Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Discussing Deborah (and Jael)

This passage was a little harder to follow along with than the others have been so far because it contains lots of foreign names, places and tribes. I’m really proud of you for pressing through it anyway, and in some cases even re-reading it until you were clear on the story. Sometimes the exercsie of trying to write the story out in your own words will help you get all the pieces.

Deborah’s story picks up roughly 200 years after Rahab and her family were spared when the Israelites took the city of Jericho. If you are like me, you’ve been a little disturbed when reading in the Old Testament about the times God’s people took a city by force and killed all the people in it. Somehow it doesn’t seem right to us that the Israelis would kill a bunch of people – even the townspeople and not just the city leaders. Has that bothered you before?

When I continue reading through the Old Testament, I begin to notice why all that killing was necessary. It was to eradicate oppressive pagan believers and their beliefs from the land. God did not want His people to become oppressed or led astray. Yet, if He had to choose between the two, He would rather allow them to be oppressed – which would drive them to Him for deliverance – than to be led astray into worshipping false gods.

The Israelites had taken Canaan by storm in Rahab’s lifetime, but not all of the Canaanites had been killed. Fast forward a few generations and the Canaanites were once again ruling the land – and oppressing the Israelites. In Deborah’s era, the Canaanite king was Jabin and his chief warrior was Sisera. Sisera commanded a large Canaanite army that had 900 iron chariots – a sure sign of force. Meanwhile, the tribes of Israel were spread out around the land and not as well armed.

Interestingly, the leader for the nation of Israel at this time was a married woman – Deborah. The text says she was a prophetess (someone who God used to speak to and guide his people). With her wisdom, faith and leadership skills, she had risen to the position of supreme judge of the nation. While women leaders were not unheard of, nor were they forbidden in Israeli society (example, Moses’ sister Miriam), this is the first and only time we see a woman solely at the helm of the whole nation of Israel. I believe Israel as a nation was in a deep leadership vacuum of faith, courage and morals. Deborah boldly stepped up to the plate and God kept His hand upon her.

God planned to deliver His people from the Canaanites’ rule, and Deborah knew it. She called upon General Barak, a Hebrew from the North, and told him that God was commanding him to lead an Israeli army to the area of Mount Tabor, where God himself would lure Sisera’s army and deliver them into Israel’s hands (Judges 4:6-7). Did you catch that? God was commanding him to do this. And God was telling him that He would do the work necessary to ensure victory. Does Barak jump up and down and praise God? No. Barak is still scared, and still doesn’t trust. He says he will only do it if Deborah comes with him. Notice Barak is placing stipulations on his willingness to obey God.

Barak knows that God’s hand is on Deborah and that she hears His voice, so he wants her along as a security blanket. Barak has the command and promise of the LORD and yet he won’t feel safe unless Deborah is with him. Do you have crutches you lean on instead of God?

Deborah replies that she will go with him, but because of his lack of courage and faith, the LORD will actually deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman rather than into Barak’s hands (which would have made him a total hero in the land).

As the story unfolds, Barak gathers a coalition of the willing (not all of the tribes of Israel agreed to join the fight according to the song in chapter 5 which again shows the decline of the nation and their men’s faith) and they head atop Mount Tabor. Sure enough, Sisera and his chariot-riding army head there too. It begins to rain and the heavy iron chariots become stuck in the mud in the valley below the mountain, eliminating that advantage for the Canaanites. The Israelis advance downward and overtake them in sword combat. Sisera, however, manages to escape on foot.

Sisera runs until he comes to the tent of a nomadic couple. The nomadic Kenites had a peaceful agreement with the Canaanites. Nomads weren’t really a military threat to anyone – they just stayed out of the way and did their thing. However, the nomads likely knew that the Israeli army and the Canaanite army were clashing nearby. Sisera stumbles – tired, dirty, bloody and exhausted – to Jael’s tent and she welcomes him in. What a shock this must have been … the ruler of the king’s army is alone, on the run, and looking to hide out in your tent! Jael would've figured the Canaanite army has likely been defeated if Sisera is on the run and hiding.

Jael shows Sisera hospitality, further putting him at ease. And then he instructs her to stand by the door and lie to anyone who might come by looking for him as he lays down to sleep and regain his strength. The Bible is silent on her thoughts at this point – oh how I long for details of what motivated her actions. What she trembling with fear? Was she angry at the Cannanite rulers? Had she heard from the one, true God to do this? Once Sisera was asleep, Jael picks up a tent peg and hammer and – just as she had done so many times before as a nomad – she drives that tent peg with all her might … only this time into a man’s head rather than the ground.

When Barak, who was on Sisera’s trail, arrives on the scene, Jael ushers him inside to see the dead body. Surely at this point Barak realized that God’s word can be trusted. A simple woman, all alone, had killed the mighty warrior Sisera – just as Deborah prophesied.

In commemoration, Deborah and Barak sing a victory song in chapter five. This victory song was composed to give God the glory for the victory and to help the Israelis remember this portion of their history - both leading up to and through this battle. It's not clear who wrote the song, but within it Deborah is called a mother of Israel – kind of like our term “a founding father” – and Jael is praised for her actions and highest blessings are wished upon her. Not bad for a couple of ancient married gals, don’t you think?!

It is sad to see the men in the nation at this period showing little faith in their God or His power. But its great to see Deborah maintaining the faith and being used by God to bring the nation back to Him.

Some thoughts to ponder ...
Which characteristic of Deborah's would you most like to posses - and what would you do if you had that characteristic?

