Positioned By Faithfulness

Message:  Judges chapter 4 is a big deal for women. It shows that during a time and culture where women did not have equal status with men, God would use them to complete his purpose. What I love about it is there is no “woman power” attitude going on, and there was no pushback from men in spite of the culture. Deborah was a prophetess hearing from God during a time that Israel was enduring punishment for their disobedience. They were being harshly oppressed by Jabin, the king ruling in Hazor. It’s important to note that Hazor was one of the places that God had previously given Israel favor to completely destroy under Joshua’s leadership. When Israel turned from God and rebelled, this nation that had been demolished seemed to rebuild itself so God sold Israel into the hands of their oppressive king. It’s also important to note that this nation was stronger than they were before and had “iron chariots”. The iron chariots looked like an impossibility to Israel.  At that time God was using the prophetess, Deborah to judge Israel so when Israel began to cry out to God she summoned Barak, the army commander and gave him a complete set of instructions. Although her instructions included God’s assurance for their victory, the commander refused to go unless Deborah accompanied them. Everything about this is unusual. Barak lacked confidence both physically and spiritually. Since he didn’t take the words of God at face value, she accompanied him as a representation of God’s favor and instructed him through battle. The victory was credited to her and not to him as commander. In the same chapter God threw the opposing army into confusion and they were being completely destroyed. The commander of the opposing army fled into the tent of a woman that was an ally to his family. She pretended to shelter him and provide comfort and then stabbed him in the temple with a tent stake. The confidence and leadership ability of two army commanders was compromised and God used two women to command and finish off this former foe. There is so much about this story that I find interesting. Why did Barak, the commander of the army of Israel lose his confidence? And why did the opposing commander also cower and hide in a woman’s tent?  In both of these cases the women did not seek this power or authority. They were both positioned by God and he used them to fulfill what typically would have been done by men. I think the biggest factor in all of this was that ALL of this was done by God so that no man or woman would ever be able to credit their own strength or ability. Two major things stood out to me in this. First was the city that had previously been destroyed came back even stronger when Israel rebelled. When God defeats things in our lives we have to stay in obedience. Our rebellion can return us to further bondage than we were in before. The other major thing was the importance of being available for God to position us. Deborah was doing what God had called her to do. She had been the judge of Israel for quite some time and she was doing what she always did when God used her for this task. I don’t believe this was a desire of hers, but God used her because she was listening, faithful and available.

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