Judges 05: The song of victory

Judges 5:1-31

Judges 5:1-9 – Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day: “That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord! “Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes; to the Lord I will sing; I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel. “Lord, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, yes, the clouds dropped water. The mountains quaked before the Lord, even Sinai before the Lord, the God of Israel. “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways. The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel. When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel? My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the Lord.

Human beings have a timeless and universal fascination with superheroes. Don’t we? I remember I grew up being fascinated by “Go, go, Power Rangers.” How many of you know what I am talking about? I loved Power Rangers. I loved it so much that I pretended that I was sick on many Sunday mornings so that I did not have to go to church, and I stayed home watching Power Rangers. And somehow Netflix knows about my past fascination with Power Rangers. That is why Netflix will release what they called, thirty years in the making, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once And Always” reunion. My first reaction when I saw the trailer was, “Thirty years in the making? Wow, I am old.” My second reaction was, “This is ridiculous. Who would watch a bunch of overweight and wrinkled characters who suddenly become slim and fit when they put on the rangers’ suit?” But you know what? I am sure most of the guys in my generation will watch it anyway. And you can easily tell who we are because, in the next few weeks, you will hear us hum, “Go, go, Power Rangers.” This fascination with superheroes never leaves us. And if we look at different cultures throughout the ages, there are Gilgamesh, Achilles, Hercules, and let’s not forget, Gatotkaca. Superheroes are always with us, and we can’t get enough of them. They relieve our boredom by inspiring us.

The Bible also has its heroes and superheroes. And we encounter some of them in the book of Judges. In Judges chapter 4, we meet three different heroes: Deborah the judge, Barak the soldier, and Jael the housewife. Last week we looked at how each of them played their part in the salvation of Israel. Judges chapter 4 gives us a historical account of what happened. But Judges chapter 5 is different. Judges chapter 5 looks at the same event from a different perspective. If Judges chapter 4 gives us the historical account, Judges chapter 5 is the theological interpretation. And it is written as a song. And to understand the story properly, we need to interpret it in the light of both Judges chapters 4 and 5.

So, let’s recap what happened in chapter 4 before we go to chapter 5. The people of Israel sinned against God, and God sold them into the hand of Jabin, King of Cannan. And Jabin had a powerful commander named Sisera who commanded 900 chariots. Israel was powerless before their might. Then they cried out to God and God listened to their cries. So, God commanded Deborah the prophetess to come to Barak and say, “Go and fight Sisera. God will give Sisera into your hand.” Barak replied, “Okay, I will go if you go. But if you don’t go, I am not going.” Deborah said, “Sure. I’ll go with you. But you will not get the glory at the end of this battle. God will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” And we thought Deborah was referring to herself. So, Barak led his 10,000 soldiers and defeated Sisera and his 900 chariots. But Sisera escaped and hid in Jael’s tent. He thought he was safe because there was a peace treaty between Jabin and Jael’s husband. So, Jael gave Sisera milk to drink, sang him a lullaby, and “kapow”, she hammered a tent peg into Sisera’s head while he was sleeping. So, he died. The twist in the story is that the one who killed Sisera was not Deborah the prophetess, not Barak the soldier, but Jael the housewife. And one of the lessons of the story is, Don’t be Jael because if you are “jail”, you would go to jail.” For some of you, that’s all you remember from last week’s sermon. And from that battle, the people of Israel continued to have the upper hand and they defeated Jabin. That’s chapter 4.

And now in chapter 5, Deborah and Barak write a song of victory to celebrate God’s salvation. Here is what’s interesting. The Lord is only mentioned a few times in chapter 4. But the Lord is everywhere in chapter 5. And this song teaches us one important lesson. God is not sitting and watching passively as history unfolds. God is the active mover of history. So, what Judges chapter 5 does is it helps us look beneath the surface of history and reveals God’s hand behind all things. And as Christians, we must hold chapter 4 and chapter 5 together. We should think about our lives not only historically but also theologically. Not simply thinking about what we did, but searching out what God was doing. Because get this. When we understand the story of our lives is not so much about us as about God, it keeps up from taking glory in our successes or despairing in our struggles. It gives us the equilibrium to handle whatever situation we might face in our lives.

