TEXT: Judges 4:4-15
The students will be able to explain why it is true that “if God be for us, who can be against us?”
After Joshua’s death in about 1426 B.C., God himself was the direct ruler of the twelve tribes, but the people kept turning away from God and going into idolatry. God appointed a total of fifteen judges to rule the Israelites at different times, Deborah being one of them. Her name means “a bee.” She was called “a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7). She was the fourth judge, and she judged Israel for forty years. Deborah was married to Lapidoth (of which there is nothing written) and held court under a palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in Mount Ephraim (Judges 4:5). She is thought to be more of a prophetess than a judge. She encouraged Barak and together they saved Israel from the tyranny of the Canaanites. (These Canaanites were the same people that Joshua had conquered, but they had become powerful again.)
The battle against the Canaanites was fought along the shores of the Kishon River, which maintains its yearround flow for only the last seven miles. That portion of the river is watered from the springs at the base of Mount Carmel and from streams of the northeast that enter the Kishon in the plain of Acre. In the rainy season this river becomes swollen and very dangerous (Judges 5:21). It is possible that the iron chariots of the Canaanites became mired in the mud and had to be abandoned, for we read, “Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet” (Judges 4:15). Thus the Israelites won a decisive victory.
Sisera was a general or captain for King Jabin. He lived at Harosheth which is a town on the northern bank of the Kishon River. He was finally killed by a woman named Jael (Judges 4:17-21).
Barak was the son of Abinoam of Kedesh, who was incited by Deborah to deliver Israel from King Jabin. His name means “lightning.” One reference book calls him a Hebrew chieftain.
True confidence in God is based upon following God’s Word. False confidence brings defeat, and is based upon an unwarranted use of sacred things, such as the name “Christian.” This actually is the name given to those who wholeheartedly follow the Lord. Today many suffer defeat and have no victory over sin because they are Christians in name only. Just because Israel was Israel did not guarantee their victory over their enemies. They had to wholly follow the Lord in order to have victory, and this is what Deborah did.
- What was Deborah’s occupation? What did that mean in terms of her civic responsibilities?
Response: Deborah was a prophetess and judge in Israel. This means she was God’s spokesperson to the people and settled disputes among the people. Discuss with the class that the judges in early Biblical times were more than just ones who listened to and decided problems, but were responsible for guiding the affairs of the people, by the direction and appointment of God. Their duties included selecting men for warfare, teaching the Law to the people, and acting as leaders in a military capacity. They settled religious and judicial disputes, as well.
- What characteristics of Deborah made her outstanding? How did the Lord use these characteristics?
Response: The students’ responses will probably mention Deborah’s faith in God’s Word, and her courage. Discuss with the class that these attributes were demonstrated as Deborah went with the army into the battle. Her faith and courage were instrumental in the victory that God gave Israel.
- Which verse shows Deborah was an inspiration to Barak?
Response: The students, while reading verse 9, should see Deborah’s courage revealed. This was an inspiration to Barak, as shown in verse 8. Discuss with the students that when one wholly follows the Lord and His Word, that person becomes an example and inspiration to others. A Christian’s willingness to completely perform God’s will often influence others to do likewise.
- The opposite of confidence in God is fear. Using 1 John 4:16-18 as a reference, explain how to rid your heart of fear.
Response: These verses tell a person how to rid his heart from the fear of the Judgment, by receiving the love that God has made possible for us. Your students should see that this does not necessarily mean that one with the love of God in his heart will never experience a moment of anxiety when faced with a fearsome situation. Rather, this knowledge gives a person confidence in the many promises that God has given. “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (Psalm 118:6).
- In Romans 8:35-39 we read of many things that we might face as we go through life, yet we can be more than conquerors through Him who loves us. How many of these experiences have you gone through? Give an example from your experience.
Response: Encourage students to cite specific instances, keying in on the thought that none of these circumstances need separate them from Christ. However, probably few students will say that they have actually gone through many of these things. Discussion may lead some to say that they have gone through some sort of distress or persecution or even peril. Some may tell of someone who has had a triumphant death through God’s grace. In our country, the saints of this generation have not had to face the hardships of the Early Church. However, God’s promises are sure and His grace sufficient if one is called upon to go through any of these situations.
- There are things that we must do in order to have a victorious life in Christ, without fear. Using God’s Word as a guide, finish the following verses:
When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh ___________ . — Proverbs 16:7
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall _____________ . — Psalm 119:16
Be careful [worried] for nothing; let your requests be made know unto God. And the of God, which passeth all _________________ . — Philippians 4:6-7
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, _____________ : because he _______________ . — Isaiah 26:3
Response: The purpose of this exercise is to help the students to realize, through the Scriptures, that there are things they must do in order to have a victorious life in Christ without fear.
- Listed below are the names of several man and women of the Bible. How does your experience compare with theirs?
Adam and Eve temptation
Samuel answering the call
Paul thorn in the flesh
Response: Encourage your class to talk about the experiences that they have had, compared with those listed. Discussion should be directed toward the positive effects of responding correctly in each of the situations. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Even in Cain’s instance, if he had listened to God’s admonition, he would have avoided the problems that came upon him.
- In this lesson we see God intervening for Israel against another nation, and giving them a physical deliverance. Today we do not wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). What kind of deliverance can God give us? See Ephesians 6:13.
Response: Allow time for students’ responses. The discussion should focus on the fact that God gives us spiritual victory over our adversaries. Use this question, combined with the objective, to wrap up the class session.
Stump the Teacher: You become the “student” and let your class ask you questions about this lesson. Your students’ questions can and may reveal some areas of misunderstanding.
Explain to your class that although we may never have the opportunity to prove that God will be with us in battle, we can be sure that God will be with us in situations we will face. Have someone come to your class and give a testimony of a dangerous or troublesome time in which the Lord was with him, giving protection or deliverance.
Read to the class our Tract No. 66, Rescued by God From a Watery Grave, Brother Alba Green’s testimony.
Bring a number of small items to class that people often carry with them for one reason or another: money in case you need to make a phone call, an umbrella in case it rains, a small flashlight in case you need a light somewhere, a pair of folding scissors in case you want to cut out something, etc. Bring out that although people often prepare themselves for little emergencies or problems by taking something with them, many neglect to prepare themselves for the large problems or crises in life by making sure that God is with them. If God is with us, we can face any situation.