In Judges 4, God is about to deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Canaanites and give the army of Jabin, the king of Canaan, into the hand of Israel’s army leader Barak. But Barak is willing to only partially obey, so God raises up as deliverer Deborah the judge – a woman to fill the gap left by weak and ineffectual Barak.
Deborah was a prophetess, a counselor known for her wisdom. It’s important that we understand why God raised up Deborah to be a judge in Israel. According to the traditions and values of Hebrew culture at that time, when a woman rose up to lead the nation, it was God’s way of shaming the men of that nation. It was God’s way of saying to the men, “You have abdicated your leadership responsibility. You have abandoned your role as leaders.”
What is required to be a leader? Christian leadership is simply obedience, nothing more, nothing less.
God had commanded Barak to gather his army. All Barak needed to do was obey. He simply needed to follow directions. But Barak could not bring himself to do what God had commanded him to do. He had no trust in the promises of God, so he refused to obey God. Only by believing the promises of God can we truly obey God.
The flaw in Barak’s character was that he thought he could offer partial obedience, conditional obedience, to God. Partial obedience is an affront to a holy God. It’s as if we are saying, “I don’t know if I can trust You, God. I need additional assurances. I need to protect myself in case Your promises fail. I need a little extra insurance and maybe an escape route or two – just in case You don’t come through for me.” We miss out on God’s blessing for our lives when we set conditions on our obedience.
When God speaks to you and offers you a role in carrying out His eternal plan, you have a choice. You can obey, fully and instantly. You can disobey and rebel against God. Or you can take the path of Barak, setting conditions on your obedience.
Obedience is all or nothing. If we have confidence in His will and we eagerly obey His will, we will receive an unimaginable blessing from Him. But if we hold back, if we set conditions, if we offer only reluctant and partial obedience to His commands, we will miss out on the blessing.
Prayer: Lord, I trust in You and believe Your promises. Help me to seek Your will and obey fully, without conditions. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“But Samuel replied: ‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams’” (1 Samuel 15:22).