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Judges 6:1-27

Midian Oppresses Israel

6:1 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD.

When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites, the LORD sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.”

The Call of Gideon

11 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 And the LORD1 turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” 17 And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18 Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.”

19 So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah2 of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. 20 And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. 22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” 23 But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.

25 That night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it 26 and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” 27 So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.


[1] 6:14 Septuagint the angel of the Lord; also verse 16

[2] 6:19 An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters


Going Deeper

Going Deeper

Deborah (1.25.20)

This week we study the only female judge, Deborah. Let’s turn to Judges 4 and see all that God did in and through her.

Judges 4:1-3 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord after Ehud died. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth- hagoyim. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

The people are disobedient and doing evil in the sight of the Lord—so much so that God sells them into the hand of Jabin, King of Canaan. This is not good for the Israelites as Jabin’s army, led by Sisera, is awe-inspiring—they have an impressive 900 chariots of iron and a dominant record of victory and cruelty for 20 years. That’s a run. Imagine what it would be like to have the rival to your favorite team beat you and claim the trophy 20 years in a row. That is a long run; but that’s just a game. Imagine our country being overcome and run by tyrants for 20 years. Israel is in a bad state, and God is not happy with them.

Judges 4:4-5 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.

The fact that God allows a woman to be the representative of the people is another sign of just how bad things are in this era. God’s design for headship of the man over the woman when it comes to authority is not a swipe at a woman’s ability nor her value, but it is simply God’s design for the roles we are to play. So, the fact that Israel is in such a bad place that Deborah is the one to lead them simply shows how far they have come from God’s design and commands on them.

This is not unlike the sad state of much of the modern-day church. In many congregations, it is the women who are the heartbeat of the church, while husbands take their faith and God-ordained role to lead their families in Christ all too casually. For many families, the children don’t even know their dad as a spiritual leader and disciple of Christ. It is Mom who is faithful to growing in her faith and serving God in the church. This has to change. We have to see men of God act like men of God and take seriously their God-given duty to love and lead their families in Christ and in the church. I pray that the men within my sphere of influence take seriously this charge so that the boys and young men whom God has entrusted them can be raised to honor God and lead their families according to the Scriptures, and we can correct this terrible trend of letting the women do the heavy lifting of spiritual leadership in the church and home. May it be so.

With that said, Deborah is chosen by God and lifted to a very important task to which she is faithful. Deborah lived during the period of the Judges, when Israel was not united as a nation under one leader, but rather existed as a loose confederation of tribes. Periodically, the Lord would endow a leader—a judge—in one of these tribes with His Holy Spirit, and that leader would rise to rally the Israelites together to face down a common foe. Deborah judged Israel in the days when Jabin, king of Canaan, oppressed the Israelites for 20 years.

It says she is a prophetess, which means she hears from God directly and is to share this insight with those entrusted to her influence. Additionally, she is raised up as the only female judge ever. This is a high position in this economy and time. She essentially is the highest rank and voice among God’s people. What she does with this position is incredible.

As we read Judges 4:1-16, we see that Jabin has a mighty army with “900 chariots of iron”, which is the most advanced military technology available at that time. Jabin’s stranglehold on the people is such that commerce has essentially ceased. The people do not travel on the highways that carry goods in and out of Palestine because of Jabin’s mighty army.

God uses Deborah to rally the Israelites against Jabin. Humanly speaking, the deck is stacked against Israel, and everyone knows it. General Barak is unwilling to call the Israelites to battle against their Canaanite foes without Deborah “holding his hand” as it were. Consequently, when the Lord keeps His promise to save His people, a woman, rather than the soldiers of Israel, would receive the credit for the victory.

This is what happens: Despite the fact that his army is technologically inferior to Jabin’s, Barak’s force of 10,000 Israelites is able to defeat the Canaanite army. This is huge! God is awesome.

Throughout the redemptive history we find recorded in the Bible, we see that God often chooses to raise up unlikely men and women to rescue His people from their enemies. The story of Deborah is an excellent example of this reality. Here we have a female leader in Israel leading an army against another army that they simply should not overcome, but they do.

God will, and does, use the most unlikely, regular people to do the most extraordinary things. We need not ever forget this, but instead walk in faith and trust that the God of all things can, and will, use little-ol’-us to do amazing things in His name for His eternal glory!

