And Sisera (Jud. 4 and 5)
The record of Deborah
and Barak's victory over " Jabin king of Canaan" is shot through
with connections with other passages which are clearly latter day prophecies,
e.g. Ps. 83, Eze. 38. There is also a very deliberate series
of allusions in their song of victory to Israel's exodus from Egypt and
the destruction of Pharaoh's army - which we have shown to be symbolic
of Israel's future deliverance from her Arab oppressors by the Lord's
return. Other expositors have shown the links between the
song of Deborah and Barak and Ps. 68, which is clearly prophetic of Christ's
work of deliverance both on the cross and in the final deliverance of
Israel from the forces of evil.
" Jabin king of
Canaan...the captain of whose host was Sisera" (Jud. 4:2) presents
an identical scenario to Sennacherib king of Assyria having Rabshakeh
as his field commander during his attack on Jerusalem, which beyond doubt
was a major type of Israel's latter day invasion outlined in passages
like Eze. 38 and Ps. 83. " I will draw unto thee...Sisera,
the captain of Jabin's army" (Jud. 4:7) points forward to Gog, the
chief (military?) prince of Meshech and Tubal (parts of Assyria?), being
drawn into Israel with hooks in his jaws (Eze. 38:4,8).
meaning " man of great understanding" , may suggest that he
was the intellectual think-tank behind the Arab invaders, whose ideology
was operationalized by a capable, well resourced, military leader.
The motivation for the coming Arab attack on Israel must be ideological
as well as just " to take a great spoil" ; it seems not
unreasonable to expect a similar two-fold structure in Israel's Arab enemy
of the last days. However, the words of Sisera's mother imply
that he (and she!) personally was motivated by a desire for the riches
of the Jews: " have they not divided the prey...of divers colours
of needlework...meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?"
(Jud. 5:30). Such total confidence in Arab victory is yet to be seen in
a Middle East scarred with the memories of Israel's victories over
the last 40 years.
is Eze. 38 language: " To take a spoil and to take a prey...Art thou
come to take a spoil...a prey?" (Eze. 38:12,13). Thus
the motivation for the average Arab infantryman is quite clear - although
this will most likely be wrapped up behind some pseudo-religious reasoning
provided by a latter day 'Jabin'.
It must also be
significant that the Jews were able to rejoice that they were free from
" the noise of archers" , thanks to Deborah and Barak's victory
(Jud. 5:11); and Eze. 39:3 stresses how Gog will rely on his archery
to terrorize Israel in the last days: " I will smite thy bow out
of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right
hand." Assyrian bas-reliefs frequently show them posing
with their bows. The importance of archery in warfare can
easily be overlooked by us, who tend to lump bows, arrows, swords and
shields etc. together as obsolete weaponry. Yet the ability to strike
from a distance without personal combat was a vital innovation.
The highlighting of the fact that the Arab enemies of Jud. 4 and Gog of
Eze. 38 both used archery suggests that this may have a latter day equivalent
- which must surely be in the use of missile power? The Gulf
war demonstrated how a handful of mobile Scud launchers could bring Israel
to its knees, indicating that in the holocaust to come, this form of weaponry
will almost certainly be used. The vials of Revelation being
poured out from the air onto the earth (land - of Israel) may also indicate
that latter day judgments literally descend from the air.
Also relevant to this
theme of Arab dominance over Israel in terms of weaponry is the statement
of Jud. 4:3: " The children of Israel cried unto the Lord: for he
had nine hundred chariots of iron." The implications
of " chariots of iron" to the Israelites is hard for us to fully
appreciate. " The children of Joseph said...the Canaanites
that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron" (Josh.
17:16), as if that were a totally understandable reason for their unwillingness
to even challenge the Canaanites; whilst some years later Saul and
Jonathan were the only Israelites to have iron weapons, thanks to the
Philistines' monopoly over it (1 Sam. 13:19-22).
Possession of 900 "
chariots of iron" was therefore like having some super-weapon into
whose paradigm no other armaments could enter. The consistent
use of these by the surrounding Arabs and Israel's inability to respond
to them, may have its latter day equivalent during the coming period of
Israel's total domination by the Arabs.
This stress on chariots,
both in the record of the Arab attack and of God's defeat of them, takes
the mind back to the Egyptian chariots which pursued Israel and were destroyed
in the Red Sea: " The Lord discomfited Sisera, and all his
chariots, and all his host" (Jud. 4:15) recalls how God " troubled
(same Hebrew word translated " discomfited" ) the host of the
Egyptians, and took off their chariot wheels...so that the Egyptians said,
Let us flee...and the Egyptians fled" (on foot[Ex. 14:24-27]), just
as Sisera " lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet"
(Jud. 4:15), due to the mud produced by the hail (Ps.83:9). " There
was not a man left" (v. 16) of those Arabs; matched by the
comment concerning the Egyptians, that " there remained not so much
as one of them" (Ex. 14:28).
