“How the LORD Worked to Deliver through Prepared, Diligent People”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Judges 4-5
Inductive study this morning. I’ve saved the theme of the message and the message of the passage until the very end. Cover chapters 4-5 about Deborah and Barak (not Barack).
So without a formal introduction let’s go through the story briefly. As I tell the story, I’ll briefly point out wording that is important from a literary standpoint so that we can notice the structure of the passage. This is a true chiasm. I know some interpreters down play this literary device, but it is obviously used here. It think that’ll be clear as we go through the passage.
What I want to do is summarize chapter 4. As I summarize it, I will point out verse references so you know where we are. Also, and most importantly, I’ll point out the parallel passages. In a chiastic structure, the beginning and the end of the chapter are parallel. The second and the second from the last sections are parallel and so forth.
First, note the parallelism between 4:1-3 and 4:23-24 through the thrice repetition of key phrases (see if you can pick it out).
TOS: The sons of Israel do evil (4:1), the Lord sells them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan, and his commander, Sisera (2). The sons of Israel cry to the LORD due to the 20 year oppression by Sisera and Jabin on the sons of Israel (3).
We’ll get to its parallel passage in 4:23-24 in a minute. Next, notice the size of the literary space given to the women Deborah (4-9) and Jael (17-22).
TOS: Deborah was judging (4) and she summoned Barak (6) and tells him that the Lord has commanded to fight Sisera’s army (7). Barak declines to go without Deborah (8) so Deborah agrees to go and predicts a woman will have the honor when the LORD gives the victory (9).
Again, we’ll get to its parallel passage in a bit. Now, notice the similar actions of both Barak and Sisera.
TOS: Barak goes to Kedesh to call the tribes Zebulun and Naphtali (10) and they get 10k men. (11) Heber the Kenite (Kenites were sons of the father-in-law of Moses!) tells Sisera (12) that Barak went up to Mount Tabor. (13) Sisera calls (same Hebrew word as in v. 10) his 900 chariots and the army. (14) Deborah says to Barak “Arise for battle, The LORD will give you the victory.” Then Barak goes (or went) down with the 10k. (15) The LORD routes Sisera’s army. Sisera gets down (alighted –same Hebrew word in v. 14) off his chariot and flees on foot
…we’ll continue to the end now notice the parallelism, first the large literary space as it compares to the space given to Deborah…
TOS: (17) to the tent of the woman Jael, whose husband was Heber, Kenite –there was peace between the Kenites and Jabin (17). (18) Jael invites Sisera into her tent. (19) Jael gives him milk. Sisera tells her to lie if anyone asks if he is in the tent (20). Jael takes a tent peg and hammers it through Sisera’s temple as he slept (21). As this was going on, Barak was pursing Sisera and Jael calls him into the tent to see the dead commander (22).
Now notice the 3 phrases as compared to the sons of Israel mentioned at the first of the chapter…
TOS: God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan (23) and Israel continued their attack on Jabin the king of Canaan until they destroyed Jabin the king of Canaan (24).
Now, why is this literary structure important? How does this function in the story?
(I will draw out to you Sisera…end of verse… I will give him into your hand)
Deborah says to Barak, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.”
This point is easily overlooked.
Heber, Jael’s husband (who would kill Sisera), moves to Zaanannim, near Kedesh and Sisera ends up going straight to his tent/house for safety during the battle. So, here’s the point. B/c Heber moved his wife to another locale, she was in the perfect location to complete God’s task of getting the victory over Sisera.
APP: God might move you away from here (or he moved you to here). This is not outside of God’s plan but can be used greatly of him. Moving from one part of the country to the next is in God’s purposes and can put you in a position to fulfill his will.
Also, this is (perhaps) a religiously divided home (11, 17ff). It could be that Heber was involved in tattletaling to Sisera of Barak’s military strategy. (don’t know what “they” refers to v. 12). Perhaps he was a sort of traitor b/c the Kenites, remember, were related to Moses. So they should have had some affinity for the Israelites. And we do know that there was peace between Heber and Jabin (17). So, it seems clear that Heber has sided with the enemy. So here’s Heber, a traitor and Jael was for the LORD.
APP: God works in homes where one spouse is against the LORD and another is Christian. God has plans for such homes.
NASB “routed” refers to the enemy’s confusion. In what sense? We know from 5:20-21 that the Kishon river overflowed. Now, the LORD drew out Sisera’s army to the river Kishon and then he caused it to overflow its banks. Now, remember Sisera’s army had 900 chariots. Chariots can’t maneuver well in mud.
BTW, there is play on words in v. 23. God subdued…it sounds like this… God canang’ed Jabin the king of Canangan. God is the one who did it. He is faithful to fulfill his promise.
TRANS: So, Israel needed deliverance and the LORD provided it. Chapter records the song of Deborah. This song brings the theme of the message (and the message of the passage) into full light. It provides the theological interpretation of what just happened in chapter 4.
There are 3 sections in chapter 5. Each which portrays a contrast. 5:2-11c contrasts The Awesome Ability of the LORD and the Inability of Israel; 5:11d-23 contrasts Valiant Warriors and Weak Brothers; 5:23-31 contrasts Blessings on Jael and Scorn for Sisera’s Mother.
Also, just like in chapter 4, each of these sections function as a chiasm.
We will work our way toward the middle of each section. First, let’s start at the beginning and the end of each section.
God’s awesome ability (4-5). The earth quaked (4), the mountains quaked (5). God is awesome, but Israel…
Israel’s inability (6-8): In Shamgar’s days, the highways were deserted due to danger and “peasantry“ (hard to translate) maybe “village life“ ceased, meaning labor stopped. So Israel was unable to do what they needed to do.
Put this together:
Here’s what we know of the LORD
Here’s what we know about Man
Man is called upon to participate in God’s Deliverance but they refuse.
Oppression from danger in the land (5:6) so they ceased their working (5:7). They had limited weaponry (5:8).
See the contrasts: the LORD is faithful, man is faithless. The LORD is sovereign, but don’t forget man is responsible. The LORD is omnipotent and man is unable.
Here’s what the LORD does about in light of these things.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Judges 4-5
So this is a story of the synergism (the coming together) of contrasts. Seeming impossibilities (like Israel had no chance against Sisera) and God is the one who gets them the victory.
The Faithful, Sovereign and Omnipotent LORD and faithless, responsible and unable Man
(these two things come together to tell a story about…)
How the LORD worked
to deliver Israel
through prepared, diligent people
The LORD is faithful to deliver his people through people. Will you volunteer for Jesus? [quite and be all done!!]