More To Know

Oct. 15, 2019

Genesis 37, ends with ten of the sons of Jacob (Jacob was also called Israel) acting out an extremely cruel deception against their father. Those who are familiar with the story know that the ten brothers harbored intense jealousy and disdain for the eleventh brother, Joseph. The ten carried and nursed among themselves a vile hatred against him. So much so that the majority agreed to sell him into slavery but report to their father that he had evidently been killed by a wild beast. The brothers’ hearts were tremendously blackened by the sin of jealousy. They were more content to see their father in deep depression, grief and mourning than to live peaceably with Joseph. The ten brothers, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar and Zebulun all kept the secret for about 13 years that they had faked their brother Joseph’s death.

Genesis 38 continues with a portion of the life of one of the ten brothers.

The fourth in line of the ten brothers was Judah. He possibly could not endure watching his father’s heart weep for the son he thought was dead. It was Judah’s idea to sell Joseph instead of killing him. Killing Joseph had been their original plan.

Genesis 37:26-27 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

26 Y’hudah said to his brothers, “What advantage is it to us if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Yishma‘elim, instead of putting him to death with our own hands. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers paid attention to him.

When Judah made the suggestion to sell Joseph he was probably feeling pretty good about himself. He may have thought he had even come up with a ‘noble’ alternative to taking the life of their own flesh and blood. Plus the brothers gained a bit of money by selling Joseph for 20 pieces of silver. However, seeing his father in such misery after the brothers led Jacob to believe Joseph was dead, probably began to take a toll on Judah’s conscience. Judah’s bright idea to sell his own brother possibly didn’t seem so keen as he watched his grief-stricken father wrestle with the death of his son day after day.

Genesis 38 opens with Judah having left his brothers and his father’s house to go stay with a friend. I imagine Judah was wanting to distance himself from the part he played in the callous deception with which he and his brothers had assaulted their father. No doubt he was plagued with guilt and regret but felt it was too late to tell the truth. So he left…possibly thinking he could forget his father’s aged and forlorn face. By changing the scenery of his surroundings maybe he thought he could push the memory out of his mind of his confused and frightened 17-year old brother as he was unceremoniously shuffled off to a foreign land in shackles and chains.

Whatever the reason, Judah left home and stayed with his friend Hirah. It appears that Judah actually took up residency there in the land of Canaan. He got married and he and his wife had three sons: Er, Onan and Shelah.

When the sons were of age Judah chose a wife for his eldest. The wife’s name was Tamar. Genesis 38:7 is the verse from which the title of this post was drawn: “When God Seems Harsh”.

Genesis 38:7 CJB

But ‘Er, Y’hudah’s firstborn, was evil from Adonai’s perspective, so Adonai killed him.

Genesis 38:7 King James Version

And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him.

Yikes! I don’t know your thoughts but to me, this seems rather excessive. There are plenty of other wicked folks in the bible but God didn’t just get rid of them with no explanation. There was the wicked king Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel spoken of in I Kings 19-22. I Kings 21:25-26 has this commentary about Ahab.

I Kings 21:25-26 KJV

25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.

26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.

The bible account of Ahab’s reign is horrendous. The details given about his rulership and character offer nothing virtuous. And yet even this man, who was supremely wicked, was shown mercy by the Lord.

I Kings 21: 29 KJV

29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.

In contrast, it seems that Er, the son of Judah is not given the same degree of consideration. The extent of his life and death are expressed in one line. No details. No explanation. No offering of second chances are shared in the text.

Genesis 38:7 King James Version

And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him.

Straight to the point. No coddling. No wooing to do better. Bam…you’re dead.

As if that wasn’t shocking enough, something similar happens to his brother Onan.

Genesis 38:8-10 KJV

And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

10 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him .

Following the custom of the time, the third son was then promised to the twice-widowed Tamar. But because of what had happened to his first two sons Judah was afraid to let the third son marry Tamar.

Onan, the second son of Judah, did not want to have and raise a son and not get credit for it. According to the custom, he was to marry Er’s widow and raise up seed for his dead brother. Onan would be the biological father but the son would be considered to be Er’s. Onan refused to do it. He was more concerned with his own personal legacy. So the Lord killed him too.

