Judges 4 - it’s gotta be my all-time fave chapter of the bible. A lot of us know and love it because it tells the tale of Deborah the warrior leader (ok I totally love her too.) But the chapter is actually bookended by TWO girls - and although the story starts with Deb, it’s the equally mighty woman JAEL who seals the deal.
Do you remember the story? It’s pretty gruesome - I would probably avoid it for kids church material (#awkward). It’s about the woman who killed the enemy by driving a tent stake through his head with a hammer. Um, gross. But necessary. Let me set the scene:
Israel is a mess. Everywhere you look people are sad and depressed. It’s been 20 long years under Jabin’s rule - the evil king. Sisera, the head of Jabin’s army, has taken away all the weapons of the God’s people, the Israelites. What was once a fun, family-orientated community has now been reduced to survival and sorrow.
Deborah is leading the nation of God’s people. God gives her this insane plan to take Israel’s tiny, weapon-less army to war against Sisera and his giant army. Great idea right? (Is there a sarcastic emoji?)
Meanwhile…Let’s talk about Jael.
She’s a Kenite, not an Israelite - but she greatly respects God’s people. She’s an ordinary housewife and likely spends her days cooking, cleaning and caring for the children. However, things in her community are getting bad. Food is scarce and it’s unsafe for her kids to play outside. Although Sisera and his army aren’t directly attacking her people, her community and children are beginning to be affected. These days are dangerous. She notices that war has officially broken out between Jabin’s army and little Israel. What are they thinking?! They're totally outnumbered!
In the midst of the battle, who of all people should run toward her tent? Sisera himself, the head of the enemy army; the evil tyrant (who I kinda imagine to be like Hitler or worse. I mean lets face it - they were driven by the same spirit.)
But it’s ok - in 4 verses a nation’s fate and history changes. Watch this:
/// JUDGES 4: 18-21 ///
18 “Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up. “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’” But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.”
Ok. Do you understand what just happened? In one manoeuvre she completely disarms the enemy of God’s people and becomes a catalyst for their freedom and deliverance. With their leader dead and no one to direct the battle, God’s people win the war and their freedom! And it’s all because of this girl!
Here’s what we need to learn from Jael:
1.) SHE STEPPED INTO HER CALLING
She is the one God used to deliver the final blow and secure the victory for God’s oppressed. Deborah prophesied it before it happened: “Israel’s victory will be delivered into the hands of a woman”. Some assume Deborah is talking about herself - wrong! She’s prophesying over Jael - a housewife who she had never even met…
Which means this: by doing what she did, Jael was FULFILLING THE PROPHETIC CALLING ON HER LIFE. It had already been prophesied. It had already been spoken over her. But here’s the thing girls:
it took action and strategy on her behalf
When she stepped up to the plate and faced the enemy head on, she already had a detailed plan in her head. This is an amazingly gutsy and strategic woman!
We have to step into the calling of God on our lives. There is already a prophetic calling and destiny that is over us - but it takes an active, risky and sacrificial step into the unknown on our behalf. We have to get brave, get a strategy, and get moving!
2. SHE USED WHAT SHE HAD
My favourite part about this story is that she destroys the enemy with a couple of simple household items! A tent peg and hammer were totally common tools to have lying around those tent-dwelling days. As a woman who managed her household, those items felt familiar in her hands and she knew how to wield them.
NEVER underestimate what you have in your hands!
God is a fan of using obscure, unpopular, unexpected things to win victory for His kingdom and bring him glory
Samson used a donkey’s jawbone. Shamgar defeated the Philistines with an ox goad. David used a sling and a stone. The Heavenly Father used a carpenter’s son. I wonder how many unexpected weapons and gifts we have laying around, un-utilised, because we’ve simply overlooked them as mundane or ordinary.
3. SHE CONQUORED IN HER CALLING
Notice, girls, that she didn’t get caught up in an office she couldn’t function in? She strategised and fought with what her circumstances, timing and possessions afforded her. If she had tried to fight as a soldier (which she wasn’t called to be) she would’ve stepped into a dangerous realm - enemy territory - untrained and unprepared.
But where did Jael flourish, fight and conquer? Where she was trained - which happened to be her household. There she was successful. I love this:
God used a housewife and her utensils to defeat an entire army!
Girls, don’t try and be anyone you’re not. Be authentically you. Discover the spiritual giftings and passions that God has built into you. Don’t try and bring victory to the kingdom through someone else’s gift - bring victory to the kingdom through where He’s called you with what He’s given you. When we compare and compete with the calling on other’s lives, we attempt to bring the victory of God in an area we’re neither trained nor specifically gifted in.
What you are gifted and anointed for may not LOOK like it would accomplish much for the Kingdom of God … but tell me girls, wouldn’t you expect the victory of Israel to be attributed to the army of soldiers? The idea that ultimate victory was not credited to the fighting troops but to a woman in her house is almost laughable! Yet if you flip over to chapter 5, you’ll see it’s Jael who receives the honour. They even sing an epic song about her!
4. SHE STAKED HER CLAIM
Jael silenced, disarmed, disempowered and defeated the enemy with her own God-given strategy! And the stake finished the job - she quite literally, staked her claim. And so can you. Let me show you something - rewind all the way back to the start:
When sin entered the world, the curse was given - God first curses Satan when he says
/// Genesis 3:15 ///
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
This of course is a prophecy about Mary (the woman) who’s offspring (Jesus Christ) who would crush Satan’s head (via the cross).
In other words, what the woman carried, was what God used to destroy Satan.
But hold up - here is where it all gets really awesome:
The nails they drove through the hands of our Saviour weren’t small. In fact, they looked suspiciously similar to those giant tent pegs Jael had lying around in her tent that day…
Jesus silenced, disarmed, disempowered and defeated the enemy as he gave his life on the cross and allowed those nails to be driven through his body.
And now, thanks to Jesus, Genesis 3:15 isn’t just about Mary. You and I carry Christ in us. And when we obey God and step into our calling, we are actually DRIVING A STAKE through the enemy’s head - through his strategies and plans to defeat God’s people! (Note: the temple, head, or mind is where one thinks up strategies and plans...) We silence and disarm the powers of hell as we partner with Christ in continuing to accomplish what He ultimately accomplished on the cross: freedom and victory for the oppressed and lost!
Ok, so this may be a rather gruesome story, and you could be feeling a bit squeamish by now. But let’s get real. Jael was brave. She refused to stay safe and comfortable. She was strategic. She used what she had to defeat the enemy and delivery victory and freedom to God’s people. Deborah might have been called to the battlefield. But Jael was called to fight from home.
Whether we are on the front line on the missions field or housewives at home; whether we're single or married, mothers or daughters, sisters or friends - we all have a warrior anointing and are called into Kingdom battle. Some of us are called to battle with the troops; some of us are called to secure the victory from home. The bottom line is this: we must step into the call!
Look around your own tent
Look around your own life and find your weapons. Discover your gifts. Pick up your passions. Use what you have. You can change history.
Heaven is waiting to sing a song about you!