So, let’s get into chapter 5. I have three points for this sermon. The Warrior; The invitation; The contrast.

The Warrior

Judges 5:1-3 – Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day: “That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord! “Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes; to the Lord I will sing; I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.

Singing is a natural and proper response to deliverance. Imagine if you have been oppressed for 20 years. And there was nothing you could do about it. The enemy was too strong, and you had no hope. Then one day something happened that changed everything. After twenty years of slavery, you were free again. When that happened, you would want to sing. You would want to praise the one who freed you. And here is what’s interesting about this song. Deborah and Barak are the two main heroes of this battle. But this song of victory is not about them. They did not write this song to tell of their wonderful courage and achievement. They write this song to celebrate God. God is the one true superhero of His people. God is the hero behind all heroes. He is the one who is in control of everything in the story. He is the one who sold Israel into the hand of Jabin, He is the one who told Deborah to send His message to Barak, He is the one who went to the battle before Barak, and He is the one who gave Sisera into the hand of Jael. God is behind everything. Deborah, Barak, and Jael were simply the means by which God accomplished His salvation. That is why they sing this song to the Lord. It is the Lord who is praised throughout the song. Were it not for the Lord, there would have been no deliverance.

Judges 5:4-11b – “Lord, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, yes, the clouds dropped water. The mountains quaked before the Lord, even Sinai before the Lord, the God of Israel. “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways. The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel. When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel? My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the Lord. 10 “Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets and you who walk by the way. 11 To the sound of musicians at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the Lord, the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel.

Pay attention to the picture Deborah paints. When the God of Israel is on the move, the earth trembles, the heavens drop water, and the mountain quakes. And Deborah says this is the same God who appeared in Sinai. If you remember what happened in Exodus, it was at Mount Sinai that God first revealed Himself to the people of Israel after He delivered them from Egypt. It was at Mount Sinai that God entered a covenant with Israel and Israel became God’s beloved people. It was at Mount Sinai that Israel experienced the terrifying majestic presence of God. It was so terrifying that Moses trembled with fear and Israel feared for their lives. And this is Deborah’s point. This terrifying majestic powerful God is not stuck in Sinai. Rather, the God who came to Israel at Sinai comes again to the rescue of His people in their present troubles. The God who delivered them at the Red Sea can rescue them at the river Kishon. The God who came to Mount Sinai comes to Mount Tabor as well. In other words, God is not some ancient history at Sinai. God is still marching again and again to rescue His people. And when He does, the universe shakes. So, as Barak and his soldiers march down the mountain, the One before whom the creation trembles is going to war. God is the Warrior who fights for His people.

And look at the situation in Israel. The highways were abandoned, and the travellers were afraid to travel by the main roads because thieves and robbers were on the main highways. People were afraid to go out and leave their houses. It was very dangerous to do so. The people of Israel were in a desperate situation. And the reason for it is that Israel had chosen new gods to worship. They no longer worshipped the one true God. Which tells us that Israel was undeserving of God’s help. And God allowed Israel to experience those desperate times so that they might know the futility of idolatry. Sometimes it is only when God’s people see how hopeless they are that they can appreciate how mighty God is. Notice what Deborah and Barak are doing in their song. Desperate people and the Warrior God are placed side by side so that the desperate people might rest in the Warrior God.

So, don’t miss an important lesson from this text. Oftentimes, God allows desperate situations in our lives to make us rely on God. And here is the shocking part. Every hardship, every struggle, every difficulty we experience in life, all come from the hand of God. The means by which hardship comes might be our enemies, but it is planned by God. The means by which hardship comes might be our own foolishness, but it is purposed by God. God is the one who planned and purposed all the struggles that His people experience. God is the one who is in charge. And He is not a passive observer. He does not look at our struggles and scratches His head in heaven saying, “Hmm, I wonder what I should do with the situation My people are experiencing right now.” No. The God of the Bible is in absolute control over every little detail of our lives. God does not show up on the scene trying to repair what is broken. God is not in the repair business; He is in the discipline business. And His discipline is planned and measured. In other words, the desperate situation we are going through is part of God’s discipline. It is God’s refusal to give up on us.

