Sunday, February 3, 2013

Plan B

Plan B


So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.” – Judges 4:9

God has a plan for all His children.  He has certain things He wants us to do for our own growth and for others.  But my plan is not your plan, and your plan is not mine.  They are custom designed by God, who knows us intimately, Spirit to spirit.  He alone knows what battles we must fight and the victories we must win in order to become the tool He has planned us to be.  And if we choose to not follow the plan, there are consequences.  Barak found this to be true, as he ran from God’s plan for his life. 
It was a time of crime and punishment.  Israel would run after idols (crime), and God would send another nation to take them into captivity (punishment).  Then Israel would cry out, and God would send a judge (warrior) to rescue them from their captors.  All this occurred because Israel had not obeyed God fully when they entered the Promised Land and driven out all the inhabitants of the land.  Instead they chose to keep them there, and be tempted by their idolatry. 

In Judges 2:20-22 God says that because they left the people there, He wouldn’t drive them out either, “so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the Lord, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.”  In Judges 3:2-3 their enemies are listed as “five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath.   We read again in verse 4 that “they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
So the tests, or trials, between the Israelite people and their enemies began.  First God sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia.  They were in captivity eight years and they finally remembered God and cried out to Him.  He then sent Othniel, Kaleb’s younger brother.  Othniel defeated Mesopotamia, and they had fourty years of peace. 

But they hadn’t learned their lesson.  They again chased after other gods, and God sent Eglon king of Moab to take them into captivity.  They were in captivity eighteen years when they cried out to God for help.  Then God sent Ehud, a left-handed Benjamite, to their rescue.  The story of the death of Ehud is a gory one, found in Judges 2:12-30.  If you’re interested in how gross a Bible story can be, go there and read it.  In short, Ehud killed Eglon and the Israelites were set free.  This time they remained free, following God, for eighty years. 
But when Ehud died, the children of Israel again chased after idols and God sent Jabin king of Canaan to be their punisher.  They were captive under Jabin for twenty years, and we read in Judges 4:3 that he “harshly oppressed the children of Israel.”

This is when we meet a woman named Deborah.  Deborah was married, a prophetess, and a judge of Israel.  She sat daily under a palm tree delivering judgment to the people of Israel who would bring their cases before her.  She was a woman of God, known for her faith.  Deborah had the spiritual gift of prophesy, and heard from God a word for Barak, a man who was not following God’s plan for his life. 
Deborah called for Barak and said to him in Judges 4:6-7 “Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun;  and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?”  When Barak refused to walk God’s plan, God told Deborah about it so that she could judge him.  God had not only told Barak to go to war against Sisera, captain of Jabin’s army, and bring the Israelites in captivity home.  He had also told him that he would be successful.  Yet, Barak did not trust God.  When Deborah inquired of him as to why he hadn’t followed God’s will, Barak answered “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!”(Judges 4:8)

Really?  Really Barak? You need a woman to go to war with you?  This statement shows us something about Barak.  Barak did not understand his favor in God.  God had already said he would defeat Jabin’s army, but Barak didn’t believe him.  Yet, he did believe that God showed favor on Deborah, and that as long as she went to war with him, he would be successful. 
Deborah agreed to go, and in Judges 4:9 she warns Barak what his unfaithfulness to go alone as God had planned would cost him.  She said “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”  At having read only this far in the story, we would assume that Deborah refers to herself.  But there’s another woman in this story.

The point is this.  God had a plan for Barak, and he was to follow it.  Because he chose not to follow God’s plan, the Israelites stayed in captivity longer.  Because he had to take Deborah with him to war, God would not give Barak the reward for having defeated Jabin’s army. 
In life there are always two roads we can take.  There’s Plan A, which God designs for our good, and there’s Plan B, the plan of consequences when we don’t follow Plan A.  Plan A is easiest because it’s the path of less resistance.  We follow God’s will, and God blesses our faithfulness.  The children of Israel could have driven out all the inhabitants of the Promised Land and lived in complete peace with God and each other.  They could have had generation after generation of prosperity and closeness to God.  Yet they chose Plan B.  They found themselves in and out of slavery, oppression, and crying out to God for mercy.  They had to fight, with death on both sides, to regain what God had prepared for them.

Barak could have chosen Plan A as well.  He could have established an army at first having heard God’s voice to defeat Jabin.  He could have gone to war trusting God and gained the glory of being the one to free the children of Israel from his oppression.  He could have come home receiving the full blessings of defeating the enemy.  But instead he chose to run from God’s plan for his life until God sent Deborah to redirect his path.  He went to war as God had planned, but was not allowed to be the victor over Jabin.  Instead, his blessing was given to another, a woman.
There’s not a day in our lives that God does not have planned.  Each day has a purpose.  Each day there are things He chooses for us to do for Him, be they big or small.  Each day we must choose Plan A or Plan B.  What will it be today?  Pray that God will reveal His plans for your life - for this single day - and follow Plan A.  One day at a time, step by step, Plan A brings us into His perfect plan for our life.


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