Revive Our Hearts Podcast

I Will Surely Go with You

Leslie Basham: Warning: What you are about to hear may make you angry. At least that's the conclusion you may draw from an email Revive Our Hearts received from a listener. Heather said, "Nancy’s teachings fueled my rage.” She was angry with God and the church and listened to the teaching of Nancy Leigh DeMoss because she figured it would, in her words, “confirm how harmful Christians were."

So, Nancy, how do you feel about women listening to Revive Our Hearts just so you can “fuel their rage”?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, my guess is that she may not be the only one. But from the outset of this ministry, I knew that if I were to deliver the message that God had put in my heart and teach the whole counsel of God, I would often be swimming upstream. I’m not a fighter by nature. I want people to like me, but from the outset my desire has been to simply do what God has called me to do and to be faithful to His Word.

Leslie: We’ll hear more about that this week in an important message, but first, back to Heather who listened in rage. Here’s the end of that story:

After listening day after day, my heart has softened, and I recognize that I have become an ex-feminist. I thank you for your challenging and honest teaching as it has been an instrument in my healing.

Nancy: I’m so thankful for the way God uses this ministry to soften hearts just like Heather’s. Women catch this program in all sorts of circumstances, and God’s Word is intersecting with their lives in ways that we couldn’t predict. It’s our listeners who make those connections possible through their prayers and contributions.

Leslie: In the summer months, we typically see a downturn in donations, so your help right now will make a huge difference. To help make sure Revive Our Hearts is available each weekday, call 1–800–569–5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, August 25, 2015. 

Do you ever feel like you lack the courage to fully embrace all God may have for you? Today we’ll hear a message from Nancy that will help you lean on the Lord for His courage to do His will in our day. Nancy delivered this message at one of the True Woman Conferences.  Let’s listen to “Deborah: A True Woman Joins the Battle.”

Nancy: I’m praying that God will send out thousands of women from this place to live out the message of true womanhood and to reproduce that message in the lives of those around you.

Now, you may be thinking, as we’ve talked about this movement and biblical womanhood and the nation and the world, that your little itty bitty life is not all that significant or really can’t make a difference.

Let me read to you a quote by a British pastor and writer from the 1700 and 1800s. His name was John Angell James, so the language is a little quaint because it’s not quite the way we talk today, but I think if you’ll follow this and listen, you’ll see the point he’s making.

Every woman whether rich or poor, married or single, has a circle of influence [Every woman has a circle of influence. That’s you. You have a circle of influence] within which according to her character, she is exerting a certain amount of power for good or harm. Every woman, by her virtue or her vice, by her folly or her wisdom, by her levity or her dignity, is adding something to our national elevation or degradation.

Every one of us as women is adding something to the condition of this country. We’re helping make it a better place, or we’re pulling it down. There’s no neutral, and it has to do with our character and the way it’s seen in our circle of influence.

He went on to say,

A community is not likely to be overthrown where a woman fulfills her mission, for by the power of her noble heart over the hearts of others, she will raise it from its ruins and restore it again to prosperity and joy [the influence that each of us has as a woman].

Let me ask you to turn in your Bible, if you would, to the book of Judges in the Old Testament, chapter 4. We're going to look at an account in these next moments that I trust God will use to challenge your heart about how He wants to use our lives.

This account takes place in about 1200 B.C., and it's a story of a woman who fulfilled her mission. God used the noble heart of this woman to raise her community from its ruins and to restore it again to prosperity and joy. It's a story of Deborah, who is an illustration of a true woman, a woman who exerted strong, godly influence in a way that was distinctively feminine and in a way that encouraged the men around her to be more godly and to take greater leadership.

Deborah was not a weak or wimpy woman. Sometimes I think we have this image if you're going to be a true woman of God you have to be this little weak, wimpy woman. She was a woman who was valiant. She was courageous while at the same time being humble and womanly. I'll just tell you that's a balance that only the Spirit of God can make true in our lives, and that was the case with Deborah.

Now in chapter 4 we have the story, the account, the narrative of how Deborah was instrumental in delivering Israel from the oppression of a powerful Canaanite regime. Then in chapter 5 we have a poetic retelling of the story in a victory hymn, a song of deliverance that was probably written by Deborah. We're going to focus our time mostly on chapter 4 but a few times I'll go back and forth to chapter 5 because there are a few details you find in chapter 5 in the hymn, the retelling of the story, that you don't see in chapter 4.

So chapter 4, verses 1–3 set the stage for this account. It describes a cycle that is repeated at least seven times in the book of Judges. That cycle can be summarized in four words, and to help you remember them they all start with the letter "D." You can trace this cycle not only through the book of Judges but you can probably trace it in your own life because it's a picture of God's ways.

First there is disobedience. God's people disobey Him. Then there is discipline. God brings discipline into the lives of His children. Then under the disciplining hand of God, God's people are brought to a place of desperation, and out of that desperation they cry out to the Lord, and God sends deliverance.

Look at disobedience in chapter 4:1, the beginning of this cycle:

And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD after Ehud died.