But the good news is not only God is in control over our desperate situations, but He also loves to rescue us in our desperate situations. I love the way Dale Ralph Davis puts it. “Surely God’s afflicted people should derive great comfort from knowing that the God who came to Sinai is the God who comes repeatedly to His people in distress. Omnipotence delights in encores.” Another way to put it is this. God is not only our Father, but He is also our Warrior. He delights in saving us again and again. And sometimes God allows us to experience those desperate moments so that we might know how strong He is. We will never know how strong God is until we realize how weak we are. And God in His kindness allows us to face situations that are far beyond our strengths. If we are to win, God must win it for us and give His victory to us. So, what desperate situations are you facing right now? Is it the salvation of people you love? Is it the diagnosis of the doctor? Is it addiction to sin? Is it the restoration of your family? Whatever desperate situation you are facing right now, I have good news for you. Omnipotence delights in encores. God loves to show you His strength by winning the battle on your behalf. So, God is a Warrior who goes before us and wins the battle on our behalf. He is sovereign over our lives, both in His disciplines and His compassionate deliverance. God is always at work bringing His plans to fruition.

The invitation

Judges 5:11c-18 – “Then down to the gates marched the people of the Lord. 12 “Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, break out in a song! Arise, Barak, lead away your captives, O son of Abinoam. 13 Then down marched the remnant of the noble; the people of the Lord marched down for me against the mighty. 14 From Ephraim their root they marched down into the valley, following you, Benjamin, with your kinsmen; from Machir marched down the commanders, and from Zebulun those who bear the lieutenant’s staff; 15 the princes of Issachar came with Deborah, and Issachar faithful to Barak; into the valley they rushed at his heels. Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. 16 Why did you sit still among the sheepfolds, to hear the whistling for the flocks? Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. 17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan; and Dan, why did he stay with the ships? Asher sat still at the coast of the sea, staying by his landings. 18 Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death; Naphtali, too, on the heights of the field.

Now, the focus of the song shifts to God’s people. And we see contrasts among the tribes of Israel. Those who participated in Deborah and Barak’s invitation to fight received a high commendation, while those who did not participate received a rebuke. We find that some of the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, Issachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali participated in the battle and received honours. While Reuben, Gilead, Dan, and Asher stayed home and are rebuked. So, there are tribes who risked their lives and there are tribes who played it safe. The question is, why did some tribes refuse to participate? We are not told the exact reasons for each tribe. But Deborah says that there were great searchings of heart among the clans of Reuben. And she repeats the same lines twice, which means it is important. So, it wasn’t that the clans of Reuben ignored the invitation to join the battle. No. The Reubenites discussed the matter thoroughly. They talked a lot about it. But they decided it was not a good time to leave the sheep. They did the math and decided it was not worth the effort. They refused to sacrifice their individual interest and well-being for the sake of the nation. Their sheep were more important than their brothers.

And look at verse 23. Judges 5:23 – “Curse Meroz, says the angel of the Lord, curse its inhabitants thoroughly, because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. We are not sure where Meroz is located but it must have been near the battle scene. And it does not say that they did anything bad. It does not say, “They stayed back, drank Heineken, smoked weed, and mocked the Israelites.” No. What they did is simply nothing. They were not involved. They refused to help God’s people and the angel of the Lord cursed them. This tells us that saying no to God’s invitation is not a neutral ground. Listen. In the eyes of God, non-involvement in God’s invitation is not acceptable. Doing nothing is not neutral. We are either in and blessed, or we are not in and cursed. And don’t miss what happened in the battle. It is amazing.

Judges 5:19-22 – 19 “The kings came, they fought; then fought the kings of Canaan, at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; they got no spoils of silver. 20 From heaven the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera. 21 The torrent Kishon swept them away, the ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon. March on, my soul, with might! 22 “Then loud beat the horses’ hoofs with the galloping, galloping of his steeds. Deborah and Barak make it very clear in their song that this is God’s victory. The kings of Canaan fought, but they were not fighting Deborah and Barak. They were fighting against God who rules the stars. And these verses tell us how Israel won the battle. God poured out rain from the heavens and it caused the river to flood. Sisera would never have arranged his chariots next to a river if he had been expecting rain. But God told Deborah and Israel just where to fight, and He destroyed Sisera’s army through His supernatural work. God sent a thunderstorm and caused the river Kishon to swell, overflow, and flood the area. And Sisera’s unbeatable chariots were rendered useless because of it. So, all the advantages of having chariots went down the drain as Barak’s foot soldiers marched down from Mount Tabor. There is no doubt in people’s minds who won the war. God is the One who won the war. Don’t miss the point. God does not need the help of His people. He will win no matter what. But He is inviting His people to participate in a battle He would win. And blessings are found in fighting for and with God, putting ourselves in His service no matter the cost. And curses are found in saying no to God’s invitation and staying at home.

