“The Song of Deborah and Barak” contains an arresting verse. “’Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the Lord, ‘utterly curse its inhabitants; because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the warriors’” (Jud. 5:23). Meroz was a village within the territory of the tribes of Issachar and Naphtali whose inhabitants apparently refused to go to battle with the rest of Israel against Jabin, the king of Canaan; Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army; and their nine hundred chariots of iron.
What is particularly striking about this verse, however, is not the negative aspect of Issachar and Naphtali’s failure to join in the battle. Rather, it is the identification of the cause of the Lord’s people with the cause of the Lord—a relationship that is so intimate that, although the tribes of Israel were the oppressed ones, it is only the Lord who is mentioned as requiring help: from God’s perspective, Meroz refused, or for some reason failed, to come to the help, not of their brethren, but of the Lord Himself. What a truth: the cause of the Lord’s people is ever and always the cause of the Lord! The Lord takes it as a personal affront when the unrighteous and the wicked attack His people. Humanists, liberals, and radicals today believe they are ridding the world of a debilitating pestilence by robbing our nation of biblical values and a spiritual foundation. We may truthfully say woe to them, who in their foolish pride and spiritual blindness come against the Lord with the puny weapons forged by men. They are not attacking some poor, solitary saint without might and without allies. They are less than the Lilliputians before Gulliver, for they have assaulted the Lord of Hosts.
Another striking implication of this verse is that saints can help the Lord. How frequently we regard our weakness (and in the flesh we have nothing but weakness to regard). Nevertheless, the Lord has chosen to use men to advance His cause and to accomplish His purposes. How quick we are to condemn ourselves for not doing some great deed. But what, I ask, is greater than coming to the help of the Lord? Did you sing a hymn today from a thankful heart? You came to the help of the Lord. Did you intercede for someone today? Then you came to the help of the Lord. Did you correct an erring child or encourage a fainting brother? Well, you came to the help of the Lord. It is not the size of the task that is the measure of greatness. Israel, remember, won the battle without Meroz. Meroz may have been required to do very little—at least in the eyes of men. But whereas their faithfulness would have proven a great blessing, their unfaithfulness brought a curse upon them. For they failed to come to the help of the Lord. It should both motivate and humble us that God is pleased to rely on our help to accomplish His will.
For purposes we may fully understand only in eternity, God has chosen to accomplish much of His eternal redemptive purpose through the instrumentality of men. The ministry of reconciliation is given to men (II Cor. 5:18; Rom. 10:14). The ministry of prayer is given to men (I Tim. 2;1, 2). The ministry of providing for the needs of others is given to men (Phil. 4:3). Virtually nothing of eternal import is accomplished during this dispensation without the labor of believers, who Christ has designated as His body. It is not too much to say that often where God moves supernaturally to accomplish His will, He has done so in conjunction with some saint whom He has burdened to pray about that need or service.
You will remember the attack by Moab and Ammon against King Jehoshaphat and Judah. “You need not fight in this battle,” the Lord promised them (II Chron. 20:17a). And true to His word, the Lord destroyed the “great multitude” of enemy troops by causing them to turn on one another and destroy themselves. But the Lord did nothing until Jehoshaphat gathered the people together to fast and to pray. On other occasions, of course, the twelve tribes did have to fight. But the point is this: if the Lord’s work is to be accomplished, it will be accomplished by men—not armed with swords and spears, but with the unction and power of the Spirit. Come to the help of the Lord today—it is your highest duty and greatest privilege.
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