This seems harsh. It seems rash. We see Ahab who was an unthinkably wicked king over God’s people and yet God shows him mercy. The bible doesn’t explain anything about Er’s life. He is simply described as wicked and the Lord cuts him off. Onan decides he doesn’t want to continue his brother’s legacy. Perhaps that way of thinking is a bit selfish but hardly seems worthy of a death sentence. Does it?

Have you ever looked at people who seem to get away with all sorts of lewdness and don’t seem to suffer any consequences? Then another person has one seemingly small slip-up and pays dearly for the error. At first glance it seems imbalanced and unfair. But God is never wrong. He is never imbalanced or in error.

Judah, one of the first ten sons of Jacob, is the line through which the Messiah would come. Er’s wickedness could not be a part of the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Our Heavenly Father had already determined that Jesus would be the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Jesus had to be a descendent of Judah, presumably through one of his sons. Er was swiftly disqualified. The bible isn’t specific about what kind of wickedness Er practiced. But whatever it was, was sufficient for him to be erased from the lineage.

Likewise, Onan, refused to participate in God’s plan. What God had orchestrated was far greater and exponentially superior to any of the individual players.

You may not know why God seems to have restricted your activities more than others. It may seem to you that other believers have more liberty in God than you do. You may look around and think that God seems to be requiring more of you than He does of some of your acquaintances and friends. The reins with which God guides your life are to help you fulfill God’s purposes for your life. What you do should bring glory to the Father. There is no comparison between the blessings of obedience and the consequences of disobedience. Sometimes what God is requiring doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. You may feel that it isn’t necessary to do it exactly like He said. Or you may want to take a shortcut and eliminate some steps of the process. But He doesn’t do anything without purpose. Don’t neglect your assignment or any portion of it. All of it is important. Whatever the Lord has instructed you to do, do it with vigor and set yourself in complete agreement with God. Don’t complain about it. Understand that he made you and He is all-knowing. You have a reason for being here. Fulfill your purpose so that God gets all the Glory. Amen.

Not to leave you hanging, in case you don’t already know the story, Jesus is descended from the line of Judah. But it wasn’t through any of the three sons mentioned above.

Tamar, Judah’s widowed daughter-in-law, disguised herself as a harlot and was impregnated by Judah after his wife died. Because of her disguise, he did not know it was her. Imagine his surprise when he found out he was about to be the father of twin boys by Tamar. The first-born twin Pharez is the one that carries the legacy to the birth of Jesus.

None of these people knew how vital their decisions were. Just like many of us, they just thought they were making normal, everyday choices. Every believer should be attuned to the voice and heart of God. What is He saying? Am I obeying?

 

 

 

 

Sep. 20, 2019

As recorded in John 14, Jesus declared that He is the Truth.

John 14: 5-9 NIV

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

 

These verses indicate that the Truth was right in front of Thomas and Philip. But they did not comprehend who the Truth really was. They seemed to be looking for ‘more’ in order to understand. Or as Philip said, in order to be satisfied we need just a little more.

Isn’t that just like humanity? You may have heard that when John D. Rockefeller was asked how much money was enough, his response was, “A little bit more.” Mr. Rockefeller was a very wealthy man but still had a yearning for more.

Many, many people want the Lord to convince them to the point that all their doubt about who He is, is totally removed. While the Lord wants us to trust and believe the evidence that has already been presented.

Why is it that the satisfaction we have is so short-lived? Why is it easier for people to believe the evening news but they resist what the Bible says? Or what the preacher says? Concerning the things of God, it seems to be a common human trait to want more explanation, more proof, more time to mull it over, more collaboration, more witnesses and more confirmation. Why don’t we just believe the Truth?

The Greek word for ‘truth’ in John 14:6 is aletheia. This is what it means:

 truth, but not merely truth as spoken; truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man, straightforwardness. (definition from Biblehub.com)

This one verse (John 14:6) answers a lot of the questions people often have about the spiritual journey. How do I get where I need to go? Jesus is the Way. Following Him, accepting and adopting His teachings and His example will get us where we need to go. Following His way requires knowing His way. It is vital that we seek Him. Study is necessary. He left us a users manual called the Bible. A lot of what He said and taught and did is recorded there. It is good to fellowship with other believers and hear their thoughts and experiences. But it is essential that each one of us go directly to the Source. If you want to learn about a product wouldn’t it be fascinating if you could actually get firsthand information from the one who produced it? You could find out why they made it and how they intended for it to be used. You could ask questions and get specific, genuine answers from the originator. We have that opportunity. The Lord speaks through His Word, the Bible. He speaks through His Holy Spirit and He speaks through those who know Him.

