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Video Version below.
Have you ever felt like you were facing overwhelming challenges? Has the enemy amassed 900 iron chariots to oppress you? It happened to the children of Israel.
And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel…So Sisera gathered together all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him….And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. Judges 4:3, 13, 15, NKJV
Israel was oppressed by a cruel enemy like we are many times. True, it was their own fault for abandoning God. When we turn our back on God, He often lets us reap the consequences of our actions. One of the worst things God can do to us is let us have our own way. It is so important, even in our greatest desires, to have the goal of pleasing and obeying God above all.
In any case, the enemy’s 900 iron chariots represented the top-of-line military equipment operated by experienced and merciless warriors and backed up by a large infantry. This felt like an overwhelming force to which the Israelites armed with a few swords and farm tools [Jud. 5:8] could have no hope of defeating. In fact, years earlier they had used the iron chariots as an excuse for not taking the entire land of Canaan as God commanded.
So the Lord was with Judah. And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron. Judges 1:19, NKJV
Why 900? In Scripture, the number 1,000 often signifies a large but unknown number. Satan’s forces may seem overwhelming, they may seem innumerable, but in the end, they are only 900. They never reach 1,000.
I suggest you take the time to read Judges Chapter 4. Barak was called by the prophetess Deborah to take 10,000 men and go out against Sisera, his 900 iron chariots and his entire army. From a natural point of view, this was an impossible task. No infantry, even if they were well armed and trained, stood up to a chariot charge. Do you feel like you are facing an impossible battle in your life? Sickness? Sin? Relationships? Finances? Mental Health issues? Something else? What about our culture? As perverse sin becomes more and more accepted and normalized, do you feel like you are facing an impossible battle?
What are some important lessons that we can learn from this passage of divine Scripture?
1. Sometimes, we face problems in our lives because of our own mistakes and sins. We ignore the Word of God and do things our own way. But it never works out. Nine hundred iron chariots come rumbling down the plain with the plan of plowing us under. The Israelites had the right idea; they cried out to the Lord - they repented. God is merciful and gracious. He heard them and He raised up a deliverer, but they had to be involved in the deliverance process. God wasn’t just going to hand it to them on a silver platter.
When we are facing overwhelming problems, the first thing to do is to check our lives and see if there is something we need to repent from. Many Christians have rejected Biblical Law and then wonder why they are oppressed by humanist law. Sometimes we face the hostile enemy through no fault of our own. We can do everything right and still be attacked. That is part of living in a sinful world. Even if our hands are clean, we can still cry out to the Lord for His deliverance.
2. Sometimes, the problems we face are because of the failures of others. The previous generations had used iron chariots as an excuse for not obeying God. Now the iron chariots had risen to domination. Earlier generations of Christians failed to meet the challenges of evolution, higher criticism, futurism and more, and we are reaping the results in our society today. What see around us is largely the fault of the Church refusing to stand on the Word of God and guard society from sin. Still, we have no excuse. 900 iron chariots may be sweeping down the valley with the intention of wiping us out, but God says, “Stand on My Word.”
3. Sometimes, we need encouragement. There are some men and women who have such strong faith and character that they can face the enemy alone. Like Adino [2 Sam. 23:8], they can go 800 to 1 and come out victorious. Odds don’t matter because they have absolute confidence that God is on their side. Some of us, like Barak, need encouragement. He had the Word of the Lord, but he needed the physical presence of someone he had confidence was strong in the Faith. It cost him some of the honour of the victory - some of the reward - but that was a price he was willing to pay for the extra assurance before the battle. God didn’t condemn him for that. He is even mentioned in Hebrews 11 with other champions of the faith. This is encouraging because it means that God will work with our weaknesses. We don’t have to be giants of the faith to see our Sisera jumping from his chariot and flee whimpering from the field of battle.
4. Barak had faith and obedience. Let’s not minimize Barak’s faith. Yes, he needed encouragement. He needed leadership. His leadership skills were still being honed, yet he had 10,000 men who were willing to die with him. With 900 iron chariots roaring down upon him to wipe him out, he stood his ground. That took courage and confidence in the Word of God. His life was on the line. If we need encouragement from Godly people, that’s ok, but with or without it, we cannot retreat in the face of the enemy. We have to be willing to stand and die on the Word of God if necessary. No enemy force can be allowed to turn us from our resolve.
5. Be sure we have the Word of God. Barak had the Word of God. He knew what God wanted done and what he had to do about it. Don’t go picking a fight with 900 iron chariots if God doesn’t tell you to. It will not end well. God has an Adino or Barak for every battle, but every battle isn’t yours or mine. However, if you have the Word of God, don’t let anything stop you.
6. When we stand in faith on His Word, God will handle the enemy. It would appear that God took care of the iron chariots with a massive rain storm making their chariots useless in the mud. God put the enemy to flight, and Barak and his army were involved in the pursuit and mop-up operation until the enemy was wiped out. God will fight on your behalf. Stand and see the salvation of your God [Ex. 14:13, 1 Chr. 20:17].
Now let’s put some balance here. Am I saying that if you and I stand on the Word of God against the overwhelming odds that are bearing down on our lives or the culture around us that we will always have a happy ending? Like many things in life, the answer is both yes and no. If you always want a happy ending, you have to know when to stop the story.
Look at the life of Jesus. Nine hundred iron chariots composed of massive human resistance and the entire demonic realm raced through the plains with the sole intent of destroying Him. On the Cross, the lines crashed in one decisive battle. When the smoke cleared, Jesus Christ stood victorious, and the enemy was forever decimated. You see, the cross and the grave were not the end of the story. There was the Resurrection and the Ascension to the right hand of the Father to rule the universe.
In this life, will you see Canaan or the Cross? I don’t know. Will you be healed of cancer or die from cancer? I don’t know. Will you go to jail for protesting abortion, or will you see murderous clinics closed? I don’t know. But I do know that is not the end of the story. If you will stand on the Word of God against the overwhelming odds both in your personal life and in the culture around you, at the Resurrection, you will hear those words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Matt. 25:21, NKJV
That will be the end of your story. That will be your happy ending. That is what every child of God can hear.
Praise and worship are keys to standing in the face of the 900 iron chariots pounding down on you. We have an excellent course on praise and worship based on Rev. Terry Law’s book as well as a course called 90 Days Of Thanksgiving that will train you in how to turn the Scripture into praises of Thanksgiving.
May the grace and peace of Jesus be yours.
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