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Hooray for the Housewife

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
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August 5, 2022 12:00 am

Hooray for the Housewife

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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August 5, 2022 12:00 am

Do you know why God has given us armor to fight with? Because He wants believers to fight! God wants to teach us how to wage spiritual warfare! There is a fundamental principle in this; a timeless truth: God is more interested in developing His people than in displaying His power.

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Why didn't God just wipe out Sisera? We learn why in chapter 3 verse 1. Be taught war. God is more interested in developing His people than He is in displaying His power because He wants you to learn how to stand up and fight.

Today on Wisdom for the Heart, we continue Steven Davies' Vintage Wisdom series from Judges. Do you know why God has given us armor to fight with? Because He wants believers to fight. God wants to teach us how to wage spiritual warfare. There's a fundamental principle in this. God is interested in developing His people and preparing us for what lies ahead.

Maybe you feel like you've been knocked around by life's trials. God is trying to teach you how to get back up and to stand up by His grace and to fight. Stay with us to learn more in this message called Hooray for the Housewife. Samuel Clemens, otherwise known to us as Mark Twain, once gave this advice on raising unruly children. I'm not suggesting for a moment that it was good advice, but here is what he said. He said, When your child becomes unruly, what you need to do is find a barrel and put them in it and find a lid and nail it shut and feed them through a little hole in the barrel. And then when they become a teenager, plug up the hole.

Again, that isn't any suggestion for parenting. But you know, as I recognize the natural bend in all of us to be away from or removed from unruliness, whether it's a child or an adult, I'm amazed as I study the Book of Judges because by now I'm expecting God to find a barrel and to find one big enough to house all of the Israelites who constantly lie to Him, fail to follow Him, and I expect Him to nail a lid shut and maybe feed them through a hole. Because here we find them again. Would you look at chapter 4, verse 1? Then the sons of Israel again, it's like the writer says, oh brother, again did evil. Many believe that Samuel, by the way, wrote this book. Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord after he who had died.

Do you remember him? And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor, and the commander of the army was this well-known man, Sisera, whose name brought terror to the Israelites who lived in Harosheth-Hagigim. And the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, for Sisera had 900 iron chariots, and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for 20 years.

So here we go again, this cycle. And instead of finding a barrel, as we would almost at this point like to see a little bit of the barrel technique, God raises up another judge, but He does it in a much more unique fashion. Because this time He doesn't raise up a judge who's left-handed, a judge who takes on 600 Philistines with an ox code, a judge like Othlian in our last discussion who comes from fighting stock, Caleb's family.

This time God raises up someone who will teach the nation the lesson that the battle is mine and it is up to me to protect you against things like iron chariots. He raises up a housewife named Deborah. Her friends probably called her Debbie, whose hobby was writing poetry. In fact, we were given the poem in chapter 5. Would you look at chapter 5 verse 7? That chapter is her poem following the victory God gave the army.

And she describes herself very transparently. She says, The peasantry ceased, they ceased in Israel, until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose a mother in Israel. Deborah, how are you qualified to lead millions of people? How are you qualified to be a judge? Well, God qualifies you, whether you are a housewife or an attorney.

And He can choose and use whichever, by the way. But I'm just a mother in Israel. Now, we know very little about her. We're going to take a look, a closer look in a moment. But let me give you four illustrations of Israel's situation at this particular juncture. I want you to turn to chapter 5 and I'm going to give you four illustrations briefly from her poem. Number 1, we know the communication between the tribes was virtually non-existent.

We get that from verse 6, the second phrase. The highways were deserted and the travelers went by roundabout ways. They were so fearful they didn't hit the open roads. They traveled by night.

And so we know the mail probably stopped. They were living isolated from one another. Secondly, the cities were overcrowded and uprooted, or with uprooted and discouraged people. We get that from the first phrase of verse 7. That verse, it says the peasantry ceased.

