The Lord Leads Israel with a Nervous Guy and an Encouraging Prophetess
“Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.
She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?””
Judges 4:4-7 ESV Read More
Calling, leadership, authority, and obedience all cross together in this passage.
There is Deborah who God has raised up to be a judge for Israel. A judge would make wise decisions, establish rule and order for the people’s greater good, and sort of prophecy with messages from God.
Lappidoth is her husband, and there isn’t any other mention of him. There have been a few brave and bold moves by women so far in the Bible, but this is the first instance where a woman was leading the people. Lappidoth might be mentioned so we know who Deborah was or so she can be put in context. She might not be respected if she were single, too young to marry, or if her husband wasn’t honorable enough to mention. Ancient times were no less complicated than today.
Then there is Barak. He is called by Deborah to her palm tree. Remember, Judges tells about the slow decline of Israel. The “Palms of Deborah” might be a hint that the Israelites are starting to give spiritual power credit to places and created things, instead of the creator. Again, it’s just a hint like the mention of Shamgar son of Anath last week.
Deborah’s opening expression to Barak: “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you?” could be read 2 ways. One, she is telling him that God has commanded whatever she is going to say next. The other option is that Barak has actually been spoken to by God, but he didn’t act. Barak may have already been commanded, but like Gideon who will come after him, he was afraid.
Sometimes God works just like this today. You might feel an urge or a pull to do some certain thing from God, but it sounds crazy. (Crazy like gathering 10,000 people and fighting a king with a superior military!?) If you sit on it and pray, God might confirm it through someone else. Even if Barak is sitting and waiting in fear, which we’ll find out later he was, God will work with that too.
God knew exactly how scared, stupid, disorganized, distracted, and flakey you were when He died for your sins. He knew exactly how weak you would be when He put His Holy Spirit in you to live out the rest of your life victoriously.
God knows. He’s not surprised. In His grace, He continues to empower and strengthen and call us to do great things. Sometimes, we just have to pray that He’ll tell somebody else too so we know for sure. Bret said it really well a few months ago when he said you don’t have to go to church and be a part of a group to be a Christian, but you do if you want to grow as much as you can in your life in Christ. (my paraphrase)
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