As we read in Judges 4, we see that only Sisera, Jabin’s general, is left alive. Sisera flees until he comes to the home of Jael, the wife of a Kenite with whom Sisera’s kingdom is at peace. Jael’s ultimate loyalty is not to the Kenites but to Yahweh, the God of Israel, and His people. Jael gives shelter to Sisera, but only so that she can lure him into the place where she can kill him with a tent peg to his head. The mightiest general in the region at the time was defeated not by a general but by an “ordinary” housewife. The Lord does not need mighty men to accomplish His purposes. Often, God delights to use the unexpected to fulfill His will. That is exactly what He does with Deborah and Jael. To Him be all the praise and glory!

In Judges 5, we read a great song of testament and praise about all that God does in, and through, Israel despite the people’s rebellion. It stands as a great proclamation of praise for who God is and of what He is capable.

As we consider the testimony of Deborah and Barak, we realize that most of us would likely be considered ordinary people who will never make the history books. From a human perspective, you may not seem all that “great.” Yet from God’s perspective, ordinary is what we want to be. He brings about His will through the instrumentality of ordinary people making ordinary decisions such as the best way to teach their children the Bible, or how they can reach their next-door neighbor with the gospel. The Lord uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary.

May we use all that God has entrusted to us to be faithful to Him despite our circumstances and trust how He will use it for His eternal purposes. We are to be faithful to till the soil, but the results are up to Him.

By His grace and for His glory,


Soldiers for Jesus MC

Deborah & Barak

Judges 5:19-22

19   “The kings came, they fought;
    then fought the kings of Canaan,
  at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo;
    they got no spoils of silver.
20   From heaven the stars fought,
    from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21   The torrent Kishon swept them away,
    the ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon.
    March on, my soul, with might!

22   “Then loud beat the horses’ hoofs
    with the galloping, galloping of his steeds.


Deborah & Barak

Judges 5:12-19

12   “Awake, awake, Deborah!
    Awake, awake, break out in a song!
  Arise, Barak, lead away your captives,
    O son of Abinoam.
13   Then down marched the remnant of the noble;
    the people of the LORD marched down for me against the mighty.
14   From Ephraim their root they marched down into the valley,1
    following you, Benjamin, with your kinsmen;
  from Machir marched down the commanders,
    and from Zebulun those who bear the lieutenant’s2 staff;
15   the princes of Issachar came with Deborah,
    and Issachar faithful to Barak;
    into the valley they rushed at his heels.
  Among the clans of Reuben
    there were great searchings of heart.
16   Why did you sit still among the sheepfolds,
    to hear the whistling for the flocks?
  Among the clans of Reuben
    there were great searchings of heart.
17   Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan;
    and Dan, why did he stay with the ships?
  Asher sat still at the coast of the sea,
    staying by his landings.
18   Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death;
    Naphtali, too, on the heights of the field.

19   “The kings came, they fought;
    then fought the kings of Canaan,
  at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo;
    they got no spoils of silver.


[1] 5:14 Septuagint; Hebrew in Amalek

[2] 5:14 Hebrew commander’s


Deborah & Barak

Judges 5:1-12

The Song of Deborah and Barak

5:1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day:

  “That the leaders took the lead in Israel,
    that the people offered themselves willingly,
    bless the LORD!

  “Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes;
    to the LORD I will sing;
    I will make melody to the LORD, the God of Israel.

  “LORD, when you went out from Seir,
    when you marched from the region of Edom,
  the earth trembled
    and the heavens dropped,
    yes, the clouds dropped water.
  The mountains quaked before the LORD,
    even Sinai before the LORD,1 the God of Israel.

  “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
    in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned,
    and travelers kept to the byways.
  The villagers ceased in Israel;
    they ceased to be until I arose;
    I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.
  When new gods were chosen,
    then war was in the gates.
  Was shield or spear to be seen
    among forty thousand in Israel?
  My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel
    who offered themselves willingly among the people.
    Bless the LORD.

10   “Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys,
    you who sit on rich carpets2
    and you who walk by the way.
11   To the sound of musicians3 at the watering places,
    there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the LORD,
    the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel.

  “Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD.

12   “Awake, awake, Deborah!
    Awake, awake, break out in a song!
  Arise, Barak, lead away your captives,
    O son of Abinoam.


[1] 5:5 Or before the Lord, the One of Sinai, before the Lord

[2] 5:10 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain; it may connote saddle blankets

[3] 5:11 Or archers; the meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain