Monthly Archives: January 2017

Unity ≠ Group Think

The women’s march that recently occurred in conjunction with the inauguration, caused a lot of stir. Sound bites from the event are disturbing. ‘Victimization’ is defining the women’s movement and it is not very pretty.

Try matching our culture with that of the culture in which Deborah lived! Despite that culture’s view of women, Deborah rose up and became a great leader for God. Her type of leadership was not the same as what most people today think of when then think “leadership”. It was not “my way or the highway” for her. Nor did she did not stick her head in the sand to avoid the uncomfortable. Her power base was God and she led with a courageous heart walking outside the nine dots of the culture.

I was amazed recently when I heard a leader say that one of the people he had hired thought differently about something than he did. He added that he respected the other’s thoughts, experience, and judgment and that guy was the one he wanted in that job. Oh my, what happened to ‘groupthink’? What about unity?

I think I finally now understand what people are referring to when they talk about “the establishment”. Both parties in this country have an “establishment” wing that dominates the party. Ideology is groupthink! “Groupthink” is a dangerous human endeavor and it is seducing in that it captures people in a web of thinking and action that renders them fruitless. Sometimes we defer to groupthink for the sake of unity. We can’t have true unity unless the focus is on what is right. People need to talk about what is is right openly, honestly, and not hide or smother it. People also need to listen at the same time. Sensitivity, emotions, politicization, victim mentality and insecurity should not be allowed to dominate this process.

God designed the original man and woman and he thought it was very good. So why are there problems with gender issues? Not with God! Deborah is a great example of empowerment! Her leadership qualities originated from a love for and from God. Her style was not in calling the shots, but in rejoicing in God and carrying out his will. She knew a lot of people were involved in carrying out God’s will. God wanted people to flourish, Deborah imparted and facilitated that desire. She encouraged others to rise up and praised with great humility. Nowhere, whatsoever, did she lead from a victimization stance.  She pulled people up to their rightful position.

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Differences in Worldview

The increasing political polarity that has been occurring in our country today is so perplexing. For a land that has enjoyed great freedoms, this is inevitable. How each of us views life can be a source of conflict.

In the song of Deborah and Barak in the book of Judges, there are three different women mentioned: Deborah, Jael, and the mother of Sisera (the mother of the military commander of the army that fought against the Israelites). Two of these women are called mothers, Deborah and the mother of Sisera. These two have very different views of the world they live in.

Deborah, as a judge and prophetess, held court under the date palm tree which has been described as ‘flourishing’, ‘upright’ and as a symbol of victory. As a prophetess, Deborah’s view of the world in settling disputes was from God. She valued her people to the point of going to war over the oppression in which the Hebrews found themselves. She encouraged and planned and did not guess about the outcome.

The other mother mentioned, Sisera’s mother, was of a different ‘worldview’. We don’t know her name, but she is described as standing at the window looking for and bewailing the fact that her son had not returned from war. Her attendants discussed it but she said:

29 Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself, 30 Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil? Judges 5:29-30

Dividing prey? To every man a damsel or two? A prey of diverse colors, diverse colors of needlework? Spoil? She had uncertainty and see what was in her thinking.

Jael was not a Hebrew and the record says that she and her husband were at peace with Jabin, the oppressive enemy. The tent Sisera entered into was Jael’s tent. A man caught in a woman’s tent fell under the death penalty. Part of the oppression to the Hebrews as pointed out in verse 29 above, was was the exploitation of women. Jael had a different point of view but she was a part of the deliverance and Deborah called her “blessed above women” twice in Judges 5:24. (Interesting- Cp Luke 1:28,41-42).

No human being has a right to oppress another for their own gain. Women are to be treated with respect and dignity as exemplified in Deborah. This is God’s heart. This is God’s will. Women were treated very poorly in the Canaanite culture and in other cultures (even the Hebrew culture at times), but when people have the right vision from God, all lives matter.

Oppression occurs when things go awry. Gain, power, and control become focal points. If it is allowed to continue it grows. Oppression does not go away on its own. If we find ourselves in such situations, the only true way out of it is God’s path and God’s revelation.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:12-13

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What Is A Prophet?

There used to be a time when it was quite frequent to see a bearded man on a street corner holding a sign that said something similar to ‘Sinners repent’! I haven’t seen too much of it lately but maybe it still happens in some places. I never remember seeing a woman do it. I suppose this was the idea of a prophet that I had back then. I think I’ve always thought that a prophet or, as the case with Deborah, a prophetess, speaks for God; but my image of the office has changed quite a bit.

I remember hearing someone teach about the five ministries in the body of Christ and a statement about the prophet changed my perception forever. He said that the prophet was known for the love with which he/she spoke. The prophet calls people back to God.  If when we think of God, we are reminded of sin, guilt, our performance, consequences, we will think of the ‘sinner repent’ idea. Prophets are called to speak God’s word in love. Check out the first use of prophet in the Bible in Genesis 20; it is interesting. It is a record full of forgiveness, love, restoration, healing and prayer for people.

God is love. He is encouraging and has provided abundantly. If we define sin as missing out on the greatest thing there ever was, we might not condemn ourselves and others so much. We would openly, honestly truly love God because he first loves us.

In the life of Deborah, we see her encouragement, challenging people to rise up and be more than conquerors and believe God. She stated it plainly and simply and without condemnation. The song she and Barak sang, was and is, uplifting and victorious. The last line in the song is:

31 So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years. Judges 5

People perish because of a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), not because God wills it. God has provided his word to free people, not cause them to cower and cringe. God’s desire for us is to stand up boldly, honestly, truthfully and in love and to share the greatness of his desire for us. What Moses said to Joshua  in Numbers 11, truly is a great thought:

…would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them! Numbers 11:29b

How different our world would be!

 

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A Story Within A Song – Jael

Within the song of Deborah and Barak, there is another story of a woman named Jael. She lived near Kadesh. She was married to Heber the Kenite (related to the father-in-law of Moses). They had separated from the Kenites (maybe because of Philistine aggression) and moved north to the Napthali area.

11 Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh. Judges 4:11

Deborah had told Barak, the military leader of Israel, to go up Mt Tabor with 10,000 men to get ready to fight the Canaanites (Jabin was their ruler) and deliver them from Jabin’s oppression (4:3) This was accomplished with God’s help: good strategy and timely weather conditions. The Canaanite military leader, Sisera, escaped back to the Kadesh area and sought safety from  Heber’s wife, Jael:

17 Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. Judges 4:17

However, Sisera was not safe with Jael as he had thought:

24 Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent. 

25 He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish. 26 She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen’s hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples. Judges 5:25-26

Sisera was killed by Jael. Deborah had told (4:9) Barak earlier that a woman would end Sisera’s life. Verse 27 is interesting from a figure of speech view. A figure of speech gives added emphasis to the situation.

27 At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead. Judges 5:27

There are two figures in this verse: asyndeton (no-ands)  and epibole (overlaid repetition). The asyndeton involves a series of phrases with no conjunctions. It speeds up the tempo of the sentence ending with a climax statement ‘he fell down dead’.

The Israelites were delivered from the devilish oppression of 20 years by Deborah, Barak, the leaders and people of certain tribes of Israel and finally by Jael the Kenite. It is interesting how many were involved and who was involved in doing his/her part. God certainly operated in a variety of hearts to bring deliverance. The land had rest for 40 years after this victory.

 

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