Part 1. INTRODUCTION:
The body of Christ is in a radical transition time, due to the global shaking that is happening all over the world. The acceleration and advancement of radical Islam throughout the earth, the new surge of power with the Hamas, and the critical dangers that face Israel every single day … will only be won on our knees.
Intimacy with God is the highest purpose for which we were created – but are we REALLY seeking His highest purpose for our lives? If we really understood God's love and heart for us, we'd be making radical choices to be with Him more than any other activity in life! If we had a revelation of His true jealousy to have uninterrupted time with us, we'd turn the world upside down like His disciples did!
But instead, we've been lulled to sleep or are enamored with the trinkets of life while missing the real treasures of God. Many believers are experiencing “hope deferred makes the heart sick” so they're leaving the church because they have no passion, no purpose, no power, and no sense of His presence … but they have no secret life in God either! Will it take a crisis to bring us into an intimate relationship with Jesus?
What was it about Deborah that caught His gaze? Her uncompromising dedication moved the very heart of God … and He changed the very heart of Deborah. She spent SO much time in the temple in prayer and worship that she was “dripping with oil”. Because of that, she could hear the Lord's voice clearly, operate with keen discernment for the times and seasons she faced as well as her daily decisions with the people, and when the call to battle came, she was absolutely ready!
Deborah was being prepared for battle in the secret place! This is where the true victory lies – in communing with Him one-on-one. That is our place of safety and truth!
It is time to stop talking about intimacy with God --- it's time to REALLY do it!
WHO WAS DEBORAH?
Imagine a black teenage girl being elected as Pope and single-handedly tearing down all the walls of division between Catholics and Protestants. Hard to even fathom that possibility isn't it? Now imagine a middle-aged, gray-haired, Jewish housewife and mother being raised up over 3,000 years ago to lead Israel in one of the most improbable military victories of history!
Allow me to introduce to you our unlikely candidate and heroine of the faith: Deborah. I have heard very little being taught about her. I always hear about Gideon, Samuel and some of the other judges, but when I studied Deborah, I fell in love with her. Deborah is very unique and a little controversial because she was a woman who held the highest executive office in the land of Canaan, or Israel, at the time.
An ancient Joan of Ark, Deborah appears in the sacred annals of Israel's history as the nation's 4th judge, the third woman prophetess (after Miriam and Rachel) and a deliver of God's people. Deborah was in a class of her own; her leadership role was unprecedented and unparalleled! She was a woman who led a nation to victory against all odds. And she did this in a patriarchal era where there was no precedent for women leaders.
As the Spirit leads, it is likely that I will be speaking about Deborah at our conference, as her message is so important to the purpose of the conference. If you can attend, I look forward to sharing God's message with you!
Part 2: CYCLES OF ISRAEL'S REBELLION AND DELIVERANCE
The whole book of Judges covered approximately 325 years. After the Israelites entered the Promised Land, Joshua and the elders died and the 12 tribes of Israel were separated in the land of Canaan. The tragic pattern of the book of Judges is this: the people went into rebellion; they worshipped other gods and intermarried into pagan tribes.
The Lord brought judgment against them. They cried out to God for deliverance. The Lord would raise up a judge, there would be a battle, Israel would be delivered and peace would be on the land for a season. After the judge died, the people went back to rebellion and the Lord once again brought heavy oppression. This cycle happened six different times!
Gwen Shaw accurately pens in her book, “Deborah and Jael”:
Their homes were raided and ransacked, their crops plundered, their maidens raped, their fathers mocked and their sons murdered. People could not walk in the highways any more. They were locked up in their homes, and some even had to forsake their lands and dwellings because the enemy took possession of them. They lived in caves and dens. Their sheep and goats were stolen from them; their harvests were carried off as soon as they were reaped. They lost their olives, dates, figs, grapes, wheat, barley, and their pomegranates. This left them hungry, destitute, and desperate. They throw God out of their schools, laws, their hearts and lives, claiming they don't need him. But when they are in trouble, they wonder where He is, and why he didn't save them and prevent tragedy.
The Lord is so jealous for each one of us to love Him and know Him. When we start to move away from Him, He allows evil kings to oppress us. The Word tells us that God is the one who appoints evil kings and magistrates, but He also raises up the godly judges and kings! Deborah was the fourth judge and for the first 20 years of her 40-year reign, the nation was oppressed by one of history's most powerful and cruel Canaanite Kings, Jabin, and his cunning military commander, Sisera. (Judges 4:1-4)
DEBORAH CAPTURED THE GAZE OF GOD
What is astounding is that the Lord raised up a woman to deliver a nation! What is especially surprising is that it happened in the Middle East thousands of years ago! Deborah was not only a wife, mother, intercessor and prophetess but also a judge and a national deliverer. This is not a bad resume for a middle-aged woman living in that oppressive Middle Eastern culture.
