November 10, 2013 – Read the Word on Worship
If you spend any time studying the Book of Judges you will find no end to the theological papers written on Judges 4, as if they have found the Holy Grail of texts regarding women in ministry. Everyone seems to have an opinion on Deborah and her role as a prophetess. The conservatives want to push Deborah to the background and the liberals make her the poster child of women’s ministry. Being a contrarian by nature, I think they have both missed the mark. The hero of this story is not Deborah, but Jael.
So why are we so squeamish about tent pegs and what does this mean about the ministry God has called you to perform? Take a listen and see what you can learn from Jael.
Word On Worship – November 10, 2013 Download / Print
“Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.”
If you spend any time studying the Book of Judges you will find no end to the theological papers written on Judges 4, as if scholars have found the Holy Grail of texts regarding women in ministry. Everyone seems to have an opinion on Deborah and her role as a prophetess. The conservatives want to push Deborah to the background and the liberals make her the poster child of women’s ministry. Being a contrarian by nature, I think both have missed the mark. The hero of this story is not Deborah, but Jael.
Who would have thought Jael would be the hero of this story? I don’t think even Jael thought she would. Sisera had 900 iron chariots under his command and all the resources of Jaban at his command to make happen whatever he saw was in the Canaanites’ best interests. Jael was merely a wife of a Bedouin. How many times had she taken down the tent only to put it up again at the end of the next day? Have you ever wondered how unimportant she must have felt? She was the wife of a nomad who was not even a Jew, whose primary job was to set up the tent, arranging the blankets and offering hospitality. Well, all of that and drive home some tent pegs, too.
All her life this woman was doing the mundane tasks of life. In terms of the big things in life, as those who tell others what is significant, she must have felt as if she was extremely insignificant. And yet God had been preparing her this whole time to make a difference. Just as God prepared the Children of Israel for the rigors of life on the road by their service in Egypt, so God had prepared her by setting up all those tents for this moment in time. The Book of Judges has taught me over and over again that God uses unlikely people to accomplish His purposes. In His time, He lifts up the lowly (Jael) and humbles the mighty (Sisera).
I can’t tell you how many people have told me they want to be called to a “great” work for God, but have failed because they are not a successful teacher of many or made some great contribution to the church. And so they now believe they are living a relatively insignificant life without the power of God demonstrated in their lives. If the Book of Judges teaches us anything, may it be that God uses inconsequential people to achieve great things by His power. We need to be what we are. Deborah should be commended for being a prophetess. It was her job to tell Barack what God said to do. Jael’s job was to drive tent pegs — and when the opportunity came up she did just that — for the glory of God. Our Lord Jesus accomplished great things with twelve unlikely disciples and He will do the same with us.