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Copyr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.

LESSON 4 - COMING TO THE HELP OF THE LORD

INTRODUCTION: LAST WEEK WE SAW THAT EHUD, WHO WAS LEFT-HANDED
BECAUSE HIS RIGHT HAND WAS IMPAIRED, KILLED THE BLOB-KING EGLON AND
SAVED ISRAEL FROM THE MOABITES. PEACE REIGNED FOR 80 YEARS. 
     BUT THIS WEEK IS A NEW DAY, SO LETS GET INTO IT!

I. DEBORAH AND BARAK

     A. READ JUDGES 4:1-3. WE SEE THAT EHUD HAS DIED. DID GOD'S 
     PEOPLE REMAIN FAITHFUL TO HIM?

     B. SO WHAT IS THE NOW PRETTY FAMILIAR PATTERN? (THE CANAANITES
     TOOK OVER AND "CRUELLY OPPRESSED" THEM FOR 20 YEARS.)

          1. NOTICE THE PROGRESSION: CUSHAN HAD THEM IN SUBJUGATION
          FOR 8 YEARS (3:8) AND EGLON HAD THEM IN SUBJUGATION FOR
          18 YEARS (3:14), SO THIS IS THE LONGEST THEY HAVE BEEN IN
          SUBJUGATION IN THE PROMISED LAND.

     C. WHY DID GOD'S PEOPLE CALL TO HIM FOR HELP? (TWO REASONS ARE
     GIVEN IN v.3: THEY WERE OPPRESSED AND IRON CHARIOTS.)

          1. WHAT DO "IRON CHARIOTS" HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? 
          (THEY WERE HURTING, AND THERE WAS NOTHING THEY COULD DO
          ABOUT IT WITH THEIR OWN POWER.)

          2. DO YOU REMEMBER THIS TECHNOLOGICAL PROBLEM FROM THE
          PAST? (YES. JUDGES 1:19 TELLS US THAT THE ISRAELITES WERE
          ABLE TO DRIVE OUT THE CANAANITES FROM THE HILL COUNTRY,
          BUT THEY JUST COULD NOT BEAT THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS WHO
          HAD IRON CHARIOTS AND COULD USE THEM IN THE PLAINS.

          3. FROM A HUMAN POINT OF VIEW THE PROBLEM WAS HOPELESS!

     D. READ JUDGES 4: 4-10.

          1. LETS TALK FIRST ABOUT DEBORAH. WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT
          HER?
               (a. PROPHETESS (v.4);
               b. LEADING (NIV) JUDGING (KJV), THE HEBREW CAN MEAN
               EITHER JUDGING OR GOVERNING) (v.4); AND,
               c. JUDGED DISPUTES (v.5))

          2. CAN ANYONE REMEMBER A WOMAN LEADING ISRAEL BEFORE? (I
          CANNOT) WE DISCUSSED EARLIER THAT THE USE OF THE TERM
          "JUDGES" IN THE BOOK OF JUDGES MEANS MORE A DELIVERER
          THAN A JUDGE AS WE THINK OF THEM TODAY. BUT WITH DEBORAH,
          WE FIND SOMEONE WHO IS TRUELY ACTING AS A "JUDGE" AND
          LEADING ISRAEL.)

          3. DEBORAH MUST HAVE BEEN A REMARKABLE WOMAN!

          4. LETS TALK NEXT ABOUT BARAK. GOD GIVES HIM 10,000 MEN
          (v.6) A BATTLE PLAN (v.7) AND THE PROMISE THAT HE WILL
          WIN (v.7).

               a. WHAT ELSE COULD HE NEED? (A SPINE)

               b. WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT THIS GENERAL? (THAT HE IS
               NOT HEADING INTO BATTLE UNLESS DEBORAH GOES
               ALONG.(v.8)

               c. WHY DO YOU THINK HE DEMANDS THIS?

               d. (I CANNOT TELL IF HE IS JUST A COWARD, OR WHETHER
               THIS IS BARAK'S IDEA OF A WAY TO BE SURE DEBORAH IS
               NOT JUST MAKING UP MESSAGES FROM THE LORD!)

     E. IS THERE ANY INDICATION IN THIS TEXT THAT WOMAN WERE 
     CONSIDERED INFERIOR TO MEN IN THIS CULTURE? (YES. DEBORAH
     MAKES THE POINT IN v.9 THAT SISERA WILL BE HANDED OVER TO "A
     WOMAN.")
          1. KEEP THIS POINT IN MIND AS WE CONTINUE.

II. SISERA'S END

     A. READ JUDGES 4:11-15. HOW DID THE TWO ARMIES GET TOGETHER?
     (v.11-12. IT APPEARS THAT HEBER THE KENITE INFORMED SISERA
     ABOUT THE LOCATION OF BARAK'S ARMY!)(ALTHOUGH THE HEBREW IS
     "IT WAS MADE KNOWN." SO NOT CLEAR THAT HEBER TOLD HIM.)