Jesus is the Way. Following the path that He has established will never lead you astray. You won’t ever get lost if you allow Him to guide you.

Jesus is the Truth. Every word He speaks can be totally relied upon. We never have to question His information for validity. He is always absolutely correct in every context and in every situation. Not only can His words be trusted but also His motives and His methods. Everything about Him is Truth. He will never give us incorrect information. He will never give us less than His best for us. He will never do anything to damage us. If people who struggle with believing the Lord always has their best interest in mind, could just get the essence of this one verse solidified in their hearts and spirits life would be so much easier.

Finally, Jesus is the Life. He is the vitality that allows us to live. Any person existing on the earth without Jesus is dead in trespasses and sins.

Ephesians 2: 1-5 NIV

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 

 

God the Father made provision for us to be made alive through Jesus even before we knew anything about Him. Before we repented, before we started thinking about Him, He had already made a way for us to have abundant life through His Son.

John 10:7-10 NIV

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The title of this writing is “Finding Truth” but we really don’t have to find Jesus. He isn’t lost and He isn’t hiding. He is out in the open for all the world to see. Much of the Bible is about Him. Read it to get to know Him or understand Him better.

Psalm 40:7-8 NIV

Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
    it is written about me in the scroll.[e]
I desire to do your will, my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

All we have to do is seek Him. Pursue Him. Follow Him and accept, receive all that He has for us. Jesus is the Way. Jesus is the Truth. Jesus is the Life. When we follow His Way, His Truth is revealed and we gain Eternal Life.

 

Sep. 6, 2019

Isaiah 56:1-2 NIV

Isaiah 56 opens with a directive that is supported throughout the remainder of the chapter. Verses 2-8 are about those who have a hope and a promise in the Lord. While verses 9-12 paint a grim future for those who do not adhere to the Word of the Lord.

Isaiah 56:1 There isn’t a more striking attention getter than this opening clause,

This is what the Lord says:

“Maintain justice
    and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
    and my righteousness will soon be revealed.

 

I Corinthians 7:6 records the Apostle Paul as saying, “I say this as a concession, not as a command." (NIV) The KJV of the bible uses the word ‘permission’ instead of ‘concession’. Paul makes a distinction in I Corinthians 7 as to when he speaks by permission and not by directive. Paul has what he believes to be an inspired opinion. He is offering details about godly living for believers. Paul’s opinion is that this is the best way to serve the Lord without distraction. But he knows and acknowledges that his personal lifestyle choices are not practical or doable for everyone.

In contrast, Isaiah’s discourse opens with, “This is what the Lord says…” Isaiah wants his audience to know that what he is sharing is not simply his own idea. This is straight from the Lord. It should draw the people to perk up, pay attention and strictly adhere to what is being said.

 The mid-portion of Isaiah 56:1 issues the directive: “Maintain justice

    and do what is right,

This is a command but also a reminder and an encouragement. At this time in their history, Israel was in exile. They were captives in a foreign land. In oppressive circumstances it is easy to forego the standards which previously guided your life. Prolonged captivity can cause people to let go of principles that they strictly clung to before. Through Isaiah God was reminding them not to let justice and righteousness slip from their consciousness. Though they may have been surrounded by injustice and unrighteousness they were not to forget the basic statutes of godliness.

 No matter what unpleasant circumstances may arise in your life, don’t allow what is around you to get in you. Keep justice and righteousness as pillars of your life. This means using God’s standards as the blueprint for our thinking and actions. We are not to let the ungodliness of others goad us into following their patterns of unbelief or misbehaving. Remember who you are in the Lord and represent Him well.

The final phrasing of Isaiah 56:1 offers the reason for staying within the safety of God’s design for each one of us.

 

…for my salvation is close at hand
    and my righteousness will soon be revealed.

