Lenten Midweek Reflection - Feb 27th

Lenten Midweek Reflection - Feb 27th

As part of our Lenten Midweek Reflection this year we are exploring the saints of the Old Testament.  These are people that God used to protect, shield, and save his people.  We will gather each Wednesday at 7pm for worship.

Tonight we continue with our study of the Saints of the Old Testament, the people that God used throughout his history with his people to save, to sustain and to call God’s people back to him. Tonight our lesson is about Deborah and     Ja-el. Two women, who God used to deliver his people.

I probably don’t have to remind you that women did not have the highest place in the society of Ancient Israel. If you want to think about how progressive a culture that was, imagine how women are seen and the place they are offered today in places like Afghanistan or Pakistan. It was a male dominated society. Women were, if not second class citizens, they were fairly close.

So it should first be interesting to us that in this story it is Deborah, a woman, that God chose to be the Judge of Israel. You may remember that the JUDGE was the chief prophet, and Law Giver, and Leader for the people. The Judge was the person God chose and used to help his people especially in a time of crisis. The Judge that God raised up, had absolute authority and ruled Israel.

Why does God chose a woman, then to be the JUDGE in this male dominated society. Possibly because God doesn’t do things in the way that we expect. God does not operate by human rules and expectations. Choosing a woman to be the leader, in that time, would have been a witness to the people of God that the Lord can and will use whoever he wants to. God is showing that he will lead and guide his people in a way that they would never expect, that he will be victorious and he will use a woman to do it. That would have blown their minds. But our Heavenly Father is not in any way limited by human expectation.

So Deborah is Judging Israel in a time of Crisis. The Caananites are invading. The Caananite general, Sisera has 900 Iron Chariots in his army. Chariots were the TANKS of their day. They were both an armored vehicle which could run over soldiers, they were also a firing platform from which arrows and spears could be reigned down on the enemy. This was a problem. The Caananites simply had more firepower and more advanced weapons. Israel shouldn’t have been able to win this one. They were afraid.

Despite the fact that Deborah tells Barak to go to Mt. Tabor and that God says he will deliver the Caanaites into his hand – Barak won’t go without Deborah. He says that despite the command from God he will only go if Deborah goes along. It think this is a testament to who Deborah is as a leader. Barak seems to think that her presence will help the army, will bolster them in the battle and give them success.

But then we hear this interesting thing. Deborah says that she will go but that because Barak didn’t trust the Lord, victory will not be fully his – Deborah says that God will give victory into the hand of a woman. Though we have heard that Deborah is the leader, this last promise of prophecy would have been beyond belief for these people. It is one thing to guide the army – but Deborah never makes any pretense of fighting in the battle. How could God deliver the enemy into a woman’s hand? It was strange and odd – so is the victory that God gives.

We hear that the armies meet, and that the Caananite general, Sisera and his chariots are defeated. So bad is the rout that we are told that all of the Caananite army is destroyed. The general, Sisera, apparently leaving his chariot in the field – flees on foot trying to escape what he thinks is certain death.

He comes upon the tent of Heber and his wife Ja-el. Heber is off fighting the Caananites, but Ja-el is at home and calls the weary and exhausted general into her house. He covers him with a blanket and gives him milk to drink, and lets the weary enemy sleep.

Then – and I don’t know what it reveals about me that this is one of my favorite stories of the Bible – then while Sisera is sleeping, she takes a tent peg and a hammer, and drives the tent peg into his temple, killing him. She drives it all the way through his head into the ground and as the story tells us – HE DIED.

It is in the unexpected – through the women – that God delivers his people. It may sound ridiculous to us today to hear it, because we simply expect men and women to be able to all do things and we know that all are called to follow and serve God. But this story, for these people is showing that God can use anybody to be a agent of his work, and an agent of carrying about his will and saving his people.

This story speaks would speak to these people in the same way that the story of a little shepherd boy named David killing a Giant speaks to us. It is the story of God who does protect and keep and blesses his people – and sometimes uses those we would not expect to carry out his will.

That is a reminder for us. We are two little churches. We have done much work in the last four years to step away from thinking that we are too small and therefore there isn’t anything we can do. We know that God does use us to fulfill his will and his purpose and that we are able to make a difference and to help, and serve, and give to this community and this world that we have been placed in. The only people putting limits upon what we do is our own perceptions.

In this story we see that God uses exactly those who the world of that time would not expect. He uses these women to save his people. Seriously believe this everyone. God uses us – though we may not be the biggest, we are still those that walk and follow our Lord.

Deborah and Ja-el did not save Israel because of what they did. It happened because God was leading them. They changed the history of their people and helped save them, because God was making sure that they would. As we go forth, we need to remember that God is at work in us, through us, with us. We have the opportunity to make a difference – to reach out to serve to love. And guess what – we will make a difference, we will help people, we will share blessing, and love, and mercy – because that is what Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit are leading us toward and who they are leading us to be.

God is with us, and he is always victorious. May we follow him and as he uses us – be a blessing to others.
Amen



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