What do you think God wants you to take away from the stories of Deborah, Barak, Sisera and Jael?


Post and share your reactions with us.

92 comments:

  1. This story was hard I read and read and even did a couple of differnt commentaries to make sure I was understanding it. You did a nice job of painting the picture.
    Deborah was bold, courageous and a woman of integrity. She believed God and did what he asked. It wasn't just a job to her She had it in her heart to do what God asked. Her position was very high and she did not take it lightly. Some of the cometary that I read said she as a prophitis was doing what the priests of that day where no longer doing and should have been and that she was the one of the most upstanding Judges.

    I would want the charater of boldness & integrity. Guess that's two.

    I think there was more I wanted to say but will wait to see what others say it see if it sparks my memory.
    Lynn - Oregon

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  2. Thank you, Rachel, for your insights. They really helped me to understand the story better.

    I admire Deborah's faith in God and her courage. If I had the faith and courage that Deborah had, I wouldn't succumb to my fears and anxieties so often. Unfortunately, I am a worrier and I know that when I worry I am forgetting to rely on God for his ever-present help and peace. Deborah knew that God was with her and set forth to defeat the Canannite army. I am certain that she was afraid but it did not get in the way of her complete trust in God. She did not let her fears overcome her because she knew God was with her. I hope and pray that I someday can have that unwavering faith that Deborah had.


    After reading this passage, I think God's message to me is to trust in Him completely. God wants me to know that he will help me through the storms of life if I will only put my worries and fears into His hands.

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  3. thank you for this bible study. You take a difficult passage and make it more easy to understand. I admire her faith and her certaintly that she heard from God and then her willingness to do what God said to do.

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  4. Both Deborah and Jael showed such incredible courage. They didn't hesitate to do what they knew had to be done. I tend to procrastinate sometimes. Even worse, I second-guess myself when I do finally decide I want to act. I wish I had Deborah's and Jael's boldness and conviction to act at the right moment. This is something I really need to seek the Lord for in prayer.

    This was a great story. Very empowering and encouraging. And it seems like we can get a lot more out of it if we dig deeper on our own. Thanks, Rachel, for your insight. As always, you helped bring a little more clarity to God's Word.

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  5. I read the story and I don't think that I've ever read this story in full. It was difficult for me to follow...thanks to Rachel for her help in my understanding.

    Deborah was a leader and follower of God. I would truly love to be able to have the faith and allow God to use me how ever he wants to.

    JT in Southern IL

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  6. Ladies,

    Please pray for me and my husband concerning a business he had before we were married. Job losses and other factors created a situation which resulted in getting way behind in payments which are now being demanded. Please pray for other party to be agreeable for some compromise on the terms and for me as I am terribly uneasy for my husband. It seems as though Satan is trying viciously to destroy him and I am taking this situation too personally, even though I am not involved in the matter except that when my husband hurts, I do also. I know God is with us, but I am so discouraged. I am asking for God to give me peace about this and I would be most appreciative if you would help me pray for this situation we find ourselves in.

    I am trying to keep up with this study, but as you can see, Satan is throwing distractions at me. Pray for a hedge around me and for clarity in my mind as I try to keep up with this study about Deborah.

    Thanks,

    Plant Lady

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  7. Thank you rachel for making this a little easier to understand. I have never heard this story before so it was a fresh and new one and I am glad you chose this one also.

    I think I would love to have Deborahs faith. It seemed that she had such amazing faith, that whatever God asked her to do she obeyed and knew that he could take care of her. If I had that type of Faith I don't think there would be anything I couldn't do.

    Maybe thats what God was trying to show me through this story......

    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
    Philippians 4:13

    Christi ~ TX

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  8. Good Evening Ladies!!
    What I great Lady! Deborah is one of the Bibles great woman of destiny! She was one of the only female judge in the land. Yes she was bold. When the word of the Lord came to her, she was sitting under her palm tree. God showed her the battle plan that would lead her people to freedom, why, because she was a woman of VISION! She is an example of women who desire to see beyond their natural situations, regardless of how hopeless or desperate they may seem, and look into the supernatural realm with the eyes of Gods Spirit.

    Deborah was also blessed with the gift that gives any leader an edge..she had the ability to hear, and the courage to act upon, the voice of God.

    Vision releases faith to do the impossible. It gives one the ability to grasp the mind and will of God for a given situation, or even for ones life, which will help to develop focus and establish priority. Vision penetrates the clouds of darkness, confusion and fear. It releases the light of revelation that illuminates the path leading to ones destiny..Vision brings courage to overcome. Vision brings breakthrough!

    May God raise up women today with the prophetic voice, the discerning mind and the courageous hear of Deborah!

    God Bless
    Donna

    p.s. I wrote am absolutely miracle on my blog donnamcguinness.blogspot.com
    God is good..all the time..and all the time..God is good! We say that all the time but let me tell you..go onto my blog and you will be blessed by listening to what God has done in the last 2 days and 2 weeks for me..and He can do for you too!! Please post! I Love You ALL!
    Cari I am believing still for a miracle and when it happens I want to hear about it!!

