-After Ehud, the sons of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD. The all-seeing God sold them into the hand of the Jabin, king of Canaan, this particular time. He reigned in Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee, and his commander of army operations was a man by the name of Sisera. He lived to the west near Mt. Carmel and modern day Haifa, in place known as Harosheth-hagoyim. The oppressed sons Israel cried out once again to the LORD in their distress, for Sisera had 900 iron chariots, and had ruled over them for 20 years (Judges 4:1-3). This chapter denotes two amazing women who were used by the LORD mightily in His plans to rescue Israel from their enemies. They stood up in a time when men cowered. They faithfully executed God’s plan in the absence of strong-male leadership. These women were Deborah, the judge, and Jael, Heber’s wife. Here’s how it went down:
-Deborah was a prophetess and the wife of Lappidoth. She was judging Israel at the time of this oppression, sitting under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim. The sons of Israel would come to her for judgment that was fair and decisive. It came about that she summoned Barak, who was a military leader from Kedesh-naphtali, and told him the LORD had commanded that he march to Mount Tabor with 10,000 men from the sons of Naphtali and Zebulun. She prophetically told him Sisera would be drawn out with his chariots and many troops to the river Kishon. There they would be given into the hand of Israel. Barak, interestingly enough, replied that he would only go if she went with them. Deborah responded that she would “surely go” with Barak and the armies of Israel. But, she assured him that because of this (his shrinking back from male leadership), the honor would not be his on the journey he was about to take “for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. Naphtali and Zebulun were called together, and the 10,000 went up with him and Deborah for the fight. Meanwhile, Heber the Kenite (from the sons of Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses) had separated himself from most of his family and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim (near Kedesh). Sisera was told that Barak had gone up to Mount Tabor, which prompted him to mount up his 900 chariots and all the people with him. They went out to battle from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. Deborah spoke to Barak, “Arise! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hands; behold the LORD has gone out before you.” So Barak went down Mount Tabor with his 10,000 men following him. “The LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak.” Sisera fled on foot departing his personal chariot, and then he went the opposite direction of his army (which was being chased and totally defeated towards Harorseth-hagoyim) toward what he thought to be an ally in Zaanannim, near Kedesh and the Sea of Galilee. He went directly to the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, who had made peace with Jabin, king of Hazor (Sisera’s king). Jael went out to meet the fleeing commander and told him to turn aside and rest at their tent unafraid. He gratefully took up this offer, and she covered him with a rug. He was thirsty, so he asked for water. She instead gave him a bottle of milk and covered him with the rug so he could rest and sleep. He wanted her to stand at the tent doorway and deter anyone from coming in, even by lying if she had to. “But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died.” Barak came pursuing Sisera, and Jael came out to meet him saying, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” He entered the tent with her, and witnessed the dead commander with the tent peg through his temple. A woman had gotten the glory for rescuing Israel. “So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the sons of Israel. The hand of the sons of Israel pressed heavier and heavier upon Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin the king of Canaan (Judges 4:3-24).”
-*Application* God will use whoever is hearing from him and bold in their faith and action. When there is a vacuum of leadership from a male perspective, women are usually lifted up to the prophetic role and God still gets the glory in the end. Just look at our American churches for evidence of this. The American church would be in grave trouble without the vital contribution of Godly women stepping in and fulfilling important roles that men have abdicated. While it is His desire to use men in these roles (1 Timothy 3), He will, as we see in this instance, use women to accomplish His Kingdom purposes when needed.
Verses to Memorize: Judges 4:4, 21, 24