Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: When someone you love is suffering, it’s natural to want to stop the pain. But if God’s using suffering to draw a lost soul to Him, you need to be careful to not get in the way. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The Lord knows exactly what it will take and how long it will take to get your attention when you’re in the far land wandering from God, and God knows exactly what it will take and how long it will take to get the attention of those you love who are living in disobedience. So let God do His work.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, October 4 .

Moms would do anything to rescue hurting kids, but we can’t control every situation. If a child is in rebellion towards God, sometimes the best thing we can do is step back and let them experience the results of their sin. We’ll hear more about that when Nancy continues in the series, When Men Don't Lead: A Look at the Life of Deborah

Nancy: We’re in the book of Judges, chapter 4. We’re still in the first three verses looking at the context and the background and the setting for what we’re going to move into over the next several days, and that’s the story of Deborah. She’s one of the judges of Israel that God used to bring deliverance to His people.

But I want to finish up on this background of the first three verses, the first paragraph of Judges chapter 4. We’ve seen that there’s a cycle that the Children of Israel went through in the book of Judges. It’s a cycle that we as the children of God often find ourselves going through as well.

We said that four words summarize the book of Judges: disobedience, discipline, desperation and deliverance.

First human disobedience, then divine discipline, which is an expression of God’s mercy and His love, and then out of that comes human desperation. As we get desperate, then God sends deliverance.

We read in the first couple of verses of Judges four that the people of Israel, again, did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Then in verse 2 we saw that the Lord turned the Children of Israel over to the Canaanite armies under King Jabin and his commander, the commander of his army, Sisera, both of whom lived in the northern region of Israel.

The Lord turned them over because of their sin. The Lord let them come into a time of oppression and captivity and distress and domination. It was a fearful time; it was a desperate time in the lives of the people.

But as we come to verse 3, we see the Children of Israel are moving in to the next phase of the cycle.

Judges 4:3, “Then . . .” When is then? Then is when the Lord had sent the oppression, the bondage, the discipline. As a result of the discipline, it achieved its effect, its desired goal—finally! Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help.

I think that there’s probably no sweeter sound in heaven than when God’s children cry out to Him and say, “Lord, I need You! Help!” This is what God was waiting for.

The people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help for he, [that is Sisera, the commander of army] had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years (v. 3).

So we see here that God exerted intense discipline, cruel discipline. God used this Canaanite power with their 900 chariots. It was a cruel enemy. God used the enemy and sent the enemy. It’s clear that God sold them into the hand of Jabin. This was God’s doing.

So finally they cried out to God for help, but it took intense pressure over a prolonged period of time before they got the point. Twenty years! I’m thinking as I’m reading this passage, why did they wait twenty years?

Well, why do we wait so long?

Twenty years it took to get their attention and that very fact demonstrates to me the incredible long-suffering heart of God.

Twenty years God sat in heaven and waited for the people to get the point, waited for the people to break, and don’t you think God’s heart was breaking?

I mean, as a mother you watch your children wandering off into the far land and into sin and your heart is broken. Some of you have waited a year or two or three or maybe twenty years for a child to come back to the Lord, and you’re thinking, “Why don’t they get it?”

You hate seeing them go through that. You would do anything to rescue and deliver them, but you can’t because they haven’t asked for help. They’re not broken. They’re not teachable.

So God sat and waited. The mercy of God!

Now, surely during those twenty years the people were miserable. I’m sure they didn’t like the oppression, and I’m sure that during those years they cried out, but apparently they didn’t cry out to God.

They probably cried out to each other. They may have signed petitions and tried to pass laws and tried to get rid of the Canaanites in whatever ways they may have had, but apparently they did not cry out to God.

That’s who they needed to cry out to because He was the one they had forsaken. He was the one they had sinned against.

You see, God’s discipline and chastisement are intended to humble us, to bring us to the end of ourselves, and to make us recognize our need for Him. His goal is that our hearts would be turned back to Him.

The Lord knows exactly what it will take and how long it will take to get your attention when you’re in the far land wandering from God. God knows exactly what it will take and how long it will take to get the attention of those you love who are living in disobedience.

So let God do His work! Don’t try to rescue that child, that mate, that friend from the cross.

