A stake and a hammer

What do you do with the clear instructions God gives you? Do you immediately obey them, or do you hesitate a little, then come up with a slightly different plan? When God says, 'do this', are we quick to give him 'other conditions' that need to be met before we will take that step of obedience? If the task ahead is daunting, it stands to reason there may be a little hesitation. We get a little fearful of the steps forward, but in that hesitation, we find time to concoct a plan that 'adds to' God's original plan. Rarely is this the best thing to do, but we have a hard time taking God at his word.

After Ehud’s death, the Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord turned them over to King Jabin of Hazor, a Canaanite king. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-haggoyim. Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help. Deborah...was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time...the Israelites would go to her for judgment. One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.” Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.” (Judges 4:1-8)

The Israelites had a way of going 'whole hog' with God at times, then drifting into complacency and compromise at others. The latter is the case when Deborah comes to be the judge in Israel. She finds God gives her clear instructions on how to be out from under the oppression of an evil king and his mighty armies. She was not a warrior - she was a prophetess. Her warfare was in the heavenly realm, while Barak's realm was to be in commanding Israel's army - complete with chariots and warriors who could fight. If you were a commander of an army, do you think you'd ask a 'woman prophetess' along in the battle? Women just did not go out to battle in those days. They didn't have a place on the battlefield. Was this his way of changing God's plans? If we read on in the account, Deborah agrees to go with him. She warns him that the defeat of Sisera would not be at Barak's hand, though. The defeat would be credited to a woman (something not really heard of in those days of battling foreign forces). As Sisera approaches the army of Israel, all his mighty men are thrown into some kind of panic and chaos erupts. They are solidly defeated, but Sisera escapes on foot. He finds shelter in the tent of a woman named Jael, asks to be hidden under some blankets, and tells her to lie about anyone being in her tent, as he knows the Army of Israel will pursue him to his death. 

She agreed and when he fell asleep in utter exhaustion, she took a hammer and tent peg and drove that peg through his head, ending the terror he could bring on Israel any longer. Deborah may have gone with Barak, but as Deborah had indicated, the enemy was actually defeated at the hand of a woman - Jael! God had a plan - use Barak to defeat the armies of Jabin. Barak altered the plan - taking Deborah out to war with his troops, perhaps thinking she would use some form of 'mojo' to help them in the battle. Yet, God did not use Deborah, but the wife of a man who was known to 'be on friendly terms with King Jabin'. Wow! Her loyalty was not with Jabin, but with God. God may use the unlikeliest and the 'least among us' to accomplish his mighty plans. When obedience is required, will we act? Remember this - God does not need us to accomplish his plans, but he may call us to engage with him as he works his plan. Change the plan even a little and we may miss out on the honor God intended for us. Obedience is never 'conditional' on our part - God's plans are his plans and we would do well to enter into them without laying out other conditions. Act upon what God asks and we might just see how much he can do with the little we bring to the table. Just sayin!

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