:32? Her judging included her role as a prophet. The people “cried out” to her for a word from the Lord. She wasn’t one of the judges, in the same sense as the others, but primarily a prophet.
Many point to Deborah as a key example of women in positions of religious authority. And there’s no doubt she had power. Should we conclude that women have every right to be in positions of church leadership as men?
It’s generally not a good practice to create principles out of what is clearly an exception to the rule. Her authority stemmed from her prophetic office. She doesn’t appear to have command over military or temple officers.
At the same time, we can and should acknowledge the significance of Deborah’s role. The Lord’s hand was clearly upon her to be used in a powerful way. Her faithful fulfillment of the prophetic office was an encouragement to Barak, whose military victory led to forty years of rest.
God’s kingdom purposes have always involved the service of faithful women.
We shouldn’t have a problem appreciating Deborah’s role, but for some reason, many people struggle to appreciate…
Barak’s Faith (8-16)
Before criticizing Barak, consider Hebrews 11:32.
(8) Barak’s hesitation is consistent with several call narratives. Moses, Gideon, Saul, and Jeremiah all voiced their uncertainty before accepting their mission.
Did he really think one woman would make the difference in an army of 10,000 men?
He recognized Deborah’s role as a prophet. Her presence would’ve encouraged the army and represented God’s favor, and possibly even the guidance of the Holy Spirit (lacking here).
Great, but imperfect faith. He allowed his eyes to focus on the prophet. “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mk. 9:24). That’s the kind of faith we see in Barak.
Do we ever see perfect faith in anyone? The only one with perfect faith was Jesus Christ! So we look to him as the author and finisher of our faith knowing that one day we will no longer wrestle with confusion or doubt or fear.
Our experience is much like it was for Israel during the Exodus. Those who crossed through the Red Sea would certainly have had varying degrees of faith. Many who followed Moses on dry land did so with fear and trembling as they saw the raging sea defying the laws of nature.
Keller It is not the strength of your faith, but the object of your faith that actually saves you!
Another female character, another person often criticized…
Jael’s Ethics (17-24)
The foreshadowing of Jael (vv.9, 11; cf. 1:16) points to God’s providence setting up this scene.
Likewise in the use of inferior weapons, common to Judges: Jael’s tent peg and hammer, Ehud’s dagger, Shamgar’s oxgoad, Gideon’s torches and horns, Samson’s jawbone of a donkey.
Deceitfulness? Far from passing moral judgment the song praises Jael (5:24-27; cf. Rahab)!
Jael’s killing of Sisera reveals God’s swift and exacting justice.
Before condemning Jael’s actions we must consider the severity of Israel’s physical oppression. Had Sisera won he would’ve been at Jael’s tent with different intentions (5:28-30). Dividing the spoils and abusing the women.
WWJD? Maybe if Jael had read Charles Sheldon’s book In His Steps she wouldn’t have been so deceptive and callous in murdering Sisera. But, in fact, Jael shows us exactly what Jesus would do. He puts an end to His enemies.
Let us not forget the central character. It was God who “gave” the enemy into Barak’s hands (7). God “routed” Sisera’s army (15), and “subdued” Jabin the king of Canaan (23).
The salvation of our God includes the crushing defeat of His and our enemies.
In Christ’s first coming the enemies of sin and death were defeated. In His second coming all who reject Him will meet their demise. That’s the only just response.
- Deborah’s Prophecy (1-7)
- Barak’s Faith (8-16)
- Jael’s Ethics (17-24)
God has completed the work of deliverance through his Son Jesus Christ. He’s our ultimate Deliverer! He defeats our enemies!
We get a hopeful picture of this in Zeph.3:14-20:
- Instead of pouring out His wrath upon you, God rejoices over you!
- Instead of living in fear, we now walk by faith strengthened by God’s victory!
- Instead of hanging our heads in the shame of idolatry, we now lift our hearts in praise to the One who has restored our joy!
Who’s got it better than us? Nobody!