Deborah, warrior princess

September 1, 2019

 

 

 

Deborah, warrior princess

Judges 4: 1-16.

1/9/19          

The are looking at the judges of Israel just now.

The judges of Israel guided the country before they had kings.

What tended to happen was that Israel did its own thing and drifted away from God. Then they would find themselves oppressed and decided they wanted God’s help.

Then they would find someone who was already following God’s ways and ask them to help them.

God would help them through the judge and then they would find peace for a while.

 

Remember last week when I warned about what we put our trust in.

Well King Jabin put his trust in iron chariots, no doubt the weapon of mass destruction of its time.

He hears of an army of Israelites at Mount Tabor near the River Kishon and sends out his nine hundred chariots to quell the uprising. But Deborah has chosen the site of the battle wisely. She has also chosen the timing of the battle wisely. The River Kishon is in flood and the land round it has basically become a bog. The iron chariots start to sink in the boggy land and become easy targets for the men on foot.

 

There are two points I want to make about this passage.

Two very different points.

The first would be obvious to the people then but maybe not to us reading the passage without a wee bit of research.

And the point is about the commitment of Deborah.

 

The passage tells us that Deborah sat under a palm tree between Ramah and Bethel. That way everyone knew where she would be so they could meet her there and seek advice. In a time when there were no clocks, when you went to bed when it was dark and woke up when it was light. How do you know when and where to meet someone?

My wife has a phrase that drives me nuts. It’s ‘The back of...’

When will I meet you at Tesco’s?’

I'll meet you outside Tesco's at the back off 11.’

What does that mean?

I am there at quarter past 11 and round about 20 to 12 she appears. I am furious because I have been waiting for nearly half an hour and she says, ‘But it is the back of 11.’ Which seems to be any time before 12 noon.

That would be worse in Deborah’s time. No watches. So if you say, ’I’ll meet you on Monday morning,’ that could be any time on Monday between sunrise and maybe about 2pm.

Well every day Deborah would go to a certain tree. And people knew that was where she would be.

And the Bible tells us where that tree would be.

Deborah calls for Barak to lead the people and tells him where he needs to go and how he needs to fight; the foothills of Mount Tabor where it meets the River Kishon.

And Barak then says that he won’t do it unless Deborah goes with him.

And she agrees.

And we just accept that.

But if you look at it on a map that is a 50 mile hike.

Deborah is willing to make a 50 mile hike, into a battle zone, for Barak.

 

Here’s the point I want to make...do you have anyone in your life that would be willing to walk 50 miles for you?

Let me put that point another way.

We all know the lengths that God went for us.

Christ went to amazing lengths for us.

He left the glories of heaven, he lived an obedient life on earth.

He put up with the doubts and fears and insecurities and attacks of others.

He faced torture and an agonizing death on a cross for us.

God was willing to send his Son to die on a cross for us.

And we hear that so often that maybe we take it for granted.

And because we take it for granted we forget about it and we moan and complain when things aren’t going right.

We scream and shout at God, questioning where he is when we need him most.

But every now and again it is worthwhile just stopping and reflect on what God  was/is willing to do for us.

How far God was/is willing to go to help us now.

And when we accept that in our lives that can do amazing things in our life.

 

But I still want to ask the question again.

Do you have anyone in your life that would be willing to walk 50 miles for you?

Someone who believed in you so much, maybe more than you believe in yourself that they would leave where they were and come with you.

Someone who would go with you when you are getting your hospital treatments.

Someone who will hold you when you get bad news.

Someone who will stand by you when everyone else finds it embarrassing to be with you.

 

If we have someone like that then we need to rejoice in them, we need to honour them and tell them how much we appreciate them. And don’t be shy about it. We have battles to face that we don't know about, and the only way we will win them is with these people in our lives. They are the people who give us confidence to do the right thing at the right time.

I am absolutely sure that if Deborah had said she wasn't going, that Barak had to just man up and do the right thing, then out of shame Barak would have gone.

But then when King Jabin’s chariots are sinking in the mud his men would be saying, ‘What do we do now Barak?’

