Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reflections from Judges 4-5

By the grace of God, I am assigned to handle the adult Sunday School in Binmaley United Methodist Church. The church requested a chronological discussion of the events from the Old Testament. At first, I thought it would just be like a story telling session. However, my husband, who is our pastor also, challenged me to share some reflections from the stories tackled.

We are now in the book of Judges and awhile ago, we discussed Judges chapters 4-5. It was the story of Deborah. I know the story since I was a kid but I appreciate the story more now. Indeed, you will enjoy being a learner if you are the teacher because the Holy Spirit is the One guiding you to understand the Bible. I thank GOD for His guidance as well as His wisdom as I prepared the lesson.

I am blogging it today because I would like it to be recorded so I won't also forget these insights in the near future.

INSIGHT #1: The story of Deborah is not an issue of the "girl power".

Many feminists are using this story as an example of a woman leader and even a woman overpowering a man. But we can see here that in Judges 4:3, the Israelites were under the oppression of the Canaanites and in verse 4, here comes Deborah introduced as a prophetess leading/judging Israel that time. And her task was to settle disputes among Israelites (verse 5).

She was not raised as a judge like the judges before her; that is as a deliverer of the Israelites againsts oppressors. In fact, when it was time to liberate Israel, the Lord ordered her to send a man in the person of Barak to do that task (vv.6-7).

Yes, Barak was hesitant to do the task and he asked for the company of Deborah (v.8).  And when Deborah said that as a result of Barak's hesistance, the honor will be given to a woman (v.9), she was not talking about herself either (see 4:21). Moreover, Deborah's name was not mentioned during the battle and pursuit with Sisera; it was Barak who advanced (v.15) and pursued Sisera (v.22).

In my analysis, verse 9 was just a rebuke to Barak because he hesitated to do a task as a man leading/delivering Israel. There are too many women rising to do the task of being leaders and heads because godly men fail to do their God-given task of doing so. If you are a man reading this blog, may you not wait for God to raise a Deborah because you are not doing your God-given task. If you are a man being called by God into the pastoral ministry, may you not wait for God to raise a Deborah to lead His church.

INSIGHT #2: If GOD calls you into a mission, He goes ahead of you.

We are sometimes afraid to do a mission or a ministry eventhough we know that God calls us into that work. What we are forgetting is that when Moses hesitated to go back to Egypt and free his brothers from slavery, God had answers to every excuses he made. He was then told that his brother Aaron has been notified to help him. That means God had already gone to Egypt and had been working already there even before He called Moses into that mission.

Deborah assured Barak in verse 14, "Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?"

INSIGHT #3: The LORD Himself will fight for you.

When we say "yes" to God, He will not just guide us, He will fight for us. When Barak and his army advanced, the LORD routed Sisera (v.15). How I love those words! The LORD was fighting for them and this insight leads us to number 4.

INSIGHT #4: Victory doesn't depend on what you have.

It was recorded that whenever Sisera was described, his 900 iron chariots was always recorded as well (vv.3, 13). But what happened to those 900 iron chariots? Verse 15 says that Sisera and his army abandoned their chariots and fled on foot.

It was the Canaanites' advantage yet it was nothing in the hands of God. Ministry, mission or even victory in any situation doesn't depend on us and what we have, it is always in the hands of God.

INSIGHT #5:  Lessons from the life of Jael

a) She knows who the God of Israel is and she treasures GOD more that earthly alliance with the enemies. 

She knows the friendly relation between King Jabin of Canaan and her husband Heber. She knows the favor her family might receive from the king and she knows the punishment of what she did if ever Canaan would not fallinto the hands of the Israelites. But I guess, she knows the God of Israel and she treasures Him more and fears Him more. As a result, she was called "most blessed women...most blessed of tent-dwelling women."

b) The daily tasks she does lead her to do a mighty work

She was left in their tent, most probably doing her everyday task. Maybe that includes showing hospitality to visitors, most probably Sisera had been one of them too. And in that day, where it could be one of her ordinary days, a mighty task of delivering Israel against an enemy becomes her task. She was the woman prophesied by Deborah in verse 9.

We don't need to look for a greater opportunity just to serve the Lord. We don't need to wait for a mission rally just to do a ministry. Let us be faithful in our everyday task, in our daily job, and we may not expect that one of those ordinary days can be an extraordinary mission for the Lord.

c) She exceeds ordinary hospitality

Deborah praised Jael's hospitality in 5:25. And that is a challenge for me. How will I surpass a normal way of showing kindness, of love, of hospitality, of service to others? How about if that is towards an enemy? I remember the quote we kept on telling to ourselves during Christmas camp when I was still in the youth fellowship: "Wag na wag kang papayag na may mas mabait sa'yo." [Do not let someone be more kind than you.]

The picture of how Elisabeth Elliot can forgive, can serve and can love the very person who killed her husband comes into my mind. May the grace of GOD help me exceed what is natural and ordinary to others.
Copyright His Beloved 2011.