Battleground Earth 7: Fire of the Prophetic Voice - David Mitts
Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel. (Judges 5:7)
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The Book of Judges gives us an insight into the multi-aspects of God’s nature in the administration of His kingdom through Israel as they transition between Joshua and Kings.
We have looked at the first three judges Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar. Othniel, the Lion of God, Ehud, the oneness, and Shamgar, the heart towards the stranger have shown us 3 aspects of heart attitudes that affect our ability to walk in between our salvation and into the kingdom authority that is our inheritance. All of this is training in righteousness:
The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years. "After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. (Act 13:17-20).
From this verse, we can see that the 450 years represents a process of developing a kingdom full of priests.
And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." (Rev 5:9-10)
This chapter, I want to look at our fourth judge, Deborah, who is the first prophet mentioned in Israel.
Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. (Jdg 4:4)
This verse is a very interesting Hebrew word construction.
(Jdg 4:4 WLC) וּדְבֹורָה֙ אִשָּׁ֣ה נְבִיאָ֔ה אֵ֖שֶׁת לַפִּידֹ֑ות הִ֛יא שֹׁפְטָ֥ה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִֽיא׃
Deborah is called ishah neviyah. Ishah means wife and neviyah is prophetic. So, she is a picture of the Holy Spirit, the feminine aspect of God that reveals the truth. Next she is identified as Ishat Lapidot. The direct English translation is the wife of Lapidot. Except Lapidot is Not a man’s name. It is the feminine plural noun for Lapidah. Lapidah means flame or torch. Deborah, then is also the woman of the flames or the torch.
This is a fire of the prophetic embodied in Deborah! Her name Deborah comes from the root “davar” which means spoken word. The “hey” at the end of davar, which makes it Devorah, is the letter for revelation. So, Deborah who is a prophetic voice carries in her the fire of a torch which brings the revelation of the Word.
Now, let’s look at the account of Deborah, the fire prophet of Israel. Judges 4 and 5 tell her story.
"When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim. And the children of Israel cried out to the LORD; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel." Jdg 4:1-3 (NKJV)
This is a picture of a return to slavery in the Land of Promise. We can easily mistake our location for our inheritance. Israel was in the location of their inheritance, but their true inheritance was not the place Israel, but the God of Israel. It is the God of a people that defines their true territory. In many cases, we can think that we can always count on God to work all things out for us. Yet God is not an infinite ATM that we can draw upon. No. He is a relational God. The kingdom isn’t about food and drink but about a relationship with Him:
"for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Rom 14:17 (NASB)
In Israel’s case, they had become slack towards God, doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord. God in His faithfulness raised up Deborah.
"Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment." Jdg 4:4-5 (NASB)
The torch bearing prophetess was God’s voice to Israel at that time. Deborah sat under a palm tree which was most likely a date palm, a “tamar”. This is the source of sweetness in Israel. So, we have picture of justice being delivered by a prophetess of God, whose character is to bring the cleansing fire of God producing a sweetness in her prophetic judgments.
Ok. Back to Judges and the story:
"Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, "Has not the LORD God of Israel commanded, 'Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand'?"" Jdg 4:6-7 (NKJV)
The prophetic word of the Lord, His strategy for victory is delivered through Devorah, whose name is the word to Barak. Barak’s name means lightning. He was named for the ability to charge into a situation. Deborah, the prophetess says to Barak, “has not the Lord God of Israel commanded…?” To me, this means God has already spoken to Barak and Deborah is reminding him of the Word of the Lord.
Clearly Barak has hesitated, and Deborah has to remind him. How often is this the case? God speaks to us, but we are not confident in what we have heard, and we need encouragement from the prophet.
We know this by the next response from Barak:
"And Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!" So she said, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh." Jdg 4:8-9 (NKJV)
Barak wants Deborah with him. This is a common leadership situation. Often leaders don’t want to or are unconfident in their personal relationship with God and want the prophet in their camp. We see this pattern reproduced often in scripture. The true picture of the king, or the leader is David who was both a leader and a prophet. Yeshua as the King of Kings is linked to David:
"concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Rom 1:3-4 (NKJV)
Imagine what a statement this is. Jesus, the messiah of mankind is linked to David. Why? Because David with all of his flaws, had one key virtue, he led by the Spirit.
