Gone Ahead

Judges 4:12-16

12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron.

14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. 15 At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot. 16 Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left.

Introduction

Do you agree that when God commands us to do something, He has already gone ahead and prepared everything we need? Do you agree that God would never command us to do things on our own effort?

Before God ordered the Israelites to conquer the land of Canaan, He had already prepared everything, and all the Israelites had to do was to follow the Lord’s instruction. The Lord assured in Exodus 23:27-30, 27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28 I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

Observe that the Lord had already given victory to the Israelites even before they moved and advanced from where they were staying. All they needed to do was to believe it and follow the Lord’s instruction. Obedience to the Lord’s instruction reveals the level of faith of those who believe.

Remember when the Lord spoke through the prophetess Deborah, Barak found it hard to believe even after the Lord assured the He will give the enemy into his hand. The Lord assured him in Judges 4:7, I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.

Barak asked Deborah to join him because he hesitated to obey. When he recruited 10,000 men from Naphtali and Zebulun, Sisera the commander of Jabin’s army assembled his troops at Kishon River after he was alerted.

1. Alert

12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron. 14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. 

Sisera assembled his army at Kishon River because God declared it. It was the signal that the Lord gave that had already given victory to Barak. Deborah alerted Barak to advance because his victory was waiting for him.

Christ wants church ministries to succeed. But many times we give in to the pressure of doing something to prove that we are not negligent. But if we use natural instinct, failure is certain. We need to spend extended time to pray and wait for the Lord’s “go” signal, timing and instruction.

Waiting for God’s timing is hard. We don’t want to forsake the Lord.

Rooster

Peter promised not to forsake the Lord but he was totally mistaken. His desire was noble but it was not the will of God. The Lord answered him in John 13:38, 38 “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter was sincere, no doubt, but his idea was not within God’s plan. Similarly, many are very sincere and search for great ideas from other church but ended failure, why? Sincerity and great ideas are useful but they are not prerequisite for ministry success. First, we need to be empowered by Christ’s Spirit. Sincerity and great ideas will be added afterward. It says in Acts 2:47, 47 And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The Lord added to their number after they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we should not worry about number. We have to be focused on being filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Interestingly, the Lord who added number allowed them also to be scattered afterward, why? Can you relate similar event in this church? Paul testified in Philippians 1:12, 12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.

Participation in the advancement of the gospel is obedience to Christ. When Barak obeyed God, he and his troops advanced and defeated Sisera.

2. Advance

15 At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot. 16 Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left.

It was not recorded if Barak had military training. He was the son of Abinoam which probably been known to other Israelites. Abinoam possibly had pleasant manners, just as his name ‘Abinoam’ signifies. Barak had no great credentials but the Lord chose him to lead the attack against Sisera.

While it is more common to choose those who have great credentials, the Lord chooses those who were rejected. It says in 1 Corinthians 1:27, 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

Four Lepers

There was time when the Aramean surrounded Samaria until there was famine inside the city. Nobody dared to go out of the city because they were all afraid of the Arameans. It says in 2 Kings 7:3-7, Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”

At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

The city was saved from severe famine because the Lord defeated the Arameans when the men with leprosy advanced to the camp of the Arameans. Those four men with leprosy were rejected by the people yet they were instrumental to the victory that God gave the Israelites.

Just as the Lord preferred to use rejected men with leprosy to save Israel, instead of the King and his army, the Lord chooses as His instrument those who seemed foolish to human presumption.

What human assumes as disqualified, could be the very instrument that God would choose to advance His kingdom. Expertise and training could be useful but they are not prerequisites of obedience.

Pray to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit so that each of us may be chosen as the Lord’s instrument to advance His kingdom, Amen!

 

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