How to Step Out on Faith: Lessons From the Story of Barak
Posted by April 24, 2018on
The story of Deborah and Barak has interesting twists, but ultimately it is a story of faith and submission to God.
Few stories strengthen my faith more than those that require their hero to step out in faith despite the possible consequences, risking ridicule and likely receiving little or no praise. These stories highlight God’s strength and mind as being far higher and boundless than that of human beings. I find the story of Barak in the book of Judges to be an example of such an inspiring hero.
According to the first verse of Hebrews 11 (the Faith Chapter), “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
In simpler terms, faith is belief in the unseen and a willingness to act on that belief as God commands. Barak, who is mentioned in the Faith Chapter, displayed faith in God when Deborah prophesied of Sisera’s defeat and eventual death. It took great courage and faith in God for Barak to not only believe Deborah’s prophecy, but also lead his army into battle knowing another would be credited with Sisera’s death (Judges 4:6-9).
Barak was faced with difficult decisions.
The first part of Barak’s decision required him to trust Deborah and believe God’s will revealed through her. Deborah was a prophetess judging Israel, and the people came to her for judgment (verses 4-5). While I’m sure Deborah was a valued and trusted authority in Israel, it would be naïve to think that Israel in the time of the judges regularly entrusted decision making and military strategy to a woman.
Yet, as is evident in Judges 4:5-6, the children of Israel came to Deborah, and when she summoned Barak, he, too, came to her and listened. He asked that she come with him into battle, and he trusted the message she delivered to him from God.
He had faith God would instruct him through Deborah and fulfill what she prophesied—that God would deliver Sisera and his army to Israel.
Submitting to God
The second part of Barak’s decision involved relying on God to deliver Sisera’s army—which was militarily stronger—into the hands of Israel (verses 3, 13, 15). And, since he insisted that Deborah come with him, he had to accept that Sisera would not die in battle but by the hand of a woman (verses 9, 22-23).
Barak took his men into battle and saw God deliver Sisera’s army to Israel. No man was left besides Sisera (verses 15-16).
Barak’s faith was shown in his willingness to follow God and not rely on Israel’s military strength.
Verses 15-23 tell the story of how Jael, the wife of Heber, killed Sisera. Two important verses that show God’s prophecy fulfilled are verses 22-23. They read:
“And then, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, ‘Come, I will show you the man whom you seek.’ And when he went into her tent, there lay Sisera, dead with the peg in his temple. So on that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan in the presence of the children of Israel.”
God alone delivered Sisera and his army into the hand of Israel, but the lesson of Barak’s faith is that God uses His people to do His will in the manner He sees fit. The prophecy He gave to Deborah was clear, and God was faithful to fulfill it. As His people, we submit to His will in faith, knowing that our reward is from Him and our faith is in part measured by our willingness to follow His instructions, no matter the challenge.
Revisiting the definition of faith given in Hebrews 11:1—“faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”—we see that the decision and resulting action of Barak are a prime example of the impact of faith in the lives of God’s people. Barak believed Deborah was delivering God’s message, and he submitted himself to God’s ultimate faithfulness to fulfill His prophecy.
To learn more, read “Deborah.”