God is at work! We have to come to the place where we exhaust all our own resources, where we realize that my friends won’t be able to get me out of this, my counselor, my therapist, my pastor, books, my job, neither can alcohol or anti-depressants—there is no place for me to turn but to the Lord.

Are you to that place yet? If you living under the chastening hand of God, have you come to the place where you’re willing to say, “Lord, help me! It’s my sin that got me here! I need Your grace. I need Your mercy. I need Your forgiveness.”

What will it take for you to turn to the Lord and cry out to Him for help? To bring you to the place where you say with the psalmist, “I lift up my eyes to the hills where my help comes from. My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2).

“Oh Lord, it’s against You that I’ve sinned and done this great evil in Your sight and You are the only one who can deliver me.”

God’s patience is waiting and shows His merciful and redemptive heart because we see that in this cycle God waits for us to cry out and then always He sends deliverance.

Now, He does not always send deliverance in the same way. He does not always remove all the circumstances that were occasioned by our sins. And it doesn’t always happen without a battle, as we’re going to see in Judges chapters 4 and 5.

But always, when God’s children cry out to Him for mercy from broken and repentant hearts, God pours grace on the humble.

It’s one of the ways of God. So if you’re struggling under His chastisement, don’t resist the discipline! BREAK!

I’m so earnest about this in particular today because I have a very dear friend who is right now resisting the discipline of God, and he is miserable. But what he hates are his circumstances. He hates the problems that have been caused by his sins, but he doesn’t yet hate his sin.

As I’m listening to the situation, I’m just thinking to myself, “Just acknowledge that you’ve sinned. Just say, ‘Lord, I need You.’ Cry out for help.” Until he does, there will be no help.

You want to pray, and I know it’s hard. I’ve talked to this precious wife, and I said, “You need to release your husband to the Lord and say, ‘Lord, whatever it takes for You to bring him to the end of himself, I’m willing for You to do it.’” Knowing that it may be costly to this wife, but here’s a wife that cares more about the glory of God and the sanctification of her husband than she does about her personal happiness.

God waits for us to cry out, and then He sends deliverance. The very next verse in Judges chapter 4 tells us, “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth was judging Israel at that time” (v. 4).

What did God do when the people cried out to Him for help? God raised up a helper. God raised up a human instrument to help deliver His people. As soon as the people cried out to the Lord, He sent help.

Now the rest of Judges chapter 4 and then Judges chapter 5 (which is a retelling of Judges four through the means of a victory hymn or song), the rest of this passage is really a description of the deliverance.

The deliverance falls in three stages. If you have your Bibles, you might want to mark some lines to show you how the chapters break up.

You have, in verses 4–10 of Judges four, the period that leads up to the battle, the prelude, the set-up for the battle. Then in verses 12–16 you have a description of the battle itself in which God won a decisive victory over the Canaanites. That’s verses 12–16.

Then in verses 17–22 of chapter four, you have the conclusion, the aftermath. This is where you have the destruction of Sisera, who was the Canaanite commander, at the hands of Jael, who is the other woman involved in this story.

So leading up to the battle, the prelude, then the battle itself, then the conclusion, the follow-up, the aftermath, what I just outlined in chapter 4 is the same outline you’ll find in chapter 5.

There are three basic large chunks of chapter 5 in this victory song that talk about the prelude, the battle itself, and then the aftermath. You can find where those verses are.

So we come today to the prelude, the setup for the battle. Verse 4 of Judges 4, “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth.”

By the way, we don’t know anything about Lappidoth. It’s the only place he’s mentioned in Scripture. Some commentators believe that this could be translated that she was a “woman of Lappidoth” which would mean that Lappidoth was her home town.

We don’t know of a place named Lappidoth. We don’t know of a person named Lappidoth, so either she had a husband with that name or she was from a small town with that name.

Regardless, Deborah was a prophetess who was judging Israel at that time.

Verse 5, “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.”

Now, here’s where we meet Deborah who is kind of the heroine of this story. She’s the fourth in a line of judges in the nation of Israel, and she lived about five miles north of Jerusalem. You’ll see on this map of the Holy Land is this town where Sisera lived, Harosheth-hagoyim. It is in the northern part, the far northern part of the nation of Israel.

