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Book 1: The Sonship Message of the Judges: Chapter 6: Barak and Deborah

The third Judge to deliver Israel in the book of Judges is generally believed to be Barak, but, as we will see shortly, Deborah was a judge before him and cannot be ignored in this prophetic story.

Deborah means “a bee,” with implications of being “orderly.” Her name comes from the Hebrew dabar, “to put words in order, to speak.” This name fits well with her prophetic gift, for she was called to speak the word of God to bring order and understanding in her judgments.

Barak’s name means “lightning, a flashing sword.” In the context of the list of the Judges’ names, he represents two main ideas: the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17) and the sons of God. So Barak and Deborah both represent the word of God in similar ways.

The Canaanite Captivity

The deliverance story itself is found in the fourth chapter of Judges, and this is followed by the Song of Deborah in Judges 5. In Judges 4:1-3 we read,

1 Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died, 2 and the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor… 3 and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years.

The name Jabin means “whom He (God) observes.” The name is derived from bene, “to discern, perceive, consider, understand.” The implication is that God discerned his heart and knew his motives. Canaan means “merchant, banker, lowlander,” so from a prophetic standpoint, this implies that the intents of the merchant banker’s heart may be hidden, but that God discerns all things. So Heb. 4:12 says,

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword [Barak], and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge [discern] the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

When Barak defeated Jabin [Yah-bene], he pictured the word of God discerning “the thoughts and intents of the heart” and thus bringing perfect divine judgment upon the merchant bankers. Because the rulers of Mystery Babylon are mostly merchant bankers and industrialists owning most of the large corporations, this has great relevance to us today as the sons of God move to expose and overthrow the modern Canaanites.

Jabin’s general was Sisera, “a field of battle, battlefield.” How that actually plays out in later prophecy is obscure, unless it refers to the courts. Under an iron yoke, the battlefield is usually the site of a war zone, but under today’s wooden yoke, the battlefield is the court room. As sons of God involved in this battle, we find ourselves doing battle in the divine court, where the sword of the Spirit discerns the hearts and subjects all to the spiritual sword of justice.

Barak, the Son

As I wrote earlier, Barak means “lightning.” Lightning is seen to be God’s arrows, for we read in Psalm 77:17, 18,

17 The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth a sound; Thy arrows flashed here and there. 18 The sound of Thy thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings [barak] lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook.

Here we see that lightning is God’s arrows, for they appear to shoot from heaven to earth with great flashes. The thunder is God’s voice. Arrows are also children, as we see in Psalm 127:3-5,

3 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. 5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.

Children are like arrows, and flashes of lightning are God’s arrows. Therefore, Barak, or “lightning,” represents the sons of God.

Barak and Deborah

Deborah was a judge and a prophetess. We read in Judges 4:4, 5,

4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 And she used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment.

Deborah’s husband was Lappidoth, which is a plural word meaning “torches, lamps, or lightnings.” He appears to suggest a support role that parallels her professional relationship with Barak, “lightning.”

The “palm tree of Deborah,” where she judged disputes, was her open-air court room. A palm tree represents authority, a symbol that is derived from the feast of Tabernacles, for they are in the list of trees whose branches were used to build booths at the time of the feast (Lev. 23:40). Hence, she exercised authority as a judge and a prophetess.

Deborah was the one who first received the word of the Lord that it was time to throw off the yoke of Jabin and to set Israel free from that captivity. Judges 4:6 says,

6 Now she sent and summoned Barak, the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali, and said to him, “Behold the Lord, the God of Israel, has commanded, ‘Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun’.”

She understood by revelation that Israel’s sentence was to serve for twenty years. When that time ended, she sent for Barak and instructed him of his calling to deliver Israel. Nothing is said this time about Israel repenting prior to their deliverance, but this is implied. Barak responded in Judges 4:8, 9,

8 Then Barak said to her, “If you go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 And she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.

This established a partnership between Deborah and Barak, linking them together in this deliverance ministry. Though some have taken Deborah’s response as a rebuke upon Barak for not doing his manly duty, it actually draws our attention to the importance of the feminine role in our deliverance from the merchant bankers of Mystery Babylon today. This builds upon the overall revelation of the Judges’ names and the marriage principle established in the earlier story of Ehud, whose name means “united.”

Male and Female in Sonship

Even as Deborah was married to Lapidoth, “lightnings,” so also was she united in ministry with Barak, which also means “lightning.” Prophetically speaking, these unions set forth the important truth that it takes both male and female aspects of sonship to bring deliverance, and that this must also be a New Covenant marriage relationship, where, in a sense, “there is neither male nor female” (Gal. 3:28).