They ceased in Israel. That is, there were no more peasants. They all had moved into the cities.

You know, in England, the landscape is dotted with little villages and hamlets. And that is proof that this nation can offer security to them so that they, unprotected, can live out there on the plains or on the hills. Well, in Canaan, proof that Israel was strong was the fact that you could have these villages about.

But when they are not strong, they are open prey. So those people had to pull up their roots, discouraged, in despair, and they had to move into already crowded cities. Imagine the despair that must have been in the air in these cities.

Number 3, these cities themselves were under constant threat of war. The verse tells us, verse 8, new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. That's a reference to the fact that they were even being besieged at that point in time. Number 4, combat forces in Israel were small and unequipped.

We get that from the second phrase of verse 8. It says, not a shield or a spear was seen among 40,000 in Israel. Now that tells us two things. Number 1, that the army had been reduced to 40,000 soldiers. That may sound like a lot, but we're talking about a nation numbering in the millions potential fighting soldiers, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and their warriors number only 40,000. It also tells us a second thing, that these soldiers didn't have any equipment. It says not a shield nor a spear was seen among 40,000. And who are they fighting? Jabin the Canaanite and Sisera, a man armed to the teeth with iron chariots, which, by the way, is state-of-the-art battle equipment in that time and in that day. So the Israelites here in this context are disarmed, they are discouraged, they are in despair, they are disunited. And all because of what? Look at verse 8.

We looked at it briefly. Notice it again, chapter 5 verse 8. The first four words, new gods were chosen. That sums it up. That is the lie of Satan. He says that falling or going into some kind of sinful activity is sort of cutting loose. Get rid of those moral fetters and go have a great time.

Go live it up. That's freedom. Oh no, that's bondage.

I have a friend who does not come to this church, does not live in this city, or I wouldn't mention it. But I have wept with him and prayed as he, a believer, has struggled with a 20-year addiction to pornography. As committed to Christ as any of us, but enslaved and chained by that which he so fiercely battles against. It all began as a kid when it was, hey, cut a little corner and take a little look. Cut loose. When you do that, as with any habit or sin, it enslaves your soul. And here's the nation, God's chosen people, frightened and terrorized by a man with 900 iron chariots.

And who does God choose in this hopeless situation? A housewife. Now, if you'll go back to chapter 4, we're given what little we have of this interesting lady. Verses 4 and 5 tell us her husband's name, which I'm not going to try to pronounce, bless his heart.

We know nothing about him, but his name is mentioned. And secondly, we know of her gift. She is called a prophetess.

There are three prophetesses in the Old Testament, Miriam, a gal named Huldah, and here, Deborah, receiving revelation from God. We're also told, thirdly, of her insight. It tells us in verse 5 that she would sit underneath a tree and she would judge. Literally, she would decide a case. This is probably the closest to our perception of what a judge is like in the person of Deborah. She would sit and she had God-given discernment, God-given insight that this mom would decide cases among the tribes. That's what we know of her.

Now, she chose or called on one occasion in this chapter a man by the name of Barak to come and lead the forces. We know even less about Barak. We don't know about his experience. We don't know about the conversation that took place between he and Deborah. We don't know about his battle plan. We don't know whether or not he took ROTC in college. We know absolutely nothing about this guy, but the command was given, go fight Jabin.

Okay? I'll go. Although his response is somewhat embarrassing, whoever this fellow is, look at chapter 4, verse 8. Then Barak said to Debbie, quote, if you will go with me, then I will go, what a general. But if you will not go with me, I will not go. Doesn't sound like a warrior.

Sounds like a wimp. But Deborah responds probably by first patting him on his helmet. And then in verse nine, she says, I will surely go with you.

They're there. Nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman. And we're not going to get into that part, but we know the other woman's name. The other housewife's name was Jael, and Sisera flees, comes to her tent. She provides him sanctuary and he falls asleep and she drives a peg through his temple. And so he dies.

