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The Last Days Duncan Heaster  
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6-3.  Jabin 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).

" Jabin" 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 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.  

" Prey...spoil" 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 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" , " 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 (Ex. 15:4,21).

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. 63:3).

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 of Christ.

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 Arab enemies.

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 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" (Ps. 110:2).

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:-

Jud. 5:3:   " Hear, O ye kings;  give ear, O ye princes" , sounds like the appeal to the nations that goes out after Christ's victory (cp. Ps. 2:10).

5:4:   = the language of Hab. 3, Ps. 68 and other prophecies of the last days.

5:9,2: " ...the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people" , " the people       willingly offered themselves" , speaks of a positive spiritual leadership among Israel which has been           rarely seen, whereby their leaders truly inspire the people to follow their good example.   The Hebrew for " governors" means a law-giver or teacher, literally " 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 onslaught.   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 for a revival of true interest in the Mosaic law during  his ministry, which may well coincide with Israel's period of Arab downtreading (Mal. 4:4-6).

5:19:  The battle was fought " in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo" .   'Taanach' meaning 'place of fasting' is another hint at repentant Israel taking part in the final defeat of the Arabs.   Joel describes a call to fasting during the period when the land lies totally devastated during the initial period of Arab domination (Joel 2:15).

" Megiddo" and the descriptions of Sisera gathering his chariots and God drawing them into battle must link with the nations being gathered to Armageddon (Rev. 16:16).  If this connection is valid, 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.

5:20:  " They fought from heaven;  the stars in their courses fought against Sisera" , must refer to the Angels' 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 mighty ones" (Jud. 5:22) is probably an indirect reference to the Angel-cherubim.

5:31:  " 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 he goeth forth in his might" is using the common figure of the dawn as being representative of Messiah's second coming (cp. other examples:  Mal. 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 of  knowledge of the person of Jesus will do.