The Faith of Barak

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, January 21, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

With it now being early in 2018, we are in the season of awards shows. The Golden Globes took place two weeks ago, the Grammys are coming up next week, and the Oscars will happen in a little over a month. While I know they are part of pop culture and appointment viewing for many fans, I’ve never cared much for them, especially more recently since they have been very politically-driven. But one part of them that I always enjoy is listening to the acceptance speeches. Whether it’s one of the awards shows I referenced above or an athletic achievement such as the Heisman Trophy or an MVP award, I love hearing about all the people that worked hard behind the scenes to help the winner get to that place in life.

It’s always the person out front with the known name and fame who gets the glory. However, the acceptance speeches give those people the opportunity to give credit where credit is truly due. The ones who work hard behind the scenes generally accept that they don’t get the credit because that’s the nature of the work they do. But what if they are deserving of the spotlight and still don’t get it? Sometimes, a person does the leg work AND produces excellence, but the credit is given to another. How do you react when you KNOW you deserve praise but someone else gets it? Your answer has a lot to do with your level of faith in a God who promises an eternal reward regardless of what we receive on earth.

There was a man in the Bible named Barak who had enough faith in the Lord to proceed and win the victory even after he was told he would not get the credit for it. Because of his faith, he is listed in the group commended for their faith in Hebrews 11:32. Like all of the others we have studied so far, Barak did not have a perfect faith. He had at least one moment of weakness that ultimately cost him the honor he would have otherwise received. But God doesn’t require us to have perfect faith; he only requires a willing faith that will participate in HIS work to the extent that he commands.

The story can be found in Judges 4. As they often did throughout their history, the Israelites were still going back and forth from living by faith to doing evil and worshipping idols. This had a lot to do with their leadership, or the lack thereof. After a period in which they did evil and God allowed them to once again be overtaken by a foreign king and army with 900 iron chariots, the Israelites cried out to God for help. It’s interesting that verse 3 tells us that Sisera, the commander of the pagan king’s army, “cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years” before they finally turned to God for help. How long does it take you to turn to God? How many times do you have to suffer consequences or try all the wrong solutions before turning to the One who you knew had the right solution all along? It’s hard to believe they stayed stuck in their ways for twenty years despite their consequences. Then again, maybe some of you reading this have been oppressed by your own sinful choices for even longer.

The great news is that God hears us and responds to our cries no matter how long we have walked away or rejected him. God brings Deborah, who was both a prophetess and a judge/leader in Israel, to light a fire under someone in Israel who would be willing to put a temporary end to their misery. It turns out that someone would be Barak. In verses 6-7, she sends for him and tells him to round up 10,000 men and go up to a mountain top to get ready for her to lead Sisera and all his chariots and troops to the river below where she will give them into Barak’s hands. In other words, he has the chance of a lifetime to make a name for himself and win the greatest victory of his generation. How does he respond to this opportunity? Well, he basically says he’ll only do it if Deborah goes with him (v. 8).

In 2007, I sat in a coffee house in Findlay, Ohio with an elder from my church in Pennsylvania. We and a handful of others had traveled to Ohio for the seminary graduation of a friend of ours from the church. I had known for years God was calling me to go to seminary and learn to be a pastor and I knew that would take me to Findlay, Ohio, but this was my first time visiting the seminary and the city. I had been in a little bit of a spiritual rut in my life and wasn’t really doing what I was most passionate about despite being a youth leader at the time. The elder and I were talking about life and I was explaining my lack of passion and adventure and he simply said, “Logan, I imagine you will continue to feel that way until you do what you know the Lord is calling you to do." Less than two months later, I began to make plans to move to Ohio and go to seminary. A little over a year later, I made the big move.

As I look back on that moment in my life, what strikes me is that it’s not like the elder told me what the Lord was calling me to do. It wasn’t his call to make. He only reminded me of what I already knew the Lord was calling me to do. The issue wasn’t a matter of confusion about the call for me. It was a lack of faith and a choice I had been making to try to assure comfort if and when I would do what God wanted. The same is true with Deborah and Barak. In Judges 4:6, we read that Deborah tells him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you." The King James Version of that verse leads us to believe it is more of a reminder: “Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded... ?” It’s a rhetorical question to remind him of something God had already previously revealed to him. Again, the issue was his faith and level of comfort, not the call. When he responded initially, he was only halfway in. Like me, he wanted a comfortable way to follow God’s call. But that was soon to change.

Deborah responds to his request by choosing to go with him, but declares that his half-committed response means that he will not receive the honor most would for defeating an oppressive regime, and the Lord would use a woman to complete the job by killing Sisera (v. 9). To Barak’s credit, he seems to accept this and moves forward in obeying God’s command anyway (v. 10). The one example we have to show us that Barak grew in his faith throughout this time is that when Deborah tells him Sisera and his army are ready to be overtaken, he doesn’t hesitate (v. 14). He could stay up on the mountain where it would be tough for Sisera’s chariots to reach him, but instead he trusts the Lord and advances down the mountain and wins the victory (vv. 14-15). True to the word spoken by Deborah, Sisera is eventually killed by Jael (vv. 17-21).

The cool thing is that Barak may not have even had to do too much. Judges 5:21 shows us that the river where Sisera and his army were actually “swept them away." When we ultimately follow God’s commands, even if we initially had very weak faith, God always comes through. He will accomplish things that you and I cannot even imagine on our own. We may not get all or even any of the credit, and someone else who didn’t do as much might get it. But we know that the victory is ultimately God’s anyway so it’s irrelevant which human being is honored. When we move forward in faith, we get to watch and participate in what God is doing in the world. If you know God wants you to do something different or take a big step of faith, now is the time. Don’t expect him to show up and show off until you’ve taken that step out of your comfort zone.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.