Rather gruesome way to die, but that was Jael's way of handling that situation. What is recorded next in this text is the story of their success. There are reasons, according to Deborah's poem, that these people succeeded.

I want to give you three of them and you could study it on your own and they just sort of pop up. They're implied in her poem. Let me give you the first one and we'll take a look at the verses and imply it. Number one, the first reason these people succeed is that they volunteered without hesitation. By the way, this is the same reason that this church or your individual life will mean something for God. And that you, without hesitation, when the call comes, say, here am I, send me, without hesitation. Verse 10 tells us a little bit about that in chapter four, chapter four, verse 10. And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together to Kadesh, and 10,000 men went up with him.

Deborah also went up with him. In case you missed it, this verse tells us that 10,000 men volunteered on the spot. Two small tribes, Barak goes down, we're not sure what he says, but he says, who will fight in my army?

And 10,000 men say, we will, without any hesitation. Now these three tribes, there are three that actually fought. Now flip back over to chapter five, verse 15. The first is Issachar. It says, and the princes of Issachar were with Deborah, as was Issachar, so was Barak. Into the valley, they rushed at his heels.

I love that. Here's Barak leading the way. And here's this little tribe with a few unknown men who are rushing right behind Barak at his heels saying, let's go get them. That's volunteerism with a capital V. The next is a tribe called Zebulun, or the volunteers from Zebulun. Look at chapter five, verse 18, the first phrase. Zebulun was a people who despised their lives even to death. Now you might think initially that that means that they didn't care about themselves. What that actually is, is an idiomatic way of saying that they were willing to die for the cause.

God help us to have that spirit today. A tribe called Naphtali, verse 18, the second phrase, and Naphtali also on the high places of the field. That is, they were asking for the toughest spot in the battle. Barak, where's the fighting going to be the worst? We want to be there.

Give us those places. What motivated these tribes to do something like this? Deborah tells us what their motive was in chapter five, verse 31.

Would you look there at that verse? And this should be our overarching motive as well for service. She sings, Thus let all thine enemies perish, O Lord, the enemies they have been fighting, but let those who love him be like the rising of the sun in its might. What's their motive? After confession, they stood to their feet, their hearts filled with love for a God that would not put them in a barrel, but would give them deliverance, and their love for God motivates them to go into battle. They loved him. We so often start with the service and we forget the motive, and that is we love Jesus Christ. Well, we better go on. Number two, there are three reasons why they succeeded.

The second one is they trusted God without any explanation. I kind of like this one most of all. You've got to remember now the fighting is taking place on the plain of Esdraelon. It will also incorporate a dry riverbed called Kishon.

It's a flat, dry surface in the off season. By the way, that is the perfect spot for iron chariots. That is the worst possible place for foot soldiers who are lightly armed. No explanation, but they said, oh, count us in. Now, I've got to go on a side trail here. It's planned, so it's really not a rabbit trail, but I've got to go over here for a moment because there are four tribes who would not fight. And Deborah mentions them in her poem, and I think there is a wealth of information within these four tribes who refused to fight. The first one, and I've given all four of these names to make them a little bit more contemporary to us. The first is the tribe of Reuben, and I'm calling them the January 1st tribe.

You'll understand why as we read. Look at chapter 5, verse 15, the second phrase. Why did you sit among the sheepfolds?

Deborah sings, laments, to hear the pipings for the flocks. Among the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. Here is a tribe that had great searchings. They heard the news. There's the need for volunteers to battle.

Oh, I'm going to think about it. And they thought about it, and they even made some resolutions. And I'm sure they were wonderful, but the resolutions were never translated into actions. And while they're over there thinking and meditating and maybe even praying, the battle's going on. The second tribe is Gilead. We'll call them the out of sight, out of mind tribe. Verse 17, Gilead remained across the Jordan.

