4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. (Judges 4:4-5)
There is a temptation, upon coming across a story like Deborah’s, to talk at length about the role of women in the church and in life. And admittedly, as a woman, my heart swells when I read stories about godly, heroic women in Scripture. Deborah, Jael, Esther, Mary…these women exemplify Hebrews 13:20-21. But their lives are just further evidence that Jesus equips the called – both men and women – with everything needed for doing His will. In the royal priesthood of believers, we are all children of God, equally broken and equally redeemed.
So we approach the story of the prophetess Deborah’s time as judge of Israel with this posture – knowing our God moves, speaks, and leads through those He chooses. Deborah presided over Israel at a time when the cruel Canaanite King Jabin of Hazor was ruthlessly oppressing the Jewish people. His equally merciless and cruel general, Sisera, commanded 900 iron chariots and terrorized the Jewish people for 20 years.
Iron chariots…does this ring a bell? These powerful weapons frightened Israel so much in the beginning of Judges that they wouldn’t dare face them. But here, God defeats 900 iron chariots and all of Sisera’s men, after Deborah and Barak follow His plan, who were more concerned with God’s glory and leading His people than they were about their own glory or wellbeing. And so the fearsome iron chariots were no match for our magnificent God.
Though Sisera fled the scene, he couldn’t hide from God’s judgment. He came upon a tent in the middle of nowhere, and after falling into a deep sleep, a woman named Jael killed him with a tent stake to the face.
This is so unexpected – so strange!! A tyrannical warrior defeated by a woman with common household object…
But isn’t this yet another example of how God’s ways are higher than our ways, unexpected as they may seem?
He used a staff to split a sea and destroy an army.
He used a stone to slay a giant and transform a shepherd into a would-be king.
He used a Roman cross to defeat sin and save the world.
Isn’t our God great? In impossible situations, in the midst of our weakness, when we cry out, He provides rescue – through unexpected people in unconventional ways. So fear not. Wherever you are, whatever situation you find yourself in – read His Word, hear His voice, and like Deborah, walk by faith, knowing He makes a way where there seems to be no way.