Freedom or Servitude

Delores CarrA pen could not write a letter without a person composing the words.  A paintbrush could not paint a beautiful masterpiece without an artist.  A piano could not play beautiful music without a musician.  A house could not be constructed without the construction worker putting all the pieces together.  A piece of work no matter how small or how grand needs someone to orchestrate it and put the pieces together.  Even a car built with many robotics and computers still needs a person to engineer the robotics and the computers.  This translates to the world around us as we look at the intricacies of our world and the intricacies of our bodies, it seems we forget how complex the natural world is, and get caught up in how grand we are as humans.  We often forget that there was a world before us and there will be a world after us, so why do we get so enamored with ourselves? “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21).

Deborah’s humility shines through these two short chapters in Judges.  She does not take any credit for herself, nor does she seek the approval of others.  Rather she spends time communing with God.  We are not told of her intimate relationship with God, rather we see the fruit of her intimate relationship with God.  She is consulted for her wisdom by many as she sits under a tree and the people of Israel come to her for wise council regarding the things of God. (Judges 4:5). She receives a message from God regarding the battle that is to be fought between two tribes of Israel led by Barak against Jabin, king of Canaan. (Judges 4:6).  She has faith in the message from God and goes out into the battle with Barak to help bolster his faith.  (Judges 4:9). She takes no glory in herself as she sings a song of praise and worship to God in Judges 5 with Barak regarding the victory over Jabin given to the Israelites from God.

Deborah realizes she is a pen, a paintbrush, and a violin in the hands of her Master and Creator, God!  She takes no glory in her abilities, but rather gives the glory to God through her song of praise in Judges 5.  Just as the paintbrush took no glory when Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, so Deborah took no glory in the salvation of the Israelites from the Canaanites.  Yet today in our culture so many take glory for their accomplishments.

Frank Sinatra sung a song about this very thing called, “I did it my way.”  One of the verses contain these words:  “I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway, and more, much more than this, I did it my way.”  God also speaks to this in His word in Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”  Two opposite thoughts: God’s way or our way.  Deborah illustrates what happens when we seek God’s ways and God’s wisdom, even the enemies of the Israelites were defeated.  The cycle in Israel during the time of the judges was idolatry, forced servitude, pleading with God, and salvation.  If the people of Israel would have submitted only to God and served Him with their whole hearts, there would have been no servitude.  If the people would have given up their way and followed God’s way, they would have enjoyed living in the “land flowing with milk and honey” as they had been promised by God during their years of slavery in Egypt.  Rather than enjoy these blessings by serving God, they decided to live life their way.

The question for each of us is, “what path will we choose?”  If we choose to follow our own desires and our own path without consulting the Lord and His direction for our lives, we will end up like the Israelites in servitude.  If we choose to live life like Deborah, we gain our freedom.  Deborah desired no glory for the victory over the Canaanites, yet she is remembered in the pages of scripture as a faithful follower of God and a leader of the Israelites to freedom.

Questions:

  1. Read Judges 4 and recount the events of the battle between Israel and Canaan.
  1. Who would receive credit for subduing the commander of the army of Canaan, Sisera according to Judges 4:9, 21?
  1. Who received credit for subduing Jabin, the king of Canaan, and subsequently the nation of Canaan? (Judges 4:23)
  1. What does Deborah call herself in Judges 5:7?
  1. What is said about Jael in Judges 5:24-27?
  1. Why did God use these woman in these roles?
  1. Do you think Barak’s cowardice as seen in Judges 4:6, 8 is indicative of the cowardice of the other Israelite men?
  1. Would following after God and serving Him have provided the men of Israel more courage? How?
  1. What caused the 10,000 men of Israel to have courage to fight Jabin, Sisera, and the Canaanites?
  1. Do you lack courage? Whose way are you following?  Do you need to make some changes in your life?  If so what changes?
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