Ehud was one of the judges of Israel in that season. The people of Israel again . . . This was a pattern in their lives and this was not pagans who were acting this way, though pagans did as well, but this was God's chosen covenant people who were doing evil in the sight of the Lord.

We tend in our day to focus on the sins of unbelievers and all the evil things they are doing in our culture, but God is concerned about the purity, the sanctification of His people.

Now, what did God's people do that was so evil? Well, you may want to turn there or just listen if you want, but back in chapter 2 we see a description of what happened over and over again to the Children of Israel.

Chapter 2:12 says, "They abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt." God had rescued them; He had redeemed them, and then they abandoned Him. Their Savior, their Redeemer, their Lord, their Father, their Lover, they abandoned Him and worse, they went after other gods, other lovers from among the gods of the peoples who were around them and bowed down to them, and they provoked the Lord to anger. This was a period of spiritual apostasy in the nation of Israel, of horrible moral decline among God's people.

So disobedience brings what? Discipline. God brings His discipline, and so we see in chapter 4, verse 2,

The LORD sold them into the hand of Jaban king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor.

Now, Jaban was a powerful king, and Hazor is a town in the northern region of Israel. It’s important to remember, this is about ten miles north of the Sea of Galilee, and you're going to see how geography plays a part in this whole story.

The commander of his army was Sisera who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim, which is a village also in the north of Israel. I’m going to come back to the first part of verse 3 in a moment, but look at the last part of verse 3: This commander "had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for 20 years."

Who gave God's people up to be oppressed by their enemies? Who sold them? God did. This is the chastening hand of God, and God uses external circumstances and people as His instruments to discipline His children.

Here’s a nation, God's people, given over to idolatry and under the disciplining, chastening hand of God. They're under the oppressive rule of the Canaanites. Listen, you can't see God, but you can see the effects of what He brings about in this discipline. Sometimes we're chafing against the human instruments, the tools that God is using to chasten, when He wants us to recognize His hand behind that, trying to bring us to a place of repentance.

  • The Israelites are overwhelmed.
  • They’re hopelessly out numbered by the enemy.
  • They’re vulnerable.
  • They lack weapons.
  • There is fear.
  • There is low morale.
  • The people are discouraged.
  • The land is in a state of fear, terror, and chaos.
  • And, as we'll see in a few moments, another sign of God's discipline, there was a lack of strong male leadership.

So disobedience brings discipline and where does that lead, hopefully? To desperation. Look at the part of verse 3 that we skipped over, the first part of verse 3. Then . . . when? . . . after the discipline, right? "Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help."

It took intense discipline over a prolonged period of time for God to get the people's attention. Do you remember how long it was? Twenty years! You say, “How could those people be so stupid? How did they not get it? Twenty years?”

How long has it taken you? How long is it taking me to get it? To be brought to a place of desperation where we cry out to the Lord in humility and repentance? Does that not demonstrate the longsuffering and the mercy of God that through all those years He would wait? He would continue to exert pressure, but all with the goal of restoring His people to a place of obedience and humility.

You see, God's discipline, His chastisement is intended to humble us, to bring us to our knees, to bring us to the end of ourselves, to make us recognize our need for Him and turn our hearts toward Him. And such is the merciful, redemptive heart of God that when His people cry out, what does He do? He sends deliverance. 

Look at verse 4 of chapter 4.

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment (vv. 4–5).

Here is a woman who was faithfully serving the Lord, serving her family, serving her people and utilizing her God-given gifts, fulfilling her calling. She was a woman who was living for others, not for self. She was not looking for a bigger place, a bigger opportunity, a bigger place of ministry. She was faithfully doing what God had called her to do where He had called her to do it.

We learn three things about Deborah in this passage, and, by the way, I'm just going to give us the skim off the top of the surface of this passage. If you want to hear some extended teaching, verse by verse through the entire passage, we have a series that we've aired on Revive Our Hearts. That's available in our resource center, but I want you to just capture the essence and the heart of this passage.

First, we see that she was a prophetess, and without going into detail about the Old Testament role of prophetess versus New Testament, we know that she had a ministry of teaching the Word of God, of warning and encouraging based on God's Word.

Then we see that she was a wife. I don't think it's insignificant that Scripture points out that she was a wife. This was her primary human relationship, and she was able to serve the Lord without neglecting the home front.

And then she was a judge. Judges in this era were those whom God appointed and raised up to rescue His people from their enemies. Deborah was the fourth judge in Israel. Notice she was not self-appointed. This is not a position when she was nine years old she said, “I would like to grow up and be a judge.” She did not call herself to this.

God raised her up for such a time as this. And the people sought her out to settle differences, to give counsel and wisdom, because here was a woman who knew God and knew His Word. She knew how to listen to His voice.

Now, Deborah lived in those little towns we mentioned. They may or may not be familiar to you, but it helps, as the story unfolds, to the realize that she lived in the southern part of Israel near Jerusalem, quite a distance from the Canaanite strongholds in the north part of the country, but she was aware of what was going on. Even though that oppression hadn't influenced her neighborhood the way it had those in the north, she was aware, and she was ready and available and concerned when God called her to do something about it.

