by Christopher Harbin

Returning to God
Christopher B. Harbin
Judges 4:1-7; Ps 90:1-12; Matt 25:14-30; 1 Thess 5:1-11

Thanksgiving quickly approaches. If we are not careful, it may be crowded out to get underway with the shopping and celebration of Christmas. The economic pressure on the market urges many to forgo the giving of thanks and reflection on God's blessings. In fact, we are encouraged to forget all about God and attend to the more pressing matters of our financial welfare. Many feel they are losing all they have. Deep down, however, we know that what we call our own might not even be ours. It belongs to those from whom we borrow. If we are honest, we know the Bible says that our very lives are gifts on loan. Are we prepared to live in thanks to God, even if such basic stewardship is revoked?

Before the time of David and the other kings of Israel, the people lived under judges. These were men and women of God who aided the people in understanding and carrying out God's will. Deborah stands out as the only female judge mentioned, but the book of Judges has little to say about the fact of her position as a judge over Israel. It was no issue, it was simply a fact. She was the one the people sought out to settle their differences and find God's leadership for their living. She was God's chosen messenger for that time and place.

Deborah summoned Barak in her role as God's mouthpiece before the people. There was a job to be done. The nation had not been faithful to Yahweh. As a result, they had been sold by God to a foreign power as slaves. They were taxed and abused by Jabin of Canaan. After twenty years of oppression and cruel treatment, the people cried out to Yahweh, and Yahweh was ready to free them from their plight. While God was ready to act, that does not mean the people were ready. They were still trying to decide how much they wanted to serve Yahweh. They were wondering about the reach of their faith and trust in God.

That is where Barak ...

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