What’s the lesson for us? It’s simple. It’s been said that there are three types of people. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who have no idea what’s happening. But there is only one type of Christian. Christians are those who participate in God’s work. So, here is the option. We are either participating in God’s work and are blessed, or we are not participating and are cursed. There is no neutral ground. We are either in, or we are not in. The text is clear. God does not need our help to accomplish His work. But God is inviting us to play our parts in His work. God’s sovereignty does not negate human responsibility. And the problem with some of us is we are too comfortable doing nothing while there are works that need our involvement. Listen. Sitting on the sidelines not only robs us of joy but also puts us under a curse. Christianity is not a spectator sport; it requires involvement. So, we can’t tell ourselves that we are okay as long as we are not committing crimes. To do nothing when God invites us to participate is wickedness in God’s sight.

Let me put it this way. Last month, I saw an Instagram post of a mom who baked together with her three-year-old. Now, can we agree that having a three-year-old bake together with you is not helping? So, I asked her about her experience. And she replied, “OMG, it would have been so much faster and less messy If I were to do it myself.” So, I asked, “Why did you do it?” She said, “I wanted to create memories with him, something he can hopefully remember when he’s old and grey, that his parents are always available for him and present with him. And I could see he was learning and happy while doing it. He enjoyed the fruit of his labour with pride. I experienced joy from seeing how happy he was.” Moms, isn’t true? You could have done a better faster job yourself. Instead of 60 mins work, it becomes 120 minutes. And not only that, but your kid also makes a lot of mess. And guess who has to clean up the mess? In the ideal world, the answer is your husband. But we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a sinful broken world. Most likely, you are the one that has to clean up the mess. Your kid’s participation is only making life harder for you. But your kid will not experience the joy of baking together unless you make space for it. And that’s what God is doing with us. God does not need us. He can do it so much better without us. But He makes space for us to participate for our joy. So, the question is, have we said yes to God’s invitation to do His work? Or are we still sitting on the sidelines doing nothing? But make no mistake. God does not need our help, but He invites us to participate for our joy.

The contrast

Judges 5:24-27 – 24 “Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed. 25 He asked for water and she gave him milk; she brought him curds in a noble’s bowl. 26 She sent her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet; she struck Sisera; she crushed his head; she shattered and pierced his temple. 27 Between her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; between her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.

The last part of the song is a tale of two women, a contrast between Jael and the mother of Sisera. Let’s look at Jael first. If Meroz is cursed for their non-involvement, Jael is called the most blessed of women. This is interesting because Jael is not even an Israelite. She is a Kenite, a gentile. But Jael is called the most blessed of women because she risked everything to kill God’s enemy and help God’s people. Can you see the contrast? The tribes of Israel and the city of Meroz who could be expected to participate did not, while the one who was not expected to participate did. So, what Deborah does in the song is she plays the scene of Jael delivering the final blow in slow motion. Sisera asked for water, she gave him milk, covered him with a blanket, grabbed a tent peg and a hammer, and crushed his head. And look at verse 27. Judges 5:27 – Between her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; between her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead. So, Deborah not only plays the scene in slow motion, but she replays the scene of Sisera’s death repeatedly. Remember that this is a song to celebrate God’s salvation for His people. Here Deborah is delighting in and relishing that salvation. She is savouring God’s salvation moment by moment.

