Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (Nov 19th)

Pastor's Summary of Judges 4:1-7

Joshua is dead; Israel is now under the influence of 12 successive judges, charismatic leaders raised up at times of national crisis by the spirit of God, to deliver God's people from pagan oppressors. Judges honestly admits that Israel does not control all of the Canaan; because they "did what was evil in the sight of the LORD" (v. 1, 3:12 and elsewhere), they were subjugated by other peoples from time to time. Conquest was a gradual process, with many reverses.

The preceding passage, 3:12-30, tells the story of "Ehud" (4:1) a judge, a national hero who put an end to domination by the Moabites, the people who lived to the southeast of the Dead Sea. He carried the tribute to Eglon, King of Moabn. He tricked Eglon into seeing him in private to hear a secret message from God. Ehud took his concealed sword and assassinated Eglon. Without a leader, the Moabites were in confusion; Ehud was then able to lead the Israelites to victory over the Moabites. God sometimes works in strange ways!

Once again the Israelites disobey God, and so are subjugated: this time by "Jabin" (v. 2), a king who rules at "Hazor" (north of the Seas of Galilee); "Sisera" is his chariot commander. The forces of Jabin are awesome, especially because the Israelites, lacking chariots, are no match for his army on level ground. "Deborah" (v. 4), the fourth of the judges, is different from others: she acts as God's spokeswoman in matters of national importance and societal disputes ("judgement", v. 5) but leaves military leadership to Barak (v. 6) She orders him, in God's name, to assemble troops drawn from northern tribes ("Naphtali" and Zebulun") on Mount Tabor. There, God will "draw out" (v. 7) the enemy, and will give Israel victory. The following verses describe the battle. Due to a heavy rainstorm or to the "Kishon" River overflowing its bands (or to both), Sisera's chariots become mired in the mud, and his troops panic. Sisera and all his troops are killed. Israel is once again free.