Let’s talk about women. The sisterhood of women. Women who encourage and build up those in their care. Women who mentor and teach younger ones along their walk with God. Women who give practical advice and help with the raising of children.
Do you have one of those women in your life? Are you one of those women?
I do have women in my life that I look up to and have been there for me when I needed them. I’m beyond amazed at how God has positioned them to come into my life. Many of these friends and sisters and mothers were in my life for a short season. A few have been with me right from the beginning and I am assured that they will continue to be with me.
Today’s post is a comparison between two women in positions of authority in the Bible.
Deborah, a prophet and a judge and a mother in Israel.
Jezebel, a queen of Israel and a follower of baal.
Deborah was the only female Judge mentioned in the Bible. We don’t have too many personal details about her. We know she was married to Lapidoth and that she rendered judgements beneath a palm tree between Ramah in Benjamin and Bethel in the land of Ephraim. We don’t know if she had children of her own, but we know that she called herself a mother in Israel. Deborah was a judge in Israel for forty years.
Deborah was a Judge when the Canaanites under the king Jabin and his military leader Sisera were persecuting Israel. She sent a message to Barak, son of Abinoam to muster ten thousand troops of the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulon and take them to Mount Tabor. She would lead the general Sisera to the River Kishon and deliver the Canaanites into his hands. Barak refused to go unless Deborah accompanied him. She agreed but she told him that the honour of the battle would go to a woman.
Deborah went with Barak and the men he mustered. The LORD delivered the Canaanites into the hands of the Israelites. Sisera escaped from the battle and went to the home of one of his allies where he asked for refuge and refreshment. While he slept, Jael (the wife) took a tent peg and drove it through his temple, killing him.
Deborah wrote a beautiful song celebrating God’s deliverance and praising Him. Her poem/song has been praised by Biblical scholars as extremely well written and a model of Hebrew literature and well worth studying.
Deborah’s story can be found in Judges 4-5
Let’s talk about Jezebel next.
Many years after the period of the Judges came to an end, the kingdom of Israel had kings. Israel itself later was divided into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom named Israel as well ruled ten tribes of Israel and the southern kingdom named Judah ruled over two tribes of Israel. With one exception Judah had an unbroken line of kings until they went into captivity for rebelling against God. Israel on the other hand had multiple dynasties, with corruption and coup and murder and idolatry being common threads throughout the period of kings. One of those kings, Ahab, married a Sidonian princess, Jezebel.
Jezebel was a follower of baal and caused the people of Israel to worship baal and his consort asherah. The idolatry and other things absolutely forbidden by God that she and her priests practiced were a stumbling block to the people of Israel. They followed her example and her dictates and did as she did.
Some specific examples mentioned in the Bible are:
- Jezebel killed (all) the prophets of the Lord, see 1 Kings 18 , while she was doing so, Obadiah (a devout believer in the LORD hid as many men as he could).
- She tried to have Elijah killed, see 1 Kings 19.
- Jezebel was shrewd and cunning and schemed to have an innocent man (Naboth) put to death just so that Ahab could take his vineyard, when Naboth refused to sell his family land to the king, see 1 Kings 21.
- Jezebel urged her husband Ahab to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, see 1 Kings 21. We see Ahab humbling himself before the LORD and repenting of his sins, but we don’t see any instances of Jezebel doing so.
- Jezebel died a brutal death as prophesied by the Lord, see 2 Kings 9.
I choose to write this comparison between these two women after a series of conversations I had with my mentor. We were discussing the effect women(in positions of authority) have on those they lead and teach and mentor.
We were speaking about two pastors specifically. One pastor had a set view about what women in the church were supposed to be. She wanted women to be strong(all the time). She wanted them to keep their hurts and sorrows and struggles to themselves and not share them with the other women. Her reasoning was that the others would not understand, and that those who were further along in their faith should not “weaken” the younger and newer Christians by letting them know that they were weak.
The other pastor used the illustration from Exodus 17:12 where Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands , and when Moses held up his hands, the Israelites led by Joshua won against the Caananites. She explained that when Aaron and Hur helped Moses(literally and figuratively) everyone won. She talked about us helping others by being real. Realising that we can’t do things on our own, we need our family and our community around to hold our hands up. She also said that people(newer Christians) would not be able to emulate us if they thought we had everything together. They would compare themselves and find that they were short and would be discouraged in their walks with God, to the point that they may turn away from Him. She further said that when we don’t share our struggles(and victories) candidly, we may even hinder the healing in some one else’s life.
To say that I felt challenged would be an under-statement.
To be fair to the first pastor, her line of thinking is what she grew up with. She loves God wholeheartedly and seeks to serve Him and His Bride passionately. This was the way she was taught, this was the way she taught others. Without meaning to and with no malice whatsoever, she was turning people away, because the standards they thought she set were un-obtainable.
To clarify the second pastor’s words, to share our sorrows with others is real, but our desire and goal is to always point people to the Healer and His Work, not to take the spot-light. Her words about us helping each other were to encourage us to be a sisterhood of women who edify and lift each other up. When one wins, we ALL win.
Going back to Deborah and Jezebel, who are you?
Are you some one who encourages and points people to God?
Are you some one who sins repeatedly and leads people away from God by your example?
May I encourage you to take heed of what your life says? To watch your actions and words to see that you are not unintentionally leading people into sin.
We are still not talking about a works based salvation here, but to realize that all of us are models and leaders to those around us. To our friends, neighbours, colleagues and especially to our family. Our spouses, children and extended family members. They are watching us and they will do what we do.
This is LOVE, when we chose to stand together in one body and with unity.
This is LOVE, when we realise that we need each other.
This is LOVE, when we lift each other up and become a family.
This is LOVE, when we are the hands and arms and feet and LOVE of Jesus to those who are hurting and broken.
Jesus said those who hear His words and put them into practice are His mother and His brothers. Are you one of His family?
My desire is to be known for loving God.
My desire is to honour Him above all else.
My desire is for you to know this God just as fully as He knows you.
It is not fame that I desire, nor stature in my brother’s eyes.
I pray it’s said about my life,
That I lived more to build your name than mine.