Working Together for Justice

KEY VERSE: “Barak said unto her, if thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.” —Judges 4:8

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Judges 4:1-9, 14, 15

BARAK, one of the notable judges of Israel, leaned heavily upon the support of an outstanding woman of their time named Deborah. It is a question with some as to whether or not Deborah should be classed as one of the divinely appointed judges of Israel. The record is that she was a prophetess. It is obvious that the Lord used her, although the account does not say he especially appointed her. However, the text states that she judged Israel at that time. True it is that God is able to use all humble and willing instruments to accomplish his purposes.

Deborah seems to have been of this humble disposition. She gladly communicated to Barak essential information as to how an invading army could be defeated, but preferred to keep in the background herself. It was only when he refused to carry out the instruction unless she accompanied him that she consented to go with him. Even then she warned him that he would thereby lose much of the glory which otherwise would accrue to him as a result of victory over Israel’s enemies, and the deliverance of the nation from a menace which had been plaguing the people for twenty years.

This being the period in the nation’s history when ‘every man did according to what seemed right in his own eyes’, the tribes had become virtually separate states, and there was no cohesion between them—the divinely intended bond of union, the true religion, having been relaxed. It was about this time that Deborah appeared on the scene, and the Lord saw good to use her. She moved from her home in the northern part of Palestine to a more central place in the highlands of Ephraim. From there she sent encouraging, stimulating messages to the chief men of various tribes. She was respected. Her counsel was appreciated. Her advice was sought. In this sense she judged—admonished, guided, assisted—Israel.

God used Deborah to bring deliverance to his people. Properly enough she worked through Barak, who greatly depended upon her guidance and the inspiration of her indomitable courage. They together went out with Israel’s army to do battle with an invading enemy named Sisera, and through them God gave victory to his people. Sisera and his mechanized divisions, including 900 chariots, were defeated. This in reality was the first Armageddon battle, for it was fought at Megiddo. This battle, together with many others which were fought in this ancient valley, provided its background of historical significance which the Lord uses as a basis of many prophecies respecting the ‘time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation’, which precedes and prepares the way for Messiah’s glorious reign of a thousand years.

After this signal victory, Deborah and Barak sang a song of praise to God “for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.” Two humble and noble thoughts are expressed in this phrase. It gives God the credit for the victory, and properly acknowledges the part Israel’s army played in the effort. It was not merely that Deborah and Barak worked with the Lord, but in addition, the people willingly offered themselves.

In this song Deborah and Barak continue to give glory to God for his miraculous guidance of his people. If they express feelings of elation over their part, they should not be blamed. There are many opportunities of service among the Lord’s people today. May each of us rejoice in whatever part the Lord indicates as being ours, as faithfully and courageously as did Deborah and Barak.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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