From Judges 3-5
Jdg 3.1-6; Story; Israel to be tested by the LORD is amongst other nations and intermarries
Jdg 3.7-11; Story; The LORD raises up the judge Othniel
Jdg 3.12-30; Story; The LORD raises up the judge Ehud. Fat closes over his blade in the toilet.
Jdg 3.31; Story; The LORD raises up the judge Shamgar
Jdg 4.1-16; Story; The LORD raises up the judge Deborah vs. Barak
Jdg 4.17-24; Story; Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael. Big mistake.
Jdg 5.1-31; Song; The Song of Deborah and Barak
Passage and Comments
Today’s passage is rather grizzly tale and in it two women take centre stage in God’s purposes in saving Israel from foreign rule.
Jabin is the King of the Canaanites who threatens Israel. Sisera is the general of Jabin’s army. They are obviously the baddies.
Deborah is a prophetess, the wife of a man named Lappidoth, and she was judging Israel at that time. Yes, that’s right a female Judge. Barak is leader of Israel’s army. Think Barak Obama. He should not be confused with the Balak in Numbers.
12 When Sisera was told that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera called out all his chariots, 900 chariots of iron, and all the men who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. (Jdg 4:12–13)
Chariots were the Sherman tanks of the time. Tough, fast and deadly. Nine hundred of them would be a significant advantage in battle. When Sisera hears of Baraks movements he seizes the opportunity to destroy him.
But the LORD is with Israel and Deborah the judge.
14 And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the LORD go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. (Jdg 4:12–24)
Deborah encourages Barak and Barak believes her. He steps out in faith, trusting in the LORD.
There are times in each of our lives when we are called to stand up and trust in the LORD’s word.
Barak goes down with the armies of Israel.
15 And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. And Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16 And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left. (Jdg 4:12–24)
The LORD is winning battles every day.
Sisera’s army dead to the last man. Sisera himself running for his life on foot.
17 But Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. 18 And Jael came out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord; turn aside to me; do not be afraid.” So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. (Jdg 4:12–24)
Sisera runs and hides at a friends house. Heber himself is away. Heber is a Kenite. Not an Israelite, but some were on good terms with Moses (Jdg 1.16). Sisera finds Jael and she looks after him, covering him with a rug.
19 And he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. 20 And he said to her, “Stand at the opening of the tent, and if any man comes and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say, ‘No.’ ” (Jdg 4:12–24)
Sisera asks for water. She goes further and gives him milk. Once again she covers him. He asks her not to let anyone know he is there. Tired from battle, Sisera falls asleep.
Is Jael a friend of Sisera or the LORD?
21 But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died. (Jdg 4:12–24)
Just in case you thought he might have survived the tent peg hammered through his head, the text says ‘he died’. Classic understatement.
It seems this Gentile woman is on the LORD’s side. She goes out to find Barak who is pursuing Sisera.
22 And behold, as Barak was pursuing Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” So he went in to her tent, and there lay Sisera dead, with the tent peg in his temple. (Jdg 4:12–24)
Sisera is dead. The tent peg is still in his temple. The battle is won. None of the foreign army, including the general survived. The LORD’s word through Deborah was fulfilled.
23 So on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel. 24 And the hand of the people of Israel pressed harder and harder against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they destroyed Jabin king of Canaan. (Jdg 4:12–24)
Jabin was eventually defeated. God can win battles in strange ways. A female Judge commanding Israel’s armies. A foreign woman whose husband was friend of the enemy. And a tent peg.
Story of Israel
God doesn’t need his people to win his battles. Sometimes he uses people. But other times he just wants people to trust in him and watch. Judges is a book where God saves his people in unconventional ways. We will see more of this in the days to come.
During the time of the kings there were times where his angels won battles while his people slept. Other times he defeated his enemies by other nations and or assassination. Absalom was caught in a tree.
More often than not God continues to use the strange and weak things of this world to achieve his purposes. God rescues in strange ways
Story of Jesus
God rescues in strange ways. God the Father, sent Jesus his son. He lived his life, doing good, performing miracles, teaching many about life. In the gospel, Jesus had big battles to fight.
Jesus could have conquered this world’s evil powers with armies of his own. But he didn’t. He could have taken away our sin by sacrificing an animal. But he didn’t.
The strangest of all. God’s won these battles on the cross.
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Cor 1.18-25)
The cross doesn’t make sense to many. But in it, God won the battle for his creation over the powers of darkness and the sin that counted against us.
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