This week, during the study of the book JUDGES at the session in Ukraine, I learned about Deborah, chapters 4 and 5. God had raised her up as judge in Israel, in a context in which the people had turned away from God and worshiped the gods of the peoples in whose midst she lived. As a result of their disobedience, God handed them over to Jabin, king of Canaan. The Israelites lived in a cycle of sin. But when they were in trouble, they cried to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent a deliverer to deliver them from captivity. In addition to being a judge, Deborah was also a prophetess, she transmitted the Word of God.
God urges Deborah to call Barak and tell him to lead the Israelite army to fight the enemy. Barak accepted Deborah’s challenge, but refused to go to war without her.
Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.”She said, “I will certainly go with you; however, the fame shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. (Judges 4:8-9, NASB)
Debora’s words came true. Although Barak’s army destroyed the army of Sisera, the leader of Jabin’s army, a woman named Jael was the one who killed Sisera. Thus, Jael brought final victory in that battle. Jael was not even part of the people of Israel, she was a heathen.
Immediately after the fight, Deborah sang a victory song. In the first part of the song she makes an assessment of the state of the nation before she became a judge.
“In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the roads were deserted, and travelers went by roundabout ways. The peasantry came to an end, they came to an end in Israel, until I, Deborah, arose, Until I arose, a mother in Israel. New gods were chosen; then war was in the gates. Not a shield or a spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.” (Judges 5:6-8, NASB)
The leading men, who had the responsibility to defend the country from enemies, “were powerless.” As a result of this national depression, all the country’s infrastructure was destroyed, and the army – rock-bottom. Idolatry flourished. In fact, it was the distance from God and idolatry that brought the people into this depraved state. In this context, Deborah rises as a “mother in Israel.”
Deborah then reviews the involvement of each tribe of Israel in the fight. She praises those who responded to the call to go to war, including Jael, putting their lives at stake and rebuking the tribes that took shelter while the country boiled. The tribe of Reuben was the subject of much talk, Dan was busy with business, and Asher was resting in his huts.
And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; as was Issachar, so was Barak… Among the divisions of Reuben there were great determinations of heart. Why did you sit among the sheepfolds, to hear the piping for the flocks? Among the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. Gilead remained across the Jordan; and why did Dan stay on ships? Asher sat at the seashore, and remained by its landings. (Judges 5:15-17, NASB)
In my opinion, Judges 4 and 5 point to a crisis of men in Israel. A crisis similar to that of our society, which is strongly reflected in the church of Christ. Look at the proportion of men and women in the divine services of the church, in the ministry, in evangelism, in spiritual training sessions and seminars, in families. I don’t want to be misunderstood. I am happy for every sister who takes the initiative and gets involved, but I can honestly tell you that I am jealous and my soul hurts for the men who choose to sit in the shadows, behind the women. I pray that God will raise up brave, courageous and spiritual men who will lead and do God’s will in all areas of life.
May the Lord help us!
Translated by Ina Croitoru