A map is real helpful as you’re trying to understand the Scripture, as I plotted on this map the cities that are referenced in this passage, it gave me a new insight into Deborah’s character and her role, and you’ll see why as we progress in the story.

I wanted you to see where these Canaanite armies were centered in the far northern part of the Holy Land, the Promised Land where the children of Israel lived.

So you see, Deborah did not live near where the action was. She didn’t live near where the problem was. There is about a sixty mile distance between where she lived and where the action was in the north.

Now sixty miles doesn’t seem all that great to us, but in a day with no mass transportation and no conveniences and roads like we have today, sixty miles was a long way away. It’s interesting that this woman who lived far from the problem was still willing to get involved when God said, “I have a plan for you in this battle.”

Verse 6 tells us that “she sent and summoned Barak, the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali.” Again, if you’ll look at this map, Kedesh is in the tribe of Naphtali, and again it up in the far north, next to the Sea of Galilee.

So even Barak is from the north. Deborah is far removed from all these other main characters.

She summoned Barak and she said to him,

Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, to go gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulon.

And I will draw out Sisera, [this is God speaking and Deborah is quoting Him] I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand (vv. 6–7).

Again, on this map you see that this river Kishon is up in the northern part of the Holy Land.

Now God raises up Deborah. She hears from the Lord, and she summons Barak. We don’t know anything about him or why she summoned him or who he was. It’s probably safe to assume that he was a military man, that he was involved as part of the Israeli military. She summoned him from Naphtali and told him that God has said that “you are to gather 10,000 troops from these northern tribes and call them to Mount Tabor.”

If you look at the map, Mount Tabor is up in the north near Kedesh, near the place where Sisera is from, near where King Jabin is from, near the river Kishon. All the activity is up in the north.

But Deborah has called Barak down to the south. She gives him this message, and she says that this is what God has said. And God has promised that “I will draw Sisera, [the Canaanite general and the Canaanite forces into battle] and I will give them into Barak’s hands” (v. 7).

All through this chapter you see that God is sovereign. God is in control. God is the one who is going to wage and win the battle.

Now, as I look at Deborah, I see a woman who is a wise woman.

  • She is a prophetess. 
  • She knows God. 
  • She’s been in God’s presence. 
  • She’s been listening to God. 
  • She knows the Word of the Lord.
  • She finds out what God has to say before she speaks.

My trouble is I often speak, and when I speak I’m very certain of what I’m saying, but Deborah was a woman who first got the Word from God.

We have the Word of the Lord. We have the Scripture to tell what God has said. Once she spoke, it wasn’t her word. It wasn’t Deborah giving direction to Barak—she was just quoting God.

She was just opening up the Word of God to Barak. It wasn’t Deborah’s plan. It wasn’t Deborah’s idea to take on the Canaanite army. It was something she had received directly from the Lord.

“Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you?” (v. 6). Here’s a woman who in a time of national distress has confidence in the Word of the Lord. That’s what she looks to for answers. That’s what she looks to for a battle plan.

She’s not looking to the evening news to get her direction or to get her strategy, she’s looking to God and His Word.

By the way, I think it’s because this woman was listening to the Lord, that’s why people were looking to her for answers. The people were drawn to her because they knew that in a day when apparently there were few men who were listening to God, they knew that here was a woman who walked with God and who had godly wisdom.

Now Barak says to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go” (v. 8).

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” (v. 9).

For whatever reason, and we don’t know the reason, Barak insisted that Deborah go with him to the battle. It could have been because he was scared. It could have been an expression of unbelief. But it could just as well have been an expression of humility, knowing that Deborah was a woman who walked with God, and he wanted the presence of God to be with him in the battle.

We don’t know the reason, but we do know that Deborah agreed to go and did let Barak know that the honor for the victory, humanly speaking, would not go to Barak, but would go to a woman.

Now Barak probably thought that woman was Deborah, but we’re going to see that the victory really . . . The woman referred to here was Jael. She will come into the story at the end of the battle. Deborah is speaking prophetically here of Jael’s role.

So verse 9 tells us that “Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.” She goes from the south where she lives, where she’s been ministering, and she goes with Barak up to his home town where he’s to begin gathering these troops.

