Study 4 THE CONTAGION OF FAITH - BARAK
MORE STUDIES IN HEBREWS 11
by Francis Dixon
Scripture References: Hebrews 11:32; Judges 4:1-24
Have you ever had the experience of infecting someone else with faith? Probably you have done this without being aware of it; but if our faith is to speak to others it must be real and vital. It must be contagious, and it must be so real to us that we cannot keep it to ourselves. Some people’s faith is a vain faith - look up 1 Corinthians 15:2. Barak, however, was infected by the faith of Deborah. How marvellous, that Barak, a statesman and a soldier, should be so affected by the testimony of Deborah, a prophetess! Deborah inspired Barak into a great adventure for God, and we see this in Judges chapter 4. Read the chapter several times and see the lessons, which are so applicable to us, to our nation and to the world in these chaotic days; and it is well for us to remember that Barak and Deborah lived in a time of great spiritual and moral declension, just as we do! It is remarkable that although it was Deborah who infected Barak with her faith, yet Deborah herself is not mentioned in Hebrews Eleven. Why is this? Deborah’s faith took the initiative, and Barak was submissive and fell in with her proposals, which were from the Lord. Behind the public testimony of many a servant of the Lord there is the private prayer and devoted service of a wife who never comes into the public eye, or of a shut-in prayer warrior. Now consider what kind of faith a contagious faith is.
1. The quality of this faith must be strong.
Anyone who is full of a certain disease is far more likely to infect others with that disease than someone who is suffering from only a slight attack - look up and compare Luke 5:12 and 16:20. In the same way, a Christian who is strong in faith is far more likely to influence others for the Lord than one whose faith is weak. Deborah’s faith was strong and therefore she could impart it to Barak - read Judges 4:6-9. We are reminded of George Muller, whose faith was so strong that hundreds of thousands of men and women the world over have found their faith strengthened even by hearing of him, and certainly by reading about him. Can you think of someone whose faith has infected and inspired you? How strong is your faith - strong enough to be contagious?
2. The channel of this faith may be weak.
It surely was weak in this case, for when God wanted to subdue a mighty kingdom He imparted the faith to a woman - look up Judges 4:4. Look also at verse 3, where we read of the strength of the enemy, and compare 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, and notice the words in Isaiah 33:23 – “the lame will carry off plunder”. The story of Gideon and the lesson of subtraction which he had to learn is all an illustration of this - look up Judges 7:2-7. We think of Mary Slessor, of Elizabeth Fry, and of many others who were weak vessels, but they were channels through whom there flowed a faith that was mighty, courageous and contagious. Can you think of some people known to you whose faith has been imparted to others and affected, and infected them?
3. The sharing of this faith is imperative.
Deborah had the faith to believe that God wanted Israel’s enemies to be overthrown - we know this from Judges 4:6-7; but Deborah was a woman, and she could not lead a mighty army into battle. What could she do? infect someone else, a soldier, with the faith to do it. Faith was needed if Jabins hosts, under the command of Sisera, were to be overthrown, and Deborah had that faith. But feet were needed as well as faith, and Deborah’s feet would hardly be suitable. Barak’s feet, however, could do the job; so Deborah, who had the faith, infected Barak, who had the feet - and once he was infected it was faith plus feet! See all this brought before us in Judges 4:8-9 and 5:12. Perhaps God has given you a vision of some great service He wants done, and you are unable to do it. Why not infect others with your faith for its accomplishment and stand with them and behind them as they go into action?
4. The motive of this faith should be pure.
When Deborah came to Barak she said, ‘Don’t imagine that you are going to get the glory for doing this thing, Barak! The Lord is going to gain the victory over our enemies and you’re only to be an instrument in His hands’ - read verses 8 and 9. What a great lesson there is here for us, for how we love to take just a little bit of the glory for ourselves! And when we do, the Lord is prevented from using us in a great way, or from doing a mighty work in our midst. The reason is that He will not give His glory to another - look up Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11.
5. The victory of this faith will be great.
We have this brought before us in Judges 4:15-16, 21 and 23. True faith in God is never disappointed and it is never misplaced; and there is a principle that we must always keep before us - it is this: ”According to your faith will it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29). This has to do with the measure of faith. What is the measure of your faith? Deborah’s faith was strong, so the victory which was accomplished through her faith, which infected Barak, was a mighty victory (Judges 4:15-16 and 21 and 23), and compare 1 John 5:4.
In concluding this study we return to the question: How strong is your faith? - for to be contagious, faith must be strong. Consider the following by the late Dr F. E. Marsh:-
- It is good to “have faith in God” (Mark 11:22), for that brings us into communication with Him.
It is better to be ”strong in faith” (Romans 4:20), for that keeps us from staggering.
It is best to be “full of faith” (Acts 6:5), for that allows no room for doubt or fear.
It is better than the best to possess ”the full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22), for then there is an abundance of confidence in the Lord.
We may go a step further and have “great faith” (Matthew 15:28), ”such great faith” (Matthew 8:10).
We may also have a ”faith which worketh by love”, a contagious faith that brings blessing to others (Galatians 5:6 KJV).