February 4, 2023: Haftorah - Judges 4:4-4-5:31
This week's Haftorah reading is from Judges 4:4-4-5:31. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers as he recounts the narrative of the judge and prophetess Deborah, and Barak, the military ruler of Israel, who had some very difficult decisions to make. Requiring him to trust Deborah and believe ELOHIM'S will revealed through her, which would result in Israel's ultimate victory!
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Haftorah:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Haftorah Portion – Judges 4:4-4-5:31
This narrative is about two heroes, Deborah (a judge and prophetess) and Barak (military ruler of Israel). He was a military commander and both were from the tribe of Ephraim. Together they defeated the Canaanite armies led by Sisera. Deborah recruited Barak to stand by her side, telling him Elohim wanted the armies of Israel to attack the Canaanites who were persecuting the highland tribes. Being reluctant, he insisted that Deborah go with him to the battle. It was a time of chaos, a time that called for strong leadership and Deborah answered that call. Deborah became a singular biblical figure; a female military leader.
What do we know as the story unfolds? In Judges 4:1-3, we see that Israel revolted against Elohim. Israel is backsliding from their Yah and again “did evil in His sight, forsook His service, and worshipped idols. Judges 4:1 says’ “…the people of Israel did what was evil from Adonai’s perspective.” This is very interesting wording and very enlightening. We, most of the time, rely on our own way of thinking and perspective which gets us into trouble. What we consider okay can actually be sin according to Elohim. We need to surrender our hearts and minds to Elohim in all areas of our lives. If we only see with eyes of flesh and not spiritual ones, we end up in sin and out of the will of our Father.
The strange strength of corruption which brings us to fatal consequence leads us to backslide. Our great prosperity and shalom sometimes causes us to become too secure in ourselves and complacent in our walk. It drives us to satisfy those lusts which leads to worship of false gods, namely self.
It was now time for Israel to be delivered out of the hands of Jabin and be restored once again to their freedom. The prophet Deborah prepares the people for deliverance by her conduct and leadership. Deborah’s name symbolizes a bee; and she lived out her name by her work ethic and great usefulness to the people. Deborah was ultimately acquainted with Elohim! She was a prophetess, who was instructed in divine knowledge by the immediate inspiration of the Ruach. She had gifts of wisdom given by Elohim. She heard the words of Adonai and most likely saw the visions of the Almighty.
Deborah was fully devoted to the service of Israel. She judged Israel at the time of their oppression. She judged as a prophetess, as Elohim’s mouth to them, correcting abuses and redressing grievances, especially those which related to the worship of Elohim. Deborah and Barak had to work together to shake off the yoke of oppression, but he could not effect it till he had his commission and instructions from Deborah. He could do nothing without her head, and she could do nothing without his hands. Both of them together made a complete deliverer, and effected a complete deliverance. We learn from this that the greatest and best are not self-sufficient but need one another. Through divine direction they defeat the enemy of Israel. Where is our unity in the Kehillah! Where is the manifestation of the body of Yeshua?
When we read the whole story, it is ultimately a story of faith and submission to Elohim and to each other. This story required Deborah and Barak to step out in faith despite the possible consequences, risking ridicule, and likely receiving little or no praise. Highlighted in this narrative is Elohim’s strength and mind as being far higher and more boundless then mere humans. In Hebrews 11:1 it says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In simpler terms, faith is belief in the unseen and a willingness to act on that belief as Elohim commands. Barak is mentioned in the Book of Hebrews as one who displayed faith in Elohim when Deborah prophesied Sisera’s defeat. Barak had great faith in Elohim to not only believe and trust Deborah’s prophecy but also lead his army into battle knowing another would be credited with Sisera’s death. Barak was faced with difficult decisions!
The first part of Barak’s decision required him to trust Deborah and believe Elohim’s will revealed through her. Even though Deborah was a valued and trusted authority in Israel, it would be naïve to think that Israel in the time of the judges regularly entrusted decision making and military strategy to a woman. Yet, Barak trusted the message she delivered to him from Elohim. He had faith Elohim would instruct him through Deborah and fulfill what she prophesied—that Elohim would deliver Israel out of the enemy’s hand.
The second part of Barak’s decision involved relying on Elohim to deliver this army-which was militarily stronger- into the hands of Israel. Plus, since he insisted that Deborah come with him, he had to accept that Sisera would not die in battle but by the hand of a woman (Judges 4:9,22,23). They went into battle in faith and saw Elohim bring them victory! Barak’s faith shown in his willingness to follow Elohim and not rely on Israel’s military strength.
What do we learn from this Haftorah? Elohim alone delivers our enemies into our hands. Elohim uses people to do His will in the way He sees fit. We are just required to follow Him and His ways! The prophecy He gave to Deborah was clear, and Elohim was faithful to fulfill it!
As His people, we submit to His will in faith, knowing that our reward is from Him and our faith is in part measured by our willingness to follow His instructions, no matter the challenge! If we revisit the definition of faith given in Hebrews 11:1- “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”- we see that the decision and resulting action of Barak are a prime example of the impact of faith in the lives of Elohim’s people. Barak believed Deborah was delivering Elohim’s message, and he submitted himself to Elohim’s servant and Elohim’s ultimate faithfulness to fulfill His prophecy.
Judges 5 contains the prophetess Deborah’s victory song about these events. The song describes Elohim as active. He came to guide Israel as the nation moved from outside of the Promised Land to take action within its borders. This entry into Canaan was accomplished by miracles, signs, and wonders of many kinds. Israel’s path to victory began when Adonai “woke up” Deborah to give a message to Barak. As watchmen on the wall who live in these last hours- is Elohim trying to “wake us up” so that we may prophecy and allow Him to set our people free. As Deborah pleads for those who honor Elohim to be strengthened, and become like the sun: bright, invincible, and powerful, may we rise to the occasion and become what Elohim desires of us. Deborah and Barak, in obedience and faith, won 40 years of shalom in Israel. What word is in you that can bring someone shalom?
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Be a Deborah or be a Barak. On this Sabbath day as we join together to worship our Father…wake up and hear His voice. You just might bring shalom to someone as the enemy is defeated by your obedience and faith!
Have a sweet Sabbath and a blessed day! See you at the altar!