Let me put it this way. As most of you know, I am a big fan of Manchester United. I watch every single game, doesn’t matter what time. I identify with them so much that their victory is my victory, and their defeat is my defeat. And every time Manchester United win, I savour their victory. Here is what I would do. I already watched the game live. I know the score and everything that happened in the game. But then later that day I would still watch the highlight of the game. And not only that, but I would also open different soccer websites and read every article on the game and giggles on my own. And when I meet my fellow United fans, the holy men of RSI, I would talk about the game with them. What I am doing is I am savouring Manchester United’s victory. Because their victory is my victory. Okay, I realise I lost most of the ladies. Let me put it another way. As I grow old, I learned the art of enjoying food. Back when I was still a teenager, I ate like a flash. I ate seven bowls of rice at a Chinese restaurant in less than 10 minutes. I devoured my food as fast as I could. But now, it’s different. For example, if I am eating Japanese BBQ, I will not consume all the meat in ten minutes. I will take that wagyu sirloin, grill it medium rare, put a bit of salt in the meat, and I will savour it in my mouth slowly. I will take my time chewing it and I will enjoy every last juice and fat in that sirloin instead of gobbling it down. I learned that food is not to be consumed but savoured. This is why I am constantly on diet and never lose weight. Some of you are wondering right now, how does this relate to the sermon? Listen. That is the way God’s people view God’s salvation. God’s salvation is meant to be enjoyed, savoured, and cherished; little by little, piece by piece, blow by blow. And this is not sadistic. This is rejoicing in God’s salvation.

Perhaps the reason why some of us do not rejoice when God smashes His enemies is that we do not realize how enslaved we are, how oppressed we are, and how free we can be because of God. God’s victory over His enemies is only a thing we read in the Bible. We have yet to experience how God saves us from sins. But if we called ourselves Christians, let me tell you, our story. You and I were dead in our sins. You and I were enslaved by the desires of the flesh. You are I were under God’s wrath. You and I were powerless before our enemy. But then comes the two most powerful words in the Bible. BUT GOD. You and I were dead BUT GOD. You and I were enslaved BUT GOD. You and I were under God’s wrath BUT GOD. You and I were powerless BUT GOD. Rather than giving us what we deserved, God intervened. Rather than leaving us to our destruction, God had another agenda. God in His richness of mercy looked at our hopeless condition and came to our rescue. The One before whom the creation trembles entered the creation and became one of us to set us free. This is God’s salvation for you and me. We must learn to savour God’s salvation.

But look at the contrast with the mother of Sisera. Judges 5:28-30 – 28 “Out of the window she peered, the mother of Sisera wailed through the lattice: ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?’ 29 Her wisest princesses answer, indeed, she answers herself, 30 ‘Have they not found and divided the spoil?— A womb or two for every man; spoil of dyed materials for Sisera, spoil of dyed materials embroidered, two pieces of dyed work embroidered for the neck as spoil?’ This part of the song is filled with holy sarcasm. Deborah pictures Sisera’s mother and her princesses waiting for Sisera to return victorious. It is a picture of a mother anxiously waiting for the return of her son. We can imagine her looking out the window and keeps asking, “Why is my son not back yet? What’s holding him back? Why haven’t I heard anything from him and his army? Why the delay?” And the princesses reassure her, “Oh, you know how it is. It takes time to divide up all the spoil. And they will likely rape some girls while they are at it. I am sure they will bring some of those women back to be your slaves. Think about all the riches you will have when they return.” So, this is what Sisera did again and again in the past. He raped women and made them sex slaves. And Sisera’s mother probably replies, “Yes, of course, you’re right. He will be back soon.” But Sisera and his army never return. The irony is after making the lives of many women hellish nightmares, it is a woman who brings him down. The man who used women as objects is killed by a womanly object. So, Sisera was not an innocent victim of war. He was a wicked commander who got what he deserved. This is God’s punishment for Sisera’s wickedness. Perfect justice is being served. God punished the wicked.

And Deborah concludes the song in verse 31. Judges 5:31 – 31 “So may all your enemies perish, O Lord! But your friends be like the sun as he rises in his might.” And the land had rest for forty years. Deborah sees what happened to Sisera and Jabin as a foretaste, a preview of what God will do to all His enemies. As God has caused Sisera and Jabin to perish, He will cause all His enemies to perish. Right now, we have yet to see all of God’s enemies perish. Not every story we know has a happy ending. Not every sexual predator, not every sex trader, is brought to justice. We often see the guilty go unpunished. But the day of perfect justice is coming. One day all people will stand before God and be held accountable for their actions. In this story, we get a glimpse of how it is all going to end. God will settle all scores. All God’s enemies will perish. But God’s friends will be like the rising of the sun in their strength. They will shine bright on the day of perfect justice. So, Deborah is contrasting God’s enemies and God’s friends. God’s enemies will perish, and God’s friends will rise. And Israel has rest for forty years. This is Judges chapter 5.

