New Hope Notes
Deborah: Everyone needs a Back-Coverer
The Ohana Factor
Pastor Jon and Cyndi Burgess
PASTOR JON BURGESS: Our new series will be about one of the most important factors in our lives—relationships (The Ohana Factor). We’re hoping that everything we discuss about The Ohana Factor will help us in the home. If our relationships only works at church, that’s not really doing anybody any good because we spend only an hour and a half at church; however, the truth of God’s word helps us live it out every single hour of our lives!
None of us can choose which family we are born into, but we can choose the ohana or the relationships that we have in our lives. Over the next few weeks, we will meet 11 characters in scripture that typify the kind of people we need to be and the kind of people we need to have in our lives. One of those people that we’re celebrating this weekend is Mom! We are so thankful for you.
What my mom did really well, Joshua (in the book of Judges) and his generation didn’t do very well. They failed to pass on their faith to the next generation, and we can see how important that is…
Judges 2:10-11,15 NIV says, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals…Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as He had sworn to them. They were in great distress.”
Here’s a guarantee: In order to stay in distress and have a life full of stress, just ignore the covering of God! But if you're tired of distress and a life filled with stress, come back under the covering of God. We all need God's hand upon us, not against us!
When we rebel against God and are uncovered, He’ll bring someone into our life to call us back to Himself. The first person we will meet in The Ohana Factor series is Deborah. Maybe you're not very familiar with her, but she's a very important leader and person in Scripture. To help us learn more about her, I want to welcome and introduce you to my most important back coverer Pastor Cyndi Burgess, my wife who’s been covering me for 21 years!
PASTOR CYNDI BURGESS: Happy Mother's Day! Want some good news tonight? Here's some good news: Our God is faithful! When we are unfaithful, our God is faithful. When we are faithless, our God continues to be faithful!
When we’re in a place of sin, sin will take us farther than we wanted to go, it will keep us longer than we wanted to stay, and it will cost us more than we intended to pay!
Israel was in sin. God’s people were not faithful, their hearts turned away from God, and this generation no longer followed God—eventually, they lost God’s blessing and missed it with Him. Looking back in scripture, the Israelites previously were victorious over Canaan and ruled over them; but now the Canaanites had taken the Israelites into captivity for 20 years!
Finally, in Judges 4, the Israelites were desperate and they cried out to God for help and the Lord heard them. In His faithfulness, God sends them Deborah. She blessed the nation of Israel because she was someone who modeled what it looked like to come under the Lord's covering—God had her back and so she had Israel’s back. Deborah modeled how to listen to the voice of God…
1. We Come Under God’s Covering By Listening.
Deborah is one of only seven female prophets in scripture. Only three people in all of biblical history held the trifold role of prophet, judge, and military leader—Moses, Samuel, Deborah! Isn't that fascinating? She's leading not only the women, but the men, as well, in a time when they needed to hear because God is still speaking. Hebrews 13:8 says that our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and the reality of what He spoke then is the same reality today. What we choose to listen to will either lead us into our destiny or pull us away from it!
Judges 4:4 NIV says, “Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.” A prophet is one who hears from God, and communicates it to His people.
Judges 4:5 NIV says, “She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided.”
As a judge, Deborah would sit and listen to cases and debates (legal or property) and decide for the people what to do. She was very influential; the fourth judge in a long series of judges over a period of 350 years. The people of Israel were stuck in an unhealthy cycle of sin and slavery and when they were in distress, they called out to God and He would send someone to rescue them.
John 10:3-4 NIV says, “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
Deborah knew the voice of her shepherd (the voice of God). As she listened to Him, He gave her a strategy for the nation of Israel that required a heaping amount of faith!
2. We Come Under God’s Covering By Faith.
As mentioned, the nation of Israel was under the leadership of the Canaanites (oppressed by them for 20 years), and God gives direction to Deborah.
Up to this point, Deborah is a prophet and a judge—not a military leader. She doesn't have military tactical training, but God gives a word to her for the nation of Israel. So she sends for Barak, the military commander of Israel in…
Judges 4:6,7 NIV says, “She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: “Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.”
Judges 4:8 NIV says, “Barak said to her, ‘If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.’” Barak is a skilled warrior, well?regarded and well?known in his time. But his response to Deborah is so interesting. Why would he say that? The reality of the situation is that Israel was in 20 years of oppression; even the noblest military commanders and leaders of that time were just stuck! Why would it change now?
Judges 4:14 NIV says, “Then Deborah said to Barak, ‘Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?’” Deborah’s faith turned the tables! She had influence on the nation because, even when the leader was stuck, she was able to speak the word of God and say, “Enough is enough! I heard God, and He said He will fight for us! Now is our time. The same God who saved us again and again is the same God that will save us now. He rescued us from insurmountable odds, Barak, and He's going to do it again!” She had great faith and tells him, “God's got this. God wants you to fight this army that has oppressed us for 20 years, but now we've got it!”
Hebrews 11:1 NIV says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”Faith is not just some kind of wishful thinking. Faith is the actual existence of what we hope for and the proof of what we do not see. Faith is not blind. Faith is living eyes wide open in the reality that our God, who has been faithful in the past, will be faithful again. Deborah could see the victory in the battlefield with the Canaanites because she knew who her God was. Her faith was able to buoy Barak when he felt unsure of himself; conversely, our fear will bury others; our faith can buoy them!
We will look at what it means for us to be a back coverer for other people horizontally…
PASTOR JON: Everyone needs a back coverer, but in order for that to happen…
3. We Must Know The Difference Between A Backstabber And A Back Coverer.
PASTOR JON: A backstabber will stab you in the back and they will tell you what you want to hear. They will flatter you to advance their own cause and to see your ultimate demise. A back coverer will tell you not necessarily what you want to hear, but what you need to hear! (Proverbs 27:6 KJV says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.") It's a hurt that leads to healing, like setting the bone after it's broken, putting your shoulder back in its socket—it never feels good, but it's for your good!
Deborah’s job was to give the prophetic word; she wasn’t supposed to go out to battle. It was Barak’s job…
Judges 4:8-10 NIV says, “Barak said to her, ‘If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.’ ‘Certainly I will go with you,’ said Deborah. ‘But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.’ So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him.”
The Message paraphrase brings out the difference between a backstabber and a back coverer:
Galatians 6:1-6, 9-10 says,“1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. 4-5 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. 6 Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.
9-10 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.”
It’s about focus: A backstabber is focused on advancing his own agenda; a back coverer is advancing God’s agenda. We all need to understand that we’ve probably been both:
*The Mouth: Critical of others or being careful?
*The Hands: Clenched defending ourselves or carrying each other?
*The Mind: Comparing ourselves with others and wishing for someone else’s downfall or being creative in our mind on how we can come alongside those God has put here in the faith?
*The Heart: Consumed with jealousy and competition because of fear or contrite? Are we humble?
The person who is best positioned to take that dagger out of your back is the One who died for you; the One who took the spears and the nails for you. How do you allow Him to do that work? You must forgive the person who stabbed you and forgive the person who betrayed you.
We should do that because we’ve all done it, too. We’ve thrown somebody under the bus. We’ve thrown someone down to advance our own career. We’ve said words about people behind their backs tearing them down instead of lifting them up. If we want forgiveness, we must offer forgiveness. If we want to be healed, we must forgive.