She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali [which is the far north], and said to him, “Has not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun [these are the northern tribes]. And I [the Lord] will you draw out Sisera, the general of Jaban’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I [the Lord], will give him into your hand’?" (vv. 6–7). 

So Deborah has heard from the Lord, and she sends for Barak and tells him that he's to gather 10,000 men from the nearby tribes, the ones most affected by the conflict and call them to Mount Tabor, which is strategically located at the juncture of the tribes of Naphtali, Zebulun, and Issachar. It’s a safe place from which to attack the Canaanite forces and chariots below.

God has promised to Deborah, who conveys the promise to Barak, that God will draw Sisera and the Canaanite forces into battle, and God will give them into Barak's hands. Here is a woman who believed God, believed that He was sovereign, that He was powerful, and that He would win the battle.

And again, we see that this is a wise woman that knew how to listen to the Word of God. She wasn't just speaking her own words or her own ideas. We women have done a whole lot too much of that, and people get tired of listening to us because we're just giving our own opinions. And you know what? My opinion doesn't matter any more than yours or anybody else’s, but when we become women of God's Word who know the Word of God, the promises of God, have internalized them, lived them out, believe them, and are sharing them with others, then people will stop and be influenced by that word.

When she spoke and gave direction, it was the word she had received from the Lord. Now, be careful when you go back into your homes not just to throw your notes at everybody and the ministry women's leadership in your church and say, “We need to change things around here. Susan Hunt said so and so, and here, you need to read this book.” Just be gentle, be prayerful. Listen and wait for the Lord. Ask Him for the right timing and the right wording and clarity of direction as to how it should be applied in your situation.

She says to Barak, “Has not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you?” Because this woman had confidence in God's Word, people looked to her for answers.

Do people come to you? Some of you older women, do people come to you for wisdom, for counsel? You say, “I'm not a counselor.” You don't need to be a counselor. You just need to know the Wonderful Counselor, and people need to know that you listen to Him and that you know His Word and you know how to point them to Scripture. They can go to The View to get the world's way of thinking. But do they know how to come to you to get the true view, God's way of thinking?

Well, verse 8,

Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (vv. 8–9). 

Now, we are not told why Barak insisted Deborah go with him. Perhaps he wanted assurance of God's presence because he knew that God was with this woman. What we do know is that Deborah agreed to go, but she told Barak that the honor for the victory, humanly speaking, would not go to Barak but to a woman.

Now, if you know the rest of the story, you know that she was not speaking of herself, but she was speaking prophetically of the role that Jael would have in the victory.

So continuing in verse 9: “Then Deborah arose.” I love those words because so often I'm afraid to step into the fray. So often I would rather stay in my convenient, comfortable setting and not get up and really get engaged in the battle. I'm glad Deborah got up when she knew that's what God wanted her to do. Out of her comfort zone.

[She] arose and went with Barak to Kadesh. And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him (vv. 9–10).

Now, she had to know this was going to be a dangerous situation. The battle was located far from where Deborah lived. She could have stayed behind on the sidelines, uninvolved, but she had to get involved because God had a call on her life, and she had a heart for God and a heart for His people.

We see in this story that God uses human instruments to fulfill His kingdom purposes, but He doesn't always use the people that you would expect. In this case, God chose and used unconventional means to defeat the enemy and deliver His people.

First of all, He used two women as part of the battle plan, Jael and Deborah. Unexpected—not the way that we would have written the script and certainly not the way it would have been written in that era.

Then He used, as we’re seeing in this passage, foot soldiers, 10,000 men on foot. You say, ‘What's the big deal about that?” Remember how the Canaanites were traveling? 900 iron chariots. These were weapons of mass destruction. These were massive war vehicles, and these chariots had oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, and you’re going to send foot soldiers into that battle?

Why does God do things like that? So God will get the glory. So they can't glory in human flesh. “Oh, yes, some great military general led us to battle, and we had all these great weapons.” No way. We know as we read this story now, we’re just reminded that God is the Conqueror. God is the one who gets the victory. He chooses and uses weak vessels who are willing to be used.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been inviting women to courageously join a battle. She originally presented this story of Deborah at one of the True Woman Conferences, the national gatherings hosted by Revive Our Hearts. 

Maybe you’ve been listening and you’ve been inspired to say, “Yes, I’m ready to join the battle and live out God’s design for my life. Maybe you’re intrigued by what you’ve been hearing and want to know more about all this “True Woman” stuff.

Let me tell you a great place to start is for us to send you a a copy of a book Nancy edited called Becoming God’s True Woman. It includes chapters from Nancy and several other guest authors—these are women who have studied God’s Word. And with His help, they are living out a message of biblical womanhood. They’ll help you understand what the Bible says about femininity, about true beauty, about embracing God as your Father, about marriage, and many other topics. 

We’ll send you Becoming God’s True Woman as our thanks when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959, or donate online and you can get the book as well. The web address is ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow, we’ll hear part two of Nancy’s message, “Deborah: A True Woman Joins the Battle.” What would you do to build God’s kingdom if you had no fear? Learn to say no to fear, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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