Scripture Union Resources

Equal Opportunity God

Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Loving Lord God, I thank You that You are always ready and eager to hear me when I pray.
Judges 4:1-24

[1] Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, now that Ehud was dead. [2] So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. [3] Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the LORD for help. [4] Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. [5] She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. [6] She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. [7] I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.'" [8] Barak said to her, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go." [9] "Certainly I will go with you," said Deborah. "But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. [10] There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him. [11] Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law, and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh. [12] When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, [13] Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron. [14] Then Deborah said to Barak, "Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?" So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. [15] At Barak's advance, the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot. [16] Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera's troops fell by the sword; not a man was left. [17] Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite. [18] Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, "Come, my lord, come right in. Don't be afraid." So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. [19] "I'm thirsty," he said. "Please give me some water." She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up. [20] "Stand in the doorway of the tent," he told her. "If someone comes by and asks you, 'Is anyone in there?' say 'No.'" [21] But Jael, Heber's wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. [22] Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. "Come," she said, "I will show you the man you're looking for." So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple-dead. [23] On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites. [24] And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.

Why did the Israelites need to be delivered from Jabin?

Here in Australia "equal opportunity" is an employment law concept: the principle that everyone, regardless of gender, disability, race, etc. will be given an equal opportunity to be appointed to a job. In today's passage, God shows a complete disregard for any gender prejudice which might have been prevalent at the time of the Judges.

Deborah is both an ordinary woman (a wife and mother--see 5:7) and an extraordinary woman (a prophetess so filled with the Holy Spirit that she speaks the very words of God). The people of Israel trust and respect her to decide their disputes, and "heroes" such as Barak refuse to go to war without her beside them!

Notice how Deborah describes God as "the Lord, the God of Israel" (6) when she is talking to Barak rather than "the Lord your God." Barak is part of a generation that "did not know the Lord or any of the things he had done for Israel" (2:10 CEV). He is not content with God's promise of victory, he wants the wise woman there with him. A people saturated in idolatry always seek and worship what they can see and touch. And so the honor goes to: a woman.

Has God surprised you in any way as an "equal opportunity" God? Is there a barrier you need to break down?
Lord, thank You for good leaders of any race or gender that You provide for me. Help me respect them well.
Through the Bible In One Year: 
Job 38,39 / Philippians 2


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