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  9. one more thing..God gave me some scriptures to give to all of you
    Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him"

    Lamatations 3:25 "The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him"

    Deut 4:29 "But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy heart and with all thy soul"

    I wanted to leave these with you because I am seeking God with every part of my soul. I can't tell you the last time that I have asked God to reveal Himself to me..and He has! I have written a blog that has drawn so many women to it as well as it has lifted me to reach out to each of you!! I know God is using me and I ask that all of you just seek the Lord..seek Him till it is a part of your life and you are obsessed with Him daily!
    Praise His Name!
    Donna

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  10. Thanks for adding further clarification and thoughts on Deborah’s story. She is to be admired, and likewise Jael. Nothing like a true Jewish mother! So God shows me that women and men have their separate and decisive roles in God’s plan, and we each need to heed His call—many are called, but few are chosen. Cultures depress or elevate persons by gender, but God displays His view—to use the one who listens to Him and is faithful in carrying out His will—both men and women can complement in that endeavour.
    I admire Deborah’s close relationship to the Lord and her obedience and bold, truthful proclamations of His word—no Bible then. Her actions dovetailed her faith in the Lord and her words, and consistency in her life made her credible. Praise the Lord!

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  11. Hi Sisters,
    Racheal, you are so right. I have wondered over and over again about how radical the Israelites have had to be many times based on God's instruction. How many times they have had to destroy even children when they go to war.
    I have often imagined if i were back in those days and a child from such pagan tribes during one of such wars had begged me for mercy, would i have had the heart to kill him or her?
    But not killing would mean disobeying God which is more grievious. It must have been hard.

    One of the things i learnt from this passage is to obey God regardless of hoe difficult or hard it might be. One should emulate the braveness of Racheal who went to war with Barak tho' she did not have to.
    Also Jael, who single handedly killed an army commandant.

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  12. Good evening ladies,
    There have been some very good observations so far. I
    have to agree that I would
    love to possess Deborah's wisdom, courage, and absolute faith. Like Peter, she was not afraid to "step out of the boat", something which I have to diligently work on. I put my foot in to test the waters, but can't always bring myself to fully disembark.

    Rachel, in answer to your question as to our feelings re God's people in the OT destroying entire cities and the people in them....yes, it has always bothered me greatly. Especially when it comes to the children, I just couldn't comprehend the reasoning behind that.
    However, after reading your post, I can see where they would believe that the "pagan seed" had already been planted in the children, and therefore they could not risk sparing their lives.
    As sad and horrifying as it is, we are seeing instances of brain-washed children being taught at a very young age to kill and destroy human life in Iraq & Afghanistan today.

    As for Jael, she displayed a stupendous amount of courage in her actions. However, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I don't know why she had to resort to such a gruesome manner of execution. It is apparent that in biblical times the shedding of blood was very significant. Beginning with the blood of the sacrificial lamb and the ceremonial sprinkling & smearing of blood in the temple, as well as the blood smeared over doorways during Passover. Needless to say, many generations later, the stripes of Jesus being symbolic of our authority over Satan. Something else to ponder and/or research. Oh, and then of course, there is our "monthly curse". Hmmm...definitely a blood thing going on here!

    I think that the lesson to be learned from Deborah is that we are to be strong and steadfast in our convictions and to listen for, recognize, and follow God's instructions.

    Barek and Sisera's stories jointly taught us that by not trusting and having complete faith in God and the strengths and capabilities that HE has given us to fulfill HIS Will, then we lose our chance for glory.(Even though ultimately, all glory & honor are HIS.)

    These men are a prime example of Isaiah 54:17 "No weapon formed against you shall prosper", and
    Psalm 91:7 "A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you."

    Back to Jael, at first I thought that she was a heroine, however that tent peg really disturbs me....sort of like the Texas chainsaw murderer....
    As you said Rachel, there is no mention as to her motivation behind the act.
    Why didn't she just bind him and hold him prisoner and let the men take care of it from there? Why did she feel that it was her place to commit murder? Was it just because that was what Deborah had prophesied? Looks like we will never know.

    I did notice a rather interesting contradiction in the song; Judges 5:27 "At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell dead."

    Whereas, in Judges Chapter 4 it states that she took the tent peg and hammer and quietly went to where he lay sleeping from exhaustion, and drove the peg through his temple. Hence, he couldn't have sank and fallen!! Who knows....maybe it fit the melody of the song better worded in that context! Or,
    maybe they just wanted it to sound more morbid! And here we thought that TV was promoting all of the violence today!! lol

    Looking forward to your insight ladies.

    Blessings to all,

    <*////><

    Karyl ~ Bonners Ferry, ID
    USA

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  13. Good morning everyone,

    One of the first characteristics that came to my mind was Deborah's wisdom. I realized that her ability to judge fairly came from the wisdom God gave her; what I mean is she needed to know and be able to discern God's "still small voice" from her own in any given situation. I have a hard time doing that in my life. If I has this ability, I would "plug in" as much as possible and gain as much wisdom and guidance as possible.

    As for the second question, I believe that God wants me to trust and obey Him when he leads me in a very clear and sometimes scary direction. Further, I believe that He is saying that He often places people in our path to help guide us in our journey and may often speak for God in their wisdom. We would do well to listen to them--so long as their counsel is godly.
    I also think that we are not to allow our pride (or fear possibly in Jael's case) to keep us from doing what it is that God tells is right to do. I believe pride is what made Sisera run to the nomads--he didn't want to die at the hands of an Israelite, that would be dishonorable. Instead, he died at the hands of a woman. Sisera also shows the danger of straying off the path set before us by God.

    Keri - Raytown, Mo

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  14. I guess for me it all boils down to the unwavering, unquestioning FAITH that God has in place for us. My question is why it is so hard for us to take hold of this faith and never let go. Time and time again, God has proven his perfect timing is all we need. I guess that the wisdom to realize God's gifts and then appreciate & apply them, all day, every day is God's charge to me. Thanks everybody for your thoughts!
    Deb in Va

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  15. Deborah had great wisdom. She was a prophetess - God spoke to her more than others, she listened and acted as he wanted. She had to have been something to be a Judge and commander in the army in a mans world.

