The “Here Comes The Judges!” Series #2
"TO 'BEE,' OR NOT TO 'BEE,' THAT IS THE QUESTION!"
TEXT: Judges 4-5
INTRO: Have you ever seen a discouraged queen bee? They are amazing creatures; they are literally a single parent to hundreds and even thousands of offspring! They have a single brief flight of freedom and then spend the rest of their life inside a hive generating workers, soldiers, harvesters or pollen gatherers. Her whole task is the well being of the hive, to keep it flourishing. Her life is one of consistency, commitment, and contented living! She works without complaint, she never misses a beat, she lives for the hive, and she is the ultimate mother!
Such were the likes of a woman in the
Old Testament named Deborah ... whose name in Hebrew means, "A
BEE." She was like a
Queen Bee mother in
Like her name, "a bee," she lived a consistent, committed, contented life, thus providing both godly leadership and a godly example that changed an entire generation of Israelites, leading a war torn nation into 40 years of peace!
One Godly woman/man can make a huge difference!! Thank God for Godly individuals!
PROP SENT: One godly woman/man can still make a difference in a nation, especially a nation that has lost its godly ways. Give us godly people today in our nation!
A. Conflicts! Judges 4:1-4
1. The life and times of
a. They had drifted back into sin and lost their godly principles – again!
b. They had allowed pagan cultures around them to influence them.
c. They were quickly losing their identity as God's chosen people – the cultures around them were winning out!
(2. They had forgotten God’s ways or ignored them.
(3. Their faith in God was nothing more than a historical thing at best.
2. The times then were like the times now!
a. Once the godly judge Ehud had passed away, the nation slowly slipped back into a dull spiritual existence!
b. Godly leadership is important to a nation and a people!
3. They had learned to copy the wayward ways of the nations around them rather than avoid the idolatry of these wicked nations.
a. They were taken in by the other nation's prosperity and ways.
b. They went where the crowds were, doing what the other nations did, it is always easier to follow the crowds!
ONE MAN IN
b. God had allowed this to move them to see their need of Him again!
c. God sometimes allow this kind of oppression in our lives not to punish us, but to move us toward Him.
a. The Canaanites kept
b. Israelites were forbidden to
possess iron, this way the Canaanites could keep a technological edge over them,
Canaanite technology would remain superior and they could bully
c. Israelites were not even allowed iron farming implements, only soft bronze ones which required frequent sharpening and maintenance, a job that was to be done only by Canaanite craftsmen, thus they held an economic monopoly over Israelites in this way, this kept Israel poor and dependent in the financial front as well!
6. The only fighting capabilities the Israelites possessed were as foot soldiers:
b. The Canaanites were an awesome sight and frightening to all the other nations around them with their vastly superior technology!
7. Under all this, a weakened
a. Playing around with sin had weakened their national strength.
b. Their conformity with the world had cost them their spiritual strength and testimony, as well as their economic strength!
c. God used all this to encourage them to return to Him!
8. For 20 years God allowed them to be oppressed in order to turn their hearts back to Him!
a. It is interesting to note that though God allowed 20 years of pain He later gives them 40 years of peace when they do return, His grace gives them twice as long in peace as they experienced in pain!
b. God's grace is thus far greater than his discipline!
B. Character! Judges 4:4-7
1. Deborah "the Bee" is introduced, a mother that was not content to just sit by and teach her own family God's ways – but a mother that got involved in her country, to bring it back to God's ways!
a. She could have sat back and said, "Well, I'll teach my own kids, and let the rest of the world do what they are going to do."
b. But she cared too much to ignore what her own nation had done with God's Word, so she got involved in a big way!
c. She did this without neglecting her own family!
2. She makes no effort to take authority over the men who were suppose to show leadership over Israel, instead she calls upon one man named Barak and delivers to him God's word, here she is not exercising her own authority over a man, she is exercising God's authority!
a. We men would do well to heed the voices of godly women among us. God may well say something through them that we can't hear ourselves!
b. Don't underestimate the power of a Godly woman being used by the Lord!
