Deborah, A Woman Of Extraordinary Faith
Good Morning to the followers of Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team and to all who are listening to or reading this message via Facebook and our Website! How wonderful that we have another opportunity to praise and worship God and to share His message throughout the world through today’s technology!
Our message today comes from the Old Testament Book of Judges, Chapter 4, and you can be turning there in your Bibles. We’re going to be looking at the life of Deborah, the Prophet and Judge, and her dynamic faith in God.
Now reading Judges 4 from the New Living Translation:
1 After Ehud’s death, the Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight.
2 So the Lord turned them over to King Jabin of Hazor, a Canaanite king. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-haggoyim.
3 Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help.
4 Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time.
5 She would sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would go to her for judgment.
6 One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor.
7 And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.”
8 Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”
9 “Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 At Kedesh, Barak called together the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, and 10,000 warriors went up with him. Deborah also went with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite, a descendant of Moses’ brother-in-law, Hobab, had moved away from the other members of his tribe and pitched his tent by the oak of Zaanannim near Kedesh.
12 When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor,
13 he called for all 900 of his iron chariots and all of his warriors, and they marched from Harosheth-haggoyim to the Kishon River.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get ready! This is the day the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.” So Barak led his 10,000 warriors down the slopes of Mount Tabor into battle.
15 When Barak attacked, the Lord threw Sisera and all his chariots and warriors into a panic. Sisera leaped down from his chariot and escaped on foot.
16 Then Barak chased the chariots and the enemy army all the way to Harosheth-haggoyim, killing all of Sisera’s warriors. Not a single one was left alive.
17 Meanwhile, Sisera ran to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because Heber’s family was on friendly terms with King Jabin of Hazor.
18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
19 “Please give me some water,” he said. “I’m thirsty.” So she gave him some milk from a leather bag and covered him again.
20 “Stand at the door of the tent,” he told her. “If anybody comes and asks you if there is anyone here, say no.”
21 But when Sisera fell asleep from exhaustion, Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died.
22 When Barak came looking for Sisera, Jael went out to meet him. She said, “Come, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he followed her into the tent and found Sisera lying there dead, with the tent peg through his temple.
23 So on that day Israel saw God defeat Jabin, the Canaanite king.
24 And from that time on Israel became stronger and stronger against King Jabin until they finally destroyed him.
You tell us in Hebrews 11:6, that without faith it is impossible to please You. Today I pray that as we examine the faith of Deborah, we see that we also can have the dynamic faith that she exhibited. We ask You to strengthen us; help us not be afraid or discouraged. Help us to seek You first and trust You completely. Fill our thoughts with Your truth and Your promises.
In Jesus’ name,
Hebrews 11:1 tells us: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
What can we learn from the faith of others? How can we live a life of faith and encouragement that brings hope to others?
Deborah was a woman when it definitely was not beneficial to being a woman. Yet, somehow in a world dominated by men, Deborah was a hero for Israel; she achieved an amazing status.
The Scriptures tell us that Deborah was a mother that became a mother to all of Israel. Deborah was a judge, a prophet, as well as a political and spiritual leader of Israel in a hard, harsh time; a time filled with evil; sin was running rampant everywhere; a time when her nation as a whole had deserted and rejected God. Child sacrifice was everywhere, idol worship was at an all time high, there was famine, war, atrocities and evil running wild in the country.
In Judges 4, we see that because of Israel’s lack of faith, God had allowed them to follow their own desires. This led them to being dominated by King Jabin whose commander of an army of 900 chariots was Sisera. This was pretty powerful. One chariot equaled about 15 foot solders depending on terrain and battle conditions. Israel was oppressed. They asked God to help them and He gave it.
God raised up Deborah as the fifth judge of Israel to deliver His people from the their bondage, caused by their idolatry. Deborah was full of courage; she trusted in God; she heard from God and relayed those messages to the people. The people respected her wisdom and her insight. She brought forth the Word of the Lord and they came to her to settle disputes just like they had done with Moses and would do with Solomon. She demonstrated an understanding of respect for herself and others.
God directed Deborah to enlist the help of Barack who gathered ten thousand foot soldiers. Deborah told Barack how to attack, when to attack, and where. She said God would lead Sisera to a place, Kishon River, where the chariots would not be such an advantage. Because they were obedient to God, they defeated Sisera. Barack would be a hero, but he wasn’t quite sure of this and wanted Deborah to come along. The Scripture tells us that Barack didn’t quite have enough faith to believe what God had said. So God gave the honor of slaying the enemy to Deborah.
In her commentary on Deborah, Narinder Choranji says:
“Deborah could have refused and stayed at home thinking that it was a man’s job to go out to the battle field. But instead she rose to the challenge with her confidence in God, put her full armour on and went out to the battle field.
Does God want us to fight like this? Yes he does but in the spirit realm. Ephesians 6:12-18 tells us to put on the full armour of God for our fight is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces.”
Today we frequently hear in the news of a very powerful opposition full of cruelty and violence in our worldwide society. We may be experiencing powerful opposition in our personal lives which are oppressing us such as: family issues; work situations; harassment; health problems; financial issues. Whether it’s a big or small difficulty, whatever the problem, we can cry out to God. Everybody knows how to do that and we can all hear God’s answer and instructions when we listen to Him.
Psalm 116:1-2 says: ‘I love the Lord, he heard my cry and pitied every groan, as long as I live and troubles rise I will hasten to his throne.’