    With regards to all of the battles, it seems like there were many battles and blood shed, entire cities lost in those days. I think God wanted to keep the area clean for His people.

    I do not think the blood of Sisera was symbolic. I was curious about Jael. I read through some Jewish teachings on her story. One had compared her to Rahab. Both not from Isreal, both had heard of God. Both females allowing men to come into their home (in a time that this was not acceptable). One hiding the spies and sending the king in a different direction to keep the guys safe. The other luring the man into the tent under the guise of safety and security then killing him. One had stated that with her being a tent dweller, she had limited items in her home that she could have used as a weapon. Based on rules of femine and masculine, it would have been inappropriate for her to use a sword. Using the tent stake and mallet were tools that she regularly used. She knew what was going on - war - knew who he was.

    I don't think she could have just knocked him out or tied him up. If she knocked him out, who was to say if he was dead or wounded. With the tent stake, I don't think there would be any question. I think that it was intended for her to kill him. Deborah had already stated that God would hand him over to a woman.

    With regards to him falling when he died, I would think that her bed could have been pillows where you partially are sitting and he could have slumped over. Or possibly, when she hit him with the stake, he jumped up (automatic reaction to being started)then fell dead. I do not feel that she (or most of these women) were "trying to help God out". I think she knew what needed to be done and handled the situation the best she knew how. Deborah and Rahab also knew what needed to be done and acted. When God wants an army killed, I do not think that the acts would be considered murder. I think all three of these women were brave and did what God wanted them to do.

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  16. Yes, another courageous woman, She so believed in God. I know for myself when the storms come I too need to keep the faith and continue to believe and forget the fears, because God is in Control.
    Yes the story was a bit confusing, but thank you Rachel I understand now.
    Have a blessed day
    Sharon/Florida

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  17. Deborah & Jael---both had the inate ability to hear God and understand what He wanted them to do. Both had the courage and faith to be obedient. What examples they are to us!

    Kathy-Richmond, TX

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  18. Okay...I'm still really struggling with calling Jael courageous. I understand that things were done totally different in the OT than the NT and for today. But it is in the OT that God provides His Ten Commandments one of which is thou shall not murder. Can someone please shed some light on this? If this is one of His commandments, then why do we (or the Bible...not clear which) say that God instructed or wanted Jael to kill Sisera? I just am either missing a fundamental piece or I just can't grasp how breaking a commandement would be noble, courageous, and honorable. PLEASE SOMEONE CLARIFY THIS FOR ME!!!

    The first word that came to my mind with Deborah was "confidence". I think this can also be said to be the same as faith and wisdom. That is, my first thought was "wow, the confidence she had in knowing that she heard from God." fullofgrace called this wisdom. So, either way, to have the wisdom, faith, or confidence to KNOW that it is indeed God's still small voice she is hearing...wow...that is what I would want to possess...at least at this stage in my life. I feel the deepest desire to be able to discern His voice and desires from my own. I feel I am more than willing to obey but I first need to hear His voice to know "what" to obey. I know this is just something learned in time and with a deeper walk with Him and in His Word.

    Rachel commented on Barak's stipulations on his willingness to obey...he would only go if Deborah went. How many times do we do that...maybe without even knowing it. I'll do that Lord, IF You...or Tomorrow Lord, I will. I know I'm guilty of that at times.

    I still have a hard time grasping the idea of a women being at such a high level of position. This is the first I have really read or heard of this in the OT....guess that means I need to tucker down and dig deeper into the OT. I know I lean more toward the NT as it is much easier.

    Donna (fivedesigns) - just since last summer I have placed Lam. 3:25in my heart...I love that verse...I just quoted it to myself last night in the flower fed. As I cried out to the Lord in pain and heartached, I began to quote scripture in my heart.

    I hope someone or several will address my first paragraphh with clarification. Thanks.
    In Him,
    Paula

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  19. I would like to have Deborah's relationship with God and His favour and wisdom, which she enjoys.

    I think the Lord is showing me women in leadership/positions of authority and how I should act and what I should expect(Baraks!). I think Barak wasnt all that afraid of God, he just didnt trust Deborah's prophasey because she was a woman. It was weird to see women in positions of leadership in thoes days. Women were treated as inferior and were never included not even in the census count.
    So I think Barak was a bit of a chauvinist and thats why God allowed a woman (Jael)to conquor the great worrior Sisera.

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  20. Thank you Rachel for explaining this story because I was a little lost.

    The characteristics I would want would be the ones that Kathy mentioned - the ability to hear god and understand what he wants us to do and then I would add that I would want the faith to be able to carry out his plans. Thanks everyone for your insights. They really help me a lot.

    Connie - Genoa IL

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  21. I think the characteristic I would most like to have would be the close walk with God that Deborah had. I guess it is something God would want for me too! I picture Deborah as a quiet confident person not pushy or brash, a woman who exudes Godliness. What a thing to aspire to.
    Thank you again Rachel for your hard work in sharing this story from God's word.
    Blessings
    Sandra - England

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  22. I think that sometimes God really lays it on my heart that I need to trust him completely and whole-heartedly. This story is another lesson to me that it is important to listen to God and never doubt. Although, that definitely seems easier said than done.

    As far as what characteristic of Deborah I would like to have is her unwavering faith.

