Special guest post: Bro Chris Meek
Key Verse: Judges 4:21
Big Idea: God breaks our cycles in unexpected ways
Have you ever been right… even though you were wrong? If you’ve ever had to take a multiple choice, you know what I’m talking about: you don’t have a clue what the answer is, but you guess correctly; the teacher forgets to put the correct answer on the test, so everyone gets it right; or maybe your teacher marks yours right by accident! You didn’t know the answer, but you get credit for it anyway. You didn’t expect it, and yet, it happened. You didn’t earn it, and yet, you got it anyway. Who saw that coming?
When we meet Barak in Judges 4, Israel is caught in a cycle of sin, oppressed by Jabin, his commander Sisera, and his 900 iron chariots. Deborah reminds him: God has called him to take 10,000 men against Sisera, whom God has promised to deliver into his hands. Instead of obeying, Barak offers Deborah a deal: I’ll go, but only if you go, too. Deborah agrees, but warns him that if he does it his way, the honor will not be his: “...for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman” (vs.9). The outcome is still the same: Sisera is still defeated. But Barak doesn’t get to play the hero. If you thought it was Deborah, you’d be wrong. Instead, that honor goes to Jael, who in a final twist of irony, kills Siserah with a tent stake (working with tents was considered Women’s work at the time). Who saw that coming?
We can take comfort in the fact that God is in the business of doing the unexpected. When Sisera came to Jael, he didn’t expect his end. When the thief is on the cross, he doesn’t expect to be in paradise. When we sin, we don’t expect the forgiveness of God. And we don’t expect the King to trade His robes for torn garments, His crown for thorns, or His throne for a cross. We don’t expect God to trade His place for ours, but God does the unexpected.
We may remember another time God uses a woman to do the unexpected. When Jesus came to live among men, He did not come as a fully grown man, but as a newborn child born through Mary. Although Jesus, the Lion of Judah, could command legions of angels, He came into the world in the weakness of a child, the Lamb that would take away the sins of the world. If you are someone who often feels weak, know that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Find your strength in Jesus!
Discussion Idea: One of the major themes in this passage is the irony of a woman killing a man with an instrument primarily used for women’s work. Sometimes we fail to see what God is doing because of societal and cultural expectations. What are some legitimate ways that God might use us, which might go against our own culture?
Prayer Focus: Lord, help me to see life through your eyes, and not my own. Give me Your strength to be obedient to the unexpected things You are doing.