Who do you like best? Sisera, Barak, Deborah, Jael.
Would you want to go to battle against 900 chariots of iron? Neither did Barak. If you take a peek into the lives of the Hebrew people shortly after the death of Joshua as recorded in the book of Judges in the Bible you will find an exciting story. Two military captains meet on the battlefield. Sisera has the 900 chariots of iron. Barak has 10.000 foot soldiers.
The cast of characters:
Deborah, a prophetess, a Spirit-led woman, the third judge of Israel. Courageous . Dignified. Responsible.
Barak: (pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, not the last as we hear it today) Military leader of Israel’s army. Mediocre. Disciplined. Obedient.
Sisera: Captain of the Canaanite army. Self-sufficient. Bold. Coward.
Jael: Kennite by choice, married to Heber (he is a double agent) Decisive. Strong! Bold, Quick-thinking.
Now, here’s the story. (from a storyteller’s conversational point of view)
King Jabin is oppressing the Hebrews during a time when they should be completing the job that Joshua started. You see, instead of conquering the land God had promised them, and doing so decisively, they wander off in heart and intermarry with the enemy! The enemy worshipped idols of rocks, ancestors, statues, and other stuff. The idol worshiping spouses demanded equal worship and soon the Hebrews were cold hearted in their love for the Lord who promised them this land.
In order to draw them back to the task at hand, God made them uncomfortable. The theme of Judges, after all, is “they did that which was right in their own eyes” and did not have a sensitive spirit toward God. Now, it wasn’t just short periods of chilled hearts, it sometimes lasted 40 years or more before they finally said, “God, please get us out of this mess!”
Seeing a time of repentance on hand, Deborah, the third judge had a heart for God She called for Barak (verse 6) and told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to get himself collected and fearless to face a battle with Sisera! Barak, said, “If YOU go with me, Deborah, I’ll go, but that’s the only way I’m facing those iron chariots.” I can see his manly jaw set firm. He probably thought with that statement this sweet, well-loved lady would not pack up and go with him. He was wrong.
He calls together 10,000 foot soldiers and away they go to face 900 iron chariots pulled by horses that would trample them. Deborah assured him that God was going to take down Sisera, and King Jabin. She also added that Barak would not get any glory. The glory, she prophesized, would instead go to a woman. At that point, he probably thought Deborah was being a bit “uppity” because he probably thought she was referring to herself. He was wrong.
The battle ensues and God does fight for them. The Bible clearly says in verse 15 that “the Lord routed Sisera’s army. . .” Remember, I dubbed Sisera as a coward? When Sisera saw his army falling like flies, he jumped out of his chariot and runs away! The battle was fairly close to the town where Heber and Jael live. He runs there for sanctuary. Ah, but recall, Heber is a double agent! Heber is not home that day. Jael, however, welcomes him into her tent. Sisera foolishly trusts her. She tells him to rest, take a nap, and provides him with a blanket. Nice lady. He asks for a drink and instead of water, she gives him milk. How hospitable! That warm milk, and a blanket, and supposed safety put him into a sound sleep.
Jael tip toes around near the door and is scheming. What to do, what to do. Seeing a tent stake, and a big ol’ hammer she has a plan. She has Israel’s enemy and why should she wait to do away with him? Softly, ever so softly, she places that long, sharp tent stake over his sleeping temple. If she was squeamish about it, we will never know, but in one mighty blow of the hammer the stake goes through his head, and nails it to the floor of the tent. Now what? Sisera is lying in a pool of blood in her tent. She leaves the mess, and who does she see! She sees Barak who is looking for Sisera, tracking him down. “Over here,” she calls, “I have something to show you!” Did she ever! The Bible tells it like this: “Come, I will show you the man whom ye seek.” There is a connotation of satisfaction here. Finality. I wish I could be a “fly on the wall” here and make up stuff, but I won’t.
The simple truth is that God often uses means we would never be able to anticipate. When Deborah foretold that a woman would get credit, she just knew that from God. She didn’t know how God would do it. So it is with us. We face complex problems. God has promised to solve our problems and give us joy. Let Him do it.