JEWELS FROM THE JOURNEY: Deborah, Barak and Jael, Part 1

Many of us find ourselves embattled in intense, serious spiritual warfare.  Some of us find ourselves in the awful position of having the enemy in that war using our loved ones, sometimes our spouses as his instruments.  One of the devil's greatest tools is to get us to agree with him about our loved ones, or to get our loved ones to agree with him about us.  He is the accuser of the brethren and one of the ways he loves to accuse is through the mouths of people who are suppose to love us.  It was in one of these fierce battles of spiritual warfare that this lesson was born.

One of the great things about the Bible is that we can study and study and still not exhaust what there is to learn from it.  Such is the case of the story of Deborah and Barak and Jael.  Deborah, of course, is one of the more well known women of the Bible.  Perhaps we can learn even more from another woman in the same passage named Jael.  So let's look at Judges chapters 4 and 5.

Chapter 4 begins, "When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord."  Ehud was the left-handed judge who had stabbed the evil king of Moab, Eglon with a dagger. Eglon was so fat that when the dagger went in, the fat closed over the blade and his entrails spilled out.  Moab was subdued that day and the land had rest for over 80 years.

Throughout this study I will use the Blue Letter Bible Outline for Biblical Usage to show the meanings of names and words. The name Ehud means "I will give thanks; I will be praised."

Ehud was dead.

Judges 4:2 continues, 'So the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor.  The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim.'

Jabin means "whom God observes."  It's from the word biyn which means "to discern, understand, consider."

The commander of Jabin's army was Sisera, which means "battle array" and Sisera dwelt in Harosheth "woodland, carving, skillful working" of Hagoyim "nations."

Notice the Lord's sovereignty here.  The all powerful, sovereign Lord had "observed, considered" Jabin and had sold the Israelites into his hands.  Jabin's commander, Sisera is in "battle array" and "dwells in the woodland."  It's hard to see the enemy in the woodland.  He can come up from behind you when you are least expecting it, like a hungry roaring lion.

Judges 4:3-4:  'And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he harshly oppressed the children of Israel.  Now Deborah, a prophetess, and wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.'

Deborah means honeybee.  I learned from an earlier study that wax in a hive is heat resistant to 140°. At 141° it begins to melt and the bees start to cluster and flutter their wings at 190 times per second.  So honeybees are industrious.  They are also discerning.  Their antennae contain 2000 to 3000 plates through which they identify the proper flower from which to get nectar—sweetness.

Judges 4:5-9  'And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim.  And the children of Israel came up to her for judgement.  Then she sent and called for Barak, the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, "Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, 'Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand'?" And 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!"  So she said, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be nor glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman."  Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.  And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, [fn] and Deborah went up with him.'

Deborah sat under the palm tree between Ramah which means "hill or high place" and which can also mean a place of illicit worship, and Bethel which means "house of God."  She sent for Barak, whose name means "lightening," son of Abinoam "my father is delight" from Kedesh "holy place", to give him a command from the Lord to "Go and deploy troops," that He was going to deliver Sisera into his hands.  But instead of saying, "yes" Barak tells Deborah he will go, but only if she goes with him.  Sound familiar?

Barak was receiving a command from the Lord.  The Lord told him He was delivering the enemy into his hands.  But instead of saying, "Okay, Lord.  Whatever You say," he says to Deborah, "I'll go, but only if you go with me."  Deborah tells him she will go, but that he should know that the glory for the journey will now go to a woman.  That woman, we will discover, later is Jael.  We will study Jael and her part of the story in Part 2.

We all have a journey to take with our Lord.  We can't take anyone with us.  Just as Christ had to go to the cross alone, we have to take our journey with Him alone.  The word for glory here is tipharah and means "beauty, splendor, glory".  It comes from the word paar which means to "glorify, beautify, adorn."  It speaks of jewels, ornaments, finery of garment jewels.  This reminds me of the passage in 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 'Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it because it will be revealed with fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.'

What if Barak had been willing and trusting enough to do what the Lord commanded? Would he  have acquired an adornment from the journey. What are those adornments? Lessons we learn from the Lord? Special blessings He gives along the way? Insights we gain? Greater intimacy with Him? Or perhaps a treasure in heaven that we won't know about until we get there. True riches. So many times when we find ourselves in these spiritual battles, we want to take someone with us.  We call a friend, call a pastor, seek some kind of support.  And there is nothing wrong with that it and of itself.  But sometimes we just have to go to battle alone with the Lord.  We need to discover that He is all we need.  He has already delivered the enemy into our hands.  We just need to trust and obey.  Lord, help us to be willing and obedient to do what You call us to do, that You might adorn us with those garment jewels.

Read JAEL, THE MOUNTAIN GOAT: Deborah, Barak and Jael, Part 2.


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