Against great odds, God used her powerfully. Deborah broke outside of her culture but she wasn't in rebellion, she was in obedience -- to her God. She was used radically and set her people free, and the people loved her. It's a wonderful story of faith in God, and it champions men and women partnering together in a war to save their nation from great oppression.
When we read about this radical prophetess and judge, it expands our theology of women being allowed to lead governmentally. But I really feel that God is raising up a company of end-time Deborah's. There is great global shaking that has only begun, and the Lord is calling not only the men, but also the women of God! The Lord is saying, “Wake up, Deborah, be a part of the army of the Lord!”
God's eyes are searching to and fro over the earth looking for a heart that is fully His (2 Chronicles 16:9). What caught His gaze when He came to Deborah? Was it the uncompromising fire of holiness, an unwavering faith or an unrelenting love that set her apart? Was it something about the integrity of her character, the otherworldliness of her wisdom and the richness of her kindness which bred confidence in both men and women?
There are two root words for “consecrate” in Hebrew: naver (separating from) and kadesh (separating unto). Deborah, like the other champions of the faith, was separated from the world and unto God. She did nothing on her own but spoke just what the Father taught her. This is where the true victory lies – in listening to Him.
Part 3: DEBORAH'S RESUME
We tend to think of multi-tasking as a 21st century phenomenon, but Deborah was functioning in five major roles. Let's review them:
Many scholars believe that one of Deborah's roles before becoming judge was being a lamp lighter in the temple. In the Bible, oil is often a symbol for the Holy Spirit. Deborah was married to Lapidoth, whose name means, “to shine, lamp, flame, burning lamp, lightening, torch.” Isn't it interesting? He, too, was a lamp that had oil!
Deborah was a keeper of the oil and light, gingerly tending the lamps. This shows us that she was a woman who was passionately spending long hours dwelling in the temple. She was a woman of prayer and of worship. She lived between two villages, Ramah and Bethel, in Ephramin, which means “the valley of fruitfulness”. Biblical names often have profound prophetic meanings. The ancient village of Ramah was known to be the seat of high adultery. Bethel was known as the house of the Lord with open heavens, where Jacob had his ladder experience in Genesis 28. She stood in the gap interceding between the seat of high idolatry and pagan worship and the house of Bethel with its open heavens.
Now the imagery becomes a little clearer – Deborah was raised up by God to intercede against idolatry (Ramah). She wanted to turn the hearts of the children of Israel back to the house of God (Bethel) to inherit a double portion of fruit (Ephraim).
Deborah's relationship with the Lord was very precious and intensely intimate. I believe that in those twenty years of captivity, Deborah stood in the gap and interceded to change the course of Israel. God promised Abraham, in Genesis 18, that He would save a nation for the sake of ten righteous men. I believe that the righteous prayers of Deborah availed much!
She worshipped and had a deep intercessory life with God. She would go into the temple and fill the lamps with oil and ask God for revelation for people around her in great darkness. She was prepared in this secret place as she stood in the gap in radical intercession for her people and her nation. She would hear from God and would bring down great wisdom and counsel. She spent long hours in the temple. This dedication moved the very heart of God and changed the very heart of Deborah. He led, she followed. She led, Israel followed.
Oftentimes we have the misunderstanding that worship is merely the thirty-minute time slot before the sermon when we sing songs of devotion to God. This is part of worship. But doing small things with great love unto Him is living a life of worship. Deborah was a worshipper who loved the oil of the lamps, Holy Spirit.
We need to be like Deborah, a people of prayer. Sincere and passionate prayer is the key to unlock our relationship with Almighty God. Many struggle with praying because they feel that their intercession is not much more than empty cries to an invisible God who seems so distant. We think that our prayers bounce off the ceiling and back to us unheard and unanswered. But beloved, God loves communing with you! He promises that He will hear you and answer! It takes only a few seconds of a face-to-face encounter with God to change the course of human history for you, your city, or your nation.
In fact, communing with God is the highest purpose for which you were created! “This is eternal life to know Me.” (John 17:3) Our hunger for God is what fuels our prayer life. When His presence is our passion and our hunger is for His heart, we can approach the throne of God boldly with the confidence that our Daddy loves our prayers, but having this first love is so important.
