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A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this study…I want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.
War is not something we like to think about, especially as women, and we certainly don’t want to participate in one. As a country we weigh the issues carefully to determine whether the goals are lofty enough for us to sacrifice our men and women, and even our own lives. As there were times when Israel had to fight for God’s kingdom, today we battle also, but our opponent is an unseen enemy. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12 NIV). As soldiers in the battle, we can learn from these who fought for God in the days of the judges.
Our verse this week is part of Judges 4:14. It is a promise God gave to Barak, but the application is to us as we follow the Lord when He calls us to move out in faith.
A Precious Word from God
“Behold, the Lord has gone out before you.” Judges 4:14 NASB
Historical background of the book of Judges:
After God brought the children of Israel into the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership (c.1405 BC), He did not give them a king, but He Himself was to be their king. This time of Jewish history is called the age of the judges. The judges were those periodically raised up by God to deliver the people from their enemies and to administer justice. Deborah was the fourth in the series of judges, and scholars approximate that the events we will read concerning her occurred in 1237 BC, or around 168 years after the Jews entered their land.
In order to be sure you understand the context of the story, the first thing you should do is to read the narrative of Chapter 4. If you are familiar with this story, read it as if you have never heard it before. As you read, look up the locations on your Bible maps or atlas.
Read Judges 4:1-24.
1. Describe your first impressions of these events, both your thoughts and your feelings.
Good Bible study skills begin with observation. It is crucial to read carefully and see exactly what the text says before attempting to understand it.
2. If you were a reporter, you would want to answer the “5 w’s and an h questions” about any story: who, what, where, when, why, and how. This is a good way to be sure you are observing the text carefully. Write down what you learn as you consider those questions.
3. What surprised you about Deborah or the events of this story?
4. Sharing question: Describe a time in your life when times were difficult or when you were overcome by hard circumstances, as the Jews were at this time.
5. Responding to God: Ask God for the courage of Deborah as you face trying times or as you face God’s enemy. I find it helpful to actually write out my prayers so that I think through what I want to say. It also gives me a record of what I prayed at certain times of my life. I can go back to a study of this kind and see how faithful God has been to answer prayers that I may have even forgotten!
Read Judges 4:1-5.
6. Who were the enemies of the sons of Israel at this time (4:2) and how were they treating God’s people (4:3)? How did the children of Israel respond to this treatment? (4:3)
7. Sharing question: Share the story of a time in your life when God used a difficulty (person or situation) to cause you to turn your attention back to Him. What did you learn from this or how did it change you?
Read Judges 4:6-10 and Exodus 3:7-4:17.
8. In these passages God called Barak and Moses to special tasks. Evaluate both God’s words to them and their responses to Him. What do you learn from them, both positive and negative?
9. Sharing question: Is there any area of your life today where you are failing to trust God to fulfill His responsibilities and promises to you? What do you need to do about it?
10. Sharing question: Consider our Precious Word from God for this week. Write down the story of a situation in your life when you saw God go before you and give you the victory.
11. Responding to God: Spend time thanking and praising God for going before you in the situation you named above or in a situation with which you are currently dealing.
Read Judges 4:10-16.
12. Specifically, how did God fulfill His promises to Barak?
13. Look up the following scriptures. How do they relate to the story of Barak? How can they help you when God calls you to complete a task for Him?
a. Psalm 33:4
b. 1 Thess. 5:24
c. 2 Timothy 1:7
d. Heb. 10:23
·Diamonds in the Word: Look up more verses that focus on God’s faithfulness. Memorize the ones that you find most meaningful.
14. In 4:6-7 and again in 4:14, what did Deborah do? What does this reveal about her? What do you learn for your own life from Deborah’s example?
15. Sharing question: Is there any situation right now in your life where you need to speak up for God to a believing friend who is failing to follow God? Or are you the one reluctant to obey? Share with your group what you need to do. Ask them to pray with you about it.
16. Responding to God: Write a prayer for the faith and courage that you need to move forward with God in the situation that you just described in the previous question.
Read Judges 4:11, 17-24.
Possibly the events here are new to you. I do not remember being taught about Jael as a child in Sunday School. I’m sure you can see why!
17. Who was Jael and why did Sisera trust her? (4:17)
18. Tell the story of how God fulfilled the prophecy of 4:9.
19. What insight do you gain about Sisera’s death from Judges 5:31?
20. Sharing question: Is there any enemy in your life that is controlling you as the enemy here controlled Israel? It may be a habit, a sin, or simply lacking the discipline to pray and prioritize your life. If God reveals something to you, what can you do to destroy it, as Jael did?
21. Responding to God: Write a prayer for the courage and faith to take the action needed to be rid of this enemy.
Read Judges 5:1-31.
As you read, keep in mind that this section is a song; therefore, it contains some figurative language, just as poetry always does. Read it slowly and carefully, considering its message. Do not worry about understanding every line. We will focus on those points that help us with our lesson.
22. What seems to be the main point of the 1st stanza (5:2-5)? To determine what is emphasized as a main point, notice what is repeated.
23. Sharing question: What applications for your own life do you see in the answer to the previous question?
24. Sharing question: Deborah was a leader. Where has God placed you as a leader—in your home, at your work, in His church? What do you learn about godly leadership from her?
Week after week we will be looking at the lives of women and discovering how they impacted their worlds as God used them for His purposes and in their own time. As you consider how God was working in these situations, think about His timing and His purposes in the woman’s life, as well as His purposes for His people and the world. Prayerfully, meditate upon these possibilities with each character studied.
25. How do you see God use Deborah for His purpose and time?
26. How do you see God use Jael for His purpose and time?
27. Responding to God question: Write a prayer for God to use you, an ordinary woman like Deborah and Jael, for His time and for His purposes.
I had a very eye-opening experience recently where I was able to stand up for the Lord with some friends of mine, who live nearby. In getting to know them better over the last few years, I had come to believe that they had a personal relationship with Christ and were living for Him alone.
We enjoyed meeting occasionally to catch up and enjoy some adult conversation. At this particular lunch, our conversation turned a little deeper, and we started talking about spiritual things. Although, their idea of “spiritual things” was nothing that I had ever heard of or at all believed in. They started talking about a strange Asian belief of arranging your furniture a certain way in your house to obtain a better balance in your life, which would bring about prosperity, love etc. I was about to come out of my seat when I heard them talk in agreement about it and that they were both doing it and had been doing it for years. I really felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to speak up for the Lord’s sake and interrupt their excitement about this strange religious practice they were doing in their “Christian” walk. So I said, “Do you think God is bringing about these positive things, by you placing your furniture in a certain way?” They both looked at me and laughed and said, “NO! It’s just energy between the furniture that does it.” There was a bit of tension building between us, as the conversation turned to the person of Jesus, the core of the Christian faith. The Lord filled me with His boldness and I said “What about the divinity of Christ?” I told them that the only way to the Father is through His Son Jesus and that this life is our only chance to accept Him or reject Him.
I was able to stand up for the Lord that day and share the truth with these precious women friends. It was very uncomfortable to do it, but I knew I had to please the Lord and not man. I realized that day what it meant to be blinded to the truth of the gospel. They think they are “doing” the right things to earn their way to heaven. That is such a heavy burden to hold being imperfect humans. Praise you, Lord that you took that burden upon yourself and have saved me and set me free from trying to earn my way into heaven.