Girls! I'm so excited to do this series on my favourite girlfriend in the bible! There is oceans of truth to her story, and I couldn't possibly do it justice (no pun intended) in one short blog. Because the reality is, her story is many-layered and textured, multifaceted and technicoloured (too many adjectives? Whatevs, I'm a girl. I need to use 100 words a minute or I can't breathe.) The tale of Deborah is part of what we call the Metanarrative - that's a fancy bible word for lots of individual stories that make up one Big Story. (If you don't know, now you know.)
Her story points to His story; the greatest story ever told - and for that reason, I believe there is a Deborah in all of us. Because our lives are to tell His story. So lean in, look closely - and find yourself within the pages of Judges 4 & 5, whether you’re at home, the workplace, a church leader, businesswoman, mother, wife, sister, daughter … (or son, father, brother, etc for the other half of the population)
So Deb - what a girl! She’s an amazing woman. She literally does everything from worship leading, politics, pastoring, prophesying, songwriting...she could probably even bust out in Christian rap if we asked her. In essence, she's kind of like the incarnation of the Proverbs 31 woman we have a love/hate relationship with. (You know...we love the idea of her, but hate the reality of trying to be her...especially when when Solomon drops those verses like "she wakes before dawn to feed her family...#yeahno)
We're introduced to this real life-size Proverbs 31 girl in
/// Judges 4:4-5 ///
“Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth. She judged over Israel at that time. She held court under Deborah’s palm between Ramah and Bethel in the hills of Ephraim. The people of Israel went to her in matters of justice.”
Now when we see the word judge, I don’t want you to think of a courtroom judge. Or a judgey person. A better word to describe this role of leadership in those days was "chief" - or in this case chieftess - of a tribe. To be judge was to be the executive, legislative, political, military and religious leader of the land - someone say #girlboss
In fact, the Hebrew word for judge is "shaphat" which is a many-layered picture for JUSTICE. (Hebrew speaks in picture-words - totes different to English.) In other words, she was the picture of JUSTICE in her land! People were drawn to her over “matters of justice” which were likely to do with the INjustice they were experiencing from their enemies.
The bible says she judged over Israel at "that time". Well, let me explain "that time" for you - it was a time of injustice in Israel. For God's people it was like being a Jew in Hitler's day, in a nation overrun by Nazis. It wasn't even safe to go out into the streets. Depression, oppression, hopelessness and fear ruled the land. (And their hearts. Maybe you can relate?) Always a by-product when injustice runs rampant in any place, no matter what frame of history we find ourselves in. And God chose to express justice for the people through a woman!
Now you might shrug your shoulders, but in a patriarchal culture (aka a man's world) this was radical. God shrugged HIS shoulders at the cultural and religious norm of the day and raised up a woman saviour figure for the entire nation! The question begs - why? Because:
God can override any barrier in order to bring justice to the oppressed
He is no respecter of persons, and He will bring justice through whoever is willing to give Him their "yes". And Deb, if you hadn't caught on by now, had an incredible heart for justice. She gave God HER yes and bravely stepped up to the plate of leadership in a time and setting when no other person was willing. Why was she brave? Because leadership meant dealing with the epidemic of oppression and affliction on her doorstep.
Oh, and she was a girl in a man's world. Yeah, she was brave.
She wasn’t supposed to speak in public let alone engage on the battlefield - but desperate times called for desperate measures - and you know what she was actually ended up being in those desperate times?
she was GOD’S SECRET WEAPON to bring justice and freedom!
It's true. I'll let you read the rest of the story for yourself - but God releases a military strategy to her, along with a promise of freedom and salvation for her afflicted people should she respond in fearless obedience. I'd love to sit down with Deb and ask her on a scale of 1-10 how terrified she felt leading a tiny army into an impossible battle. She lived and breathed the scripture "what is impossible with man, is possible with God". But in her faithful obedience and compassion for a hurting people,
She became an unlikely source of justice
Kinda reminds me of Someone else, to be honest. Someone who was also fiercely faithful and relentlessly compassionate, even to the point of death.
Injustice came into the world because mankind sinned. Every issue of affliction, oppression and evil we witness in the world today is a result of that fateful decision in the garden, passed down through eons of time. But 1 Cor 15:45-49 tells us that JESUS CHRIST came to set everything right through the cross.
JUSTICE yet again comes through an unlikely source.
JUSTICE incarnated itself in the person of Jesus Christ!
JUSTICE came from Nazareth; the place everybody overlooked, the place where no one expected anything “good” to come from.
JUSTICE came from a carpenters son - nothing special in those days - in fact for the locals, it was a stumbling block. They just couldn’t wrap their head around the idea that Jesus could be Heaven’s strategy to right the wrong of injustice on the entire planet!
And so are you.
I wonder how many of us realise we are God’s Secret Weapon in somebody’s desperate situation? Are you the very miracle that you're praying for somebody else to receive? I wonder whether or not you realise, as you thumb the pages of this wild, albeit grisly, book of Judges, that you are called to be the Deborah in your generation?
/// AMOS 5 : 24 ///
“Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.”
You are called to be the unlikely source of justice in your world. Because we too, are part of this "metanarrative". Your life utters His story; and together we declare the greatest story ever told. It is a story that was told at the cross of Jesus Christ. It is where injustice met Justice Incarnate. Oppression met the Author of Freedom. Affliction met Healing with skin on. He set right every wrong that had ever taken place - and fulfilled what Deborah sought to do not just for a nation - but nations and generations. Freedom and salvation for all.
The story of justice was written in blood at the cross
but it continues to unfold through our lives. Lovely one, you are the "shaphat" in your world - you are the living picture of JUSTICE in the land. Look around you - are there hurting, afflicted, oppressed souls? Are there vulnerable people without a voice and without hope? Then rise up Deborah. To this and to these you were called. Start small and aim big. You know what you need to do.