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  23. One of the parts that struck me was when Sisera asked Jael for some water. What did she do? She gave him MILK. I may be reading into this, but it's often been said that warm milk helps you sleep. Hmm. If that was the case, it makes me sort of smile to see how she was "helping" him fall asleep, with the end result in mind.

    The thing I know I need to take from this study is directly related to what you said, Rachel... "Do you have crutches you lean on instead of God?" Wow. I most definitely do. I underestimate myself and have huge tendencies to rely on other people to make decisions for me, give me advice on how to handle things, etc. I need to rest in the fact that if I truly rely on GOD, He will give me the courage and ability to do these things myself. (With Him by my side).

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  24. For the first time, I was able to understand this story. Thank you Rachel and others for making it clearer to me. I am going through some things in my life right now and I know that God is telling me to trust Him. Something happened to me in my teen years and I have struggled with it all my life. I know that God is wanting me to have courage and not to fear, but I seem to be held in this. Please pray for me, that I will step out in Faith and trust Him to keep me safe. I believe there are things that God wants me to do and if I don't step out like Deborah, I will miss out on what He wants to do in my life for Him. My prayers are with you ladies and God Bless you all.
    In Him Virginia

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  25. I was most impressed in this passage with the 2 times that talk about the WILLINGNESS of people to act (5:2 and 5:9). That is all God requires of us, to have a willing heart! I pray that whatever God asks of me today, I would offer myself and volunteer - no matter how daunting the task! Then others will be able to praise the Lord. I don't need any special training, just to be willing...

    Lori - Canada

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  26. I found this story a little hard to understand too! I totally missed the part about the rain/mud causing Sisera's chariots to get bogged down! Thanks Rachel!

    SweetPea...I too had those same thoughts about all the killing in the OT. In Leviticus, it goes into great detail about the proper sacrifice and how to offer it to the Lord. As an atonement for sin, whatever the sacrifice is, it is given wholly and completely to God. It must be burned/consumed completely. The OT often says a whole city would be "devoted" or given to the Lord...meaning every living thing would be killed. Joshua 6:21 My Bible says the Lord would hand Sisera over to a woman and this led to the destruction of the Canaanite king. God doesn't do things halfway! Killing Sisera was violent but those times were especially violent. The Israelites were so oppressed, I guess I can understand Jael's actions. It might not have been the way God intended, bit it did fulfill God's purpose. So just like the other women we've been discussing, Jael might have "helped" God's plan along. Was it right? All I know is that God had a plan and that WAS right.

    Enjoying all your company girls!!
    Debby in ND

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  27. As I read this story I struggled to see what this had to do with me and slowly I have begun to realize that in my home I am the spiritual leader because of my husbands lagging faith, just as Deborah was a spiritual leader of her people because the men were sruggling with their faith. Because of this I need to ask for your prayers. I am struggling with a fear of confined spaces and locked doors. It doesn't really affect me on a daily basis but my oldest son is graduating from college in May and I need to fly to his school in Colorado and am afraid that I don't have the faith that I need to do this. My son is an athiest and I know that overcoming this would glorify God to him, my husband and my other children. I need discernment and courage and wisdom and above all faith to do what I think that God is asking me to do.
    Thankyou Rachel for this study it has revealed so much to me.
    Suzy Florida

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  28. Paula - You are right that it is a hard reality that God would want someone killed when his laws are pretty plan about murder. However, the OT is full of murders and killing. There are even instances in the NT where people drop dead from their sins.

    What would happen if God did not have his people kill off entire cities? How would God's people survive? If God were to swoop down and rearrange things everytime his people got in trouble would they continue to be a people that had free will? It only seemed to be during times of hardship that his people (often including Christians today) turn to God. The 10 commandments were the ideal and Christ stated that we have all fallen short of the ideal.

    We are a fallen people that are living in an imperfect world. This maybe one of those questions that will pretty much remain a question until the time that "the veil is lifted". All I can do is to trust in God and know that he is always just.

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  29. I remember as a little girl hearing about Deborah and how she as a woman led the people to victory. I am pretty certain that God wants to me be more steadfast and believe in his word that is never void despite my present circumstances. If only I could have a drop of endurance as Deborah, I could not allow fear to "trickle" back in and consume me. My tears come and go, but I am still pressing, believing that it will get better...(smile)... Stories like this are to encourage us to trust in God and remain courageous in the battle--no matter the enemy--- I am more than a conquerer.... Thanks Rachel for "feeding" my spirit.... Be Blessed....

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  30. Thanks Danelle, I noticed the milk thing too, but did not think about it this way! It also makes me smile... :)

    The characteristics of Deborah that I most admire were her complete faith, her fullness of His Spirit that one of the footnotes remarked "elevates her above her people" and is the source of her great wisdom. If I had these traits I would be a more effective witness to those around me and through my life and my actions, I could lead them to work for God's plan. We could all work for God's plan because we would know it and by acknowledging God in all things, he would make our path straight (Proverbs 3:6).

    Another note from the footnotes that struck me was "...when men despair, often women rise up to save the day." ksnow29 mentioned both women's obedience. I think this is such a good point! God told Deborah that he would deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman. He may also have spoken to Jael to let her know what to do and gave her the power to do it. If we can listen and hear Him, we will know what He wants us to do and how He intends to use us. This is what I long for; to be able to hear Him clearly.

    Sweatpea; as Duet. 26:17 says "You have declared this day that the LORD is your God and that you will walk in his ways, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws, and that you will obey him" Murder that is human inspired is a violation of the commands and, you are right, it is a sin. But it's different when God delivers his people from oppression and commands acts to be done. Then obedience to His will is the right thing to do. Remember, God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We may not understand, but by faith we will know how He is using us and what His will is. The trick lies in hearing Him speak and knowing it is God who wants us to act. We can only accomplish this through fervent prayer.

