The book of Judges isn’t all wartime and swift action. Move past Sisera’s 20 years as tyrannical king in cruel opposition towards God’s own. Past Israel’s heads hung low in defeat, past wasted time bickering and battling, unable to come to a united front. Lying at the end of Israel’s fraying threads is the good stuff, the sweet stuff. It’s here they remember to look Up. Longing for help and someday hallelujahs, all of Israel cried to to their God. So the Lord named Deborah.
He named her Peacemaker, and Teacher. Sat her down shaded beneath palms and honey, to speak wisdom and offer insight that’s divine. To serve as direct line between God and His people Israel, to bury petty disputes, stir up stagnancy and remind of the real war at hand. He named her Fighter, and Chieftess. She stood up, that Israel might man up, bow up, armor up. To summon them to the Lord’s war. He named her Mother, and Shepherd. The tribes sat still and shaky until she took lead. She’s easy to follow. So they trailed behind her, descending and assembling from all over to lock arms and take down the mighty. He named her Vision-caster, and Friend. She calls out the fragile, the timid, the Barak. Says if you don’t man up, someone else will experience what could’ve been yours. She points out purpose in the unlikely, she’s a Namer too. She names go-getters, warriors, movers, shakers. He named her Good and Faithful, and Chosen, to hear out and call out and send out—the kind of woman that leaves behind a wake.
Deborah names Barak what he didn’t even see in himself. She names him Capable, she names him Called. Were you not listening or taking notice? God called your name. Now what are you waiting for? Has not the Lord gone ahead of you and promised the victory’s His? Naming himself Outnumbered, Lacking, Not Enough, he followed Deborah fearfully, dragging his heels all the while. Faithlight and forgetful, Barak forfeited claim in the triumph because he didn’t believe the names and required company. He refused to move forward without Deborah head of the pack. The 900 Canaanite chariots were summoned by Sisera—upon hearing of Barak and Deborah’s tag-team lead. She cheers, “Up and at ‘em! Let’s go! For this is the day the Lord has already given Sisera into our hands!” Courageous with the Lord as ally, she knew Canaan would be theirs to conquer. As battlesite, Sisera chose Jezreel’s valley alongside the Kishon, where his chariots could move easy to and fro as advantage. But this was his ultimate undoing, attempting to predict strategy of the hero God who fights same-side with Israel. God routed 900 fancy Canaanite chariots under Sisera’s lead to run right into the Israelite army. Every single man opposing God and His Israel fell to the sword—no enemy remained.
King Sisera fled the second the Israelites showed up, ran fast to a hiding place where they’d least expect him. The tent of Jael, a quick-thinking woman who outwits the enemy in his attempt to lure her in. She assured him he’s safe, some come quick! And dare not be afraid. But she tricked him, finished him off in her own living room, armed with just a tent peg and hammer and a hint of bravery. A dauntless victory that could’ve been Barak’s, but the glory stayed hers for keeps.
So He’s won! And the ones He’s named Chosen head into 40-year peacetime shouting hallelujahs and singing a celebration song. They march to the Holy Spirit’s war-drum beat, to rehearse and remember how He always wins, how He’s won. They’ve tasted triumph and seen Him carry tired frontline fighters to a place of joy and escape and breathing easy. How can they not sing to their God the hero? And the hallelujahs wouldn’t stop coming.
Your Heaven powers fight for Israel and for me. I want to believe so and move quick like a Jael and steady like a Deborah, and never shrink back in fear or shrivel by timidity. I want to face the enemy head on, and take down the other side valiantly, relentlessly. You store Your might in frail jars and name them Invincible. This season, I’ll believe that the mighty God of Israel is the God of me too. The God that fights for and beside me and always always always wins. Name me, Chief. I’m listening.
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