One sentence, but it speaks volumes. Gilead now are actually more than one tribe. It's the combination of the half-tribe of Manasseh and the tribe of Gad. These tribes had chosen, in our earlier studies you may remember, to live on the other side of the Jordan. The third tribe is the tribe of Dan. We'll call them the I've already tried and failed tribe. These are the pessimists in the land.

We've always got some of those. Here they are. I love it too, because chapter 5 verse 17b, just one question Deborah laments, and why did Dan stay in ships? Then chapter 1 will inform us that they attempted to take their inheritance by fighting the Amorites, and the Amorites defeated them. They lacked trust in their god, and they were forced up into the mountains, and that's the last we hear. But now we hear that they're over here in ships, which is really a classic. It's like they're all packed up and ready to set sail just in case this battle doesn't go the right way.

And Deborah says, Why, Dan? Did you stay in the ships and not help? The fourth tribe is the tribe of Asher. We'll call them the tribe that was busy doing the wrong thing.

Look at chapter 5 verse 17, just the last phrase here, just sentences but volumes. Asher sat at the seashore and remained by its landings. You see, Asher lived on the Phoenician coast. They had their trade, they had their boats, they had their land, they had their business.

But wait a second, don't be hard on Asher. God gave them those boats. God gave them that business.

They could say, God gave us this land. Great, he did, but he wants you to leave it for now and go fight a battle, then come back. And they refused. The tragedy is, ladies and gentlemen, that Asher refused to get involved, and except for one brief mention in the life of Gideon, they disappeared from sight. The tragedy is that Dan stayed in their little ships, trying to protect their little tribe, and yet they were the first to nosedive into apostasy.

The tragedy is that Gilead remained on the other side where it was a little safer, and yet they were repeatedly overrun into insignificance. The point is, you cannot run from battle. You cannot run from involvement. If you and I refuse to be involved in the life of Christ's church and in the life of Christ's people, we will survive and flourish if we box ourselves away.

If we run from fighting, we will shrivel up within our little shells. So they volunteered without hesitation. They trusted God with that explanation. And number three, they gave God the credit without any reservation, and this is significant here. The battle is won. Chapter five is actually an expression of joy because the battle was won. And look who Deborah gives the credit to. Look at verse three, chapter five. She spells it out. Hear, O kings... I'm about to make a proclamation here. Give ear, O rulers, I to the Lord I will sing.

I will sing praise to the Lord, the God of Israel. The battle is the Lord's. Now the question still remains for all of us. What happened out there on the plain of Esdraelon in the flat riverbed that was dry called Kishot? Well, we're really not told in chapter four other than the fact that it didn't go too well with Sisera, and he ended up with a peg through his head. But chapter five provides the answer. Look at verse 19. Here's Deborah's explanation.

This is all we've got to go on, so look carefully. Verse 19, chapter five. The kings came and fought. Then fought the kings of Canaan at Tanakh near the waters of Megiddo.

They took no plunder in silver. The stars fought from heaven. Supernatural intervention. From their courses, they fought against Sisera. How?

Here it is. The torrent of Kishon swept them away. The ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon. Oh, my soul, march on with strength. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, at just the right moment, that dry riverbed began to experience either some kind of flash flood or more than likely rain. Josephus, a Jewish historian that lived during the time of Christ, talked about this particular battle. And he said that the stories that had come down through the generations of Jews was that at that very moment, as the battle was about to begin, it began to rain and hail and thunder. And that dry riverbed, which at one time was perfect for heavy iron chariots, now became the worst place in all the world.

And guess who it's perfect for now? Lightly armed foot soldiers. Rob Roy writes of this particular area. Certain tracks of this plane's surface is like with the addition of water, strong adhesive mud. Now, when horses pass over such places, they are often unable to pull out their feet.

