Thursday, April 16, 2009

BFS #129 -- Strong Enough for a Man, but Made for a Woman (Secret Deodorant)

Memory Verse: Judges 4: 8 Barak answered her: “If you go with me, I’ll go; but if you won’t go with me, I won’t go.” 9 She replied, “Yes, I will gladly go with you; but the way you are doing it will bring you no glory; because ADONAI will hand Sisra over to a woman.” Then D’vorah set out and went with Barak to Kedesh.

Introduction: Strong Enough for a Man, but Made for a Woman (Secret Deodorant) I am woman hear me roar.. Or.. If you’re not going to do the job, someone has to. We live in a society that thinks any strong woman is a “woman’s Libber” but that’s not what God has to say. D’vorah (Deborah) was a strong woman, she was appointed as a judge over the Israelites by God.. .. and yet she was a wife 4 Now D’vorah, a woman and a prophet, the wife of Lapidot, was judging Isra’el at that time.This is no Woman’s Libber, this is a woman who is strong in Character and Wisdom, and her strength doesn’t humiliate her husband, it glorifies him.

Assignment: OK my strong, wise, brilliant friends. Glorify your husbands! I want you to study this story of D’vorah and see if you can follow her path, from the Palm between Ramah and Beit-El, in the hills of Efrayim; to Mt Tabor, and then follow Sisera as he flee’s to oak at Tza’ananim and is finally brought down by Ya’el.. Find out where Kadesh is too…study this story with a map in front of you, look at the terrain, look at the setting of the battles Look at the players of this battle, who are they?. Now..Tell me the story as if you were D’vorah - tell me your travelogue, your sightseeing, your emotions on your journey. Tell me of the dangers and the thrill of victory. Tell me of your strength. Tell me of your response to Barak.. bring this story to life in the first person, as if you were there and living it.

Sorry, I've never done "first person" very well. ;^)

The date is c. 1000BC.

The place is Kadesh-Barnea and the surrounding area. An arid, high desert suitable for the raising of sheep. Here's a photo to give you an idea of the terrain. Visit this site to see a better "overall view" of the area (it's worth the click!).

Background: Israel has fought for their promised land, and for the most part, they have won. The Canaanites remain in the land to test the faith of the Israelites. (Judges 2:20) Apparently, they are failing the test. Enjoying a relative peace, the Israelites begin to slide back into the worship of idols. As God's word says in Judges 3:12 "the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord." This happened several times in their history (Judges 2:16; 4:1; 6:1; 8:33; etc.). God has, instead of appointing a king, raised up judges to help in the governing of His people. Eventually, they will tire of this and demand a king, but for now, the whole "judge" thing is relatively new and the judges cause the children of Israel to straighten up and fly right...for a time.

Enter Othniel and Ehud and Shamgar -- the first 3 judges. Each had their moment in the spotlight, fulfilled the purpose God had for them, and then died -- leaving the children of Israel to once again do "evil in the sight of the Lord". Sigh.

Kadesh-Barnea is circled in orange near the southern tip. Click on the map above to see a larger view. The blog where I found this map is a wealth of information!

We meet Deborah as she is living near an oasis being the area prophetess. From what I gather from scripture, people from the area would come to her for advice, suggestions, prayer and probably more than a few with complaints and problems. She was a woman of God, devoted to Him and serving as wife to Lapidoth and keeper of her household.

Then one day she gets a message from God: (Judges 4)
(voice of the Lord...paraphrased) Deborah, I have called to Barak, son of Abinoam, and told him to gather 10,000 men and go to Mount Tabor. I told him that once he is there, I will draw Sisera, captain of Jabin's army, to him and deliver him into Barak's hand. BUT, Barak hasn't moved. Go tell Barak that he needs to get up and get moving.

Deborah, being obedient to the call of God, calls Barak to her palm tree.

"Barak, the Lord God has commanded you to go to Mount Tabor and take 10,000 men of Naphtali and Zebulun with you. There you will meet with Sisera and the Lord God will deliver him into your hand. Why are you still here?"

Barak replies, "Deborah, I'll tell you what, if you go with me, I'll go. Obviously you have a better relationship with the Lord than I do and more experience at leading the people. They all look up to you already! Think of the benefit you'll be to our team." (yes, I added a bit to the story)

Deborah thinks for a moment. A quick prayer is sent to the Master of the Universe and the answer to her petition is received. "Alright, Barak. I'll go with you. You need to know one thing though. If you were hoping to receive the glory for this operation, forget it. The credit will go to a woman."

Certainly Barak was thinking, "Sure, she'll take the credit, but I'll deal with that later. The important thing is that I'll be alive!"

Deborah and Barak go off to war. True to His word, the Lord delivers Captain Sisera into Barak's hand, but as prophesied Sisera was already dead when Barak captured him.

As you can see from the map above, Kadesh was in a hilly region near the Kishon River. This area was prone to flash flooding. Sisera was proud of his chariots, but in this battle the chariots didn't help. (Judges 5:21-22) God sent torrential downpours, the river Kishon flooded, the chariots became bogged down in the mud and Captain Sisera fled on foot to his friend's tent -- Heber the Kenite. Unfortunately for Sisera, Heber's wife Jael wasn't a big fan.

Captain Sisera arrived at the tent of Jael exhausted and thirsty, so Jael -- the perfect hostess -- offered him warm milk and a pillow. "I'll watch over you," she told him. (Judges 4:18)

Some time later, Barak comes riding by. Jael walks out to meet him. "Are you looking for Sisera? He's in here." Remember how in my last BFS post I said that Jael was a tough lady? Think about this:

  • How many of you have ever helped your honey set up a tent?
  • Have you ever tried it using a stone hammer and a wooden stake?
I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever hit a tent peg hard enough to drive it through a man's skull and pin him to the ground. AND it's not like she's going to get more than one chance at this. If she misses the first hit, she's dead. That peg has to kill him instantly, or it's all over for her.

That is one gutsy lady. I picture the dialog something like this:
God: "Jael, Sisera is asleep. Take the stake and the mallet and pin him to the ground."
Jael: "Do what?!? I can't do that!!! If I swing that hammer hard enough to kill him and I miss, I'll lose my hand! What if I miss entirely??? He'll kill me!"
God: "Jael -- peace. I have delivered Sisera into your hands. I will guide you. I never miss. Just do it."

So what's the moral in all this???

We need to show up. I've been mulling this idea over for a week or more. What did Deborah do that Barak didn't do? She showed up. God said to do something, Deborah did it. Barak made excuses.

I'm thinking that there might be another post coming along those lines. Maybe Nike: Just do It. Seriously, though, so much of our life here in Mexico is just showing up. We really don't set out in the morning to conquer our world. We just pray that God would use us where we are and that we would hear Him when He's speaking to us. Man or woman -- boy or girl.

Isn't that what God has called each of us to do?

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem [your hometown], Judea [your homeland] and in Samaria [your enemies' territory] and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

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