Courage or Fear

Confidence.  Lack of Fear.  Boldness.  New Adventures.  New Challenges.  We have all been faced with decisions or challenges that cause fear and trepidation.  The unknown scares us and when faced with a decision where the outcome is unclear, we fear to take the next step on the path of life.  We are filled with “what if’s.”  What if I fail, what if I make the wrong decision, what if I don’t like what I get myself involved in, what if my decision hurts someone else, what if…Fear and lack of confidence are hindrances to our faith.  As we read through history, we can see many instances where boldness caused big things to happen and changed the course of history.  As Americans, we are familiar with the Revolution and the beginning of our country.  If the Founding Fathers had lacked boldness and confidence, we would still be under Britain’s rule and paying taxes, quite possibly without representation.

As the story of Deborah and Barak continues to unfold in Judges 4, we see that Barak and Deborah received the same message from the Lord, “Has not the LORD, the God of Israel commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun.  And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand?’” (Judges 4:6, 7).  God told both Barak and Deborah the instructions for defeating Sisera, and Jabin, King of Canaan.  They both received the same message.  However, Jabin had 900 chariots and was an oppressive king, which caused fear in the hearts of the Israelites.  After being oppressed for twenty years, the mentality of the Israelites was one of weakness and fear and a feeling of powerlessness.  Now God wants Barak to take only 10,000 men from only two tribes to defeat this great king with his 900 chariots.  Barak had heard the message from God, but he had not begun to gather his men since “Deborah sent and summoned Barak…” (Judges 4:6).  Barak heard Deborah ask him the same message he had received from God, yet he continued to be unsure of the path he was to take.  Rather than hear the words of Deborah adding confirmation to the message he had already heard, he continues to need reassurance in the next step of the defeat of Sisera and Jabin.

The last part of God’s message to both Deborah and Barak was …”and I will give him into your hand.” (Judges 4:7).  Barak had all he needed to defeat Sisera and Jabin, God!  God had told him that all he had to do was gather the 10,000 men and go to Mount Tabor and God would do the rest.  The instructions were laid out and now all God needed was a willing servant to follow through with the instructions, but Barak was hesitant.  He had received the instructions, he had received confirmation through Deborah that he had heard the instructions correctly, yet he still hesitated.  Instead of going with courage to Mount Tabor and gathering his 10, 000 men, he asked Deborah to go with him.   “Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.’” (Judges 4:8).  Deborah agreed knowing that God was on their side and they had nothing to fear.

Deborah, willing to serve however and wherever God would have her serve; Barak, fearful to serve unless all the conditions were met.  The battlefield was not a place a women went to in these times, yet Deborah had full confidence in God and the victory that God promised that she did not waiver when asked to go to the battlefield.  Barak, wavering in his faith needed the confidence of Deborah to lead the army of God against the Canaanites. Courage and fear are enemies of each other.  God knew each of their hearts and the demands He placed on each, and He gave both Deborah and Barak the ability to perform the task He placed before them.

Questions:

  1. Does God lead without giving us the faith to perform the task He lays before us?
  1. Read Romans 8:31, 32 and apply these verses to Barak and Deborah.
  1. Read Luke 16:10 and ply this verse to Barak and Deborah.
  1. God allows things to come into our lives for the purpose of building our faith and giving us confidence in the coming events in our journey of life. Can you see the building blocks in your life and how they continue to prepare you for what is ahead?  Take some time to write a few of those events.
  1. How have those events prepared you for the next step? Write down the lessons you have learned.
  1. Was Deborah’s question in Judges 4:6, 7 enough to confirm what Barak had alredy heard from the Lord?
  1. Do you look at someone else and their relationship with God and think they have something you don’t have? What do you do to improve your relationship with God rather than wallow in the fact that yours is not as close to your Creator as someone else’s?
  1. Is there something that God has been asking you to do and you have lacked the faith and courage to take the step of action? What will it take to be a Deborah instead of a Barak and move forward with confidence in your God?
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