Part 2 | “Awake, Deborahs, Awake!
We tend to think of multi-tasking as a 21st century phenomenon, but Deborah was functioning in five major roles – Intercessor, Judge, Prophetess, Mother of Israel, Deliverer/Military Strategist. 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 Ephraim, 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, paraphrased). 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 (see Isaiah 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 (see Exodus 18:20; Judges 2:17), they taught God’s Word (see Exodus 18:20; Judges 2:17), and they interceded for their people (see Deuteronomy 9:18-20, 25-29; Deuteronomy 10:10).
The Scripture tells us that judges were raised up by God to that office (see 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 local judge down at your courthouse. We are talking about the executive leader over the whole nation of Israel. She was leading Israel (see 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 was possible! Something in Deborah knew how to pull on the resources of Heaven, stand in the counsels of the Lord (see Jeremiah 23) and open her mouth and let Him fill it (see Psalm 81:10).
4. 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 ceased 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 peoples 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.
5. Deliverer/Military Strategist
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 country, arose.
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.
“Barak said to her, ‘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'” (paraphrased, see 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 breakthrough, 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.
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 to literally 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.
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, 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.”
Let’s Pray: 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.
Master Potter Ministries