In Judges 4&5, the process of the “canaanization of Israel” is in full development. Instead of obeying the Lord, the people of Israel embrace the idolatrous culture and continue to do evil in the eyes of their Lord. This “friendship with the world” will lead in the end to the famous, but sad, last verse of the book “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”
Reading this, it is hard not to hear ringing again and again in your ears James’s question: “don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?” (James 4:4)
Here, in these two chapters also, the focus on the sovereignty of God is unmissable.
v.2 – “the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan”
v.7 – “I will draw out Sisera”
v.14 – “this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the LORD go out before you?”
v.15 – “the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword”
v.23 – “on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel”
This time, God appoints a prophetess to judge the people. But her duty is different from that of Othniel, Ehud or Shamgar. Deborah, the prophetess, comes to summon a leader. She is not a ruler, or a military leader, she is not responsible for leading the nation. What she does is find the one who is supposed to lead Israel to war. Deborah, as a prophetess, plays the role of an intermediary between God and the people, which leads Barack in v.8 to say: “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” He agrees to lead the people, but with the condition of having the Lord with him, through Deborah.
There are many ways of looking at and studying the book of Judges. One of them is to look at the things that the Lord wants to teach His people and the people are simply blind to it. In verse 14 Deborah says to Barak: “this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hand.” Here, one of the things that God is trying to teach the people is His grace, the undeserved gift from God. If you look closely Deborah uses past tense in addressing Barak – “the Lord has given”. The Lord has already, by grace, given the enemy in his hand, before he even went to battle. Isn’t that an encouragement? Rejoice, because by the same grace of God we are victorious today.
The accounts of chapters 4 and 5 are relevant for us today in several ways:
- The way in which God uses Deborah in the life of His people should be an inspiration for all christian women today – to put their life in http://www.achaten-suisse.com/ God’s service and serve boldly and joyfully.
- In the way in which God is not bound by context or culture – the so called “canaanazation of Israel” is not something that holds God at bay. He sovereignly and gracefully accomplishes His will in the life of His people, for His own glory and honor.
- In chapter 5 (which is a poetic retelling of the account in chapter 4) in verse 16 we are told – “Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart”. This great searchings of the heart is something that should characterize us all, christians, today. It should be a discipline put in practice through prayer and meditation on God’s word, through repentance of sin and through turning to God, our Lord, and obeying His commands.
- One of the things that is extremely relevant for us today, and it is also one of the reasons why in Koinonia we choose to study the book of Judges, is this aspect of not being “conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Our threat is not called canaanazation, but the ungodly culture and the idols are just as prominent as then. Today, very much like in the time of Judges, everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. As christians we are called to be salt and light in the world and in the culture and context where we live, so that Christ can shine brightly through us. By doing that we are called to not identify ourselves with the world, but to present and talk about our identity in Christ. So, … “Do not be conformed to this world”, be conformed to Christ.