How many of you have seen the original Wonder Woman movie?
Remember that epic scene battle scene near the end when all hell is breaking loose at that air base in London. It looks like the world is burning.
(IMAGE) Wonder Woman is holding a tank above her head and she is ready to crush and destroy the evil Dr. Maru.
Ares (IMAGE) - the god of war - who is jealous of humanity and wants to destroy it, is trying to convince Wonder Woman that Maru deserves destruction - All of humanity deserves it because they are inherently corrupt.
Diana/ Wonder Woman is about to do it when she remembers Steve (IMAGE), and how he loved her and how he sacrificed himself for everyone.
In that moment, she knows humanity is worth protecting. She throws the tank aside and proceeds to battle Ares.
He screams, “They do not deserve your protection!” (IMAGE - Cat meme)
To which Diana calmly replies, (IMAGE) “It’s not about deserve, it’s about what you believe. And I believe in love.”
And then (IMAGE) she completely fries the god of war with his own lightening.
Do mean and nasty people in the world always get what they deserve? What about when you mess up or whatever: do you get what you deserve? Or have you experienced the kind of love in your life that looks past what you deserve, and actually fights for you?
In 1107 BC - about 3000 years ago - there was a real life wonder woman, whose name was Deborah.
She was called a Judge, which was like a warrior-prophet, and she presided over a nation called Israel.
We read about her in the Old Testament of the Bible, in a book called Judges in chapter 4. Now, you have to understand that this nation of Israel at this point was a young nation - about the same age as Canada is now.
They had been a people group that were slaves in Egypt.
God did a miraculous thing in freeing them - and it is a whole epic story for another time - but eventually they had their own land called “The Promised Land” or Israel.
God, himself, made a contract-like constitution with Israel called a covenant, basically saying, ‘I have freed you and I love you and I am your God.
If you love me, you will obey me. If you obey me, I will keep you safe from enemy nations and help you flourish.
But if you don’t obey me, and break our covenant, I will not keep you safe, and other nations will invade and enslave you again.
This is unfortunately exactly what happened.
Judges tells us that everyone did what was right in their own eyes instead of obeying God. They were corrupt.
So, God turned them over to a Canaanite King, whose General Sisera (sounds evil) oppressed the Israelites ruthlessly for 20 years.
The Israelites cried out to God for help.
So God reached out.
He gave the people a Judge - an overseer and prophet-warrior - who had the power of his Spirit to speak for him, to remind people of their end of the covenant and how they should live, and to help protect them from the inevitable attackers that would come.
In the time of General Sisera, this Judge was Deborah, wife of Lappidoth. She sat under the Palm of Deborah where people of Israel went to her for judgment.
One day, she called for a man named Barak (not Obama) and said, “Barak (not Obama), God commands you to get together an army of 10,000 warriors and fight General Sisera. God will give you victory. Meet the General at the Kishon River.” Barak (not Obama) says - okay, but I will only go if you go. Deborah says - okay, but then God’s victory over Sisera will be at a woman’s hands, not yours. Barak (not Obama) must have said - I’m good with that Because off he went to gather his army. Now, every good story has a subplot along the way. Here we step aside from our story to tell you about Heber the Kenite. Remember Moses? The guy who led the Israelites out of Egypt? He married a desert woman named Zipporah (anyone see Prince of Egypt?). She must have had a brother because this Heber dude is a descendant of him. He is friends with the Israelites AND the Canaanites - he’s like Switzerland in this story - neutral territory. Heber has a wife named Jael. They live in a tent by an oak tree - The Oak of Zaanannim (trees were important map markers back then apparently). Okay, back to Deborah - Because the Holy Spirit speaks to her, she knows that General Sisera is coming and she tells Barak “Barak (not Obama)! This is the day the Lord will give you victory of Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you!” So Barak (not Obama) leads his warriors into battle and when they attacked, the Lord threw Sisera and his 900 chariots, and all the kings horses and all the kings men into a panic. The army runs in retreat. Sisera bolts a different direction. He’s outta there. Barak (not Obama) and his army chase Sisera’s army all the way to their home and kills them all. Twenty years of oppression had been turned on its head. Victory, just as God had promised.
Meanwhile, Sisera ran all the say to the wife of Heber’s tent by the Oak of Zaanannim. Jael went out to meet him and welcomed him. “Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don’t be afraid” Oh Sisera - this is the last time you will underestimate a woman. She covered him with a blanket. He asks for water. She gives him better than that - she gives him milk I can just see her putting this tired blood stained General to bed like a little kid. There, there, Don’t let anyone in if they come looking for me, Sisera says. She assures him and covers him up again after his drink…. And he falls into an exhausted sleep This is when Jael makes her move. She quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. THEN SHE DROVE THE TENT PEG THROUGH HIS TEMPLE AND INTO THE GROUND. And so he died.
When Barak (not Obama) came looking for Sisera, Jael went out to meet him. She said, “Come, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he followed her into the tent and found Sisera lying there dead, with the tent peg through his temple.
Now, Israel didn’t deserve that victory. The didn’t deserve protecting or saving - they had done evil - they were corrupt - they had broken their covenant with God. But God believes in love - in fact - better than that - God IS love. So he reached out to save the Israelites.
You see, this story isn’t about Deborah or Barak (not Obama) or Jael (kick-ass heroine that she was). This story is about God. He is true to his word. He is compassionate to the cries of people in distress. He reaches out to save and protect. He is Love.
So what does this story have to do with us today? Israel is a snapshot of humanity, just like Dr. Maru was in that moment in Wonder Woman. They are us. Humanity is evil and corrupt
Did you know that Israel did this over and over? I mean, there was peace while Deborah was alive, but when she died, Israel forgot God and fell into evil and corrupt ways again. They just kept repeating this scenario: Israel messed up their end of the covenant God handed them over to enemies Israel remembered God, said they were sorry and cried out for Him to save them. God reached out to save them. This shouldn’t surprise us, really. We know that the world is messed up. In that sense the world is just the same today as it was back then. Human nature on the inside hasn’t changed. But how can we get out of this cycle? We can’t. But let me tell you, God HAS broken the cycle! God has heard our cries Why doesn’t anyone love me? Why can’t I get stuff right? Why do I keep messing up? Why do I treat others so meanly? Why don’t I love myself? God help me! Forgive me!
God has heard your cries. A letter from John explains: 1 John 1:9 & 10 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we love God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. God fought for us by sacrificing for us - he gave up his child, so that we could be his children. Did you know you were loved like that? We don’t deserve that kind of love. But there it is.
We don’t need a Wonder Woman or a Judge-Prophet-Warrior like Deborah to help save us. Now when we cry out to God, when we ask for his help, own our messiness and things we do wrong, and ask for forgiveness, we can receive his Spirit because Jesus died for us and rose again. He literally makes us into a new human - the bible says that we have the power of Christ’s Spirit in us to help us live the way we should - to love God and others. Jesus took the destruction that we deserved on himself. And so now, It is no longer about deserve - it’s about what we believe. And I believe in God’s Love.