"And Deborah sent and called Barak...and said unto him, 'Hath not the Lord, the God of Israel commanded, saying, 'Go and draw toward Mount Tabor, and take with thee 10,000 men of the children of Naphtali and the children of Zebulun? And I will draw out Sisera...and I will deliver him into your hand?'"
Judges 4: 6,7
King James Version
"Encouragement is oxygen of the soul."
Do I encourage those around me?"
"One of the highest human duties is the duty of encouragement."
"If God sends us on stony paths, He provides strong shoes."
Corrie ten Boom
Not long ago I was talking with a close friend. She's one of those individuals you love being around. If there is rain, she'll say, "Isn't this weather fantastic? The rain is so refreshing and clean." If she isn't feeling well and you mention it, she'll quickly say, "I'll be fine tomorrow!" With this cheerful bundle of joy, the glass is always full and overflowing. She has a good word to say about everyone.
In fact, as I thought about her impact on my life I realized that when I'm around her, I feel energized. Her spirit of encouragement is contagious. You can't be down in her presence for she is such a light, her glow rubs off on everyone she touches.
From our text today, this is how I believe Deborah was. Sitting under the palm tree, accessible and available to those who needed her, Deborah became a well-known resource for positive good.
As we learned, "Judges" were individuals who brought heavenly wisdom and sound reason into the lives of God's children by imparting Heavenly counsel.
But it is critical for us to take notice of the time at which their service was rendered for God.
The "judges" were used by God during times of "falling away" and "oppression." When the people of Israel wandered away from God and fell under the dominion and rulership of heathen kings and their armies, this was the time God said, "I need you!" So it was in the life of Deborah. If we recall, Sisera, the captain of the army of King Jobin of Canaan, had terrorized God's children for 20 long years. With his 900 chariots of iron, the Bible says he, "severely oppressed" the Israelites.
One day, Deborah sent out a call to Barak, son of Abinoam. Barak was a warrior – a leader in Israel's army. Deborah, it would appear, asked Barak a question, at least in the Bible, the punctuation that is used is a question mark. She said, "Barak, didn't God tell you to go and 'take on' this terrorizer, Sisera?" However, what we find, if we look closely, was that her complete discussion with Barak was more of a reminder than a real question. It was phrased like this. "Didn't God tell you, Barak, to take on Sisera because He (God) is going to deliver him (Sisera) into your hand?"
Right here we see the power that comes from the energy imparted by an encourager.
Deborah didn't order Barak to take on Sisera. God had already done that. She just reminded Barak of God's promise. She energized him with the fact that God had already promised victory.
It was as though Deborah said, "Barak, why are we sitting around, under the oppressive rule of this evil Sisera, when God has already freed us from his tyranny?"
In troubling times, Deborah arose, and said, "God promised us success. God's at the head of our battles. God has the power and God is our strength. Let's lift up our heads and keep moving forward. God's going to bring us through everything that Sisera can throw at us."
I don't know who or what the "Sisera" may be in your life, terrorizing you, making you fearful and hesitant to move forward. Like God's children in the time of Deborah, we need to be reminded that God's already promised defeat for your Sisera and for mine – no matter the challenge and no matter the number of "iron chariots" Sisera claims to have. Never forget, nothing is too small or too great for our God to give us victory over or victory from.
As I've read and prayed over each prayer request the past few weeks, I've been impressed that for so many of us, Sisera is trying hard to "take the land" of our lives. Sisera is taunting us. Putting us down. Claiming to be the winner and champion. Sisera has tried to take our finances, our families, our children, our homes, our jobs, and even our emotions captive. He's tried to demoralize us with his threats. "My chariots are bigger than anything you have. The battle is over," he boasts.
Well today, you and I need to be reminded that like Barak, we have been provided with promises that the victory isn't in the hands of Sisera but in the hands of our God.
This is how David, the psalmist, was victorious when he came up against the "Siseras" in his own life. Here is where David got his strength and energy to move forward, "The Lord is my Light and my Salvation -- whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life -- of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, come upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, (even then) in this will I be confident...For in the day of trouble He (God) will hide me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent will He hide me; He will set me on high upon a rock" (Psalm 27: 1-3, 5, Amplified Bible).
You know what I say about David's proclamation? "Take that Sisera! Even if you pitch your tents around me and have me completely surrounded, my God will bring me into His tent and protect me for when I'm in God's tent, your chariots can't touch me no matter how big or strong you think they are!!"
In these uncertain and troubling times, we need to fortify ourselves with the promises of God. We need to remind ourselves, like Deborah reminded Barak, that God had already promised the enemy is His problem. Sisera was God's to defeat and God had this mean man under His control
My prayer is that you and I will be energized by the encouragement of God today. That we will remember we have been promised that "Sisera has been delivered into your hand!" Not tomorrow. Not sometime in the future – but today!
"I will not wish thee riches,
nor the glow of greatness,
but that wherever thou go
some weary heart shall
gladden at thy smile,
or shadowed life know
sunshine for a while.
And so thy path shall be
a track of light,
like angels' footsteps passing
through the night."
Inscription, words on a church
wall in Upwaltham, England.