          1. WHO ARE THESE KENITES? (JUDGES 1:16. YOU REMEMBER THAT
          MOSES MARRIED A NON-JEWISH WOMAN.  A SOURCE OF SOME
          CONTROVERSY. SHE WAS A KENITE.  YOU RECALL THAT MOSES AND
          HIS FATHER-IN-LAW GOT ALONG JUST FINE (HE GAVE MOSES
          ADVICE ON SETTING UP A JUDICIAL SYSTEM), AND SO THE
          KENITES ENTERED THE PROMISED LAND WITH THE 12 TRIBES!)

          2. IS HEBER A RENEGADE? IS HE HELPING SISERA OR HELPING
          BARAK? (THIS IS PART OF THE LORD'S PLAN. LOOK AT 4:7. GOD
          PROMISES BARAK THAT HE WILL LURE SISERA TO THE KISHON
          RIVER AND THEN HAND HIM OVER. SO, THIS "TIP" FROM HEBER
          RESULTS IN SISERA GOING EXACTLY WHERE GOD PROMISED -- THE
          KISHON RIVER (v.13)

     B. SO SISERA IS DOWN IN THE RIVER VALLEY AND BARAK AND HIS 
     TROOPS ARE UP IN THE MOUNTAIN TABOR.
          1. WHY? (THAT IS WHERE EACH IS AT THE BEST ADVANTAGE FOR
          THEIR TROOPS. CHARIOTS NOT DO WELL IN MOUNTAINS. TROOPS
          DO NOT DO WELL IN THE PLAINS AGAINST CHARIOTS)

     C. SO, HOW WAS THE BATTLE JOINED? (BARAK ATTACKED ON THE 
     EXPRESS COMMAND OF DEBORAH! THE PROPHET TELLS THE GENERAL WHEN
     TO ADVANCE -- AND INTO A STRATEGICALLY UNWISE (IN MEN'S EYES)
     POSITION!

          1. THERE IS A LITTLE PHRASE THAT I WANT TO DISCUSS FOR A
          MOMENT. NOTICE IN v.14 DEBORAH SAYS, "HAS NOT THE LORD
          GONE AHEAD OF YOU?"
               a. WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS MEANS? (I SUSPECT THAT IT
               MEANS THAT GOD DID SOMETHING WITH/TO THEIR
               CHARIOTS.)

     D. IN VERSE 15 WE FIND THAT SISERA, THE COMMANDER GENERAL OF
     THE CANAANITE ARMY "ABANDONED HIS CHARIOT AND FLED ON FOOT."

          1. WHO DO YOU THINK HAD THE BEST CHARIOT IN THE ARMY?

               a. THE FASTEST?
               b. BEST ARMORED?
               c. BEST HORSES AND DRIVER?

          2. SO WHY WOULD HE GIVE UP THE BEST OF THE TECHNOLOGICAL
          ADVANTAGE THAT HE HAD OVER THE ISRAELITES?

               a. IF YOU WERE AN ARMORED DIVISION AGAINST
               FOOTSOLDIERS, WOULD YOU GET OUT OF YOUR TANK IF YOU
               WERE RUNNING AWAY? 
(GETTING OUT ON FOOT WOULD SEEM TO BE THE DUMBEST OF DECISIONS. SO
ASSUMING THAT SISERA IS NO DOPE, THIS SEEMS TO CONFIRM THAT FACT
THAT THE LORD SOMEHOW INTERFERED WITH THE OPERATION OF THE
CHARIOTS.)

     E. LETS TURN AHEAD TO CHAPTER 5. CHPT 5 IS A SONG OF VICTORY
     IN WHICH THE PEOPLE RECOUNT THEIR DEFEAT OF SISERA.

          1. TURN WITH ME TO 5:19-22. LETS READ ABOUT THE ACCOUNT
          OF THE BATTLE IN THIS SONG.

          2. IN THIS DO YOU SEE ANY CLUE AS TO HOW THE LORD 
          INTERFERED WITH THE CHARIOTS? (IT SAYS THAT THE HEAVENS
          AND STARS FOUGHT FOR ISRAEL; IT SAYS THE RIVER KISHON
          SWEPT THEM AWAY; IT SAYS THE HORSES GALLOPED AWAY.)

               a. (I THINK THERE WAS A THUNDER STORM, A FLASH 
               FLOOD, AND THE CANAANITES CUT THE HORSES LOOSE TO
               PREVENT THE IRON CHARIOTS FROM DROWNING THEM. IF
               THOSE HORSES HAD BEEN GALLOPING OFF PULLING THE
               CHARIOTS AND SOLDIERS BEHIND, BARAK'S FOOTSOLDIERS
               WOULD NEVER HAVE CAUGHT THEM!)

