Three Ways

Barak

Do I have to do it all by myself?

Tags: leadership faith courage gifts

The story so far …

Set in the time (and book) of the Judges, God’s people were going in circles. Sinning and abandoning him, being punished by foreign occupation, crying out to God in their suffering and being sent a judge – or rescuer. Once again the cycle began!

Read Judges 4.1-10

METHOD 1. Inductive study

What strikes you?

Key Principles?

Application to your circumstances

Action to take?

METHOD 2. Guided study

  • What does Barak’s reaction to God’s instruction tell you about Barak? (V8)
  • How far do you empathise with him?
  • How would you have been likely to respond?
  • What does that tell you about yourself?
  • God responds via Deborah his prophet (V9). What does it tell you about how he views our attempts to manipulate and negotiate with him to avoid things we are anxious about?
  • All that Deborah prophesied came to pass. They defeated the Caananites as God had promised, and sure enough a woman- Jael- was the one who killed Sisera and received the honour. Sometimes God asks us to take a risk for him ourselves rather than lean on other people.
  • How easy do you find it to do that? Why?
  • When HAVE you taken a risk at God’s direction – how did it turn out?
  • In what areas do you think God is currently asking you to take a risk / some kind of responsibility for him?
  • Barak missed out on the fullness of what God had for him in his unwillingness to trust & obey fully. How might the principles of this story be applicable to your current situation and what can you do to make sure you don’t repeat Barak’s mistake?

METHOD 3. Reflections on Barak

Barak was scared. Not surprising really. To be summoned by a prophet and given a direct instruction from the Lord to defeat the mighty Caananites with only 2 tribes of Israelites…. The odds weren’t great to say the least.

However his attempts to negotiate with Deborah & God, to avoid the responsibility, didn’t reflect well on him. Clearly Barak trusted Deborah more than he trusted either himself or God. "If you don’t go with me, I won’t go” sounds more like a petulant child than a military leader! Sometimes it is easier for us to put our trust in people rather than God, but this story demonstrates the problem with that.

Barak is anxious and doubting, but God is still gracious. Even when we try to manipulate, wheedle and negotiate with him he still listens to our fears and concerns. Deborah went to ‘hold Barak’s hand’, God gave him what he thought he needed, but his lack of faith and trust in God’s word cost him. The glory went to Jael who killed Sisera with a tent peg, and to Deborah who is remembered thousands of years later as a heroic leader while many of us have never heard of Barak!

There are times when God asks us to work for him as part of a team. There are also times when he asks us to trust him, to take a risk and to step out in faith; just you and him, to lean on Him, not anyone else. In his grace he will use us anyway, but if we won’t take risks with him we won’t see the full plan God has for us, we will miss out. Let’s have some faith in our gracious, trustworthy God eh?

God CAN be trusted, Israel DID win but Barak's fear and lack of faith cost him half the prize!

© Ruth Perrin 2008. Last revised on 22 November 2008

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Cloud of Witnesses is a series of Bible studies on the men and women of scripture. You'll find everyone from Gideon and Andrew through to Tamar and Tabitha.

For ideas on how to use these studies most effectively, click here

Ruth Perrin, the author, is on staff at King's Church Durham and holds an MA in Theology and Ministry.

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