As we continue in our study in the book of Judges, we have seen that Israel was caught in a cyclical pattern of sin, servitude, supplication, salvation and then silence before God which sets the cycle in motion all over again. And so in our study tonight we will see Judges raised up to deliver the children of Israel from their bondage by the hands of their enemies, and back into a relationship with the Lord.
1. As you read this you see that God is going to leave these enemy nations within the land, and you may come to the conclusion that God wanted it that way, that this was His plan all along. Not so! God told Israel to drive out the enemy from the land. If you remember way back in Deuteronomy chapter 7 we see Moses instruct the nation, that when they enter the land of Canaan that they were to "...Conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them." Deuteronomy 7:2.
But they failed to drive out the enemy, and thus God was going to use their disobedience to teach them some lessons. First of all God was going to see if they would drive out the enemy, to be obedient to His commands. And secondly, He was going to teach this generation who knew no war, what war was all about. It was to test them to see if they would rely on their physical strength for their victory, or to depend on the Lord for their victory.
2. God also uses our disobedience to teach us lessons. It is not His perfect will for our life, but He will use it to help us to grow. But many times we don't learn those lessons, and we will have to learn them all over again. But some take this to the wrong conclusion by saying that in my sin God's grace abounds. Now it is hard to imagine people believing that, but Paul even had to deal with this issue. In Romans 6:1-2 Paul put it this way by saying "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" Paul is saying that we should not use the grace of God to justify our sin. Learn from your mistakes, repent of them, and move on in your relationship with the Lord.
1. God left these 6 nations within the land, and they were a snare unto the nation of Israel. We see Israel living among the enemy. Then they were intermarrying with the enemy. From there they began to serve the god's of the enemy. And Joshua warned them of this relationship with the enemy, that it would be a disaster for them. He said "...If indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations - these that remain among you - and make marriages with them, and go into them and they to you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you." You see, the very thing God told them not to do, they did! And the problem was that God's law ran contrary to their own fleshly desires. You see, when they sinned they neededto offer an animal sacrifice. It was a tough walk, a narrow road, when compared to the worship of these pagan god's. God asked His people for a life of self-denial, but these pagan god's were trying to satisfy self, to feed the flesh. Thus, Israel chose the temporary pleasures of this world instead of the eternal treasures, and paid the consequences for their actions.
Years latter king Solomon followed the same path by falling in love with many FOREIGN WOMEN, "And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David." I Kings 11:3-4.
2. Despite what some Christians say today, God is still calling us to deny our flesh. Not to be self-seeking, but assist others. Jesus said that if anyone wants to be one of His disciples, then they must deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow Him. (Matthew 16:24). But it is so hard to live like that today, the enemy is all around us. Yes that is very true. But imagine being a teenager, and taken prisoner by the enemy. Brought into the enemy's camp and trained by the enemy. Do you think he would succumb to the ways of the enemy or to God? Daniel, was that boy who was taken prisoner by king Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. But Daniel did not succumb to the ways of the enemy and serve their god's. We read "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the kings delicacies, nor with wine which he drank, therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." Daniel 1:8. You see, it was his desire to live unto God and if he could do it, then we surely can with the power of the Holy Spirit. But the flesh must be denied, put to death, or it will over take you and destroy you. 3. We must also remember that who our close friends are, who we fellowship with, will reflect in our actions, our behavior. Paul said "Evil company corrupts good habits." I Corinthians 15:33. It is more likely that you will succumb to the evil ways of the people you surround yourself with, than they would turn towards God's ways. Don't isolate yourself from the lost, but they should not be the ones you have intimate fellowship with, a oneness with, for you, like Solomon and others, will follow their ways before you know it.
1. Because they turned their back on God and served the other god's, the Lord brought them into the hands of the enemy, king Cushan-Rishathaim. God was saying to them that if you don't want to serve Me, and you want to serve evil, then you can serve Cushan-Rishathaim, whose name means "Doubly evil." If that is what you want to serve, then here is a double portion of evil. It is interesting that this king came from Mesopotamia, some 900 miles away, to oppress the children of Israel. But, as Charles Spurgeon said, God never allows His people to sin successfully. Their sin will either destroy them or it will invite the chastening hand of God.
