Barak said to her [Deborah], “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” Judges 4:8 ESV
And he [Gideon] said to him [the angel of the LORD], “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” Judges 6:15 ESV
The Book of Judges chronicles the years the Israelites lived in the Promised Land before Saul was crowned king. The people went in a cycle of following God, then worshipping idols, then being oppressed by other nations, then being saved by a judge, and then the cycle repeated. Barak was chosen by God when Sisera, commander of Jabin, king of Canaan’s army. Gideon was chosen when the Midianites drove the people of Israel into hiding. While both men were approached by messengers of the LORD, they were both very reluctant to take on their roles as leaders over the people. Barak finally goes up to battle, but not until Deborah goes with him. Gideon obeys the LORD’s command to destroy the altar of Baal, but not until it is nighttime. While both men were fearful and did not readily accept their appointed tasks, God used them to free His people from their oppressors.
When Jesus came to earth, Israel was again oppressed, this time by the Romans. While the people were expecting a judge to drive the Romans away and establish a kingdom on Earth, Jesus came to offer himself as a substitute of our sins. He told, however, of a second coming when he will free Jerusalem from its oppressors.
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near…They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled….And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:20, 24, 27-28
Jesus tells that, like in the time of the judges, Jerusalem will be brought low and its people enslaved. However, he declares that he will come as the Final Judge and free his people from their oppressors. Just as the judges saved God’s people, so Jesus will save all of God’s children and, because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, the cycle will be broken. No longer will God’s children go through the cycle of following him and then sinning, they will instead by washed clean by Christ’s blood and be free to live sinless lives.
Dear God, please give me strength to be bold and follow you instead of being reluctant like Barak or Gideon. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sins and for your promise to come back and right all the wrongs on earth. In Your Holy Name, Amen.