Imagine if they wrote songs this long all the time today – the music industry would die because our short-attention-span society can’t focus on anything that lasts more than about four minutes.
But social commentary is not the aim here.
So last chapter I didn’t actually get to the story, so here it is. With the Israelites being oppressed and beaten down by Sisera, the prophetess Deborah was leading Israel and she sends this bloke, Barak, son of Abinoam to send Sisera and his armies packing. Barak’s not convinced, and he tells Deborah that he’s not going unless she comes too.
And so begins a feminist’s favourite bible story!
Deborah says sure, she’ll go with him, but because he’s asking her to come with, he won’t get to be the hero. The villain of the piece, Sisera, will instead be handed over to a woman – and that woman’s name is Jael. Sisera’s on the run from the Israelites and decides to pull in for a pit stop at Jael’s tent. With refreshments provided, he decides to have a nap, and while he’s napping, Jael takes a tent peg and hammer and pins his head to the ground.
Anyway, in chapter 5, Deborah sings about it. There’s actually not a real lot to say here, because a lot of the song is retelling the story that we just went through, but in lyrical format. What I will say, though, is that song is powerful.
I love the first couple of verses, especially.
“When the princes in Israel take the lead,
when the people willingly offer themselves -
praise the LORD!” ~ Judges 5:2
My relationship with God is one where he is constantly reminding me of the heritage he adopted me into, not to boost my own ego (believe me, it doesn’t really help there), but to remind me of just how powerful He is. He’s a king, not just any king but the king over Heaven, Earth and everything created, and the thing is that he brought me into his family as his son and heir to that kingdom.
Just like he did for you.
We are all princes and princesses, and what we can take from this chapter is a mission to lead.
God hasn’t called us as his children, as his heirs and as his soldiers to hide behind others. He hasn’t called us to hide behind the walls of the kingdom where it’s safe and protected. He calls us to lead. Read that verse again:
“When the princes in Israel take the lead,
when the people willingly offer themselves -
praise the LORD!”
When we take the lead, he is to be praised. He is to be glorified. When we lead, God’s light is shone into the darkness.
God’s calling you to be a leader – that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re meant to run a church or build a ministry, but it does mean that you are called to be the example to those people around you. God hasn’t called you to himself to hide in the shadows. He hasn’t called you to sit quietly and acquiesce when others around you are going down the wrong path. He’s called you to lead. To stand up and show them that there’s a better way, God’s way.
In which situation in your life can you lead and be an example for your King and Father?
Okay, I apologize in advance, but hey, I’m a guy, I had to. skip down a little if you aren’t completely comfortable with bodily functions.
I don’t think I’ve ever read this chapter before. I mean, I’ve read and know bits and pieces of it, but I don’t recall having ever read this.
Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. As part of your equipment, have something to dig with and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you. ~ Deuteronomy 23:12-14
The mental image that came to me was one of a nice clear night sky, all is quiet in the camp. The guards are on duty, but maybe not as attentive as they should be. There’s no fires burning, to keep the location hidden and dark, and there’s God, moving slowly between the tents, checking on each of the Israelite soldiers to make sure that all is okay.
Then he steps in ‘it’.
I did apologize! I just found this mental imagery hilarious.
There’s more serious aspects of this chapter, though, that I think warrant a little more attention than army camp toilet protocols.
I want to ask a question:
What does our word really mean these days?
Towards the end of last year, I was getting ready to move – I’d spoken to a friend about the idea of getting a two bedroom place together, and potentially actually had a place lined up to look at and investigate. Then another friend – where I’m living now – posted up on Facebook about needing a new housemate. I went to have a look, but didn’t commit to anything because I had already had this verbal arrangement beforehand.
Anyway, long story short, when I broached the subject, I was basically looked at with shock and surprise. Apparently our verbal plan meant nothing, and I had no reason or need to check back before doing something completely different.
It’s a fairly shallow example, but the point that I’m trying to make is that to me, words mean something. It’s an old cliche to say that a man’s word is his bond, but I do tend to subscribe to that belief.