2. During this oppression, Israel cries out unto God to be delivered from their bondage, and God raises up the first Judge, Othniel. But the children of Israel did not cry and repent over their sin, but over their 8 years of bondage. They were sorry for the consequences of their sin and not for their sin.
3. Before Othniel can deliver his people, he must be empowered for service, and thus we read "The Spirit of the LORD came upon him." In the Old Testament we see the Holy Spirit come upon certain individuals to empower them for the work they were to do. The Holy Spirit did not indwell them like He does us today. We also see that the Holy Spirit could be taken away from them. That is why David cried out "Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me." Psalm 51:11. That can't happen to us as Christians. Jesus said in John 14:16 that the Holy Spirit will abide with us forever. Othniel, empowered by God, delivered Israel from their oppression, and they rested for 40 years. And remember that he was more of a local leader, and he Judged the area in the south, the area of Debir.
1. Again we see the downward spiral of the children of Israel. So God raises up the people of Moab and the people of Ammon to teach the children of Israel lessons they needed to learn. But now the enemies were relatives. Remember the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by God? We saw Lot and his daughters escape from the city. And Lots daughters thought they were the only ones left on the earth. So they each got their father drunk and laid with him. The oldest daughter conceived and bore a son, his name was Moab, the father of the Moabites. The younger daughter also conceived and bore a son, his name was Ben-Ammi, who was the father of the people of Ammon. (Genesis 19:30-38). God was now going to use the illegitimate sons of Lot and his daughters, relatives of the children of Israel, to bring judgment upon them. We also see the Amalekites assist in this oppression. They were more of a nomadic people and traveled in the area south of Beersheba, and were bitter enemies of Israel.
1. Ehud, Israel's second Judge, is said to be "a lefthanded man." In the Hebrew it literally means "one bound in the right hand" or "a man handicapped in the right hand." Because of this handicap, he may have been thought of as less of a threat to the king and used this for his advantage in meeting with the king as we shall see.
2. Ehud brought tribute to the king, that is the taxes that the king placed upon Israel. And Ehud makes a dagger approximately 18 inches long, and fastens it to his right thigh. Now because he was handicapped on the right side, no one would think of him concealing a weapon on that side. He again used his handicap for an advantage.
1. Ehud, and his group that came with him, paid the king his taxes and left. As they were leaving Ehud turns back, by himself, and tells the king that God has a message for him. Now I'm sure that just fed into the kings pride, so he tells everyone to leave, so that Ehud could tell him this secret alone.
1. This was a pretty brutal period of time and definitely not for the weak. Ehud is able to get close to the king, thrust in his dagger and the king fell down dead. Now the king's servants came to see what was happening to the king and found the doors locked. And they came to the conclusion that he was "covering his feet" which is an euphemism for body elimination, he was going to the bathroom they thought. And so they waited patiently for the king to finish his business to the point they were embarrassed he took so long. So they unlock the door to see what had happened and they found the king dead on the floor. This delay allowed Ehud to escape out of the window and flea to safety. He then blows the trumpet for battle and the children of Israel defeated Moab, killing 10,000 men. And Ehud Judged Israel for 80 years, which was the longest period of rest in the book of Judges.
2. All of us are handicapped in one way or another. We are weak in these bodies of flesh. The story of Ehud shows us that God can use us in our weakness, with all our frailties, with all our handicaps, for His glory. We are just the vessel that He is working through. Don't become discouraged because of your weakness for as Paul said "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13.
1. Shamgar was the third Judge, and not much is known of him. We do know that he killed 600 Philistines with just an ox goad. Now we don't know if this was accomplished at one battle or during a lifetime. Whatever the case, he accomplished it with just an ox goad, which was a sharp metal tipped stick some 8 to 10 feet long and used to direct the animals. The other end was usually a chisel-like blade for cleaning the plow.
Understand that the enemies had taken away many of the implements of war, so Shamgar used what was available, an ox goad, to defeat the enemy. I think that is a great lesson for us to learn, that instead of complaining about what we don't have, that we use what is available to us for destroying the enemy, and building up the kingdom.
