Posted by: arieliondotcom | March 9, 2013

Women Warriors

If you ever wanted to express the idea of being ferocious in the old days, you’d say “Like a mother bear protecting her cubs.” Our reading today, in Judges 4-5 emphasizes the strength of women. But (no offense ladies) it is meant not to tell women how great they are but to chastise the men as a result.

In the Book of Judges we are at a time in Israel when they are on a spiritual roller coaster. GOD has kept His promise and given them the Promised Land. Rather than being faithful to GOD though they betray Him, marry foreign women they let live in the land rather than driving them out as they were told to do, and they follow the foreign gods of these pagan women.

So, the LORD allows unfaithful Israel to plunge downward, losing battles and being taken over as slaves by their enemies. Then, just as happened in Egypt, they cry out to the LORD, He has mercy on them, and sends a leader, a judge to speak to them for Him, as Moses had. And as they listen and obey, their spirits rise, their victories and their prosperity all rise…only to plummet again the next time they disobey.

In today’s chapter we meet the latest judge of Israel, Deborah. She’s a wise, godly woman and GOD uses her as a prophetess. She tells the Israelites how to obey GOD. There’s nothing unusual about having a female prophet. But it was very unusual to have a female judge, the decision maker for the country. This was meant as a slap to Israel by GOD about their cowardice in not fully driving their enemies from the land. Note that Deborah doesn’t try to lead the army. She calls the leader of the army and passes the Word of the LORD to him about the next battle, which he has been hiding from. She is like his Mommy telling him to be a brave boy. But he proves his cowardice again by saying he won’t fight unless Deborah goes with him. Like a little boy who won’t go to the dentist unless Mommy holds his hand. She agrees to go but prophesies that as a punishment for his depending on a woman for war the victory for the war will go to another woman.

Israel is given victory again, this time against Sisera, sadly a descendant of the father-in-law of Moses who had apparently not taught his children what he had learned of GOD from Moses. But the real winner is a woman, Jael.

We don’t know whether she was in a tent near the battlefield or just her own home tent. But as she waits for her husband to come home from warring on Sisera, Sisera himself comes in! He believes she doesn’t recognize him, asks for a drink and lays down, exhausted. But remember that bear. This woman is no fool. She lulls him into trusting her by not just giving him water but goats milk and curds. Top of the line stuff, and from a new skin bottle, sparing no expense since the rest would be wasted. She gives it to him in a bowl literally fit for a king (the best china as we would say). He falls fast asleep. So deeply asleep he doesn’t hear her grab a tent peg and drive it through the soft spot on the side of his head, nailing him to the ground. As one woman predicted, because of the weakness of the Israeli men, victory had been given to another woman over the leader of Israel’s enemies.

Notice the differences between Israel and the pagans around them. We know even long after this there will be Greek and Roman goddesses of war. There will be Saint Joan of Arc of the Roman Catholic church. But that’s not what GOD is endorsing here. He is showing the differences, not the similarities, between men and women. He’s not saying women make good warriors or that women should go to war. He is saying something much more important.

Women are physically weaker than men. And war is a physical struggle, even in high tech times. But women are wise. Deborah doesn’t want to lead into war, but she does want to give the benefit of her wisdom from the LORD. And her greatest wisdom is chastising a man for not leading. Jael isn’t in the battle at the front line. Her battlefield is defending hearth and home. Her weapons against the enemy are literally what is used to support her home. Women, especially Christian wives to Christian husbands, are GOD’s greatest gifts to men. They are prayer warriors that put men to shame because they have more of a heart for people and relationships than men do. They are defenders of the home, including instilling in children the Spiritual roots that will nourish and strengthen throughout their lives. As men strengthen and protect, women sustain and nurture. And as Sisera discovered, woe to the one who tries to destroy her home or homeland.

Women are warriors, Spiritual warriors, of wisdom and strength. And their greatest wisdom is strengthening men to lead. Judges 4-5

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