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  31. Thanks gals for your perspective. I know that murder and killing repeatedly occurs in the Bible. It just was and still is hard for me to grasp God telling someone to kill another. I think it helps when I think it is because maybe He knew without Sisera's death there would be more bloodshed. It's still hard to think of our God instructing someone to kill. Though, I do reflect on such things as God destroying all of mankind except for eight people through the flood. So, I guess I'm coming to "grips" with the idea that He would instruct one to kill...that's just never how I saw MY God.

    I totally understand that death can be a result of our sins and many people in the NT have died because of that but I don't know that God ordered or spoke to someone to kill them. I know people are still literally falling dead because of their sinful lives that aren't covered by Christ's blood. It's not death from sin that stumps me but God's order spoken to one to kill another.

    Also, Suzy you right, the commandment to not murder was "thou shall"...it was refering to us humans. God was speaking to us but not to Himself. I never thought about it that way. He is God and has a right to take life purposefully.

    I also wanted to say thanks to Rachel for doing this study. I have found myself wanting to go back to reading more and more of the OT and better understanding it, the people,and the stories. I hope when I really dig into it on my own that I will be able to understand it. I know that this study has really helped me to understand and retain what I've learned by Rachel's thorough explaination. Sometimes when it's not explained I think it is hard to truly retain it.

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  32. i read it i found that i also sometimes find crotches to stand on instead of relying totally on God .Thank you Rachel god Bless each of the ladies.

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  33. I agree with the others that this was very hard to understand. Rachel, you are to be commended for obeying God, and doing His work. You have a way of putting things in perspective so we or I can understand. I would like to have more wisdom as Deborah had. From this study I am hearing that I need to spend more time with God in prayer. My faith and ability to help others is stronger but I am getting a lot of that from other people and I guess you would call it "copying" what they are doing. Thanks for all the input from everyone. Please say a prayer for me that I can become stronger and more dedicated to talking with my Heavenly Father and being able to hear His still small voice.

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  34. Rachel, thanks so much again for your wonderful insight & clarification on this reading!

    I agree with so many others who have written before me. Deborah was a strong, brave, powerful & faithful woman of her time. When I first read this, I thought, "Wow, the woman's movement started HERE!"
    I so admire her faithfulness & her conviction!

    These are 2 characteristics that I would love to further develop in myself: stronger faith & the conviction to stand up for what I believe in, no matter what. I'm getting there, lol, thanks to this study!!

    What I take away from Deborah's story is to put my trust in God 100% & listen to Him...at all times. All too often, I think "I" can solve it, fix it, or whatever. Reading the Bible everyday has helped me to see just how much I need to rely on Him.

    "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble."
    Psalm 46 (NIV)

    This group/study is so wonderful & I have learned so much from everyone!! Thanks, Rachel! Blessing to you & everyone here, always!

    Pat in NYC

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  35. Thank you again for opening my eyes. God has blessed you and you are blessing me.
    I see that Deborah was very courageous, bold, and her faith was very strong. I need more of that in my daily living making decisions that involve me and my husband. I have that nagging fear like Barek. I have fear of insecurity and because of lack of faith, I don't step out.
    I needed this study to help me become bolder and take that leap in my faith.
    Thanks again.

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  36. I think Deborah was brave and courageous. She believed in what God told her to do. I want to have that kind of boldness and faith.
    Another comment I want to make to the women who are having trouble with God commanding the Isrealites to kill people. You have to remember that the Canaanites worshiped false gods. Some of them sacrificed their own children to the false gods. They worshiped in their temples having sex on their alters. They were an evil group of people. God did not want his chosen people to get corrupted, so even though we don't understand his ways, God told them at times to kill their enemies. This is hard to understand but I think God was trying to protect them.

    Deb - Ohio

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  37. We have an all knowing God, seeing the future, knowing all things. We can trust Him whatever His decisions are, even when we don't see way down the road to clear why in our own minds. What a great thing to have to trust and believe in!!!! He has love and goodness and our best in His heart for us. He sees when there's no chance for those who make that choice, and no matter how long they are given, it won't change. That's not His choice for them, but their own. He gives all that chance, because He loves all. We just have to trust in His wisdom, and know that God is God. Period. We can't know everything, or see future, but we can trust that He does. That is what brings peace, even when you don't know the outcome. I am so thankful to have Him love me so!


    Traci-WA state

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  38. I would like to possess Deborah's courage and her leadership abilities. What a brave, woman of God! Jael was also so brave. I imagine the adrenaline would be pumping when you realize who just walked into your tent, and I would be praying in my heart for God's strength to remain cool, calm, and collected! What an awesome account of God's love for Israel.

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  39. Kerri.. I too am a worrier ans i sometimes let my fears and anxieties get the best inme and i too got that message that i need to leave it in god hands and we will be fine.

    I too wish that i can someday be like deborah and live a live of boldness.