2. We see clearly that the primary theme of this book is Israel's disobedience to God. But the secondary theme seems to be God taking some of the most unlikely people, using some of the most unconventional weapons of war, and using them mightily for His glory. You see, it is not the ability of the instrument, but the artist who uses that instrument. God only asks us to be available for His use and to believe by faith "...That what He had promised He was able to perform." Romans 4:21. Don't look at the frailties of your body but the power of the God you serve. Don't become frustrated with the tools that God has given you, He has given you what you need. As Joseph Parker said "What is a feeble instrument in the hands of one man is a mighty instrument in the hands of another, simply because the Spirit of that other burns with holy determination to accomplish the work that has to be done."
3. You may have noticed that Shamgar is not called a Judge, but it does say that he delivered Israel, and that is what a Judge did. Also, it is most likely that Shamgar Judged Israel during thesame time as Ehud, that they overlapped, for in Judges 4:1 we read of the death of Ehud, and not of Shamgar, who would have come after Ehud.
Now we are going to move from the southern tribes up to the northern tribes here in Judges chapter 4.
1. Hazor was located in the northern part of the land, about 10 miles northwest of the Sea of Galilee. This area was taken during the time of Joshua and yet the enemy was not completely destroyed. Thus, after a period of time the enemy grew strong and took this city back. The tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun were affected most by this captivity. Jabin was the king in this area, but Sisera, the commander of his army, was the one with all the muscle as we shall see. And Sisera lived south of Hazor in Harosheth Hagoyim.
1. We now come to the fourth Judge in Israel, Deborah. She lived in the area about 5 miles north of Jerusalem. Notice now how the years of oppression are getting longer. We have gone from 8 to 18 and now to 20 years and they still have not learned their lessons.
2. First of all let me say that God does not exclude women from service. Even in the New Testament we see women who were involved. But not as pastors of a church, or in leadership over men. That is not my rule, but God's. Yes we are equal in God's eyes but just as the Son was in subjection to the Father, so a woman is to be in subjection to a man. But now in Israel we see a woman ruling over them, Judging them, which shows us the condition of Israel. There were no men who would stand up and take charge in Israel, even Barak, as we shall see, was feeble.
In Fact Isaiah 3:12 speaks of God treating them as children. He says "As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them." Since no man is found to take a stand, God raises up a woman who is bold and strong! You also have to understand that in this male dominated society, this had to be humiliating to the Jews. But again, no man rose to the occasion to led the children of Israel.
1. So Deborah calls for Barak, who comes down from the north, the area of Naphtali. And she gives him this prophecy of the destruction of Sisera's army. Barak was to station his troops at Mount Tabor, just south of the Sea of Galilee. And we also see that Mount Tabor was strategically located at the junction of the tribes of Naphtali, Zebulun, and Issachar. Also, being some 1300 feet into the mountains made this a good place to assemble the troops, for the enemies chariots would not be able to make the climb.
2. In verse 7 we read of the River Kishon, which in reality was just a tiny stream. Not very impressive at all, and yet, we will see how quickly God can change things, and take something that is insignificant and make it a big deal!
1. Again, this shows you the strength of Barak, and the men of Israel. Valiant warriors, NO WAY! Barak won't go and fight unless Deborah will go with him. Not much back bone!
VERSES 9-11 1. Again Deborah is speaking propheticly of Jael, another woman, who would get the glory for defeating the leader of the enemy, Sisera.
2. Hobab was one of the brother-in-laws of Moses and they were a bedouin people, nomadic in nature. And the Kenites came into the land with Moses but moved down into the area of the Sinai Peninsula. But for some reason Heber breaks away from the rest and settles in the area of Galilee. And it seems that Heber makes friends with King Jabin, who of course was an enemy of Israel. Now it is very possible that Heber did not want to rock the boat, and made friends with everyone, especially those who were in charge.
1. Heber now becomes an informer for the enemy and tells Sisera that Barak had gathered his army at Mount Tabor. Again, Sisera was a mighty leader, thus Heber sides with a winner, or at least he thought he did.
1. 900 chariots plus foot soldiers, far out numbered the weaponry of Israel, and yet God was not just going to use physical weapons to route Sisera and his army. He was going to use nature itself to put them into confusion and allow Israel to come upon them and defeat them.