     F. READ JUDGES 4:15-19. WHAT DO WE LEARN HERE ABOUT HEBER THE
     KENITE AND SISERA'S BOSS, KING JABIN? (SAYS THEY HAD FRIENDLY
     RELATIONS.
          1. DO YOU THINK THIS WAS PROPER? (NO. IF THE KENITES HAD
          BECOME A PART OF GOD'S PEOPLE, THEY WERE TO HAVE THE SAME
          ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE CANAANITES AS THE REST WERE SUPPOSED
          TO (BUT DID NOT) HAVE!)

          2. WHERE IS HEBER? (APPARENTLY HE IS NOT AT HOME.)

          3. IS JAEL TREATING SISERA IN A KINDLY WAY?
               a. NOTICE THAT SHE INVITES HIM IN (NOT USUAL FOR A
               WOMAN);
               b. GIVES HIM A BLANKET; AND
               c. GIVES HIM MILK INSTEAD OF JUST THE REQUESTED 
               WATER!

     G. READ JUDGES 4:20-21.

          1. THIS IS APPARENTLY WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU START GIVING
          A WOMAN COMMANDS!

               a. WAS IT SOMETHING THAT SISERA SAID?

          2. DO YOU SENSE THAT HEBER'S WIFE, JABER, DOES NOT SHARE
          HIS SPIRITUAL BELIEFS OR POLITICAL VIEWS?

     H. READ JUDGES 4:22-24. DOES THIS GIVE YOU THE SENSE THAT JAEL
     KNEW EXACTLY WHAT SHE WAS DOING?

     I. LAST WEEK WE LOOKED AT EHUD AND EGLON. THE BIBLE GAVE US
     THE GRAPHIC DETAILS OF THE WAY EHUD KILLED EGLON.  ALTHOUGH IT
     CERTAINLY WAS NOT A FAIR FIGHT BETWEEN THEM, WE DECIDED THAT
     EHUD DID NOT LIE TO EGLON ABOUT WHAT HE WAS DOING.

          1. HOW DOES JAEL COMPARE? DID SHE AFFIRMATIVELY DECEIVE
          SISERA? (YES. 4:18, "COME RIGHT IN. DON'T BE AFRAID.")

          2. OUR LESSON SUGGESTS THAT THIS IS NOT MURDER. WHAT DO
          YOU SAY?

          3. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHAT JAEL DID?

               a. THERE ARE TWO CRITICAL VERSES TO CONSIDER ON 
               THIS: 
                    (1) JUDGES 4:23 SAYS, "ON THAT DAY GOD SUBDUED
                    JABIN, THE CANAANITE KING."

                    (2) JUDGES 5:24 SAYS, "MOST BLESSED OF WOMEN BE
                    JAEL ... MOST BLESSED OF TENT-DWELLING WOMEN."
                    
(THIS SUGGESTS THAT GOD WAS DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS.) 

     J. WHAT DOES THIS SAY ABOUT GOD?

          1. BETWEEN THE EHUD/EGLON STORY AND THE SISERA/JAEL STORY
          WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT GOD? (IN BOTH CASES WE HAVE
          VICTORY THROUGH THE WEAK. A WOMAN WITH A TENT PEG KILLS
          A MIGHTY GENERAL)

          2. WHY DID GOD DECIDE TO INCLUDE THIS STORY (THESE TWO
          STORIES) IN THE BIBLE? (IN BOTH CASES IT SHOWS THAT THOSE
          WHO DO EVIL COME TO A BRUTAL END. (NOT JUST A BRUTAL END.
          THESE STORIES ARE CLEARLY LAUGHING AT GOD'S ENEMIES. A
          MIGHTY GENERAL GETS KILLED BY A WOMAN WITH A TENT PEG!)
          WHILE THOSE WHO STAND WITH GOD ARE VICTORIOUS.  THIS
          SHOWS THE "EXECUTE JUDGMENT" SIDE OF OUR LOVING FATHER.
          HE WILL EXECUTE JUDGMENT ON THE WICKED.)

               a. (IT ALSO SUGGESTS THAT HOW WE LIVE MAKES A 
               DIFFERENCE TO GOD, AND HE INTERVENES BASED ON OUR
               FAITHFULNESS.)

          3. DO YOU SEE ANY OTHER WAY THAT THIS STORY COULD END?
          THAT IS, ONE SIDE WAS GOING TO DIE. IT TURNS OUT THAT
          THIS DAY THE BAD GUYS DIED. JUDGES 4:24 TELLS US THIS WAS
          A TURNING POINT, AND AS A RESULT, ISRAEL FINALLY
          DESTROYED KING JABIN OF THE CANAANITES. FF. BRUCE'S
          COMMENTARY (p. 318) SAYS THAT THIS BATTLE WAS PIVOTAL "IN
          THE SALVATION HISTORY OF THE TRIBES," BECAUSE "NEVER
          AGAIN DO CANAANITE FORCES MOUNT A FULL-SCALE BATTLE WITH
          ... ISRAEL." PRAISE GOD!

III. NEXT WEEK: JUDGES 6: GIDEON. STUDY!