    Antoinette -Gilroy, Ca

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  40. Rachl,
    Thanks so much for the clarification of this scripture. I did have a little bit harder time following this one. I have to say that more then anything I appreciate the strength and faith the Deborah has. These are the two qualities that she has that stand out to me the most.
    Margaret

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  41. I don't believe that God led Jael to kill Sisera. I think this was another case of God taking someone's unholy act and using it to further His kingdom. First Jael was part of a nomadic group called the Kenites. She was not an Israelite. She did not have knowledge of the ten commandments so she would not have been breaking God's commandment because she didn't even know it existed. Being part of a nomadic group, she would have been suspicious of any other group of people. Nomads during that time were viewed much the same as gypsies are today...strange, thieving, and disreputable. I think this shows just how desperate Sisera was to hide that he would approach a nomad, someone he would have treated disdainfully had he not been in so much trouble. Water is a valuable commodity in the desert but goat's milk would be available since most of the nomads were herders as well. I think this might just have been a point of disrespect on Jael's part, offering Sisera the lesser of the two. Sisera was just too battle-worn to note this as a hint not to trust Jael. There is no mention of any men in the camp so any weapons would have been with them. Sisera probably seemed threatening to Jael, he was bloody and dirty and wild with fear, and so she did what she did partly out of fear for her own well-being. Killing him may have been two-fold: first she had let him into her tent which was definite no-no, second she may have been scared of what would happen once he awoke, and three she had heard about the mighty Israelites and would not want to be caught hiding a fugitive from one of their battles. The tent stake was just available and one she knew how to use. She became a heroine to the Israelites because she got rid of one of their enemies and fulfilled Deborah's prophesy. This doesn't make her any less important to the story, it just shows that through exercising our free will, which is a gift from God, sometimes turns out differently from HIS will but it doesn't change the end result.

    Deborah is confident and full of God's grace. She is the true heroine of this story because she did what God told her without question or hesitation. Oh how I long to be like her! Strong but humble, ready to take every step knowing that will work out. I am a very insignificant piece in a large puzzle. I stand in middle seeing only the sides that touch me but God sees the entire puzzle from above. How amazing it must be to watch those pieces shifting and changing to fit the whole plan.

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  42. loved this story. I wish i can be bold and coragous as Deborah was..

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  43. Thank you, Deb, for your perspective. That makes sense and makes things clearer for me. Yes, our God is a jealous God and if the Canaanites worshiped false gods, had sex on alters, sacrificed their children and posed a threat to "infect" the Israealites with their false beliefs, then I CAN see God instructing someone to kill that kind of person.
    Thanks,

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  44. In 4:17, it states that Sisera went to Jael's tent since there were friendly relations between her husbands clan and the king.

    He thought that it was a safe place. I think that she knew who he was and not some wild stranger bombarding her living space.

    It also mentions that her husband was a decendant of Moses's brother-in-law. Chances are, they did have knowledge of the 10 commandments and God. Not that I think what she did was wrong as I feel that her actions were fulfilling the prophecy.

    I think that Deborah was an amazingly wise lady and Jael was courageous.

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  45. To clarify, my original confusion wasn't as to whether Jael knew of the ten commandments, whether what she did on a human level was right or wrong, good or bad but rather my personal confusion was over the Author of the ten commandments (God) commanding something opposite of what His ten commandments says. I now understand much better.
    Thanks again.

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  46. ok, i have a question. some people have said that they don't believe that God led Jael to kill Sisera but God used an unholy act to fulfill his plan. Here is my question, if Deborah said that the LORD will actually deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman rather than into Barak’s hands He knew that Jael would be the one to kill him. so this can't be Jaels free will but her being obedient, right? or am I just totally confused? Can some one help me understand. I get all mixed up with free will and what is predestined . Thanks ya'll.

    ~ Christi in TX

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  47. Rachel...I so appreciate your insight into this Bible study...your comments on these passages certainly enlightened my understanding of them. It appears to me that some of the Israelite men were struggling with their faith, so God chose to use a woman who knew Him so intimately that He knew she would obey without question! I long for that kind of faith...I truly believe God will do what He says, but I do struggle just turning trials and hardships over to him...I always want to “take them back”! This is such an awesome story of how God can use women to do great things for Him because of their faith, courage and total commitment to Him and His leading.

    The characteristic of Deborah that I would most like to possess is her unwavering faith...she knew when God spoke to her, she listened, and she obeyed! What I would do with it would be to relinquish all of my fears and anxieties and totally trust Him with all my heart, mind and soul, and quit the worrying and trying so hard to know what He is trying to tell or teach me!

    In this particular story, it seems that the two men were actually cowardice in their actions and the two women were confident, courageous and obedient to God!

    We serve such an AWESOME God... Bless all of you for your comments.

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  48. Debbie in Goose Creek,SCApril 03, 2008

    Great story of 2 courageous women! So glad to have the name Debra!I want to know where Deborah's HUSBAND was in this? Did he say,"Keep out of it...no, you can't go with Barak...." On a smaller scale it reminds me of women who KNOW they are to be in church and even if the husband won't go, she gets her kids there and serves the Lord. We need to be bolder and DO what we feel God wants us to DO. He'll take care of us. Oh, one more thing--that must have been a really long nail to get it through his temple and 'fasten him into the ground'.

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  49. Hi ladies, again..Ya know I don't think I can add to this anymore than any of you!! I have posted twice..God gave me words to post on my blog about blessings, and I believe God blessed Deborah because of her boldness. HE also gave me scriptures which I knew a couple were of Sweatpea! So I just want to thank all of you for your words of understanding and encouragement through the word..it's great to post here and on my blog too!! Debrah and Sweatpea, I left both of an answer on mine, I can't believe I couldn't get to it?! Anyway..I wish I could meet every single one of you and minister to all...
    God Bless each of you and Cari I truly am still praying for your surgery!
    Donna

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  50. Deborah knew her God, and didn't waver back and forth as to what was the right thing to do. You can tell that she spent time, and had a close relationship with Him. She knew God and loved Him. She would have conversed with Him regularly, and that's where her confidence came from. That's what I want to be like too.