If a horse's foot is buried in the mud long enough to allow the clay to close over it from above, he finds it extremely difficult to draw his leg out again, and he instantly changes his gait to a series of plunges with rapid, short, jerky steps, snorting and groaning all the while with terror and panting and steaming and the wildest excitement. What makes it even better, beloved, is the fact that the god of the Canaanites was Baal, and Baal was, in effect, the god of the storm. He was the one that caused the rain to fall. And here the rain came, and God kind of puts one little stroke up and says, I control the rain.

That's your crummy little Baal. And the battle was won. Why didn't God just wipe out Sisera and Jabin and those iron chariots? We learn why in chapter 3, verse 1. Now these are the nations which the Lord left to test Israel by them, that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan, only in order that the generations, ongoing generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war.

Those who had not experienced it formally. You know why God left the enemies there? You know why he leaves enemies in your life? He wants to teach you how to fight. There's a fundamental principle here in that lesson of how to fight. God is more interested in developing his people, and he isn't displaying his power. So he lets you get up on that mountainside, and he lets you take a good look at the iron chariots. And sometimes he even allows them to overcome your pitiful strength, because you've trusted yourself to fall flat on your face, and there you are on the mat.

God wants you to learn that too, because he wants you to learn how to stand up and fight. There's a book that I have read some time ago that impacted me. It's called A View from the Zoo, written by Gary Richman, a pastoral staff member at First Evangelical Free, where Chuck's been to all pastors.

He used to work for the L.A. Zoo, and he's written stories of animals, and one fascinating one I'll never forget. He was talking about the day this mother giraffe was going to give birth, which he said was a fascinating experience that he'd never really seen. And so all the staff was there watching this take place. So this is kind of unusual, because a mother giraffe delivers standing up, which means that that baby is going to fall seven or eight feet, which is kind of a shocking experience into the world. So they were all gathered around watching this whole thing take place, and there the baby drops and kind of looks around, and they're capable of managing and standing almost immediately. All of a sudden the mother giraffe, boom, kicks that baby, and it rolls over and over and over. The keeper that was in charge said this is typical, because that baby has got to learn how to get up on its feet, and he must learn quickly, because out in the wild they are prey. So sure enough, that little baby giraffe stretches its legs out and kind of gets on the front and then on the back, and it wobbles up to a stand, and everybody cheers. This little baby giraffe is standing up, and all of a sudden, boom, Mom kicks it off its feet. It rolls over and over, and Gary now is saying, okay, time to intervene here.

No, no, no, no, no, no. He said that's typical. You know why?

Because that mother wants that baby to remember how it got up. Perhaps you're flat on the mat, and God is trying to teach you, if you'll just be willing to fight, now by His grace, to get back up and to stand up and to fight. And if you will, He has His own providences designed and His own strategies laid out so that He will take care of iron chariots and generals like Cicero, who can be taken care of by a little housewife in a tent called JL. And never forget that the battle is always the Lord's. If you feel flat on your back today, I hope this time in God's Word has encouraged you to get back up and get back into the fight. This is Wisdom for the Heart.

Today's lesson from our Vintage Wisdom series from Judges is called Hooray for the Housewife. We'd really enjoy hearing from you and learning how God is using this ministry to build you up in the faith. Please take a few moments and drop us a note. Our mailing address is Wisdom International, P.O. Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627.

Let me give you that again. You can write to us at Wisdom International, P.O. Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. By the way, please consider including a gift when you write. Stephen often reminds us that our ministry is empowered by your prayer and enabled by your support. Your partnership is vital to us and we're thankful for it. In addition to equipping you with these daily Bible messages, we also have a magazine that we publish monthly. We send Heart to Heart magazine to all of our Wisdom partners. But we'd be happy to send you the next three issues if you'd like to see it for yourself. You can sign up for it on our website or you can call us today.

Our number is 866-48-BIBLE. Well, thanks again for joining us today. We're glad you are with us. I hope you'll be with us again next time for more wisdom for the heart. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-16 12:47:42 / 2023-03-16 12:58:27 / 11

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