During the time of the judges, God gave a great victory over the enemies of Israel by the hand of Deborah and Barak. Many of the tribes gathered to fight the common enemy and fought valiantly. With God’s help, they were able to defeat the enemy soundly. Yet among the tribes of Israel, some were not present to fight. They were not hindered, they just chose not to fight. They missed being listed among the brave who defended their homeland. Judges 5:1-18 records the cowardice and apathy of some of the people of God shown at a time when their brethren needed them. This song would preserve their foolish decisions for generations to come.
The tribe of Reuben stayed with the sheep instead of rising to battle. They were content to stay home and listen to the piping for the flocks instead of defending against the wolves of Hazor. They lived across the Jordan from the rest of Israel and were in a sense isolated from the rest of the nation. They chose to stay on their side of the Jordan and not get involved. Their cowardice would cause them to search their hearts. They would not be named among the brave.
Dan and Asher stayed in the comfort of their inlets and on their ships; they would not go to battle. They would have to leave the comfort of home and perhaps their sea trades to come to battle. They are sharply contrasted with Zebulun and Naphtali who distinguished themselves in battle and won a name of honor among the people of God.
Today the kingdom of darkness is waging a battle against the kingdom of light. All of God’s children are called to fight the battle daily to glorify the name of God and to give the enemy no ground, As with Deborah, He will fight for the church, but demands that we fight as well. In every city and country the battle rages yet there is not full participation in the fight. As in Israel, there are those in the church who will stand by while others work.
There are those in the spiritual tribe of Reuben who are content separate themselves from the rest of God’s people and not get involved in the battle. They come to some of the services and wear the name Christian but do not seek close ties with their brethren. They prefer the company of the world to those of “like precious faith.” They are not necessarily wicked, but worse, are apathetic. They sit among the sheep and let others fight the cause. In the Day of Judgment, when the battle is over, they will have great searching of heart. They will know that they were not a part of the Lord’s victory.
Some might say, “The battle is being fought just fine, I’m not needed.” Ten thousand men gathered to fight Jabin, but more could have shared in the glory. We are not to fight because we are needed but because it is the right thing to do. We are to “contend earnestly for the faith.” Every person is necessary. The church will grow and the cause of Christ will grow if every person is doing his part and standing in his place. “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Some follow the pattern of Dan and Asher. Note this quote from Franklin Camp, whose article inspired this one:
“Are there no Dan and Ashers in the church today? The pews at eleven o’clock are full of them. Like Asher, they have their havens on Sunday night —the haven of television. The Dans have their business through the week and you need not call them for duty. Neither can they make it to mid-week Bible study, as they need the rest to have a fresh mind and a rested body to take care of their business on Thursday. But what about the faithful few that are always ready to hearken to the call? Do they have neither business nor havens of rest? Yes, but their chief business is the Lord’s and they find their rest in Him.”
The battle is raging today. Where are you? Are you sitting among the sheepfolds, aloof from your brethren and the fight? Are you resting on the comfort of your boat or so busy with your own things that you cannot come fight with your brethren for the cause of the Lord? Or are you in the thick of the battle, risking all and trusting I the strong arm of the Lord as did Zebulun? Do those who seek you find you, like Naphtali, on the heights of the battle field facing the enemy bravely?
You must answer honestly. It is better to have the searching of heart now, when you can repent and come to the fight than in the despair of hell, where you will search your heart for an eternity.