So, let’s bring it all together. Remember. We must hold Judges chapters 4 and 5 together. Judges chapter 4 tells us that God wants to use us. God is not looking for a perfect person to use. God does His work through our availability, not our ability. What God is looking for is a housewife with a frying pan who says, “Here I am, send me Lord.” The book of Judges tells us that God can use anyone. He uses imperfect people to accomplish His great works. On the other hand, Judges chapter 5 tells us that God is the hero of the story. Yes, God will do great and mighty works through us who say yes to His invitation. But make no mistake. It is never about us. It has always been about God who is working in and through us. The story of Deborah, Barak, and Jael are not about Deborah, Barak, and Jael. It is about God and what God does for His people. God is the God of war who fights for His people. God is the God of the universe who moves the heaven and the earth to save His people. And God is the God of justice who delivers perfect justice for His people.

Here is a question that all of us must answer: Are we God’s friends or God’s enemies? God is the Warrior who fights for His friends. But He is also the Avenger who slays His enemies. The truth is all of us were once God’s enemies. We deserved nothing but God’s wrath. So, how can the enemies of God become the friends of God? Look at Jael. She was not part of God’s covenant people. She was a gentile, but she risked everything to kill God’s enemy and help God’s people. And Deborah called her the most blessed of women. Jael is someone who put her faith in God and is blessed by God because of it. So, how can the enemies of God become the friends of God? Faith turns God’s enemy into God’s friend. But what happened to sins? What happened to the God of perfect justice? The cross happened. God did not make His enemies His friends at the cost of perfect justice. God is a just God. Every sin, every wrong, and every crime must be punished. He cannot turn a blind eye to sin. But the good news is sin is already judged at the cross. But the one who is judged for our sins is not us. Jesus Christ took God’s judgement on sins upon himself. He embraced God’s demand for perfect justice. He took the nail and the hammer upon himself. He died the death that we should have. So that every enemy of God who put their faith in Jesus will become a friend of God. The death of Jesus Christ at the cross makes it possible for an enemy of God to become a friend of God. But it does not end there. Because Jesus did not remain dead. He was resurrected on the third day. And his resurrection tells us that there will be a day of perfect justice for all who refused to put their faith in Jesus. For those whose sins have not been punished in the death of Jesus, God will judge and punish them for their sins. Justice will be done. God is the God of grace, but He is also the God of justice. But for those who put their faith in Jesus, we can sing the song of victory today. The death and the resurrection of Jesus have guaranteed our song of victory because our victory is participation in Jesus’s victory.

So, hear this, my friends. And I close with this. When we are in Jesus, this is our song. Jesus says to everyone who trusts in him, “My victory is your victory.” When we are weak, Jesus says, “My strength is your strength.” When we are confused, Jesus says, “My wisdom is your wisdom.” When we are guilty, Jesus says, “My righteousness is your righteousness.” When we are ashamed, Jesus says, “My honour is your honour.” When we are hurt, Jesus says, “My comfort is your comfort.” When we are depressed, Jesus says, “My hope is your hope.” When we are wronged, Jesus says, “My justice is your justice.” And one day, when we are faced with death, when all our strength, all our energy and ultimately our breath fails us, at that moment, Jesus says, “My life is your life.” Christians, rejoice in Jesus’s victory. Boast in this. Wake up every morning, walk through every moment, remembering the reality that we are in Jesus. And Jesus has won on our behalf. To him alone be the glory. This is our song of victory. Let’s pray.

Discussion questions:

  1. What struck you the most from this sermon?
  2. “Omnipotence delights in encores.” What are some implications of this truth?
  3. What does it mean to participate in God’s work? Give some examples.
  4. What does it mean to savour God’s salvation and how do we do it?
  5. How does this song of victory point to the gospel?
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