And Barak would hesitate. They have the advantage but what do they do about it? Should they attack? But that would mean that some of his own men would die? What if too many of them die? King Jabin’s men might not have their chariots but they are still trained soldiers, maybe they would be skilled in arm to arm fighting as well.

And in the time Barak took to work out what to do, the charioteers would have freed the chariots and got the advantage again.

People like Deborah give us the courage to do the right thing at the right time. And we should celebrate them for that.

To be honest, I am so proud at the number of people in this church that are that type of person.

 

If we don’t have someone like that in our lives then we need to get someone like that in our lives. And to have someone in our lives, that would walk 50 miles for us, we need to become someone that would walk 50 miles for someone else.

It is as simple, and as hard, as that.

For people to care for us so deeply we need to become the kind of person that cares deeply for others.

The only reason that Barak knew that Deborah was a 50 mile person was because she did it.

She made herself vulnerable for Barak.

She made sacrifices for Barak.

That’s how Barak knew he could trust her.

Caring is not a theoretical thing, caring is a very practical thing. People know we care because they can see us performing acts of caring.

 

So first point; find, and become, the kind of people that would walk 50 miles for someone.

 

Here is the second point I want to make.

And it is a plea.

A plea based on reading one verse, verse 3.

‘Jabin had nine hundred iron chariots, and he ruled the people of Israel with cruelty and violence for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.’

I’ll read it again because the first time I read it I had to reread it because I couldn't believe what I was reading.

‘Jabin had nine hundred iron chariots, and he ruled the people of Israel with cruelty and violence for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.’

 

Why did they put up with it for 20 years?

And here is my plea.

A plea as much to myself as to anyone else.

Don’t wait to let God get involved.

 

There are so many reasons why we don't go to God for help.

Pride.

We don’t want to admit that we have been so stupid.

I have survived teenage daughters. Teenage daughters pick the most awful boyfriends. I truly believe that they know that they are awful boyfriends. But when someone who is wise, someone who has experience of life, someone who understands them better than themselves,

someone like their father,

tells them what a terrible mistake they are making, they don't want to admit that they have been that stupid.

So what do they do? They carry on doing the stupid stuff, trying to prove that it wasn’t stupid after all.

Sometimes we don’t go to God for help because of pride.

 

Arrogance.

Do you know what kind of people fall for the really bad scams? Smart people.

Those evil people that are willing to scam people out of their whole pensions. The type of people that they target, are smart people. Because smart people refuse to believe that they are stupid enough to fall for those types of scam.

People who are not so smart, they know they are not so smart, so they tend to be really cautious with stuff they don't understand. They don’t want to surrender their pension until they have had it checked out with someone they trust, because they aren't that smart. And the scammers know that their scam will be found out if it has to face that type of scrutiny. So they target smart people; people who believe that they can work it all out themselves.

And that arrogance gets them further and further into trouble.

Sometimes we don’t go to God because of arrogance.

 

Fear.

Here’s a type of conversation I hear far too often.

It is exaggerated, but exaggerated so you get the point I am trying to make.

‘I notice that you have blood pouring out of your ear. What is the doctor saying about that?’

‘Oh I haven’t been to the doctor about it.’

‘Why haven’t you been to the doctor?’

‘Oh I am scared of what he might tell me.’

Where is the logic in that?

If it is nothing then the doctor will give you assurance that everything is fine.

If it is something how will NOT going to the person who can help you do any good? Delaying finding out bad news will only make things worse.

Delaying bad news will only make things harder to fix.

But sometimes we don’t go to God because we are scared; we are frightened of what he might say.

 

‘Jabin had nine hundred iron chariots, and he ruled the people of Israel with cruelty and violence for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.’

How did they think that waiting 20 years to ask God for help make anything better?

It doesn’t matter if it was pride, or arrogance or fear.

How did they think that waiting 20 years to ask for help would make things better?

 

So this is my plea.

Find 50 mile carers, become a fifty mile carer, because you never know when you will need them, or when you will be needed.

And let’s be smart enough to just go to God.

If today is the day we need help, then let’s go to God for help today.

If today is the day we are struggling, then let’s go to God today.

Don’t wait till tomorrow; don’t wait till next week, or next month, or next year.

 

If today is the day we need help, then let’s go to God for help today.

 

 

 

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