Paul was not telling us that there was an absence of male and female, but that there was an equality and importance between the two. We must learn to transcend gender so that we may ensure that both are able to fulfill their callings in bringing forth the sons of God. Men beget; women bring forth. Alone, one cannot fulfill the calling of sonship. It takes both a father and a mother to bring forth a son.

Perhaps the biggest hindrance to the message of sonship in the past few decades has been that the men who preached sonship failed to recognize the importance of the female’s role in this. By not granting New Covenant equality to the female, they have begotten but have not allowed the woman to deliver. This failure was expressed by King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19:2, when he said, “children have come to birth, and there is no strength to deliver.”

New Covenant marriage was the original arrangement in the Garden prior to Adam’s sin. When they sinned, God put the man in authority over the woman, saying to her, “he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). What is usually missed, however, is that authority always comes with an equal measure of responsibility. In this case, the man became responsible to ensure that his wife was set free to fulfill her calling and destiny. Unfortunately, the men usually used that authority to enslave their wives and limit their role to that of servants (“Hagar,” the bondwoman).

The full birthright is having the authority of the dominion mandate and using it to bring forth fruit (the fruitfulness mandate). The authority of Kingdom government is to be used to set people free through the law of Jubilee, not to bring others into slavery or bondage. The penalty for sin may be to enslave for a season, but this was never meant to be a permanent condition. The master’s responsibility was to teach his slave to be obedient to Christ so that he might ultimately be set free of his own carnal soul that has bound him through sin. In other words, slavery was to prepare men for liberty.

It took both Deborah and Barak to overthrow the Canaanite king. So also, it takes both sons and daughters of God, working in unity, to overthrow the present bondage of the merchant bankers of Mystery Babylon and to see the manifestation of the sons of God.

Deborah’s specific role (as a “bee”) was to bring in the divine order through the word of God. To arrange words is to bring understanding of the word—in this case, seeing the word through New Covenant eyes, which was the original order in the Garden. (See my book, Old and New Covenant Marriage.)

The Victory Credited to Jael

Though Barak defeated the Canaanites in battle, Sisera, the Canaanite general, was killed by Jael, the wife of Heber. Judges 4:17 and 21 says,

17 Now Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite…. 21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died.

Here again the names of the players involved hold prophetic keys. Jael’s name means “mountain goat,” because the root word ya-al, means “to ascend, hold as valuable or useful.” Mountain goats were known to have the ability to ascend to mountain heights. So also Jael represents a woman who has been allowed to ascend to great heights in her calling.

Her husband has recognized her value. He was named after the original Heber, or Eber (Gen. 11:14), from whom is derived the designation of Hebrew people. Heber means “immigrant,” one who has crossed over (avar). The New Testament book of Hebrews is the road map to guide those who are immigrating from the Old Covenant into a New Covenant understanding. The main portion of the name Heber is bar, “a son.” It is preceded by the letter ayin, “an eye,” which signifies seeing, watching, or manifesting. Hence, in its ultimate sense, a Hebrew is a manifested son of God, made possible by New Covenant thinking.

(See my commentary on Hebrews: Immigrating from the Old Covenant to the New.)

The fact that Jael is the wife of Heber speaks volumes, for it is another example in this story of a New Covenant relationship that is necessary in bringing forth the sons of God. Hence, in this story the emphasis is on the importance of the role of the woman, without whom the enemy cannot be slain, nor can the sons of God be manifested.

Our conclusion, then, is that sonship is not simply a male phenomenon. Sonship is not possible apart from a female role being united with the male role. The word of God is the incorruptible and immortal seed that begets us as the sons of God (1 Peter 1:23). The “Deborah” role is to bring divine order as it was at the beginning in the Garden before the advent of sin. When Deborah and Barak are united, the enemy can be defeated and the sons of God can be birthed and manifested to the world.

So the Judges thus far—Othniel, Ehud, and Barak-Deborah— reveal the power (voice) of God united in His sons by the word.

The power of God has to do with the voice of the Lion of the tribe of Judah speaking by the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we are united with that word, for it enters our ears and lodges in our hearts, where Christ is begotten in us. Inasmuch as we are begotten by the Spirit, we play the role of the woman (bride of Christ), collectively speaking. Deborah is a company of people who have been begotten through Passover, have matured in Pentecost, and are finally birthed through the feast of Tabernacles.