For the North End Community Ministry / food pantry visit or call (616) 454-1097.

We meet for worship at 214 Spencer Street NE. Directions.
Service begins Sundays at 10:00AM.

never fear

Years ago my wife and I knew a youth pastor who would tell his students to not watch R-rated movies. Instead, he would tell them, they should just read the book of Judges. It is filled with war and violence and conspiracy and destruction. While the visual effects may not be as appealing, it has all the stuff action movies have, including advanced technology. And while the technology in the book of Judges may not be advanced compared to today’s technology, we do find technology that was advanced for its day.

In Judges 4 the people of Israel sinned against God so God allowed them to be given over to the hand of Jabin king of Canaan:

Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

Judges 4:3 ESV

It may not sound like much but very early in the Iron Age I having any iron chariot would give an army a profound advantage. A chariot in the ancient world was like a tank today. Most soldiers fought on foot. Even if the chariot had no weapons, simply running down dozens of soldiers at a time would bring great destruction. To have 900 chariots was a remarkable thing! If Jabin had 900 chariots of iron surely his soldiers had all kinds of iron weapons as well! This was an overwhelming force against the people of Israel. It isn’t difficult to see how Jabin could oppress the people given his incredibly vast technological advantage over the Israelites.

The people cried out to the God of Israel for rescue, and he revealed that he would. The prophetess Deborah called out Barak the son of Abinoam for failing to act.

She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?”

Judges 4:6–7 ESV

Barak was afraid. God had made it clear that despite Jabin’s military superiority, God would give the victory to Israel, and Barak was supposed to lead them in battle. He told Deborah he would do so, but only if she went with him. After more chiding by Deborah, Barak finally met Jabin’s military command Sisera in battle. The description of that battle is profound in its simplicity:

And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. And Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot.

Judges 4:15 ESV

You probably know the rest of the story. Sisera flees into the tent of a woman he thought was his friend. While he lay sleeping in her tent, Jael drove a tent peg through his temple, signaling the final defeat of Sisera’s army.

Imagine an army armed with little more than sticks and stones—and tent pegs—defeating an army with 900 armored tanks and other vastly superior iron weapons! When God revealed he would defeat Jabin and Sisera, that was all that Barak needed to go into battle. God was on Israel’s side so the victory was never in doubt. No great description of the battle is needed: the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots.

God calls us into battle and he has declared that the battle will be won. We enter this battle through prayer. We must never be afraid as we engage in the spiritual war we find ourselves in, for even if our weapon is small and insignificant, God is the one fighting for us. When we pray we engage in spiritual warfare with faith. Faith in God is our only weapon, and Jesus said if we had faith the size of a tiny mustard seed we could move mountains.

If your faith is like mine, then we have puny little weapons, yet God said he will fight for us. There is only one thing for us to do: let’s enter the battle against an enemy with vastly superior weapons, knowing that we have a vastly superior Warrior fighting for us.

Today, let’s engage in prayer. Let’s pray specifically for our healthcare workers, whether doctors or nurses or Environmental Services. All are at risk of exposure. Let’s pray for our leaders, for President Trump and for Governor Whitmer, for Senators Stabenow and Peters, and for Representative Amash. Let’s pray for one another. Pray specifically today for those who have lost jobs or have lost income due to the shutdown necessary to slow this deadly disease. Let’s pray knowing that the real power of the weapons we have been given is not found in our faith, but in the one in whom we trust.