It's Never Over Until God Says So
Yes, a woman. And no, she wasn’t out of the Lord’s will when she led the nation and told the men what they needed to do.
Deborah seems to be a woman capable of multitasking. She was a judge, meeting regularly with the citizens to settle disputes (Judges 4:5). She was a prophet, receiving messages from God which she delivered to those who needed to hear the message. She sent for Barak and told him that God had chosen him to lead an army against the king of Canaan who was then oppressing Israel (4:6, 7).
By default she became a military leader as well, in that Barak was afraid to go to war without her (4:8). Because of his lack of trust in God’s word to him through Deborah, Barak lost the privilege of being the ultimate instrument of God’s judgment on the king of Canaan. That role fell to yet another woman, Jael, who dealt the death blow to Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army (4:17-22).
It must have been difficult for Deborah to play the role she did in what was distinctly a man’s world. In reality, despite the passage of time between then and now, it still is difficult.
I’m no Deborah (though I might have been happy at times to be a Jael). It has never been my ambition to play that kind of leadership role. I’m not suited for it and God has not called me to it. At the same time, it has been hard not to be disillusioned and disappointed many times in not being allowed to be more than a token part of a team (if part of it at all) for the advancement of the kingdom, or to not be allowed to exercise my gifts freely simply because I am a woman—and a strong one at that.
But I am encouraged by Deborah. Though we aren’t told how He did it, God orchestrated things that brought her into the role that He wanted her to play.
I am also encouraged by Caleb, who at the age of 85 was still strong enough to take the hill country from the enemy at God’s command (Joshua 14:10-14).
I learned a new word this past week. Caleb would have appreciated it. Instead of retirement (the “semi” of which I am entering this week), the better word is “re-wirement.” In yesterday’s sermon, the passage of Scripture used was Genesis 12:1-5 where God calls Abram to leave the familiar behind to go into the unknown and thus become a blessing to the world. At the time, Abraham was 75 years old. While the speaker had a somewhat different application to this passage, the Lord impressed on me the need to not look back, nor go back, to the past, but to push forward at the Lord’s command to do whatever my equivalent of Deborah/Jael/ Caleb/Abram He has for me.
There have been moments leading up to this week when I have thought that it was all over. But God continues to reassure me that while man might say it is, nothing is over until God says so. With that assurance, I am, more than ever, looking forward to "re-wirement."
That makes the adventure that much more intriguing. It’s off into the unknown to some degree (I still have a very “knowable” part-time job to do). But if the God of Deborah, Jael, Caleb and Abram can do what He did for them, He is more than able to do the same for me—and for you.