Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the King of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.”
King James Version
“STANDING FIRM” Part II
“There was never anyone so good that she was exempt from trials and temptations.”
Is there a “Sisera” in my life that I thought I had overcome, only later to find out that “Sisera” had fled to another place I didn’t expect?
“Temptations from without have no power unless there be corresponding desire within.”
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation….”
King James Version
The battle was won. The chariots were destroyed. Sisera’s army was crushed. But just when it appeared the enemy was ground into bits, we are alerted to a news bulletin: “Sisera Has Escaped!” It’s almost impossible to believe. In the heat of the battle, someway, somehow, Sisera, the Bible tells us, “fled away on his feet” (Judges 4:17, K.J.V.).
Unfortunately, we learn a lot about Sisera in this short passage. He was clever. Daring. And Sisera was a person who displayed a great deal of ingenuity. If he didn’t have a chariot to ride around in, he’d use his feet to let him “duck and run.”
So Sisera took off. But his first consideration had to be, where would he run to? He was a wanted man in Israel. In fact, if anybody saw him, he would be a dead man.
The Bible tells us Sisera ran to a place of “peace.” Now I want to share something with you that I found so instructive in my own personal life. When I hear the word “peace,” the first thing that enters my mind is my old hippie locket that had a leather cord with a metal “peace sign” on it. “Peace” in my mind takes me back to times of war when the mantra was, “Give peace a chance.” My view of “peace” means no war.
In our text for today, we are told that Sisera took off by foot to the house of Heber the Kenite, “for there was ‘peace’ between Jabin the King of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.” The word “peace,” as used in this text, in the Hebrew, doesn’t mean “anti-war,” instead it means, “favour, familiarity, and friendship.” To go a step further, this type of “peace” was reflected in a desire for both parties to “live and dwell in friendship, prosperity, and safety with each other.”
Talk about heading in the right direction. Sisera took off to the home of Heber the Kenite where he knew he could count on protection. When Sisera entered the camp of Heber, he was entering the environment of a friend.
I can’t tell you how often, in my own life, I thought “Sisera” and “his hosts” and “chariots” were dead and gone. Crushed into oblivion! And then, unexpectedly, from nowhere, “Sisera” showed up. Seems he didn’t come riding to the door of my life in his big fancy chariot. This time, Sisera outsmarted me by sneaking in a back door on foot. Coming in through some unguarded thought or rushed moment or misplaced purpose – and when he arrived, I was totally taken off guard for I thought Sisera was dead and I turned out to be flat wrong. Sisera, that painful temptation that catches us unaware and knocks us to the ground like a poisonous snake, hides where we least expect him.
In the book, Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, author LeRoy Eims offered this example of how temptation, old Sisera, can strike us anytime and anywhere: “Rattlesnakes are fairly common where I live. I encounter one almost every summer. It is a frightening experience to see a rattlesnake coiled, looking at you, ready to strike. He’s lightning-quick and accurate. I have a simple two-point program for handling rattlesnakes: shun and avoid. It’s as simple as that. You don’t need much insight to figure out what to do with something as dangerous as a diamondback rattler. You don’t mess around.”
I don’t know about you but I’d feel totally overwhelmed by “Sisera” if the absolute solution to dealing with this “snake” in our lives hadn’t been given to us by Jesus, Himself in Matthew 26: 41, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” This was Jesus telling us to shun and avoid the poisonous snake, “Sisera.” This was Jesus saying, “Don’t mess with ‘Sisera.” Stay as far away from him as you can and if he comes to your door – run the opposite way.
I’d like to add something else that I learned when I found out that “peace” means “a place of prosperity and friendship.” I will admit to you that it’s easy to make some little place in your life comfortable for a “little Sisera” where it’s an area of “peace.” I have found myself saying, “What I’m doing isn’t really that bad. It isn’t such a big deal.” And yet, before I know it, “Sisera,” whoever and whatever it is, looms so large before my eyes, that in my own power, I’m completely flattened, unable to get rid of the “Sisera” that has a stranglehold on my life.
As I’ve studied about the wily Sisera, I have purposed that there will be no “place of peace” in my life for Sisera to feel comfortable enough to run to.
Author John Owen reminds us that Jesus’ call to watch and pray is a warning for us to be vigilant lest the snake of “Sisera” strikes and tries to poison our lives: “Watch and pray. This injunction from our Lord implies that we should maintain a clear, abiding apprehension of the great danger we face if we enter into temptation. If one is always aware of the danger, one will always stand guard.”
Living in Arizona, as I do, I have had many encounters with rattlesnakes in my life. But none frightened me as much as an experience I had several years ago, here at my home. My mother was visiting and we went off to the grocery store when it was late afternoon. By the time we returned home, it was nearly dark and I had forgotten to leave the porch light on. As I walked to the front door, to my right I saw a slight movement and then, without warning, I heard the rattle that I knew all too well. I stopped and told my mother to back up slowly. After my eyes adjusted to the deepening darkness I could see a large rattlesnake coiled next to the concrete path I was walking on. What a lesson I learned that night. Now, when I leave the house after dark, I always put the lights on outside. And I watch with much more care, each step I take.
May you and I allow the spotlight of God’s word to shine on the pathway of our lives, protecting us from the “Siseras” that lurk in the dark. And may we vigilantly watch and pray, every moment of the day, that we will never leave a place of “peace” in our lives where the temptations of Sisera can strike and take us down.
“(She) that thinks (herself) to be too good to be ruled by the Word, will be found too bad to be owned by God; and if God does not own (her), Satan (Sisera) will and his stratagems will overthrow (her).”
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
King James Version
“I pray, O Lord, that I will not fall into temptation; for the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Good News Bible
“Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy affection may drag downwards. Give me an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out. Give me an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know thee, diligence to seek thee, wisdom to find thee, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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