3. Why did
a. She could be trusted!
b. She was committed to God and humble!
c. She had a record that was consistent!
4. Barak (whose name means "lightning" in Hebrew) is called to strike against God's enemies and
a. Barak however is scared; he sees
overwhelming odds against
b. He is not listening to the one voice that should matter most, he only sees and hears the menacing enemies! He needed to hear only the one voice that really mattered, we need to remember this too!
ILLUS: WHEN THE FAMOUS BABE RUTH WAS CALLED ON A THIRD STRIKE, AND THUS OUT BY AN UMPIRE, HE TURNED AND IN ANGER TRIED TO CHALLENGE THE RULING OF THE UMPIRE. THE CROWD ALSO ROARED THEIR DISAPPROVAL AT THE UMP. BABE RUTH SAID, "THERE'S 40,000 PEOPLE HERE, LIKE ME, WHO KNOWS THAT THE LAST PITCH WAS A BALL AND NOT A STRIKE YOU TOMATO HEAD!" THE UMP SIMPLY SMILED AND SAID, "MAYBE SO, BUT MINE IS THE ONLY OPINION THAT COUNTS!" HOW TRUE THIS IS FOR US TOO, NO MATTER WHAT THE CROWD SAYS, THERE IS ONLY ONE OPINION THAT REALLY COUNTS AND THAT'S GOD'S! – Source Unknown
5. The Word from God that came from Deborah was full of faith, "I will give them into your hands." 4:7b
a. Deborah's message was full of direction: Where to fight: "Kishon river"
b. Deborah's message was full of faith: "The Lord will fight for you"
c. Deborah's message was full of hope: "I will lure Sisera ... give him into your hands."
d. This was the stuff of good preaching!
6. All Barak had to do was obey and go!
II. "BEEING" COMMITTED! Judges 4:8-24
A. Courage! Judges 4:8-10
1. Barak reveals the impact of a nation's lukewarm attitude toward God ... he is hesitant to obey God’s Word and go!
a. He has no confidence in his own faith or walk with God, those who walk weakly with the Lord cannot muster the strength to fight well.
b. He states that he will not go unless Deborah goes with him!
2. This “mother in
a. If we only knew how many spiritual victories in this land have been won by the presence and faith of godly women!
b. Behind every successful man of God there is a successful godly woman!
3. Deborah is willing to go before she even knows what kind of a turnout will actually take place! Judges 4:9
a. And, the turnout was lousy! 10,000 Israelites only turned out to go against what was surely multiple 10's of thousands of Canaanites with 900 iron chariots!
b. This was not great odds for
c. Moms, no matter the odds against you and your family remember that with God you will win the victory against all of God's enemies!
4. Deborah was the kind of mom that put her actions where her mouth was, she did not just inspire Barak to go and fight, she too was willing to go and follow through with her message of faith!
ILLUS: HOW UNLIKE SOME TODAY WHO ARE WILLING TO BE A PART UNTIL THE REAL TEST BEGINS. LIKE THE CHOIR DIRECTOR WHO ONE DAY WAS PRAISING HIS PIANIST FOR HER SACRIFICE AND EXAMPLE AT NEVER MISSING A PRACTICE FOR THE UPCOMING BIG CHRISTMAS MUSICAL THEY WERE TO PERFORM. THE PIANIST REPLIED, "I THOUGHT IT WAS THE LEAST I COULD DO, CONSIDERING THE FACT THAT I AN UNABLE TO ATTEND THE PERFORMANCE!" SOMETHING WAS MISSING IN THIS COMMITMENT! – Source Unknown
5. Though greatly outnumbered and outgunned by vastly superior weapons, Barak does go with this courageous mother at his side! She inspired courage by her life and her witness! This is the fruit of commitment!
B. Conquerors! Judges 4:11-24
1. Sisera, the general of the
Canaanite war machine finds out about
a. This was the dry season when the valley floor was hard packed and would thus give great advantage to the Canaanites with their iron machinery!
b. It almost NEVER rained this time of the year in this valley!