For Deborah, intercession was a dialogue in which He began to download strategic war plans, blue prints from heaven, and keys to “open doors that no man can shut and shut doors that no man can open.” (Isa. 22:22) How else could she wisely judge so many civil cases with the Israelites?
Ehud was the third judge of Israel. After his death, Israel was without a strong leader and once again fell into idolatry and sexual perversion. They were desperately in need of godly leadership. It was the role of the judge to hear and resolve the disputes of the people, but they also attempted to keep the nation from idolatry (Ex.18:20; Judges 2:17), they taught God's Word (Ex. 18:20; Judges 2:17; Isa.12:23), and they interceded for their people (Deut. 9:18-20, 25-29; Deut. 10:10; Isa. 12:23).
The scripture tells us that judges were raised up by God to that office (Judges 2:16). All the judges before and after Deborah were men. So Deborah must have walked in quite an unusual and unique grace to be chosen as both the natural and spiritual leader of Israel. The Word says that she was a judge for 40 years. She held her court sitting under the palm tree, which represents righteousness.
In ancient Israeli culture, there was not the separation of church and state that now exists in our governmental infrastructures. To be appointed as the judge over a nation was equivalent to also being established as the spiritual head over the country. Great responsibility came with great authority. She took care of the civil disputes of men, women and children. We aren't just talking about the little local judge down at your courthouse. We are talking about the executive leader over the whole nation of Israel. She was leading Israel (Judges 4:4-5).
Deborah operated in a heavenly dimension of a spirit of wisdom and revelation. It was almost as if God had supernaturally implanted a divine compass in her, always guiding her to Him. She walked in such dependence upon every move of the Omnipotent One. The judging that Deborah did so well might have been because of her gift as a prophetess. She would have been able to make wise decisions if she “saw” well in the Spirit. Although it isn't certain, many theologians feel that Deborah was from the tribe of Issachar, which means that she knew the times and the seasons. Samuel was the only other judge also listed as a prophet.
In Matthew Henry's Commentary, he writes:
She was a woman of illuminations, or of splendors, one extraordinarily known and wise, and so came to be eminent and illustrious. She was intimately acquainted with God, she was a prophetess, and one that instructed others in divine knowledge by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and had gifts of wisdom, to which she attained not in an ordinary way; she heard words of God, and she probably saw visions of the Almighty. She was totally devoted to Israel. After Jehovah, Israel was her first love.
Deborah means “bee” or “wasp” or “Queen bee.” She was one who would set things in order and bring honey, but also bring the sting of a bee when necessary. A basic principle in spiritual warfare is that our level of attack against the devil must be intimately related to our level of authority and intimacy in our relationship with God.
Deborah was one who received fresh mandates from heaven, and though she knew how evil the oppression of King Jabin was, she also knew that with God anything is possible! Something in Deborah knew how to pull on the resources of heaven, stand in the counsels of the Lord (Jer. 23) and open her mouth and let Him fill it (Psa. 81:10).
Mother of Israel
What made this woman a mother of Israel? Deborah loved well. The Lord must have peered over the balcony of heaven, looked through the lattice of time and watched the way that she so tenderly stopped for the one. Imagine facing the seemingly unending line of people all needing a touch of heaven. I imagine her tired eyes stretched out on the faces of His creation as she felt the ache in their hearts for God. They had come so far, how could they leave empty handed? The eleven other dispersed tribes of Israel walked for miles and literally risked their lives on the dangerous highways as they pushed through to hear from God, through Deborah's voice.
The highways were deserted, and the travelers walked along the byways. Village life ceased, it eased in Israel, until I, Deborah, arose, Arose a mother in Israel. They chose new gods; Then there was war in the gates. (Judges 5:6-8).
I believe that Deborah could hear the groans of the Israelites who were oppressed for 20 years and feel the pounding pain in God's heart over His people's sin and oppression. I believe that it was her ability to hear His heartbeat that allowed her to save a nation in a day. Deborah ruled with the sword of a prophet but the staff of a shepherd -- she truly loved God's people. She always led well. She led by loving.
Deborah was more than a judge; she was used to deliver Israel from the second longest captivity. As a prophetess and military strategist, she called the nation to war. She was a military strategist who not only wielded the hand of God but also operated with the heart of God. You see, Deborah was a deliverer! She loved the people and they loved her. She delivered them from a great enemy.
