I am pleased to introduce a guest contributor today! Emily Brown is a friend of both Carly and I, the providential result of an old friend marrying a fantastic person. We had the thrill of collaboration, last year, when she debuted her first full length novel! I love reading her stuff and losing track of time in long conversations with her. What a beautiful mind on this lady. Enjoy.
There is so much packed into chapters three and four of Judges! These two chapters alone would make for a pretty epic movie. The plot wouldn’t even need to be drench in cheesy girl power, it’s already there and it’s true and gritty and God-filled. Better than anything Hollywood could create.
It’s hard to skate by some of these other things though. “His name was Ehud son of Gera, a left-handed man of the tribe of Benjamin.” I’m really curious how his left-handedness is relevant. Or verse 31 of chapter 3, let’s hear more about Shamgar please.
What really struck me throughout these chapters was God’s relentless provision to His people, who continually forgot God, as Carly beautifully brought to our attention yesterday. God sent rescuer after rescuer to bring His people back to Himself. Isn’t this still true in our lives today? We cannot thrive, we can barely survive, without God. And He is there continually providing for us. We just have to open our eyes to see, and retrain our minds to be reliant first and foremost on the LORD.
This leads me to my girl, Deborah. Wow. What a Spirit-filled, bold, faithful woman. Deborah knew the Israelites couldn’t make a move and hope to thrive without God. Not only was Deborah a woman in tune with the Spirit of God and a voice of wisdom among the people, she also charged into battle with the Israelites. After seeking God’s will and wisdom first.
I was raised in a church that believed in the equality of men and women. I never felt undervalued or looked over because I am a woman. I directed camps and led small groups and helped out in the youth group, all on an equal plane with my male co-leaders. I didn’t understand the depth of inequality between men and women still prevalent in the church today until I married and entered the Baptist realm.
Here’s the thing I loved about this story of Deborah: she didn’t apologize for being a woman, she was secure in her relationship with God and in God’s call on her life as a prophet. But she did show Barak respect when he asked her to go into battle with him by warning him. “‘Very well,’ she replied, ‘I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.'”
Barak had basically just begged Deborah, a woman, to come into battle with him. Why? Was she a great warrior who had been to battle before? Maybe. But I think it had very little to do with Deborah herself, and a lot to do with God. It’s obvious that God’s power and Spirit were on Deborah, and Barak wanted that presence in battle with him. He didn’t seem to care that she was a woman. Still, she gave Barak an out. She warned him that God would get all the glory and victory would be at the hands of a woman.
They went into battle together and Barak continued to seek and listen to God’s wisdom through Deborah.
Then we come across Jael, who was just hanging out in her tent, but took the opportunity to assist the Israelites in their victory. Was this the woman whom Deborah mentioned would bring the victory? Plot twist!
You may think you’re too busy raising kids, or working on that hustle to be much of an influence in the church, but as long as you’re staying in tune with the Spirit and maintaining an intimate relationship with God, as Carly expressed yesterday, God WILL use you to further His Kingdom. I believe that.
I don’t consider myself a great feminist, but I do believe when woman in the church aren’t listened to and their talents and gifts aren’t valued, the church misses out on half of the character and movement of God. Sweeping women aside into Women’s and Children’s ministries puts God’s work in a box, a very small box. It also sells God short. God’s Spirit resides in and His will rests on women just as much as men, and in equally powerful and influential ways. Let’s not miss out on some beautiful facets of the character of God by ignoring women’s influence in the church at large.
What gifts has God given you? What do you have to bring to the table? What parts of your personality and your experiences reflect the heart of God? These are powerful things about you specifically that God wants to use to further His Kingdom. Don’t sweep them under a rug.