2. The Canaanites worshiped "BaaI" ... who was depicted as a god who rode the clouds with a club in one hand for thunder, and a stylized spear in the other hand that symbolized lightening. He was a god of lightening and rain … who fertilized the valley and brought forth life.
a. Imagine these few Israelite soldiers looking down on the Canaanite elite fighting force of 900 iron chariots and a huge superior number of multiple tens of thousands of fighting men with iron technology wrapped all over their bodies for protection and superior iron weapons of war in their hands!
b. All they have to inspire them is a
fearful Israeli general named Barak and a mother in
3. Nothing less than total commitment would work here! There could be no hesitation in the commitment or all would fail!
4. We need to be completely sold out to God, not holding back on our commitment lest the enemy find a weak spot in our lives that he can use!
ILLUS: LIKE THE STORY TOLD BY A HAITIAN PASTOR ABOUT A MAN WHO WANTED TO SELL HIS HOUSE FOR $2,000. ANOTHER MAN WANTED TO BUY IT BUT AT ONLY HALF THAT PRICE. AFTER MUCH BARGAINING, THE MAN FINALLY AGREED TO THE LOWER PRICE UNDER ONE CONDITION, THAT HE BE ALLOWED TO STILL OWN A SINGLE NAIL OVER THE FRONT DOOR OF THE HOUSE, THIS WOULD BELONG TO HIM AND NOT THE NEW OWNER, AND HE COULD DO AS HE PLEASED WITH IT WITHOUT INTERFERENCE FROM THE NEW OWNER. BOTH AGREED. SOME TIME WENT BY, AND THE OLD OWNER DECIDED HE WANTED HIS HOUSE BACK, BUT NOW THE NEW OWNER REFUSED TO SELL BACK TO HIM. THE OLD OWNER THEN TOOK A DEAD DOG AND HUNG IT ON THE NAIL HE STILL OWNED OVER THE FRONT DOOR. THE NEW OWNER COULD NOT TOUCH IT, FOR THE NAIL DID NOT BELONG TO HIM. SURE ENOUGH, IN A MATTER OF DAYS THE NEW OWNER COULD NOT TAKE THE SMELL ANY LONGER AND SO HE SOLD THE HOUSE BACK TO THE FIRST OWNER AT A LOSS. ALL BECAUSE HE WASN'T COMMITTED TO BUYING THE WHOLE HOUSE IN THE BEGINNING, THE LITTLE NAIL HE LEFT WAS AVAILABLE TO TAKE FROM HIM WHAT HE HAD! DOES GOD OWN YOUR WHOLE BEING OR ONLY PARTS OF YOUR LIFE? WHAT IS AVAILABLE FOR THE ENEMY TO USE THAT DOESN'T BELONG TO GOD!? – Source Unknown
5. It is important to note that Deborah had no idea how they were going to win, only that God had promised it!
a. Thus she stuck by her commitment to God!
b. And she stood by the men willing to risk their lives to obey God!
6. The troops may well have been thinking: "how is God going to do this impossible thing?"... I know I would have thought this!
7. It becomes clear in Judges 5:4-5 what happened, God caused a huge cloudburst, and it is probably Deborah that first noticed the small clouds forming!
a. Sudden cloudbursts in this valley have rendered other vast armies sitting ducks before, in 1799 Napoleon was able to be victorious over the Turkish army because a sudden cloudburst in this same valley, it made the Turkish army get bogged down!
b. Ironically, the Canaanite god Baal was the god of lightning and rain – he bogged down the Canaanites who worshipped him in all the muck and mud that was made in the valley – how can iron chariots move in mud?!
c. Their false god showed up and made them vulnerable to attack!
d. Ever see what 900 iron chariots do in heavy mud!?
e. Ever see what lots of soldiers with heavy iron armor on can do in a muddy field? --- Not much!
f. God makes a clear statement about Baal, the god of the thunderstorm – he is nothing but a catastrophe to those who worship his false image, and Baal is not only impotent to help those who believe in him, he will actually help destroy them in their hour of need!
