Judges 4:1-24 (Part 3) – When We Worship Our Idols Even When They Are Destroying Us!

Posted: August 13, 2017 in 07-Judges
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Judges 4:1-24 (Part 3 of 3)
Deborah Becomes Israel’s Judge

It is not whether pain and suffering will come into our lives; it is a matter of when. There was a world of difference between how I handled my first separation from my second wife and the final breakup of our marriage. The first time that we split up was in February 2000 and it lasted until November 2000. The final time came in August 2004. In between the two breakups, I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord in December 2001. In between December 2001 and August 2004, I did a lot of growing up. I learned during that time that in Christ I had value in and of myself. I learned that the world did not revolve around my second wife. I do not blame her for it now. As we have seen in my last two blogs, women often take leadership roles because men abdicate their role as leader of the home or they take leadership roles because no man is there to lead. I allowed her to take the leadership role in our home because I was afraid that leadership would endanger my access to her physical and emotional approval. In this extent, I made her my god. My value was drawn from whether she approved of me from moment to moment.

So, when she wanted and demanded a separation in February 2000 (after some stupid financial decisions of mine and secrets about them came out all came out), I was devastated. I literally had my reason for living, my reason for existence taken away from me. While she was out living the party girl lifestyle with her single friends from her new place of employment (after 5 years as a stay at home mom). On the other hand, I was an emotional and literal hermit. I lived much of those nine months as a hermit especially early on. It was work that kept me going but there was this aching emptiness that nothing could fill. Even dating was a lost cause because I was still withdrawing from having my god taken away from me. You would think that it was time that I would have cried out to God for real for the first time in my life. But no. That nine month separation in 2000 should have been when I saw the Lord. I was at my lowest point ever emotionally in my life at that time. But idol worship is a hard thing to break. I felt that if I just did what my god told me to do, we would get back together. I was waiting and pining away. If she said come home at any time during that nine months I would have come running. Do you or can you imagine how empty a life that was during those nine months. I literally felt empty inside and all I wanted to do was sleep, especially on weekends. It was the lowest point in my life. You would think I would have found Jesus then but the stranglehold of idol worship is great and we keep expecting our idols to satisfy our needs so we ignore God when we are not ready to see Him. It was only when her idol of flirtation and being validated by new and different people ran dry that we got back together. We were a sick couple. I worshiped her as an idol and her idol was constant validation from others that she still “had it” which meant that no marriage would last for her. We were indeed a sick couple who could not see God though we knew He was. Our idols were more important.

It was not until 13 months after we had agreed to live as husband and wife again that I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord. It was only then that I began to see that I had made an idol of my second wife and to the exclusion of everything else in my life, including my children. It was not until life situations forced me to choose between my idol of a second wife and my responsibility to my oldest child (who lived with us) who was in college. Instead of being a man about it as a Christ follower should have been, I reverted to secrets and supported my daughter at college against my second wife’s will behind her back. It all came to head in July 2004 and we broke up for good within a month. This time, I was clear as to why we broke up and life this time was different. I actually began to mature as a Christ follower. It was a slow, slow process (oh my! How I look back and see how slow it was! It makes me shudder at who I was as a baby Christian and what I found as normal and acceptable!). But the slow process would have never started until God allowed circumstances to happen where I would have to choose between my idol, my second wife, and what was morally, ethically, and spiritually right for my child.
We make our own idols. They do not create themselves. They do not have existence outside the power that we imbue them with. They only take on the life and the power that we give them. And we give them up and we look back and see the stupid things we do and did to satisfy our idols we are amazed at our own stupidity. However, when idol worship is working for us, we won’t listen. When we are stuck in the spell of the idols of our lives, and, even when things are not going well, we keep expecting our idols that we worship to come back to us if we only worship them better and harder.

It is often only when we are presented the choice between what we know to be morally and ethically right (that God imprints in our souls when we are knitted together in our mothers wombs) and satisfying the idols in our lives that we finally see our idols for what they are. It is often though only when the cookie of our life has crumbled all around us.

Therefore, when we read through Judges and how stubborn and stiff-necked the Israelite people were, we laugh at them because they seem so stupid. They were God’s chosen people! How could they be so stupid as not to recognize Him. Look at your own life. What are you idols? Even after salvation, we still have our idols that God must remove from our lives, one struggle with us at a time. We should know God but even as Christ followers we try to keep our idol strongholds. It takes a lifetime of sanctification by the Holy Spirit for us to rid ourselves of all the things we place priority on instead of God. We are just as stupid as the Israelites. We have the knowledge but the Holy Spirit has to work hard with some of the idols that we refuse to give up. It usually comes down to when the Holy Spirit presents us with a choice between right and wrong, good and evil, that we can no longer deny, that we no longer can delude ourselves about.

Let’s read about it now as to why Israel did not cry out to God for twenty years with that idea of us not being ready to give up our idols that we worship:

4 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.

4 Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading[a] Israel at that time. 5 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. 6 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. 7 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.’”

8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”

9 “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. 10 There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him.

11 Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law,[b] and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.

12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron.

14 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?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. 15 At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot.

16 Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left. 17 Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite.

18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.

19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.

20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’”

21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.

22 Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead.

23 On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites. 24 And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him.

Today in this passage, we see that, after 20 years of unbearable circumstances, the Israelites finally cried out to the Lord for help. However, God should be the first one we turn to when facing struggles or dilemmas. The Israelites chose to go their own way and got into a mess. We often do the same. Trying to control our own lives without God’s help leads to struggle and confusion. By contrast, when we stay in daily contact with the Lord, we are less likely to create painful circumstances for ourselves. This fact is a lesson that the Israelites never fully learned. When struggles come our way, God wants us to come to Him first, seeking His strength and guidance through His Word and through prayer.

When we do not read God’s Word and when we do not pray, we will continue to see our idols as OK and as OK to keep along with God himself. It is only through regular reading of His Word, His Alive Word, and through prayers to God and not at God that we begin to see what our idols really are.

What are your idols that you are still OK with? What do you not see now that you should be seeing? Even in your suffering right now, are you still worshiping your idol(s). Is your life being destroyed by your idol(s) and you don’t even see it yet? Open your eyes! Let God’s Word and God’s Voice shine upon it through the Holy Spirit conviction! Open your eyes and come into the Light! Beg forgiveness from the one who should be ruling your life – the only True God! The God with a capital G!

Amen and Amen.

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