In last week’s, bulletin we continued our study of the Judges of Israel, discussing Deborah. This week, as a supplement to that, we will not be moving on to the next Judge, but we will look further into a man that we referenced last time, Barak. Barak is a curious case, but that is not because of what is said of him in the original account of Judges chapters four and five. It is because of what the Holy Spirit reveals in Hebrews 11:32-33. Within a discussion of men and women of great faith in the Old Testament, God speaks of Barak as one who, through faith, subdued kingdoms. Well, I remember that he did in fact lead the army of Israel into overwhelming victory over the land of Canaan. But I also remember how God commanded him to go do that very task unto victory and he refused. I remember how he was addressed by Deborah, the judge of Israel, on this matter, and his response to her was, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” So then, his obedience to the commandment of God rested upon his own contingency, that Deborah would travel with him. And yet, he is listed among the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews eleven. Is that how we remember Barak? A man of faith? A man of notable faith along with Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and Moses? If you or I were constructing a list of great men of faith, there is no way that we would include Barak among the ranks! So why did the Spirit of God choose to do so? I believe there are two things that we need to get a handle on before understanding why Barak is named in Hebrews chapter eleven, and those two things go hand in hand.
The first thing on our to-do list is to discover the faith of Barak. I think that his faith is fairly easy for us to find, in that, the testimony is clear that he went forth into battle against a much greater enemy, an enemy that “harshly oppressed” them for twenty years. He went up against 900 chariots of iron, the fear of Israel. He overcame much fear and performed the command of God. How many of us have used our faith to do anything similar to this? A lot of times, we focus on Barak’s struggle of mind before he reached the point of obedience, but the truth is that he obeyed. It doesn’t matter how he got to that point. It doesn’t matter if he had a hundred different thoughts about how not to follow through with the difficult command of God. What matters is that he found a way to strengthen himself to do the will of God. Then someone will object, saying, “What about Deborah having to go with him?” What about it? To this objector, I say, “What about you?” Has there never been anyone to help strengthen your faith? Has there never been anyone who has helped you become more and more of what you need to be as a Christian? Was there not someone who helped lead you to faith in Jesus Christ toward the salvation of your soul? So then, the objector may reject the faith of Barak on the testimony that he needed the help of Deborah to lead him to that point of faith, but you and I know better. Since when does genuine faith only belong to those who have obtained it alone without the aid of anyone else? The design of a disciple of Christ as seen in the New Testament will prove that view wrong. And that leads us to our second and last point.
Some struggle with the presence of Barak’s name among the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews chapter eleven. And the reason for that is based on a misunderstanding of the context of Hebrews eleven. A lot of folks look at that chapter out of context, and suppose that the chapter is a rank of those on the very top of the list of the greatest faith. That’s nowhere near the point. If that were true, we probably would not see men like Barak or Gideon on this list. The reason for the examples of faith in chapter eleven is to encourage the Hebrew brethren who were losing faith to regain strength. A great source of the strength they needed was to come with the help of their brethren, as is evident from the context, which recently told them to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” and to not forsake the assembling of themselves together, but “exhorting one another.” This is why Barak is named as an example for them. He was not one to go it alone, he needed the help of another disciple in order to gain the strength that he needed to obey the command of God. God is not expecting us to be victorious in faith without any help, nor does He even want us to try that. We need to look to our brethren for strength, encouragement, and comfort all along the rugged way. This is the message that the Hebrews needed, and we need to hear it as well. Thus Barak’s name stands forever in the record of Hebrews eleven, a man of victorious faith, who couldn’t do it alone, and God did not expect him to.
Article by Tanner Campbell