The Lord literally dropped a clear prophetic word to summon Barak, the Israeli commander, to rally the rag-tag troops for battle against insurmountable odds. The Hebrews had no weapons -- none. They had all been confiscated by the Canaanites.
The famous historian, Josepheus, writes about the enemy force:
Under the command of his general, Sisera, he had 300,000 footmen, 10,000 horsemen and 900 hundred chariots of iron. These chariots not only controlled the highways and roads of the land, they could be driven through an army of men and with the swords in their wheels, they could cut off the legs of the strongest and bravest of soldiers. They were feared, as tanks are today. The people of Israel had no answer to such deadly weapons of mass destruction, forged in the bowels of hell.
God showed her revelations of how to win the battle. Seeing in the heavens and moving with prophetic proclamations, she released the warrior angels of the Lord to fight ancient demonic principalities. She knew the enemy's schemes and helped to empower the war in the heavens, destroying the enemy. She brought holy reversal to the evil plans. In her moment of crisis, she decreed the Word of the Lord and creation bowed to her command. Her prayers and military governmental leadership shifted the course of history and saved the nation of Israel. When the city gates were at war, Deborah, a mother of Israel who was willing to lay down her life for her God and county, arose.
Part 4: GOD'S WORD BRINGS A SHIFT IN ROLES
Deborah sent for Barak and told him the Lord commanded him to take 10,000 men of Naphtali and lead them to Mount Tabor. There the Lord would lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and troops, to the Kishon River and would put him into his hands. Barak was a military commander of Israel. He was a man of war, but he lacked courage. He said, “If you will go with me, I will go! But if you don't go, I won't go!” “Very well,” Deborah said, “I will go with you, but because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman.” (Judges 4:9)
He was dealing with heavy oppression and he did not have the faith to go. He needed Deborah to be his salvation or he would not have gotten into place for his calling. How many of you are willing to be Deborah's to help to put the Barak's in place governmentally?
So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh where he summoned Zebulun and Naphtali. Ten thousand men followed them. You see, she gave a prophetic word and it started to launch, shift and change not only Barak's and Israel's destiny, but also her own destiny. It shifted her out of sitting under the palm tree and lighting the lamps in the tabernacle. Suddenly she was getting on a horse and was thrust onto the front lines of the battle.
REVIVAL AND WAR ARE RUNNING MATES
When we are dealing with this great oppression in the land, when we are crying out for revival, we need to understand that revival and war lock hands. Revival and war are running mates. Our intercession and our prayers tip the bowls of justice from Heaven and fire falls down. When you are crying out for freedom and break-through, you are tipping the bowls in Heaven that contain justice. So on one hand we want to see a mighty outpouring of God to set people free, but when you are crying out desperate prayers of revival and visitation, you are also crying out for God's justice to come. When this happens, you are also bringing war to your families, to your churches and to governmental structures.
Out of their brokenness, they needed a miracle. With 10,000 soldiers, they were going on a suicide mission. But Deborah stood as a prophetic symbol; a signpost as a woman who was weak, but she had the word of God! She had a history of going in and lighting the lamps. She had a history of hearing the voice of God in the secret place. So suddenly when the hour came for her literally to go into war like a Joan of Arc, she was ready. She was in the place to say yes because she knew the voice of her God. She knew she had the living word of her Lord and 10,000 men believed her enough to risk their lives too.
War is on the horizon. God is going to put many of us on the battlefield. Many of us will lose our lives in the years ahead. There will be famines and diseases hitting America. We will be dealing with military police, one world government and tyranny. We are in a season of great warfare, but in the midst of it, will you be like a Deborah where you can hear God's voice and give radical mandates to men, women and children for such an hour as this?
Do you love the Lord so much that when you hear the cries of the suffering and oppressed around you, that you will volunteer to be a mother of Israel? Is there a cry in you that says, “I am willing to stand against sexual pornography, sin and abortion? I am willing to stand in the house of prayer with angels ascending and descending. I will be a woman who will stand in the gap and go before God and cry out in intercession. ‘Lord, we need revival! Lord, we need the Kingdom of God to break in with the resurrection power of life!” This is a call of war! This is a call for you to say that you want to hear the voice of God from the secret place.
Lord, we want to make a fresh holy covenant with You. We want to move as holy revolutionists, but we want to move with purity and humility. We want to be ones that will come out of the secret place and wrestle with a holy desperation and go to the place of war.
The journey of Deborah is a testimony of the power of just ONE life fully set apart for God. May her song be an invitation to you that a revolution can begin -- with one person.