“And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him” (v. 10).

Here’s a woman who could have stayed and not gotten involved. She could have stayed in a place that was safer, more secure, but she heads right to the scene of the trouble because that’s where God has called her to go.

That’s where God wants her, and that’s the safest place to be. It’s easy for us to look around at what’s going on in our culture and think, “I don’t want to get my hands dirty with this. I want to stay safe and secure right in my own little comfort zone.”

There are times when God calls us out of that comfort zone and says, “I want you to be willing to get involved.” Whether it’s in prayer or in direct action or in some way that is not convenient.

I just want to tell you that the whole Revive Our Hearts ministry and the Revive Our Hearts conferences that we do . . . I would personally rather just stay at home where it’s safe and secure and easy and comfortable than to go out on a limb and be involved in a spiritual battle (which is what we’re involved in at Revive Our Hearts with the hearts and souls of women). It would be so much easier for me to stay in my house where it’s easy and comfortable.

Now for you, staying in your home may be where the battle is. If you’re married, if you’ve got children, that’s where God has placed you. It may be easier for you to run, and God’s saying, “I want to tell you where to go, when to be there, where to get involved, and I want to get you out of your comfort zone and get you involved in the spiritual warfare that’s going on for the hearts and lives of the people around you.”

When God calls—if we’re women of God—we’re going to do what Deborah did. She went! She went!

For her, that meant leaving her geographic location. For you it may mean staying exactly where you are and staying engaged in a battle that you’d rather run from.

The thing is to know the Word of God, to know the call of God, to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit of God in your life.

Father, as I’ve been studying the life of Deborah, I’m again gripped by the wisdom of this woman, her discernment, and the way that You used her in the life of Your people because she was connected to You, because she was a woman who heard Your voice, knew Your Word and was willing to get out of her comfort zone—to leave what was familiar and convenient and to let You call her into the battle.

So thank You, Lord, for her example. I pray that You would show each of us in our season and situation of life what it is that You’re saying to us and how You want us to be involved.

May we have courage and faith and obedient, surrendered hearts that follow You wherever You lead. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Deborah went!

There’s a lot of meaning in those two little words. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been helping you understand what it means to act courageously when God wants you to do something.

A lot of people have courageously obeyed in order to bring you today’s program.

We wouldn’t exist without listeners who support Revive Our Hearts financially. You can find out how to get involved in that way by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

A lot of people have courageously obeyed in order to bring you today’s program. The prayer and financial support of our listeners has greatly affected a woman who wrote to Nancy.

Nancy: We received a sweet, encouraging email from a woman named Priscilla in Florida. As a stay-at-home mom of three young children, her days were packed, and she struggled to spend time with the Lord. She wrote,

I prayed that God would help me in the areas of my life that I have not released to Him.  Boy did He answer. Something wonderful happened.  Revive Our Hearts came into my life.

This mom first heard the program on the car radio and said,

It totally changed my mindset.

So she started downloading the podcast each day, listening while walking. After listening to the podcasts, she said,

Wow. They have been nourishing me spiritually. I come alive after hearing the broadcast.

When you contribute financially to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, you’re helping to make this kind of story possible. You're investing in the discipleship of young moms like Priscilla, who desperately need the Lord to renew their minds and to give them the grace they need to fulfill His calling in their lives.

We're able to offer Revive Our Hearts each day in its various forms: on the radio, the transcripts on the website, the podcasts, all these are possible because of the support and the prayers of listeners like you who say, "I want to help get that message into the lives and hearts of women across this country.

So if you are not already doing so, would you consider supporting Revive Our Hearts with your prayers and your financial gift? Whether whatever you're able to give is large or small, you'll be making an investment in the lives of women who desperately need to discover the power of God’s Word.

Leslie: When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll show our thanks by sending you our new 2012 wall calendar. Women look forward to these lovely calendars each year. This year’s theme is "Seeking Him Together." The Scripture and quotes from Nancy will encourage you month by month.

Ask for the Seeking Him Calendar when you donate by phone. Here’s the number: 1-800-569-5959, or make your donation online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Do you sometimes feel like a nobody? Then you’re the kind of person God likes to use to accomplish His purposes. We’ll talk about it tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts
with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.