Read 77.) Judges 4:1 thru 5:31. Beginning right at the juncture of Judges 2:9+10, we made the transition from the Conquest Phase of the Bible story to the Judges Stage. We went from the fulfillment by God of His promise to give Canaan to Israel, which was also the fulfillment of the 3rd of the 7 promises and prophecies of which His-story consists. Now, we’re going right into the 4th of the prophecies; the one where Israel will become, and remain, unfaithful to the Lord. For the next 750 years, and more than 125 days of readings, we will read about, and learn of a very specific pattern that was already revealed in Judges 2:10 thru 3:6. It will consist of 4 parts. Israel has broken the Covenant, and will be unfaithful unto the Lord. The Lord will send foreign peoples unto Israel to overtake them and oppress them. Israel will, at times, under the weight of their oppression, come back around to the Lord. The Lord, their God, will, in turn, come back to Israel and give them leadership and grant them relief from their foreign oppressors. This will be the pattern thru this book of Judges a number of times, but it will also be a recurring theme throughout much of the rest of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament record until the Lord removes them from out of the Promised Land. The period of this Judges Phase commences about 1350 BC, and lasts until the final judge, Samuel, and the time of Israel’s first king, Saul, at about 1070 BC. We will mark that transition when it takes place.
With today’s reading, the pattern described unfolds. Israel fails. God sends an oppressor. Israel returns, and God sends them help. In this case, it is the story of Deborah and Barak, and how they overcame Sisera, the commander of the army and chariots of Jabin, a king in Canaan. It is an amazing tale, and it ends with a lengthy song in chapter 5. It is well worth the time and effort to consult Bible maps and images on-line of the places named. One thing that comes out, is that much of what we are reading is taking place in regional settings, and not national. They cover a part of Israel, but not all of it. The importance of this is that of all the years being mentioned in these stories are not successive, but overlap one another, so that we cannot add them together and form a timeline from them. It would extend far too long. And, again, the reason is that these are regional in nature, and help to express to us the fractured nature of the nation. The people of Israel do not now see themselves as all one people; and each of the tribes appear to be now much more on their own. This is also a part of their unfaithfulness. They are not only unfaithful to the Lord, but have become quite unfaithful to one another. The song of chapter 5 expressly tells us this. You have seen it. When believers are no longer faithful to the Lord, they are no longer faithful unto one another either! They leave the Lord, and they part with the Lord’s people! Are you faithful unto the Lord? Are you faithful to God’s people? If you are, they will know it! It’s what the Book is all about!
Harold F Crowell