Where would you look for an example of light and leadership? Your thoughts might run to Biblical characters like King David or Elijah the prophet. Or, you could look at secular figures like Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan or Mahatma Ghandi. You probably wouldn’t pick an obscure man with faltering faith. Well, God did pick that guy. And there are lessons for us to learn!
Light: Follow It (NOW!)
The man in question is Barak and you’ll find his name in the roll call of faith (Hebrews 11:32). I begin there because when we first see Barak in Judges 4, his faith seems to be lacking. Let me give you the highlights.
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites lived in a destructive, repetitive cycle. When they obediently followed the Lord they enjoyed His great blessings. But after a while they would forsake Him and worship the idols of the people around them. Remember, God disciplines those He loves.
The Lord’s discipline for Israel was to allow oppressors to have power over them. That would eventually cause them to repent and ask God for help. God’s response was to send them a judge, a deliverer, to free them from their oppressors. The nation responded by faithfully serving the Lord during the life of that judge. When the judge died the cycle would repeat itself.
And don’t think that destructive cycle was unique to Israel. It has contunued right up to this moment in time. God’s children are easily distracted by many things. He faithfully loves us, too.
Back to Barak…Judges 4:6-8 is the Lord’s word to Barak. It was spoken by Deborah who was the judge in Israel at the time. The text indicates that she was reminding Barak that God had commanded him to lead an army against Jabin, the King of Canaan. The commander of Jabin’s forces was named Sisera.
Barak should have obedyed immediately. But he didn’t. He hesitated. Barak said he would only go if Deborah went with him. What was the point of that condition? To some extent, it shows a lack of faith. His exact reasons are not revealed to us. Perhaps he superstitiously believed that her presence would be a guarantee of victory. But we do know that his hesitation cost him a good bit.
Barak should have realized that Deborah’s presence wasn’t important. It was God who promised to provide the victory and God’s presence was all that mattered. That truth can also be seen in the following: Exodus 14:14, 2 Chronicles 20:17, Proverbs 15:3, Isaiah 43:2.
God answered Barak through Deborah (Judges 4:9). The honor for the victory would not go to Barak, but someone else – a woman. Notice that God still brought about the victory and their deliverance. But the reward (blessing) that could have been Barak’s for immediate obedience would be given to another. I don’t know how many rewards I have forfeited. But even it it were only one, I don’t want to keep doing it! How about you?
Light For Leadership
We should not be in a hurry to throw Barak under the bus (as the saying goes). Let’s go back to Hebrews 11. Here is what we find in verses 33-34 –
…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
The highlight above is my doing. It’s what we all need to see. Barak’s faith and strength wasn’t perfect. Neither is mine or yours. But God used him anyway and He can still use us!.
I frequently take comfort in another favorite verse, Psalm 103:14. My Father remembers that I am weak because He made me of dirt!. And right along with that I have to remember II Corinthians 12:9. The Lord’s strength is made perfect in my weakness.
You see, Barak did have faith and he did obey. I look at him and I think of the father in the New Testament who said to Jesus, I believe. Help my unbelief. Barak stepped in front of a massive army and against tremendous odds he led Israel to a great victory. But he didn’t quit pursuing Sisera when he knew the battle was won. Barak wanted complete, unquestioned victory. He pursued Sisera but didn’t catch him.
Sisera took refuge in a woman’s tent. That was a social no-no. He knew it was unlikely anyone would look for him in the tent of a woman. His trickery done, he went to sleep, never to wake again. The woman drove a tent peg through his head. And as prophesied, she got the honor for killing Sisera.
There are lessons in this account for each of us. But is there light for an international missions ministry like EquipUs. I think there is!
In an earlier post I shared some pretty big ministry opportunities. Ephesians 3:20-21 reminds us that God can do more than we can ask or imagine.
Who could even have imagined that Barak would defeat an army that had 900 iron chariots plus all the accompanying infantry? Barak and Israel’s army literally had nothing in terms of earthly weapons (Judges 5:8). But they were on the Lord’s side! He is more than enough.
After we pray for God’s provision, the next step is fairly simple. Let me explain things mathmatically. 100 people can do a great deal. But predictably, a group of that size will reach its limit. The answer is not for those 100 to double or triple their efforts. Now imagine…how much more could be done by a group of 1,000?
Opportunity And Action
The path forward is a much larger group of Helping Hands. There is no plainer way to say it. So, how do we make that happen?
This post, and the previous one, have brought new opportunities into the light for everyone to see. And now, all of us are in a place like Barak’s. Faith must turn into action.
Once again, the first action is to pray. Specifically, please pray for God to grant us favor in the eyes of those we meet. Also pray for the grant applications that are in process. Remember, pray BIG! Then other things can be added to that. Here’s a list:
- Invite me to speak to your church, civic group, business leaders luncheon, etc.
- Share this post with your friends
- Encourage friends and family to subscribe to our e-newsletter
- Introduce EquipUs – to your pastor, mission committee/team, etc.
- If you can set up a virtual meeting, I can be there to meet and share
- Other ideas – firstname.lastname@example.org
Please understand that I am beyond excited and grateful for the opportunties before us. God is good! I also know that our biggest needs are going to be more mission volunteers and increased funding. None of that is going to come from one or two people. Our circle needs to grow!.
And Barak’s story reminds us that each of us has a part to play. No one does everything. Deborah did her job, Barak did his part, and 10,000 Israelites did theirs by showing up for the battle. But most importantly, God acted as only He can do.
Soli Deo Gloria!