 

When we are enduring a trial or weathering a storm it is easy to want to throw in the towel and say, “What’s the use? I’m tired. I give up. I quit.”

God knows we all have a breaking point. He knows we need to see a sparkle of light and to hear an encouraging word. This final clause of verse 1 is the wind that should swell our sails again. God was telling the Israelites to hold on a little longer. Soon His righteousness, His way of doing things would be revealed. They could look for and expect God's rescue and they would be back in their homeland. This same message is for God’s people today. Don’t give up. Soon the great plans God has for you will be revealed. His salvation, the deliverance He has for you is not far off. Just hold on a little while longer. What He has for you is well worth the wait.

 Isaiah 56:2

Blessed is the one who does this—
    the person who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
    and keeps their hands from doing any evil.”

Verse 2 further encourages that the person who retains the edicts of God in their mode and manner of living is blessed. That person is satisfied spiritually and morally. It is difficult to disturb the peace of a person who is certain of what they believe and why. The heathen nations around Israel did not obey the dietary, liturgical, social or cultural laws that God had given to the Jewish people. God warned the Jews not to neglect keeping the Sabbath. They were not to relax in any way the standards God had set for them. They were not to adopt the idolatrous ways of the people around them. We, too, are charged with this same mandate. The rudiments or basic principles that God has established all have blessings attached to keeping them. There are also dire consequences for ignoring them. It is better to obey than to need to apologize or ask for forgiveness. Obedience simplifies life. Disobedience complicates life. They knew what God had said and what He required. Some choose to adopt the adage, "When in Rome...". This means that many accept and incorporate the ideals of the ungodly if they are in that type of environment for any length of time. God says to guard against that. Keep your moral, spiritual and cultural compass pointed toward Jesus. Anything else will lead us in the wrong direction.

Sep. 1, 2019

Something that the Bible is full of is INSTRUCTION. Instruction is an order, a command, a decree, a directive. An instruction is NOT a suggestion which is open for individual preference or tweaking. Whatever the Word instructs is what the Lord means. Some have used B-I-B-L-E as an acronym for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.


If we are reading the instructions for putting together a lamp or a desk or a chair the instructions must be followed. The manual directs that "part A is to be inserted into part B" but we may view the instrictions as 'optional' . In that case we might decide to do something different and so will not achieve the results that the manufacturer intended. What we end up with will not look like the picture on the box. The manufacturerer put the picture on the box so we know what the end result will look like IF we follow the instructions provided.


Looking at a portion of Psalm 34, the writer David offers some biblical instructions. The first part of the psalm has to do primarily with praise. Then there is a section of instruction.
Again, a picture of the final product is helpful. If you have ever tried to put something together with just parts or pieces and written instructions but no picture, you know how frustrating that can be. If we have a picture we can refer to it to see if what we are putting together matches it. If it does we can be confident that we are on the right track.
For this journey of life the picture on the box is Jesus. He is our example. The finished product of this life should look like Him. We should mirror His holiness, His righteousness, His peace and His love.


I John 3:2 AMP
Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory].


As stated earlier, the Bible is full of instruction. It would not make sense for God to expect something of us but not let us know how to achieve it.


II Peter 1:3 AMP
For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.


This scripture lets us know that through a full and personal relationship with Jesus we have access to all of the necessary instructions. Access and application of the information requires relationship with Him. Through Him we have all the parts, all the pieces, all the instructions and an image of what the finished product should look like. This does not come through mental understanding alone. There has to be a full and personal involvement with Jesus. Knowledge alone will not produce the results that God intends for His children. God provided it alll through His Son.


Bible readers know that the same information is often provided in more than one passage. The Bible will convey the same message or instruction in different ways. That is like getting the instructions from IKEA for putting together your new dresser or chest of drawers. When you look at the booklet the same instruction is written in English, Danish, Swahili, Arabic and French! That's what the Lord has done. He may say the same thing in Isaiah that He says in Psalms that He says in Acts. We don't all understand the same or process information the same or learn the same. So God has made it so we all can find instructions in His Word that we can understand and apply. We all have the opportunity to receive what He has provided.
Let's look at the instructions that David recorded in Psalm 34.


Psalm 34:11 AMP
Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you to fear the Lord [with awe-inspired reverence and worship Him with obedience].


