Day 70: Judges 4-5; Not for your Glory

As I said yesterday, some of these stories would are familiar while others are not… but many of them are graphic.  Tent peg to skull is surely not a way that I’d like to die.  However, I think this particular story is familiar for several reasons:  it is, to my knowledge, the only account of a female judge in the Bible and it is one of the more unique ways that the oppressor is killed.

Even with that in mind, I think that this story should gain its fame not from the judge, but from her testimony of the God that has empowered her.  She says to Barak, after getting him to agree to attack the overwhelmingly powerful force of Sisera and the Canaanite army, that though the victory would be won, the glory would not be his but would go to God.  As the story continues, where do we see God?  He goes before the people of Israel and He routes the army of the Canaanites so that they are destroyed to the last man.  All of what has happened here, Israel’s victory and the rest that would come to the land, was because of God.

Again we see His faithfulness in keeping the covenant with Israel.  He punishes them for the evil that they do, yet He hears their cries and has mercy on them in their time of need.  This is the cycle of the judges, back and forth again we will go.  It is important to see where God is in all of this.  It can look like He is absent or even mean, but these narratives tell us so much more about God and His faithfulness.  As we have seen and will continue to see, Israel is completely incapable of holding up their end of the covenant.  They broke it on the first day that they had received it with that Golden Calf.  Here again, and again and again they continue to break the covenant.  By the terms stated, God had every right to walk away and leave them in their punishment, but He doesn’t and He won’t.

Like a parent disciplining their children, so too does God discipline Israel using the power of other nations.  Yet like a loving parent, discipline does not mean that there is no longer love, and it is only for a time.  Interestingly, God upholds both ends of the covenant, becoming in Himself and His power, the means for the people of Israel to turn back to Him.  God knows that the people are sinful and He knows that because of our sin and our rebellion we wouldn’t choose Him if it were left up to us.  And even if we did, He knows that we wouldn’t ever be able to sustain that choice in our lives.  Which is why God has to take the initiative, He has to act first.  And this is what He does for Israel, providing a judge and the power to defeat their enemies and thus draw the people back to Him.

This is what He has done for us as well, even when we were lost in our sins.  Ephesians 2 tells us that we were dead in our sins and transgressions, and yet God, because He is rich in mercy, sent His Son to die for us.  We wander, all the time, like the people of Israel.  Yet God has taken the initiative for us too, providing a sacrifice for our sins!  He has kept His covenant and continues to be faithful to His people now and forever.


One Response to “Day 70: Judges 4-5; Not for your Glory”

  1. […] what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered […]

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