What are some key passages that speak to you?
I think we sometimes struggle with an image of God the Father as the bad guy and Jesus the Son as the one who protects us from God's wrath. That is not a valid view of God as Jesus says that when we have seen him we have also seen God the Father. The same compassion and love that we place upon Jesus also holds true for God.
Whenever I read about the battles of the Old Testament it is sometimes hard for me to picture God as loving. But when I reflect upon my actions and my feelings as a parent I can begin to see how God interacts with us a little more clearly. There are times when the only way my kids will learn how to live correctly is to allow them to experience the consequences of their actions. This is what we see at the start of Judges 4. The people of God were disobedient and they suffered from their actions. Once they began to obey and call upon God, He stepped in and protected them.
An interesting part of this story is the part that Deborah plays. Prior to kings God provided judges for His people to provide wisdom and to communicate His desires. A judge was a very important person and was a leader among their people. Deborah in fact calls for the general and gives instructions for the military to follow.
I sometimes struggle with why God would wipe out an entire army, but then again we don't always know the entire narrative. We don't know if God gave them a chance to follow and obey. We don't know what would have happened if God hadn't commanded it. Remembering that Jesus was there and that God loves all of His creation we have to remember that God would have intimately felt the death of each person. I don't think the decision was ever made lightly.
What are some important ways that God instructs us to obey and if we fail to do so what might some of those consequences be?