In this verse David invites his audience to do three things: 1) to come or to draw close as if he is about to share someting very important 2) listen, as in pay close attention to what is about to be shared 3) be taught - which involves active listening. It also implies that they are to listen with the intent of applying the truths and principles that are being taught
David wants the listeners to understand that they are not to simply memorize the information just long enough to pass a test so they can get a good grade. This is about more than looking good in the eyes of the instructor. These are teachings that should become life-long applications.


All of us have been in settings where we heard what was being said but the information had no long-term significance. Our lives were not made better by what we heard. We were not inspired to do anything differently or to strive towards anything greater. David did not want his audience to have this type of empty experience. He wanted to convey to them that this was vital for their spiritual health, spiritual growth and spiritual vitality.


Psalm 34:12 AMP

Who is the man who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?


David asks a question here that he is about to answer. The question is, What can a person do who desires a good life and a long life?
He already gave the basic or overall answer in verse 11.
1. Revere the Lord. Honor, respect and highly regard Him.
2. Have a worshipful and reverential fear or awe of the Lord.
In the following verses David offers detailed instructions. He also tells why some of these commands are beneficial. Giving the reason 'why' is important. Only issuing directives without citing the benefits can yield minimal results. People are much more prone to gladly implement an order when they know that doing so benefits them. In this journey there are some things we do by faith. We don't have all of the information as to 'why' it is necessary. But there are many more biblical instructions where the 'why' is provided. If we know what the outcome of our obedience will be we are more likely to be motivated to comply.


Psalm 34:13 AMP
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.


David doesn't share any explanation here as to why this is vital for the believer. But in the New Testament Matthew records where Jesus explains why this command is so important.


Matthew 15: 10-11, 17-19 AMP
10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said, “Listen and understand this: 11 It is not what goes into the mouth of a man that defiles and dishonors him, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles and dishonors him.”
17 Do you not understand that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But whatever [word] comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what defiles and dishonors the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts and plans, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, slanders (verbal abuse, irreverent speech, blaspheming).


Jesus highlights here that changing behavior only is not sufficient. The heart must be changed. According to Matthew 12:34 whatever the heart is full of is what the mouth will speak. This truth is declared again in Proverbs 4:23.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 10:11a also speaks on this subject.
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life and his words of wisdom are a source of blessing...


Psalm 34:14 AMP
Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.


Verse 14 offers a four-part instruction.
1. Turn away from evil. The inference here is not only to separate from evil but to treat it like a highly contagious, assuredly deadly disease. Evil is contagious. We are not to pitty-pat with it or flirt with it. We are not to become attracted to evil or allow its deadliness to entice us.
2. Do good. We can't really follow this part until and unless we employ the first part: avoid all evil. Until we depart from evil any positives we do are tainted. God doesn't just look on the outward appearance. He doesn't just observe the deed. He looks at the heart. The heart determines the motive. Many people have been taught that they can erase ungodly acts by doing an equal amount of good. The Bible does not teach that. The heart (the spirit) of a person must be transformed from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. The transformation can only be accomplished by surrendering fully to the Lord.
3. Seek peace. This is not a passive activity. We are to diligently and persistently go after peace. It is required that we put our all into seeking, craving and desiring peace. Peace is not just the absence of chaos. Peace is power. Peace can get things done by making the path smooth. Peace quiets ungodly resistence.
4. Pursue peace. Have you ever chased something that you had a deep yearning for? This means more than just casually looking around for peace. It means going out of your way to attain and maintain peace. The directive here is to hunt it down. Use your energy, creativity and resources to chase and implement peace.

The rest of the chapter of Psalm 34 tells of the Lord's stance or view concerning those who practice wickedness. In contrast, the Lord's care and protection of those who honor Him is also stated.
The Bible speaks of many who will expect a reward on judgment day. But instead of joy and gladness there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth because they failed to heed the given instructions. As the Lord opens our understanding and provides opportunities for learning, let us adopt all of His principles. It is also a blessing to help others to do the same.


Thank you for reading. Please stop by again!

