Have you ever questioned your place in God?
Have you ever felt like maybe it wasn’t your place, or you didn’t have the right to speak up about a situation? Not because you didn’t know how your felt or what to do, but perhaps you worried what others would say or think?
Most of us would say, “yes”, simply because we have all been faced with that very dilemma.
Before the kings of Israel arrived on the scene, God spoke through and used judges to guide Israel. We read in Judges Chapter 4, where Deborah, the only female judge of Israel named in the Bible, experiences a circumstance that causes her to question her place, and even to give reason for her hesitation.
Deborah, prophetess, wife of Labbidoth, became judge of Israel during a time when they were under the oppression of a Canaanite King, Jabin. Yet, the Israelite army did not go out against them. Deborah sends for Barak, their general, basically to figure out when their next move will take place. He basically tells her—I’m not going unless you go with me.
First of all, I find a general of an army asking for a woman’s support, when the culture of the day held very few women’s rights, to be surprising. My thoughts started spinning concerning the scripture in 1 Peter 3:7 where the wife is referred to as the “weaker” vessel. What exactly does that scripture mean? In relation why did Deborah hesitate, did her emotions get in the way, or was she not intelligent enough to understand battle, or perhaps afraid?
If we take a closer look at scripture, and the life of Deborah, we will not find anywhere that the Bible implies that women are intellectually or emotionally inferior to men. Or any less capable of performing the will of God.
The word, “weaker”, can cause offense especially if applied incorrectly. Peter, when he wrote those words, recognized the weakened position of women in the 1st Century. The word translated here, into weaker, is also used to describe a prisoner, or someone who has lost their freedom or opportunity. It is not the same word used to describe physical or emotional weakness.
In the 1st Century Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures. women held very few rights. Especially in the pagan cultures a wife was often considered a man’s property. Peter is giving instruction on how the early Christian church should separate themselves from this viewpoint understanding that women were “heirs together of the grace of life.”
In fact, the scripture is telling men to make sure they are honoring their wives.
Not ignoring her opinion or not allowing her voice to influence him, rather to be her voice in a society that robbed women of freedom of speech. And to do otherwise would hinder their prayers, not help them.
It’s why God created man, and then created a help mate for him, we make a really good team. If a husband is not taking the time to listen to his spouse, his help mate given to him, then he is not behaving in a Christ like manner. We know that Christ listens to and hears the prayers of his church. And Ephesians commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. A wife was to submit to her husband as the voice of their family in a culture dominated by men. It did not infer that she should not influence him, or that her opinion held no merit because she was a woman.
Deborah’s position in the Old Testament makes it very evident that God does not view women as an inferior sex. Instead, it strengthens the fact that He can and will use women them equally.
The culture explains Deborah’s hesitancy to her general’s request. She knew going with him would bring judgement, and would take away from his victory. The verse says she warns him they will honor a woman with the victory instead of the general. He, in his wisdom, knew the price of battle and willingly shared his glory with her knowing it would bring victory to his people. The scripture records she agrees to join him, and the Israelites do overtake their enemies.
How did Deborah find herself elevated as a leader? The Bible first describes her as a prophetess, and I believe somewhere in her life she learned to hear and recognize the voice of God. She didn’t stop there, but found her place as prophetess when she raised up her voice to share the Word of God to her people.
Like with Deborah, God‘s spirit can guide you to make that decision that seems impossible.
He will give you direction. (Psalm 119:105)
He will give you wisdom. (James 1:5)
He will teach you what to say. (Luke 12:11-12)
He will be your voice. (John 16:13)
Our culture has come a long way towards women’s equality, but at times Satan will try to rob every one of the freedom we have in Christ. To the point where we feel like we don’t have the right to say anything, and that we are unworthy to be used by God, that we have no place in the kingdom, and we feel trapped.
Can I encourage you today, don’t think God hasn’t defined a place for you. Like my grandpa would say-Follow your heart. If God has called you remember the words of Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Taking a deep breath, Deborah studied the man’s face before her. Lines furrowed his brow and dark circles highlighted his eyes, revealing the stress he carried.
“Barak,” she began slowly, weighing her words, “it is not because I don’t want to help, but do you understand what will be said? They will say you are weak and needed a woman to win a battle.”
His gaze perused her face for several minutes, words almost unnecessary as their eyes spoke in a language defined by years of friendship. “Do you understand who you are? Do you realize the affect your presence has on those around you?”
Kneeling before her as a statement of honor, the seasoned general held out his hands. “Deborah, judge and mother of Israel, my heart beat is to win the victory for our people for the glory of the Lord God. I would implore you to join us against the Canaanites. Help win this battle, your presence will bring strength, hope, and confidence. How foolish and prideful do you think I am, that I would be willing to sacrifice the lives of my men, to risk losing the battle, simply because I didn’t want to share the victory with a woman? Join us.”
Deborah turned away, allowing emotions to begin circulating through her, and she waited for the confirmation to arrive. Many called her wise and respected her decisions without question. She knew, however, that her wisdom came from a higher source and she couldn’t claim it as her own. Therefore, she waited quietly asking God to guide her choice. Clearing her mind, she relaxed, releasing the tension in her shoulders, and exhaled.
Go. Warmth flowed down her arms and legs as she recognized the voice of God. “Arise Barak, and let us go,” she continued with authority, “the Lord has gone before, and will deliver us.”