"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
September 30, 2009
We hear stories today about women in the Middle East being very oppressed. There are those who seem to have no rights whatsoever. Some seem to feel the only worth women have is to bear male children. There are still arranged marriages in some countries. In some regions, restraints seem to have been loosened some, but I daresay that in many cultures in some Middle Eastern regions, women would be shocked at the freedom American woman experience.
Knowing that information, it would seem as if these are customs and thinking that have been passed down for thousands of years from generation to generation. And while that may be somewhat true, we can read stories of some pretty intelligent women in the Bible that God mightily used. Some were quite brave and some held positions of authority.
Probably the woman that stands out most in my mind as having an authoritative position is Deborah.
Before the days of kings reigning over Israel, God raised up judges who were leaders to the people.
In Judges 4 we read where Deborah, who was a prophetess, was judging Israel at that time. She would sit under the palm tree of Deborah which was located between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. The children of Israel would come up to her for judgment. She is the only woman judge of Israel during the days of the judges.
One day she sent for Barak and said to him, "Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, 'Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor, take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into you hand?'"
I find Barak's reply somewhat surprising. He told Deborah, "If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!"
I'm not sure why he didn't want to take the army into battle without this woman going along with them. Perhaps he was afraid of failure and scared that he would be blamed. He may have thought if he took Deborah with him then he'd have someone to blame if they were defeated. He could have said, "The woman slowed us down or made bad decisions, and that's why we ran into problems or weren't victorious." Yet God had been the one to give the command for them to go confront Sisera, and had promised deliverance.
Sometimes we can know what the promises of God are and know what His Word says, yet we let fear creep into our lives. We begin to question and wonder about all the "what ifs" that could go wrong. We play out various scenarios in our minds, and often think of the very worst things that could happen and begin to dwell on that. Our problems begin to look bigger than God, and we feel overwhelmed.
And there are times when we want someone on our sides so if we make a mistake or things go wrong, we have someone else that we can point our finger at and not have to take the blame ourselves.
Deborah's response to Barak was, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman."
She was willing to go with him, but was upfront about letting him know that by her doing so, God was going to deliver the enemy by the hand of a woman.
Deborah rose and went with Barak to Kedesh. There were 10,000 men under Barak's command.
Heber had separated himself from the Kenites and pitched his tent near Kedesh. This is an important fact to remember.
Sisera received word that Barak and his troops were headed to Mount Tabor. So he gathered up all his chariots and people who were with him and headed to the River Kishon.
Deborah spoke to Barak and said, "Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into you hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?"
So Barak's army engaged in battle with Sisera's troops. But Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot.
All the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword and not a man was left. The enemy was defeated, but where was their fearless leader?
Sisera ran to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. The reason he thought he would be safe there was because there was peace between the king of Hazor and the house of Hebor the Kenite.
Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, "Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear." And when he had turned aside with her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket.
Then he said to her, "Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty." So she opened up a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him.
He told her to stand at the door of the tent, and if any man came and inquired of her if any man was there, to say no.
Sisera was weary and fell fast asleep. Jael took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand, and went in softly to him, and drove the peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground; so he died.
Then as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael went out to meet him, and said to him, "Come, I will show you the man whom you seek." Barak went in and saw Sisera lying there with the tent peg in his temple.
So on that day, God did bring about the promised deliverance. And he defeated the enemy through the hand of a woman.
In the following chapter we read the song that Deborah and Barak sang on that day. It was a song that recounted the events of the battle and was a praise to God for his deliverance. In verse 24 they call Jael the most blessed among women.
There are times when God uses the most unlikely people and works in ways that we cannot even comprehend or imagine. With an army of 10,000 chasing Sisera, you would have thought that it would have been a big, tough soldier who would have defeated him. Or at the very least, since Barak had specifically asked Deborah to go along with him in battle that she would have been the one to get the credit for his defeat. But it was a tent dwellers wife who had the courage and bravery to bring about his demise.
Don't ever look at your lack of abilities or seeming lack of talent and think that God cannot use you or that you have no purpose. I don't know whether or not Jael had any other great accomplishments in her life, but she was where God needed her to be to fulfill her purpose for that particular time.
We seem to think that our life should be one huge accomplishment after another, and feel like we're lacking or somehow incompetent if that isn't happening. But what we need to do is just be faithful in our daily life. Be consistent and steadfast day after day. And when God opens a door for a purpose to be fulfilled through us, then we'll be prepared.
Sometimes, we do things that we thing are very unimportant. But some of the little things we do can have a very big impact on others. Even something as simple as taking a picture for a couple can perk up their day in ways you may never understand.
Take something as simple as driving a tent-peg into the ground. It seems so mundane and unimportant. But done at the right place and time, it can win a war.
6 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup mayo or miracle whip
2 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Vinegar
1 tsp. Salt
Combine mayo, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper until creamy. Toss with cabbage.
Can add shredded carrots or caraway seed, if you would like.
We have eaten at some very unusual places in Singapore. One of them is a hawker's station at Newton's Circus. It wasn't a real circus in the sense that most people expect a circus to be. It had only one ring, no (painted) clowns, no master of ceremonies, no lions or elephants, and no real order to anything. But it was something of a madhouse.
Before we had made it into the arena, we were confronted by the first hawker. She spoke English, but with such a strong accent that she was difficult to understand. She showed us a laminated menu with pictures of many unusual dishes, and proceded to tell us how wonderful hers were. She said that everyone else would sell the same thing, but hers were better and cost less. The only way we could move on was to tell her we'd look around, and maybe come back.
Before we had made it another 20 feet, we were confronted by the second hawker. He spoke English, but with such a strong accent that he was difficult to understand. He showed us a laminated menu with pictures of many unusual dishes, and proceded to tell us how wonderful his were. He said that everyone else would sell the same thing, but his were better and cost less. The only way we could move on was to tell him we'd look around, and maybe come back.
This story repeated itself several times before we made it most of the way around the center ring. There were a few variations. One woman explained that the food was mostly charged by the weight and that other people (she wouldn't say who) might be tempted to add weights to the scales and cheat us good, honest people. But she was very honest. Another man also took the 'good ole honest people like us' approach. Most were very persistent, and several even followed us as we tried to escape.
Finally, we settled for some food from a guy who spoke English with a very understandable accent, and some food from a guy who just smiled and nodded quietly to us and let his display speak for itself. The food was very good.
It was, in short, an experience.
What would the world be like if there were no hypothetically questions?
We hope you all are having an enjoyable summer.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon