Several years ago, the Lord showed me something very encouraging and empowering from the Book of Judges. As women we sometimes, or very often, see ourselves as inadequate and lacking the skill, ability and potential needed to be effectively used by God. We fail to realise that within each and every woman lies great power and potential to serve God, and all that is required is for us is to release ourselves to Him and grab the opportunities that come our way. May I share the lessons God taught me from the Book of Judges with you, perhaps, it might inspire you as you rise up to touch, change, affect and impact the lives of the people around you?
A Dark Time
The history of Israel is recorded honestly with no attempt to cover the repeated failure of God’s people. The Book of Judges, therefore, records one of the darkest periods in Israel’s history. People did what was right in their own sight (Judges 17:6, 21:25), which sounds quite like these times, when there is so much rebellion and people choose to ignore and disobey God’s laws and commandments or seek to change them?
After Joshua’s death, an adulterous generation of Israelites grew up who failed to know, love and obey God and His laws. They reaped the consequences of their actions by coming into bondage and oppression to other nations. Yet God was faithful, and whenever they cried out to Him for help, He provided courageous leaders and people for their deliverance.
It is in this regard that the Book of Judges records the acts of three faithful women who were used by God to deliver His people. They were ORDINARY WOMEN WHO BECAME INSTRUMENTS IN GOD’S HANDS for the deliverance of His people. Let’s take a look at these women and what they did to affect their generations.
DEBORAH – Judges 4:1-16; Judges 5
Deborah was a homemaker. She was the wife of Lapidoth and described herself as “a mother in Israel”. She was a counsellor/prophetess who sat under a palm tree near her home to discuss people’s problems and give directions/solutions to them. Deborah was an ordinary woman, just like you and me, who saw a problem and need, and was burdened enough to do something about it.
Through her faithfulness and diligence, Deborah rose to become a Judge and finally a Deliverer of her people in a time of war. She demonstrated boldness and strength when she summoned Barak (from the tribe of Naphtali) and ordered him to recruit an army from his own tribe and the tribe of Zebulun. (Who said women cannot lead men, if God so determines?) Deborah’s boldness and strength flowed from her knowledge of God’s will. Her initial words to Barak were “Has not the Lord of Israel commanded, go…?” She was obviously a woman in tune with the voice of God. Deborah joined the drive to raise the army when Barak wavered and insisted she came along. She also suggested the strategy for war and together with Barak led the army to victory. God came to Deborah’s help by sending a violent thunderstorm and the enemy’s ‘chariots of iron’ were destroyed.
Before Deborah became a leader and warrior, she was a homemaker (housewife) – a wife and mother in Israel. But she was moved with compassion when she saw the evil suffered by her people. She rose up to make herself available and was victorious, as she trusted God and then inspired others to trust Him. The Song of Deborah in Judges 5:1-31 tells us about the victory won. As a result of Deborah’s courage and boldness, the land of Israel had rest for forty years.
JAEL – Judges 4:17-24; 5:24-27
Jael was another woman in the book of Judges whose actions changed the destiny of God’s people and sealed the fate of Israel’s enemies. Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite. The Kenites were descendant of Moses’ father-in-law and were farmers and metalworkers. Jael’s name means, “ally”, and she decided to be an ally of Israel instead of Canaan. This was significant because her husband, Heber, was a friend of Sisera and had allied himself with the Canaanites. Jael’s decision, therefore, suggests that she placed her commitment to God above her own husband, especially since he had chosen to stand with the enemy. This reminds me of Abigail, Nabal’s wife, whose story can be found in 1 Samuel 25. Abigail also demonstrated that our commitment and loyalty, as women, must always first be to God and His righteousness, above all else.
Jael was commitment to God and probably influenced by Deborah’s actions. Taking initiative, and perhaps thinking, “If another woman can do it, so can I,” Jael called out to Sisera, Israel’s enemy and offered him refuge. He asked for water and she applied wisdom by giving him goat’s milk instead, which lulled him to sleep. Then using her own working tools, a peg and a hammer which she used to erect her tent, she killed her guest, an enemy of Israel and Yahweh.
The interesting thing about this story is that Sisera was fearfully running from the mighty warriors who pursued him, yet, without fear he trusted himself for shelter in the hands of a humble woman. Sisera, obviously, underestimated the power of woman and suffered the ultimate humiliation men in those days feared, by “dying at the hands of a woman.” I believe the enemy is also in for a big surprise, because when ‘ordinary’ women in Christ rise up against him, he will not know what hit him. Woman in Christ, never underestimate the power that lies within you! Ask God to give you wisdom to use that power appropriately.
A CERTAIN WOMAN – Judges 9:50-54
The third woman in the Book of Judges did not even have a name; at least we are not told what her name was, and the bible only refers to her as “a certain woman!” However, this unnamed woman found herself in a desperate situation. Abimelech, the personification of evil, had already burned 1000 men and women to death in the Tower of Shechem and intended doing the same to this woman and her people, who were hiding in the Tower of Thebez.
This woman was a woman of strength whose only desire was the preservation of her life and her people’s. For her to survive, she had to think and act fast. Realizing she had no special weapons with which to fight and defend herself and her people, she reached out for whatever was handy – her millstone (a round stone with a hole in it which she used for grinding corn). The millstone was the tool of her housework or trade, and that was all she had available, but she did not let that hinder her. This seemingly innocent household tool became a lethal weapon in this woman’s hands as she crushed the head of Abimelech with it. In those days women were considered as feeble and inferior, and so it was a huge disgrace for a man to die at the hands of a woman, so as Abimelech lay dying, he asked his armour bearer to draw his sword and kill him, lest it be said of him, “a woman killed him!” Yes, even in death, he was prejudiced
It Could Be You!
These were ordinary women who did extraordinary things for God. The truth is that God uses the ordinary, poor, weak, lowly, foolish and inferior to do extraordinary things and make and change history. God used Deborah, an Israelite and God used Jael, a Kenite. God also used “a certain woman” with no specific identity apart from her gender. This means that that woman could be anybody! That woman could be you! Yes, God could use you!
Woman of virtue, you and I no longer have an excuse to remain idle, passive or silent. Like it was in the Book of Judges, there is so much evil on the earth and all around us people are doing what is pleasing and right in their own sight. God’s word and commandments have become irrelevant to most and many ignore them. Even Christians now interpret scripture to please themselves or support whatever lifestyle they choose.
However, I believe it is time for us to arise and take our position in the land. It is time for us to fight! If you have ever seen women fighting, you will know that women always fight with everything they’ve got or anything they can lay hands on, especially their shoes and handbags. God also always uses what you’ve got. When Moses had the ‘burning bush’ experience and doubted his capability and suitability to approach Pharaoh as commanded by God, the Lord asked him “What do you have in your hand?” He replied, “A rod” (Exodus 4:1-5). Moses trusted God and went on to do many miracles with that rod.
Use What You’ve Got!
Every one of us has got something we can work and fight with. How do you know what you’ve got? You have a career, don’t you? Use it. If you have a profession, use it! If you have a talent or gift, use it! If you have a hobby or pastime, use it! If you have strength and/or ability in a particular area, use it! If you have a qualification, use it! If you have a voice, use it! If you have money, use it! Remember the story of Esther? She was an orphan who had very little going for her, except her beauty. Yet, when she was made part of a beauty pageant and became queen, she used both her physical and inner beauty and her position to bring deliverance to her people. The list of things we can use is endless. To put it simply, if you have a life, use it!!!
In Genesis 3:15, God made a threat to the enemy that He would put enmity between him and the woman. That promise is being fulfilled, even now!!! I believe the time has come for us to rise up from obscurity and mediocrity and take our place in the army of God. It will be an awesome picture of women with different shapes, of different sizes, from different backgrounds and races, with different ‘tools and weapons’ of all sorts, marching forth together with men, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and advancing His Kingdom on earth! Hallelujah!!
“The Lord gives the word [of power]; the women who bear and publish [the news] are a great host. The kings of the enemies’ armies, they flee, they flee! She who tarries at home divides the spoil [left behind].” – Psalm 68:11-12 (Amplified Bible)
By Apostle Jennifer Abigail Wallace