Monday, October 11, 2010

Storyline: Deborah, Jael or Someone Else?

Read Judges 4 & 5.

Sandwiched in the book of Judges (please read chapter 4) is a drama that would rival any Hollywood production.  I hope you never see God’s word as boring, because this story is far from it.  It’s filled with intrigue, mystery, war, deceit, murder, and “the good guys” come out on top!  In many ways it is a truly gory picture (not that this is good).  On top of all this, the protagonists in this movie are women – two of them.  Let’s look at the cast of characters and you try to discern who you are in this drama.

Israel – God’s children were back in a cycle of defeat to a Canaanite king because they were doing “evil in God’s sight”.  After 20 years of bondage, they were crying out to God for help.

Deborah – God provided a judge for the people, who also happened to be a prophetess.  Deborah was a strong leader, who uncompromisingly spoke the truth of God’s message to the people.  She didn’t waiver, or hold back.

Barak – God intended to bring the Israelites victory through this man.  However, he was a wimpy warrior.  Barak wouldn’t go to battle against the Canaanites unless Deborah came to war with him.  Deborah assured him Israel would still receive the victory, but a woman would get the credit.

Enter Jael – When the Canaanite hero, Sisera, realized that his amazing army was defeated by the smaller, inadequate Israeli army, he took off on foot.  Sisera thought he would find refuge in Jael’s tent.  Jael happened to be the wife of a man who was the descendent of Moses’ in-laws, and this family was “at peace” with the Canaanite king.  Jael was not stupid.  If Sisera was on foot, undoubtedly she knew the Canaanite’s had lost the battle.  She probably figured when all was said and done, her family better come out on the right side.  So she invited Sisera into her tent and gave him a nice warm cup of milk that had been set aside to curd – a very nurturing act, which spoke to the general of safety and hospitality.  After tucking him in under a rug and wishing him a nice rest, Jael proceeded to hammer his head with a tent peg to the floor and give the Israelites complete victory.  For her act of deception, Deborah wrote a song that blessed Jael among the women (5:24).  I took note that there’s a lot of controversy over her actions in the commentaries I read.

So, back to the question I asked:  Who do you compare with in this drama?  Deborah?  Do you speak God’s message truthfully and boldly in spite of the nature of it – or whether others will be offended by it?  Can’t say I do…I wish I did, but nope – not always.  That is a high calling.  How about, Jael?  Can’t say I associate with a deceitful murderess, either.  Then why this devotional thought about two women to whom it’s difficult to relate?  Because, there is a woman I find some correlation with – the woman, who is considered to be the bride of the Lord.  The woman who cycles in and out of defeat.  How often I find myself trapped by my own choices.  But for the grace of God…

The moral of this story is not that God nods his approval on deceit, or murder.  The moral is that God’s will is assured.  What he promises will be accomplished and he can, and will, use anything at anytime in order to bring his promises to fulfillment (think of the story of Joseph).  What I really want you to hear is this –

God is intimately involved in your life.  He has a plan and a purpose for you.  Nothing gets in the way of it – not wimps, nor warriors.  He will not let you remain in defeat when you cry out to him.  He will always provide a Deborah, and, yes, even a Jael, if he must.  For, quite often, you and I are Israel.

Call on me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things you do not know.
Jeremiah 33:3

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