Yahweh Goes Before Us!

“And Deborah said to Baraq, ‘Get up, for this is the day that Yahweh is giving Sisera into your hand! Does not Yahweh go before you?’ Thus, Baraq went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. And Yahweh broke Sisera and all the chariots and the whole army by the edge of the sword in the presence of Baraq. But Sisera got out of his chariot and escaped on foot. And Baraq pursued the chariotry and the army as far as Charosheth-Hagoyim. And the whole army of Sisera fell to the edge of the sword — not even one man was left.”

(Judges 4: 14-16)

Of this whole passage, the most important phrase of all is the last sentence that Deborah speaks to Baraq: “ Does not Yahweh go before you?” The routing and destruction of Sisera’s army is not because Baraq held the high ground or had some sort of tactical advantage. The routing and destruction of Sisera’s army is because God went before the army and because God disordered the army and because God did the routing and guided the swords of the Israelite soldiers.  This indeed is the Lord’s doing and no man can take credit for the rout.

What follows is a summary not only of the battle but of the ensuing chase. Sisera pulled men for his army as far as Harosheth-Hagoim, and thus Baraq chased them as far as the homes from which they came. This encompasses miles of chasing and skirmishes…something that likely took weeks to accomplish given the distances of ground that needed to be traversed. Yet, at every stop, the enemies of Israel fell to the sword. And given that Harosheth-Hagoim is right on the coast in northwest Israel, the word picture here is that Baraq and his armies drove Sisera’s troops into the sea.

In the verses that follow, the author of Judges will double back a bit and tell of the death of Sisera, but might we once again be reminded that anything that takes place in our lives that can be defined as good, successful, upright, or a righteous victory takes place not because of our labors and efforts, but because God is working in us and through us. He preserves and he defeats. Yet, how often we are prone to take credit for that which God has done…and with that, blame God for the bad things that take place in our lives. Oh, how the fall has twisted and distorted our perspective on what is good or ill and who is to be given the praise for these things.

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