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  Barak And Deborah

Q: Let's start with a question. Who has been the most powerful woman in your life, and why? {Let a few people share.}

C: For most of us, the most powerful woman was our mother. But we're going to read about a great leader of God's people who was a woman. Her name was Deborah.

1. Don't Put Conditions on God

Judges 4:1-3
1 After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the LORD.
2 So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim.
3 Because he had nine hundred iron chariots and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the LORD for help.

C: The Israelites were PROUD, and so they received PAIN. The king of Hazor had been oppressing the Israelites through his army, led by Sisera. This made them PRAY to God for help (v.3).

Judges 4:4-10
4 Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.
5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided.
6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor.
7 I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.'"
8 Barak said to her, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go."
9 "Very well," Deborah said, "I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh,
10 where he summoned Zebulun and Naphtali. Ten thousand men followed him, and Deborah also went with him.

C: Deborah the prophetess was leading Israel at that time (v.4). She judged the people's disputes (v.5). She sent for a man named Barak and told him that God commanded him to lead the way to Mount Tabor, and attack the enemy (v.6). But he was afraid, and begged her to come with him (v.8).

Q: What was her answer to Barak? [I'll come, but this is not the right way to do this.]

C: When God gives us commands, we should not put conditions on him. Sometimes people say, "I'll obey God after my exams." Or they say, "I'll obey God after I can support myself." Or they'll say, "After getting married, then I'll follow Jesus." Sometimes people say, "If God blesses me, then I'll become a Christian." But God has already blessed us by sending Jesus. We cannot say to him, "if you do this, then I'll obey you." Barak's attitude was not one of courage, but of fear.

2. Do It Today.

Judges 4:14-16
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, "Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?" So Barak went down Mount Tabor, followed by ten thousand men.
15 At Barak's advance, the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot.
16 But Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim. All the troops of Sisera fell by the sword; not a man was left.

C: In spite of his fear, Barak did obey Deborah, and he went to attack the enemy. She told him to go that very day (v.14). She told him that victory was his on that very day (v.14). And she was right all of the enemy fell at the hand of Barak (v.16). God has given us the victory today. If we wait, the victory may slip away. The open person is the one we'll meet next. If we follow up tonight we'll find the people home, but in a few days they may be gone. If we see a weak brother today, it may change him forever, but tomorrow may be too late.

Q: What good thing do you know that you should do today?

C: Perhaps it is helping around your flat. Paying back some money. Giving contribution. Following-up. Writing your family. Encouraging someone. Confessing sin. Inviting someone. Praying a special prayer. Whatever it is, do it today!

3. Leaders Lead the Way

C: After the great victory, God gave the evil Sisera into the hand of a woman named Jael. She killed him in her own tent. Then Deborah and Barak were rejoicing together. Look at what they sang:

Judges 5:1-2
1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:
2 "When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves-- praise the LORD!

C: Verse 2 is great. It says that when the princes take the lead and the people willingly follow, praise God.

Q: Today, if you are a prince (a leader), are you leading the way? Are you bringing visitors? Are you fired up? Are you 100% committed? And if you are a follower, how are you doing? Are you willingly following, or does your leader have to drag you to the meetings? Are you taking advice?

4. Put Your Heart With the People

Judges 5:7-9
7 Village life in Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel.
8 When they chose new gods, war came to the city gates, and not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.
9 My heart is with Israel's princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the LORD!

C: In v.7, Deborah explained how she was a "mother in Israel."

Q: What do you think that means? [She was someone to whom everyone could come with their problems.]

C: In v.8, she noticed how the false Gods of the people brought war to the cities. She said in v.9 that her heart was with the leaders and the willing volunteers among the people.

Q: Think about yourself. Do you give you heart to people? Do you feel their pain? Does it matter to you when they face trouble? Are you fired up when they succeed? Do you rejoice when they have visitors, or when they have great quiet times, or they change a weakness in their lives? Or are you only thinking about yourself, and your own problems?

C: Let's have hearts like Deborah and Barak, who truly felt for their people.

5. Don't Sit and Think When You Can Act.

Judges 5:15-18
15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah; yes, Issachar was with Barak, rushing after him into the valley. In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart.
16 Why did you stay among the campfires to hear the whistling for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart.
17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan. And Dan, why did he linger by the ships? Asher remained on the coast and stayed in his coves.
18 The people of Zebulun risked their very lives; so did Naphtali on the heights of the field.

C: Here different groups of people had different responses to the challenge of fighting for Israel. The princes of Issachar were fired up, rushing into the valley (v.15).

Q: How did the tribe of Reuben do? [They were searching their hearts. They hung around their campfires, thinking (v.15,16).] What did the people of Gilead do (v.17)? [They stayed safe on their side of the river. It would be like the people of Mayur Vihar refusing to cross Nizamuddin bridge to help the people in New Delhi.] What about those of the tribe of Dan (v.17)? [They hung around near the boats, so they could escape quickly if there was trouble.]

C: Similarly, the people of Asher remained in coves and hideouts up and down the coast. On the other hand, Zebulun and Napthali were fired up. We have a choice. We can sit around thinking and making excuses, hiding away, like the people of Reuben, Dan, and Gilead. Or we can be fired up, like those of Zebulun, Napthali, and Issachar.

Q: Which are you? Are you out trying to help people to change? Are you encouraging others? Or are you sitting around?


Deborah is a great example for all of us, brothers and sisters. She took care of her family and also of God's people. But Barak always needed others to push him. Let's not be like him. Let's be a leader like her!