Barak, by contrast was hearing God but wasn’t confident in leading by the Spirit of God based on his hearing and so he needed Deborah. Deborah agrees that he needs her, but because Barak isn’t trusting in the Voice of God, he has lost the glory in the victory. What is the glory?
We tend to think of glory as some woo-woo spiritual manifestation. But glory is the intended outcome of a life by God. God designs each of us with an intended outcome or destiny. We are not wandering generalities but are created down to the cells and DNA of our being with a glorious purpose and destiny.
Barak was created to be the lightning bolt of God’s deliverance for Israel. When he refused to go without Deborah, he basically went from being the lightning bolt to being something else. Remember that in Judges, God is developing a pattern of justice. He is training His children in how to walk and live in justice. Later the prophet Micah would summarize this development with:
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Mic 6:8 (NKJV)
We are called to do justly, to be agents of justice. One of the keys is to walk being led by the Spirit.
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." Rom 8:14-17 (NKJV)
This is the true glory, the fulfilment of our destiny by hearing God’s voice and leading ourselves and others by that voice.
Returning to Deborah and Barak, next we see the prophecy and the battle unfold:
"And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him. Now Heber the Kenite, of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, had separated himself from the Kenites and pitched his tent near the terebinth tree at Zaanaim, which is beside Kedesh. And they reported to Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. So Sisera gathered together all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth Hagoyim to the River Kishon." Jdg 4:10-13 (NKJV)
Sisera has quite an advantage with his nine hundred chariots and his large army but the Lord has already declared victory for Israel.
"Then Deborah said to Barak, "Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the LORD gone out before you?" So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth Hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left." Jdg 4:14-16 (NKJV)
When the Lord directs your steps there is no defeat. It doesn’t really matter what the odds are because with God you are always on the winning side.
Sisera escapes and is killed by Jael.
"However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, "Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear." And when he had turned aside with her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket. Then he said to her, "Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty." So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him. And he said to her, "Stand at the door of the tent, and if any man comes and inquires of you, and says, 'Is there any man here?' you shall say, 'No.' " Then Jael, Heber's wife, took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died." Jdg 4:17-21 (NKJV)
Sisera believes that if he can get to a tent of the clan of Heber the Kenite he will be safe. This is because there was a covenant between Hazor and Heber. Jael goes out and offers her tent as safety for Sisera who thinks he is home free. He knows he will be pursued and so instructs her to lie for him that no “man” in the tent. As a man, in the tent of a woman he is violating the covenant. She is married to Heber. The only appropriate person in her tent would have been a woman. Sisera is pretending to be a woman. This is a dishonor of Jael, who is complicit in the strategy but also recognizes that she will not be violating her husband’s covenant with Hazor because Sisera is dishonoring her marriage covenant by entering her tent.
God uses this to lead her to kill Sisera and complete the victory.
Judges 5 is the Song of Deborah. It is a praise and worship song giving God the Glory for the victory!
Thanksgiving and praise are tools of the Spirit. There is in the heart of man the characteristic that whatever we commit to, we see in our experience. If we purchase a particular car, we then see all the other people’s cars that are the same model. If we but a type of sneaker, we see others who have done that as well. In psychology, this is called “confirmation bias”. Praise and thanksgiving is a confirmation bias for the trust in God in our lives. As we praise Him and declare His goodness in our lives, we have our eyes opened to His goodness in our lives.
Activation: Write a list of God’s interventions in your life and create a song of praise and thanksgiving to Him. Sing that song each day this week with a conscious commitment to visualizing the victories. See how your week is transformed! Also, pray for justice in our Land. Especially pray for the Supreme Court which is undergoing struggles of a spiritual nature. There is death coming in the Court and many who have stood against God will be removed like Sisera. We need to pray for a new season of true justice.
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