2. First of all, this battle had to take place in the summer months, June to September, for no commander would take his chariots out during the rainy season. If you did, they would be useless, for they would get stuck in the mud and be sitting ducks. And so as God rained down upon them, this tiny stream became a ragging river, the ground became like mud, and the chariots were useless as they sank into this mud. The word "routed" in verse 15 speaks of "confusion" as their chariots were stuck in the mud and Israel was upon them. Thus, Sisera flees from his chariot, for it could not move in the mud, and high tails it away on foot. As we move to chapter 5, the song of Deborah, we will see this information regarding God opening the heavens and raining down upon the land.
1. Israel destroy's Sisera's army and Sisera escapes to the tent of Jael. And he must have felt secure there, for this was the tent of the informer against Israel, Heber, and Jael was his wife.
2. Now Jael was an interesting woman. She goes out and meets Sisera and encourages him to take refuge in her tent. She makes him comfortable by tucking him into bed. Sisera asks for water, but she gives him warm milk to drink. All these things helps Sisera fall fast asleep. Now Jael wants to side with a winner, and if Sisera is fleeing, then he must be losing, so she sides with the winner, Israel.
1. The bedouin women were in charge of setting-up and taking down the tents, so Jael knew how to pound in a tent spike and really nailed this guy to the floor, literally! And as Barak comes on the scene, he finds Sisera dead, and as Deborah had said "There will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of woman." This was not only humiliating for Barak, that a woman destroyed the enemy, but for Sisera too. You see, to die in battle was a great honor, but to die in retreat and then by the hands of a woman was a double humiliation.
2. King Jabin's power was not in his rule, but in the strength of his military leader. With Sisera dead, the king's strength also died, and Israel finally rose up and defeated the king.
1. This was not unusual to sing songs of triumph, songs of victory. Remember in Exodus chapter 15, after the Lord brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, destroying the Egyptian army, we see them sing a song of redemption. Thus, the songs spoke of what God had done, it was a way to give thanksgiving to Him, and it helped them to remember the power and faithfulness of God as they sang these songs.
1. When leaders do what they are suppose to do, led, when they are strong and willing to sacrifice to God, what a glorious day it is!
1. Life was very dangerous because of the oppression that the enemy placed upon them. They would thus avoid the open roads, the highways, and take the side roads, where they would not be seen. The open walled villages were empty for there was no safety within them, they had to stay within the walled cities for safety.
2. But Deborah was like a mother to Israel, trying to protect her children from harm. Since no man was willing to led, she stood-up and lead the people.
1. Deborah is praising those who came down to help fight this battle. We see Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh, Zebulun, Issachar, Naphtali all came to fight. (Machir was the eldest son of Manasseh).
2. Then those that refused to come, they were Gilead (Gad, on the east side of the Jordan), Dan, Asher and Ruben. And the people of Ruben thought about it, but that is all they did. They did not come to assist their brethren.
3. There are allot of God's people who are willing to make all kinds of sacrifices to see the victory won. But there are many who just sit around and think about it, but don't do anything else. And sadly to say, there are some who don't even care!
1. Verse 21 speaks of the "torrent of Kishon." Remember that this was only a very tiny stream, insignificant, until God caused the heavens to open and the rain to fall down upon the land. And as this occurred the chariots were becoming stranded in the mud. 2. God curses Meroz, which was a town in Naphtali, for doing noting. You see, sin is not only in our actions, but also when we DON'T do something when we should. God asked them for help, and they refused. We as Christians, by not coming to the battle, we are forsaking the work of the Lord. No we won't be cursed, but we certainly won't be blessed by doing nothing. For there are many blessings in serving the Lord.
1. This seems to contradict what happened in chapter 4, but what probably happened is as the tent spike went in, the body reflexes sat him up, and then he just fell down dead. I remember my dad telling me that when he was young they would get fresh chickens and have to kill them and de-feather them. And he said that many times when you cut their heads off they would run around for a few seconds before falling over. It is just the nervous system responding, but only for a few seconds.
1. Here we see what Sisera's mother was thinking as she waits for her son to return from battle. She is thinking of the worst, but one of the young women tries to comfort her by telling her that the delay is due to them dividing the spoils of victory and enjoying themselves after this victory. How wrong she was.
1. Because of this woman, Deborah, her faith in God, and her exercising that faith, the land had rest for 40 years.