8. Thus the lightly
weighted foot soldiers of Israel were able to easily run down and kill every
man, Canaanites were not trained in hand to hand combat, they relied on their
highly technological iron implements to give them the edge in
battle! The only thing
9. Every Canaanite soldier is killed except one, Sisera their general. He obviously took off his armor and ran like a coward, fleeing to save himself and leaving his men to die!
a. No false religion can give you courage to stand against life's struggles!
b. Only God can inspire real courage, faith, and sacrifice for others!
10. Sisera finds a Bedouin tent and looks for a place to hide, he meets a woman named, "Jael" ... which ironically is a Hebrew name meaning "a mountain goat," notice the compound name with JA- EL – “EL” was one of the names used for God in Israel, hence the many compounds in Jewish names to identify them as God’s covenant people: IsraEL, JoEL, EzekiEL, NathaniEL, SamuEL, RachEL, BethEL, etc.
a. The coward Canaanite general Sisera is welcomed into her tent; a rare thing in that day, no man except a husband was allowed into a woman's tent, he thus felt sure he could hide safely here!
b. It was also the custom of the Bedouins that if they brought you in and fed you that you were obligated to protect them! Since she does this for Sisera he must have felt a sense of safety.
c. Jael's husband, a Kenite – known as metalworkers, most likely allied with the Canaanites, likely had helped forge iron for the Canaanites, no wonder Sisera feels safe here!
11. However, Jael waits for this Canaanite general Sisera to fall asleep and then takes a tent peg – since her husband was an iron metalworker for the Canaanites, might it be possible that this tent peg was an IRON one? – that would make her action in killing Sisera “ironic!” It was the responsibility of Bedouin women to stake the tents, not the men, a task she was well practiced in, and she drove it through his head so hard it stuck to the ground! He was "nailed!" She knew how to drive a tent peg! “Ironically,” possibly with the same iron that was forbidden for the Israelites to use a Jewess may have used forbidden iron to end his life!
a. Sisera should never have come against a godly mom and a woman with a Jewish name like Jael!
b. God completely destroyed the enemy!
c. This was the beginning of more and greater victories over the Canaanites as is mentioned in 4:24b.
III. "BEEING" CONTENTED! Judges 5:1-31
A. Confidence Judges 5:1-31a
1. The final result: Deborah and Barak write a beautiful song of praise!
a. God's work brings praise!
b. It also brought a sense of
confidence back to
2. Notice 5:2 contains the formula for success in God's plan book for churches or nations:
a. "when the princes
b. "When the people willingly offer themselves..." (Sacrificial giving both in tithes and time)
c. Then: "PRAISE THE LORD!" (Worship and celebration of faith)
3. Confidence in God and His Word was restored in Israel because of the starting faith of one mom, a “queen bee!”
4. A new song broke out all over
a. Deborah includes in this new song the list of those who didn't help however, perhaps to show what they missed out on!
b. Jael is praised in the song for her act of bravery for God's people, thus taking some of the praise away from Barak who was somewhat reluctant to fight without Deborah being present!
B. Comfort Judges 5:31b
1. What is the final result of this
faithful mother in
a. 40 years of peace broke out, after a long and arduous beating by the Canaanites the previous 20 years!
c. There is no enemy to threaten them now!
2. The fact that peace lasted 40 years is important, a generation was considered a 40 year period, for an entire generation God gave them peace.
a. All the results of one mother who believed God and took some leadership in getting a nation to respond to God's Word!
b. The nation enjoyed rest and was able to grow in peace, all because one godly mom stood up to be counted!
c. We really do not have to be afraid of the “superior technology” that is calling our kids … a committed, consistent, contented life of godliness can still keep the next generation for God!
consistent, committed, and contented, or not to "bee," that is the
question! Deborah (whose name
means, "a bee") was a worker, a soldier, a
prophetess, and a servant of God; but she called herself simply "a mother in