The chariots of Egypt
and Sisera will finally be seen as a poor match for the Angel-cherubim
" chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof."
" Then were the horsehoofs (of Sisera's chariots) broken by the means
of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones" (Jud. 5:22)"
(Jud. 5:22), i.e. the Angel-cherubim. If there was a manifestation
of the Cherubim on that occasion, this would accord well with the gentle
hint that there will be a Cherubim appearance associated with the second
coming (Mt. 24:30), and this would also be the means of putting the latter
day Arab 'chariots' out of business.
With the connections
between this record of Deborah's victory and Eze. 38 and the record of
the exodus in mind, we can now make a few more speculative points.
" Mount Tabor...the
river Kishon (Jud. 4:6,7) near the valley of Jezreel - Armageddon.
Hence Jud. 5:19 " the waters of Megiddo" , " ...men of...Naphtali...and...of
Zebulun" (4:6) were used to win the victory. 'Naphtali',
meaning 'My (mental) wrestling' recalls Jacob, whose wrestling was a cameo
of a whole life spent wrestling with his capacity to rely on human strength.
The use of 'men of wrestling' to defeat the last Arab invaders would suggest
that it is a repentant Israel which are used as a " battle axe and
weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations
(confederate with Babylon)...the horse and his rider...the chariot and
his rider" (Jer. 51:19-23), alluding to the destruction of "
the horse and his rider...the chariot(s)" of Egypt at the Red Sea
The context of Jer.
51 is the judgment of Babylon and her supporters by Israel - which is
yet to be fulfilled. The eight occurrences in the passage
of " with thee (Israel) will I break in pieces" is an obvious
signpost to the six-fold description in Dan. 2 of the metals of the image
being broken in pieces. This connection would hint that the nations
of the image, headed by Babylon, are matched by the nations confederate
with Babylon at the time of Jer. 51. Whilst it will be the
return of Christ which fells the image, the process of breaking it in
pieces may well be the work of a repentant Israel. Alternatively,
the men of Northern Israel, like Naphtali and Zebulun (in the vicinity
of Armageddon?) may be active at Armageddon, which will, perhaps, be the
point of initial impact between Christ and the image (although cp. Isa.
Note that Zebulun humbly
obeyed Hezekiah's call to repentance (2 Chron. 30:10,11) just before the
great Assyrian invasion, which is the major prototype for that of the
last days. However, this was preceded by Zebulun and Naphtali
'walking in darkness' (i.e. hate and self-glorifying bitterness, 1 John
2:11) and suffering great things at the hands of the marauding bands of
Arabs who " afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali"
in the run up to Sennacherib's great invasion (Isa. 9:1,2).
The inhabitants of Northern Israel today have borne, and will bear, the
brunt of similar attacks in the last days; but " the(se) people
that walked in darkness (will see) a great light" in their acceptance
Other implications that
a repentant Israel will be used to win this great victory, are to be found
in the mention of " the river Kishon" and " Harosheth"
, which was near Mount Carmel. These places feature in the record
of Elijah's great appeal to Israel; the apostate element among them were
slain at the Kishon (1 Kings 18:40), as the faithless in Israel will be
in the last days. The typical inference here in Judges that
the Arab invader will be destroyed at this same place would suggest that
they will share in the judgments that come upon God's enemies, and therefore
perish in the same geographical location. Yet it was also
in this same place that Israel repented, finally responding to Elijah's
ministry. The work of the Elijah prophet of the last days
will likewise culminate in a spiritually revived Israel defeating their
Just prior to the invasion,
Israel was in a state of devastation and collapse, equating with the situation
they will be reduced to during the Arab attacks of the last days.
" The highways were unoccupied (cp. motorways wrecked by low-level
Syrian bombing sortees), and the travellers walked through byways"
(Jud. 5:6). Such a breakdown of infrastructure will result
in a complete collapse of sophisticated Israeli defence systems, matched
by the lament, " was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand
in Israel?" (Jud. 5:8). In their desperation " they
chose new gods" (Jud. 5:8), which would accord with our earlier suggestion
that some Jews may seek to placate their Arab conquerors by a nominal
acceptance of Islam. " Then was war in the gates"
(Jud. 5:8), features a Hebrew word for " war" which is not normally
so translated, perhaps more implying " dissension" .
" Gates" being a figure of speech for the leaders who "
sat in the gate" (cp. Gen. 19:1,9), " war in the gates"
would refer to great friction among the remaining Israeli leadership -
understandably, if some were 'choosing new gods' in the form of Islam.
Seed of the woman
This total breakdown
of Israel was arrested by the appearance of a remarkable woman who was
able to galvanize the nation to produce a group of brave, faithful warriors
who could throw off the Arab yoke:" Until that I Deborah arose, that
I arose a mother in Israel" (Jud. 5:7), the latter phrase implying
that she inspired the people with a family spirit of responsibility for
each other. The Elijah prophet will have been working on Israel
for some time to kindle this: " I will send you Elijah the
prophet before the coming of the...day of the Lord: and he shall
turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children
to their fathers" (Mal. 4:5,6). This will then result
in the Lord Jesus arising and being accepted as " a mother in Israel"
after the pattern of Deborah.