Very often we cry to God but we don't ask Him what we should do. God gave victory to Israel because they cried out to him, their leader inquired and heard God’s instructions and then did as God said.
When we’re battling financial enemies or physical enemies; when the “Sisera’s” of life have lined up against us and our problems look unbeatable and overwhelming; when challenges come, we can learn about the kind of faith we need when the battles of life are the greatest.
In his Sermon, “Deborah: A Woman Of Dynamic Faith,” Chris Kelly tells us that everyone puts their faith in something, and lists four types of faith. We’re going to examine these and see the lessons we can learn from each type.
1. Displaced Faith
Sisera decided to put his faith in himself because legend has it that up to this point he was undefeated. So he’d built up a lot of confidence in himself. People like this foolishly think that they can handle whatever life throws at them, only to find out too late that’s not true.
Although Sisera had 900 iron chariots and thought no one could defeat an army like that, in the end those heavy iron chariots sunk into the mud of the flooded river valley. When we put all of our faith in ourselves or the things around us, we’ve put our trust in the wrong place and it will eventually lead us to a devastating defeat.
2. Disappointing Faith
Barak was only able to gather two of the twelve tribes to fight against their enemies. Where were the other tribes? Why didn’t they come? Apparently even after being terrorized for twenty years, they weren’t willing to put their lives on the line. They wanted to be free, but they didn’t want to risk anything to win their freedom. So they stood on the sidelines and watched while others fought their battles for them.
Jack Handey in his book “Fuzzy Moments” writes- “There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day. Since I was smaller, I would give it to him. Then I decided to fight back. I started to take karate lessons, but the instructor wanted 5 dollars a lesson. That was a lot of money. I found out that it was cheaper to pay the bully. So I gave up karate.”
Are we paying the bully today? Have we decided it’s easier to just give in to the enemy than to learn how to defeat him? It’s so tempting to want to sit on the sidelines and hope for a positive outcome. Whether it’s sharing Christ with our friends and relatives, following God’s call on our lives, or simply stepping up to fill a ministry role, until we put on the armor and commit ourselves to the battle, our faith is going to be very disappointing not only to us but to the one who’s leading the charge, Jesus.
3. Doubting Faith
Barak told Deborah, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go." Barak heard God speaking through Deborah and he believed, or at least he wanted to, but he was unwilling to go there on His own. He trusted more in Deborah’s relationship with God than his own relationship with God.
Barak started out weak, but he ended strong. He eventually charged down the hill and defeated the enemy. He learned a big lesson that day and probably wondered why he doubted in the first place. Have we ever done that? We sort of trust God yet He still comes through. We need to remember that and do better the next time.
4. Dynamic Faith
At Barak’s request, Deborah said: "I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman."
Deborah placed herself in the position to become a great woman leader of Israel because she made herself available, which means she had to be willing to change the way things were in her culture during a time that did not accept women leaders.
She had to choose to follow God’s lead in spite of what others thought or said.
Deborah’s faith was so strong that when she heard the voice of God, she knew it was Him; she trusted His Word and told it to others. That’s the kind of faith we all need to strive for! Back then, a woman couldn’t do anything but bear children. But God shows us here that He’ll use anyone who’s willing to go all the way with Him. This forces us to keep our minds open to God's leading and not be limited by custom or tradition. If God gives a woman the gifts to lead men for their good and God's glory, then let her lead.
Dynamic faith doesn’t happen all at once and I’m constantly working toward that goal. We develop this kind of faith over years of hearing from God and then acting on what we hear. It’s not an impossible goal but it requires work; it starts when we trust Him right now with whatever is troubling or challenging us. As we give that worry or that problem to Him, we find that He’s trustworthy. Each time we do this, it becomes easier and easier as we strive for the perfect faith and trust in God that Jesus showed us.
Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
What are we trusting in today? Our “chariots” or the Lord? Some people say they trust in the Lord, but when trouble and disaster strike, what do they really trust in? Their money; their job; their education; their smarts; their talents. Whatever we run to when we’re in trouble is what we put our trust in. We are all making choices based on who or what we trust the most. These choices define our lives and future. The only trust that’s ultimately worthwhile is trust in the Lord our God.
Extraordinary is defined as very unusual or remarkable, not ordinary or normal.
The life of Deborah was placed by the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament to show us how to lead and live extraordinary in our faith despite challenging conditions. This kind of faith comes from understanding who we are in Christ, whose family we are a part of and who desires to empower us to live extraordinary lives.
Deborah led Israel not because there were no men who would do it but because, from God's perspective, she was the most qualified. It didn’t matter if Deborah was a man or woman because it was God working through her, not the other way around. God delighted in this unusual woman and used her in a unique way to bless his people.
Whether we are male or female, this kind of life comes from tapping into the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit. It comes from living a life for the Lord and not for ourselves. If we understand how to live extraordinary lives of faith, we too can impact our community and country for God’s good! We can be used by God to bring people back to Him.
The question today is, do you want to be normal or extraordinary?
John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This Scripture states through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection three days later that salvation is possible for everyone.
Have you accepted the free gift of salvation that God offers to all? If you put your whole life in God’s hands, He can give you a new future. The work has already been done. There’s no better time than now to turn to God, repent and respond to His grace.
If you’ve known God but walked away from His call on your life to do your own thing, then it’s time to stop in your tracks and repent all over again and get back to fulfilling God’s plan in and through your life. Tomorrow may be too late.
May you be blessed in Jesus' Name, Amen!
To listen to Rev. Sandy's Sunday, April 18, 2021, Message, click here or read it below.