…I also subscribe to chivalry, though, and apparently that’s dead too…
But anyway, it would seem that God’s pretty much of this opinion about a man’s word being his bond too.
If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth. ~ Deuteronomy 23:21-23
The thing is that when we say we’re going to do something, usually it’s not just to ourselves. When we make an agreement, even if it is only verbal, there’s then an expectation from anyone else involved that we will stick to our word. If we don’t, then our words lose value – and I think that may be something that is an issue with our world today.
So how much does your word mean? Or perhaps more accurately: How valuable is your word?
What a powerful night, tonight was.
It’s one thing to talk about spiritual warfare, about all of life being a battle, about how we’re soldiers of the Lord’s army, all those kinds of things; but sometimes, the reality of the situation just slaps you in the face. That’s what happened to me tonight, in a couple of different ways.
Not too long ago I got really empassioned about faith, about the fact that we can’t fail if we’re in God’s will and following him.
The world is real, and it’s really dark. It’s all well and good for us to sit in Church and pray for things to get better, but something God’s really been challenging me with lately, is the reminder that we’re his footsoldiers, we’re the ones called to battle. Not too long ago I prayed heavily and earnestly that God would train me as a knight in his army, to go in to battle, to carry things forward – and the time is coming when that’s going to be required.
Our world is crying out in pain, in loss, in hopelessness, in darkness. Who will shine the light and bring hope and healing to those people if not us? The society we live in is getting scarier every day, it seems – it’s time for action.
There’s a Casting Crowns song: What If His People Prayed which is very pertinent to what I’m saying here. Listen to the lyrics, and give thought: What if?
You know, sometimes I’ve wondered – wouldn’t it be so much easier to hear God’s word if he actually came by in a burning bush, and spoke to me audibly?
Sometimes it’s hard to work out what’s God’s voice and what’s just me, and sometimes those two voices can sound very similar. Sometimes, the voice of the flesh really does sound like it’s got the right motivation behind it, and that its suggestions seem really good – then reality strikes and, no, perhaps that wasn’t the right thing after all.
So of course, it would be easier to hear God’s voice if he spoke from a Burning bush, right?
Well, you’d think so. Moses doesn’t really seem to give that same example, though.
Moses is tending his father in law’s flocks, when he sees a bush on fire, but not consumed by the flames. So, just out of curiousity, he decides to walk over and check it out.
And it speaks to him.
Once again, the response: “Here I am.”
God tells Moses that he’s heard the cries of Israel, and that he is going to do something about it. He’s going to bring them back to the land of Canaan, and Moses is going to be the person to set them free. Moses is God’s messenger to Pharaoh.
Easy, right? Who needs faith? You’re talking to a burning bush!
Moses answers with a but. Who is he to go to Pharaoh? Who is he to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?
Has he forgotten? He’s – essentially – Pharaoh’s grandson! Pharaoh’s own daughter adopted him, and while he was nursed by his own Hebrew mother, he must have spent some time in the court of the royal family. Yes, admittedly, he killed someone – not really the best grounds to be going back again – but he’s got royal ties, if not royal blood in Egypt. I’m pretty sure with his connections, no one would try take him on without Pharaoh’s absolute say-so.
God doesn’t argue with him, though, he simply reassures him:
And God said, “I will be with you.” ~ Exodus 3:12
When we’re in God’s plan, and God’s will – he will be with us. It doesn’t matter what comes up against us, God is with us. Not only that, but look at how he talks to Moses, God takes Moses through the entire situation, one step at a time. He tells him how to deal with the Israelites, he tells him how to deal with Pharaoh, he tells him that it’s not going to be easy, that Pharaoh won’t actually just roll over and say, “Sure, go ahead.” But he also tells him that he’ll take care of that, and in the end, the Egyptians will favour the Israelites.
But he does say that they should ask for it, too. God doesn’t just say that the Egyptians will give them gold and silver just for no reason. They still have to ask for it.
When we have a destiny in our lives, God will be with us, and he will be with us every single step of the way. He will guide us through the preparation, the readiness, each step leading up to the big moments, and then he will be with us for them also.
Wow. Sorry, this is speaking to me on a really personal level, obviously.