The record's emphasis
on the important roles of Deborah and Jael encourages us to see them as
representative of the seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus, and Jael's smiting
of Sisera on the head confirms this link with the imagery of Gen. 3:15.
It is even linguistically possible that 'Deborah' can mean 'woman of the
word'; the more common rendering of her name as 'bee' has come about
because the Hebrew word for this means 'something which talks as it goes'.
This clearly points forward to the description of Christ as " the
Word" in His role of judging the latter-day enemies of God's people
(Rev. 19:11-13). " The people willingly offering themselves"
to Deborah (Jud. 5:2) perhaps forms the basis for the description of Christ's
people in the last days being " willing in the day of thy power"
Jael smiting off
Sisera's head may be the basis of Ps. 110:7: " therefore shall he
lift up the head" . It also connects with David cutting
off Goliath's head in an encounter full of echoes of the latter-day conflict
between Christ and the Arabs (see Chapter 7). In the same
way as Israel then had to follow up David's token victory, so they had
to do the donkey- work in the wake of Sisera's death, and so they will
also engage in a process of subduing the nations after Christ's initial
dramatic victory at Armageddon - the landing of the stone upon the feet,
the killing of Goliath, the nailing of Sisera's head. "
The hand of the children of Israel prospered ('going, went and was hard',
A.V. mgn.), and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they
had destroyed Jabin" (Jud. 4:24) definitely speaks of a subsequent
process of subjugation.
All this is but one
of several hints that after Christ's destruction of the military arm (cp.
Sisera) of the Arabs in the land of Israel, the campaign is then taken
to the civil headquarters (represented by 'Babylon' in the Apocalypse?),
typified here by Jabin. This will all involve a fair degree
of suffering by the Arabs - Sisera was 'sold' into the hands of Israel
(Jud. 4:9), as God had sold Israel into Arab hands previously.
The considerable sufferings of the Jews at Arab hands will therefore be
meted out to the Arabs. Sisera's army " fell upon the
edge of the sword" (Jud. 4:16), choosing suicide rather than face
the fury of a repentant Israel.
The Song of Deborah
Other details in the
Song of Deborah and Barak chime in with the general scenario we have described:-
" Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes" , sounds
like the appeal to the nations that goes out after
victory (cp. Ps. 2:10).
= the language of Hab. 3, Ps. 68 and other
prophecies of the last days.
" ...the governors of Israel, that offered
themselves willingly among the people" , "
willingly offered themselves" , speaks of a positive
leadership among Israel which has been
rarely seen, whereby their leaders truly inspire
the people to follow their good example.
for " governors" means a law-giver or
" an engraver of laws" , surely identifying
them with the saints? If so, this presents
a picture of them, or Elijah's assistants,
being active in the
land before the final Arab
Their being " engravers of laws" should
send our minds to the prophecy of the law being
engraved in Israel's hearts as it was on stone
previously (Jer. 31:33), and the connection with
Moses the lawgiver might hint at our instituting a
partial restoration of the Mosaic law for Israel to
keep. Remember that Elijah will be calling
revival of true interest in the Mosaic law during
ministry, which may well coincide with Israel's
period of Arab downtreading (Mal. 4:4-6).
battle was fought " in Taanach by the waters of
Megiddo" . 'Taanach' meaning 'place
is another hint at repentant
Israel taking part
in the final defeat of the Arabs. Joel
a call to fasting during the period when the land
lies totally devastated during the initial period
of Arab domination
and the descriptions of Sisera gathering
his chariots and God drawing them into battle
with the nations being gathered to
Armageddon (Rev. 16:16). If this connection
then " the kings of the earth (land - of
Israel?) and of the whole world" which are
gathered (Rev. 16:14) would primarily refer to the
kings of the Arab world, or perhaps specifically to those
within the 'land' at its maximum promised
extent between the Nile and Euphrates.
They fought from heaven; the stars in their
courses fought against Sisera" , must refer to
part in the victory - something we must not
underestimate in the future conflict, seeing that
the Lord returns with His Angels to execute
judgments. " The pransings of their
(Jud. 5:22) is probably an indirect reference to the
So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord" , takes
on an ultimate fulness of meaning when this
battle is read as typical of Armageddon, when all God's
enemies will perish once and for all.
" But let them that love him be as the sun when
forth in his might" is using the common
figure of the dawn as being representative of
Messiah's second coming (cp. other examples:
4:2; 2 Sam. 23:4; Ps. 19:4,5). Those who
truly love the appearing
of that sunrise will
themselves be a light to this dark world of flesh;
they shall personally go forth as the rays of
sunlight, in whatever way, just as the light
knowledge of the person of Jesus will do.