First Baptist Church
Wed October 14
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  • Judges 4:1 CSB
    1 The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord after Ehud had died.
    For eighty years, the Jews had enjoyed rest because of the leadership of Ehud, the longest period of peace recorded in the Book of Judges. But no sooner was this godly judge removed than the people lapsed back into idolatry, and God had to punish them (Jdg. 2:10–19).
    Israel as portrayed in the Book of Judges illustrates the difference between “religious reformation” and “spiritual revival.” Reformation temporarily changes outward conduct while revival permanently alters inward character. When Ehud removed the idols and commanded the people to worship only Jehovah, they obeyed him; but when that constraint was removed, the people obeyed their own desires. The nation of Israel was like the man in Jesus’ parable who got rid of one demon, cleaned house, and then ended up with seven worse demons (Matt. 12:43–45). The empty heart is prey to every form of evil.
    Judges 4:2 CSB
    2 So the Lord sold them to King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera who lived in Harosheth of the Nations.
    Canaan was made up of a number of city-states, each of which was ruled by a king (see Josh. 12). “Jabin” was the official title or name of the King of Hazor (Josh. 11:1). He was also called “King of Canaan.” This title probably means that he was the head of a confederacy of kings. Joshua had burned Hazor (Josh. 11:13), but the Canaanites had rebuilt it and occupied it. With his large army and his 900 chariots of iron, Jabin was securely in control of the land. As you read the narrative, however, you get the impression that Sisera, captain of Jabin’s army, was the real power in the land.
    Judges 4:3 CSB
    3 Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord, because Jabin had nine hundred iron chariots, and he harshly oppressed them twenty years.
    Once again, the people of Israel cried out to God, not to forgive their sins but to relieve their suffering. (See vv. 6–8 for a hint of what life was like in those days.) Had they truly repented, God would have done much more than deliver them from physical slavery. He would have liberated them from their spiritual bondage as well. To ask God for comfort and not cleansing is only to sow seeds of selfishness that will eventually produce another bitter harvest. David’s prayer is what Israel needed to pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).
    Judges 4:4 CSB
    4 Deborah, a prophetess and the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.
    God had raised up a courageous woman named Deborah (“bee”) to be the judge in the land.
    This was an act of grace, but it was also an act of humiliation for the Jews; for they lived in a male-dominated society that wanted only mature male leadership. “As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them” (Isa. 3:12). For God to give His people a woman judge was to treat them like little children, which is exactly what they were when it came to spiritual things.
    Deborah was both a judge and a prophetess. Moses’ sister Miriam was a prophetess (Ex. 15:20); and later biblical history introduces us to Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Noadiah (Neh. 6:14), Anna (Luke 2:36), and the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9). God called Deborah a prophetess and a judge, but she saw herself as a mother to her people. “I, Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel” (Jdg. 5:7). The wayward Jews were her children, and she welcomed them and counseled them.
    Judges 4:6–7 CSB
    6 She summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “Hasn’t the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, deploy the troops on Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the Naphtalites and Zebulunites? 7 Then I will lure Sisera commander of Jabin’s army, his chariots, and his infantry at the Wadi Kishon to fight against you, and I will hand him over to you.’ ”
    God revealed to Deborah that Barak (“lightning”) was to assemble and lead the Israelite army and draw Sisera’s troops into a trap near Mount Tabor; and there the Lord would defeat them. Mount Tabor lies at the juncture of Zebulun, Naphtali, and Issachar, not far from the Kishon River. If Barak would lead the Israelite army toward Mount Tabor, God would draw Sisera and his troops toward the Kishon River, where God would give Barak the victory.
    When God wants to glorify Himself through His people, He always has a perfect plan for us to follow. God chose the leader of His army, the place for the battle, and the plan for His army to follow. God also guaranteed the victory. It was like the “good old days” of Joshua again!
    Judges 4:8–9 CSB
    8 Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go. But if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 “I will gladly go with you,” she said, “but you will receive no honor on the road you are about to take, because the Lord will sell Sisera to a woman.” So Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh.
    Judges 4:11–23 CSB
    11 Now Heber the Kenite had moved away from the Kenites, the sons of Hobab, Moses’s father-in-law, and pitched his tent beside the oak tree of Zaanannim, which was near Kedesh. 12 It was reported to Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up Mount Tabor. 13 Sisera summoned all his nine hundred iron chariots and all the troops who were with him from Harosheth of the Nations to the Wadi Kishon. 14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has handed Sisera over to you. Hasn’t the Lord gone before you?” So Barak came down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. 15 The Lord threw Sisera, all his charioteers, and all his army into a panic before Barak’s assault. Sisera left his chariot and fled on foot. 16 Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth of the Nations, and the whole army of Sisera fell by the sword; not a single man was left. 17 Meanwhile, Sisera had fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was peace between King Jabin of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite. 18 Jael went out to greet Sisera and said to him, “Come in, my lord. Come in with me. Don’t be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. 19 He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink for I am thirsty.” She opened a container of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him again. 20 Then he said to her, “Stand at the entrance to the tent. If a man comes and asks you, ‘Is there a man here?’ say, ‘No.’ ” 21 While he was sleeping from exhaustion, Heber’s wife, Jael, took a tent peg, grabbed a hammer, and went silently to Sisera. She hammered the peg into his temple and drove it into the ground, and he died. 22 When Barak arrived in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to greet him and said to him, “Come and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he went in with her, and there was Sisera lying dead with a tent peg through his temple! 23 That day God subdued King Jabin of Canaan before the Israelites.
    Judges 5 is a poem or song praising God for His goodness.
    When they wanted to celebrate special occasions, the Jewish people often expressed themselves in song; so the writer shifts from narrative prose to jubilant poetry. Future generations might forget what the history book said, but they were not likely to forget a festive song.
    The personal pronouns in Judges 5:7, 9, and 13 indicate that this was Deborah’s victory song; but just as Barak joined her in the battle, so he joined her in the victory celebration.
    Judges 5:31 CSB
    31 Lord, may all your enemies perish as Sisera did. But may those who love him be like the rising of the sun in its strength. And the land had peace for forty years.

    Next Week: Judges 6

      • Judges 4:1CSB

      • Judges 4:2CSB

      • Judges 4:3CSB

      • Judges 4:4CSB

      • Judges 4:6–7CSB

      • Judges 4:8–9CSB

      • Judges 4:11–23CSB

      • Judges 5:31CSB

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