Aug. 5, 2019

In ancient and modern times, women have had a profound influence. Some modern influences aren’t readily apparent until some time has passed. An impact is more accurately measured through the benefit of hindsight. One striking example is of the female atheist who successfully campaigned to have prayer banned from public schools. Although the downward spiral is clearly evident, due in part to this decision, no Herculean effort has been put forth to reverse it. It seems that despite the devastating results of disallowing God and His power in schools, we are, for the most part, content to keep Him out. The reasons are varied and seemingly valid. Some have determined that they can provide as much spiritual guidance as their children need through weekly organized worship gatherings. Others depend on home studies and rituals to bolster spiritual nutrition. Many feel no obligation for the spiritual development of any young folks outside of their home or family. There seems to be a consensus that each household is only responsible for their own inhabitants and no more. The parental schedules are tight and there just isn’t time or energy to pursue such a daunting task for the entire school district, city, state or nation. Hence the protection and persuasion that once prevailed through prayer is no longer there.

There are many women mentioned in the bible who were instrumental in the outcomes of various critical circumstances.  Judges 4 details one such instance. In this chapter there are actually two women featured. Deborah, who is a prophetess and judge of Israel and Jael who is the wife of a man named Heber, a man of some prominence.

During Deborah’s tenure as judge, Israel was greatly oppressed by Jabin, king of Canaan. (Judges 4:3). The children of Israel cried out to the Lord because of the affliction. In response, God gave a battle plan to Deborah. Deborah delivers the Lord’s instructions to Barak who appears to be the commander of the troops. Barak hears the battle plan and agrees to implement it only if Deborah goes with him. (Judges 4:8-9) Deborah quickly affirms that she will accompany him but lets him know that God will use a woman to ultimately clinch the victory. Barak doesn’t flinch. He precisely follows the plan and for his faithfulness is mentioned in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11:32.

As God said through Deborah, the captain of the Canaanite army wearily stumbles into the tent of Heber. Heber’s wife, Jael, offers him sanctuary from the battle that he is fleeing. He falls asleep and she kills him. (Judges 4:21) Because of the courage of both these women the bible says the enemy was defeated and Israel had rest from war for 40 years.  (Judges 5:31)

Another occasion of a woman having a significant role in wartime matters is related in II Samuel 20. At this time David is king of Israel and is establishing his kingdom. David sends Amasa on a mission. But Amasa previously rebelled against David with Absalom who was David’s son. David determines that Amasa is taking longer than necessary to complete the assignment. Since Amasa’s loyalty to David is not certain, David concludes Amasa may be negatively influenced by Sheba. Sheba was also one of the leaders of the revolt of Absalom against David. In order to squelch any further disruption of his leadership, David sends Abishai, one of his most prominent warriors, to pursue Amasa. Abishai is joined in the pursuit by his brother Joab. Joab catches up to Amasa and kills him. But Sheba is also on the run and seeks refuge in a town called Abel. Joab and all the men with him begin to attack the city walls with the intent of tearing them down and destroying the city, if necessary. But a wise resident of Abel has a conversation with Joab to determine the reason for the assault. The wise woman is told that Joab and crew are only after one man named Sheba. The bible says the woman exercised wisdom and reasons with Joab. She proposes that Joab call off the attack against the city. If he does, she will see to it that Sheba is killed and his head will be thrown over the wall to Joab. Joab agrees. The wise woman talks to the residents of the city and Sheba’s head is thrown over the wall as promised.

 

The deaths in both these accounts are rather gruesome. We don’t usually think of the average woman using a tent spike to nail a man’s head to the ground. It is not customary in our time to imagine that a sweet, wise, elderly woman would orchestrate a plan to behead a person. But these are unusual occurrences and not normal in modern times. However, these incidences do highlight the fact that one woman can make a huge difference. In our current society we are more likely to wield our power through prayer and fasting, petition and promotion or preaching and teaching.

Each of the three women mentioned had a major impact on the community. Deborah and Jael were instrumental in bringing 40 years of peace to a troubled group of people who cried out to God for help.

The unnamed woman of Abel saved a city through wise reasoning. Her prudence also helped rid David of a revolter and helped establish his kingdom.

You have influence. Don’t waste or compromise the power God has given you. Be sensitive to where and how God wants you to release your potential. Use what you have to bless those around you. Exercise your authority in ways that honor God, glorify Him and make your community a better place to live.

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