    I echo many of your thoughts about Jael killing Sisera. God had said "Do not murder", and I think that anytime that those in the OT killed anyone outside of war, it was dealt with. I don't think that Jael killing Sisera would have been called murder because there was a war going on, and she got stuck in it whether she wanted to or not. She wouldn't have had much time to think when Sisera came stumbling into her tent. She would have known about him and the kind of wicked man he was. What she decided to do probably made her a hero in those days. If there was not a war going on and she somehow killed him, it may have had a very different outcome.

    We're so fortunate in our country that we don't have the constant threat of war. I sometimes pray (need to more frequently)for others in war torn and oppressive countries for God's protection and peace to reign in their hearts in the midst of it all.

    Connie - Canada

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  51. Again, I'm late but did it.

    I too, get confused with all the places and names but my husband is in Israel as I type and he has visited many of the places we read about in the Bible. I think this will help me to better visualize the stories while I read.

    As for Deborah... I would like to have her ability to hear God so clearly. I like to think I am careful to listen but the reality is that I often don't slow down enough to hear HIS voice. As Deb from VA said... God has faith in place for us to grab a hold of! I like that visual!

    I'm not sure about all the killing in these cities but I do see it as necessary. I'll have to read more on this to better understand.

    Thank you, Rachel O. for stirring the desire to learn in our hearts!

    God Bless

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  52. I confess to struggling with the need to kill ALL of the people, particularly the children. I realize the issue of "pagan seed" was brought up, yet Jesus' lineage is not "pure" - we've already determined that, not once but twice, thus far (Tamar & Rahab). There is more to these killings than ethnic cleansing, but “my ways are not God’s way, nor my thoughts God’s thoughts.” All I know is that I’m a “weed”, and I thank God for grafting me into His family tree!

    I admired Deborah's leadership skills. A true leader trains people to take over the job. Deborah didn’t allow pride and ego to hinder her obedience to God’s call. Some would want the glory and recognition, yet she was willing to let a man lead the battle and another woman to get the glory of killing the enemy. She was an honorable example of, “the lowly servant will be exalted”.

    Deborah wasn't gloating over Barak and his weak faith. She was willing to lead by example, and enable him to do what God had called them to do. Do you think Barak was made to feel shamed and inadequate for his lack of faith? It certainly doesn't sound like it from the victory song, which he was a part of! Perhaps Barak, like Peter, became even stronger in his faith after experiencing the "failure" first. I know my own faith has been refined in the fire, and comes out stronger through the process. God used Deborah to raise up godly leaders for the Israelites at a time when there were few. I can certainly say God used godly leaders to help me grow stronger in my faith. And I must also be willing to allow God to use me to raise up godly leaders for the next generation. I don't have confidence in my abilities, but this study is challenging my faith to the possiblities of God!

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  53. One of the definitions for murder I found was that murder is to kill a human being unlawfully or with premeditated malice. I believe this is what was outlawed in the ten commandments. God is the ultimate authority (or law), so if he ordered someone killed, it is not murder.

    This story also makes me think of the movie "One Night with the King" about Queen Esther. It explains that the reason the Jewish people were being threatened is that generations earlier, the Israelites had left one woman alive when God had ordered the whole nation be killed. Her descendants then vowed revenge. If the Israelites had been obedient, God would not have had to intervene again.

    For me, the difficult thing in this story is knowing God's will for certain. I wish I had Deborah's confidence. Wouldn't it be nice if God spoke to us audibly like in the OT? I pray and read my Bible searching for God's will, and sometimes it just seems so elusive. Right now, I am having difficulty discerning God's will regarding more children. I know that the world would say that this is not a good time for us. We are currently living with my parents due to my husband's job loss. He has a new job, but the pay is a lot less. So we are trying to pay down our debt and reduce expenses, but it looks like we will be here a while longer. (We are truly grateful that God has provided for us during this time though.) Our son will be two in May. We had originally planned to try for another child last fall, but we put it off because of our circumstances. I am almost 32, and most of you will probably say that is still young, but my biological clock is ticking. Both my husband and I want a big family. I'm not sure how my parents would view it if we told them we want to try for another baby. But I also have been wondering if I'm not trusting God enough. The Bible always considers children a blessing. Would I really want to refuse a blessing from God? Wouldn't I truly be relying on God if I stopped using birth control? God can open or close my womb himself. I feel like I'm trying to control things by using birth control. But then again, am I trying to manipulate things to get what I want (like all the women we've been studying)? After much prayer, my husband and I have decided to put it in God's hands and have stopped using birth control, but I still go back and forth in my head over whether this was the right decision. Anyway, I would really appreciate your prayers and insight.

    Thanks for "listening".
    Rachel in Ohio

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  54. LaTonya/FLApril 03, 2008

    I read it.

    The quality I admire most of Deborah is her boldness, trust in and obedience to GOD. I would step out on faith more often if I possessed Deborah's boldness.

    I think GOD was trying to show us that when we don't allow ourselves to be fully used by HIM, he will find someone else who won't mind surrending their will to HIS to use. He also was teaching us that if he commands us to do something, to have faith and trust that HE would do exactly what HE says he will do.

    LaTonya-FL

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  55. I would want Deborah's courage, trust in God even when what He commanded seemed crazy, and her boldness. She followed through on what she set out to do and that is something I admire. I would love to be described that way. I think God wants us all to learn to trust Him completely, and to do bold things even when others question them.

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  56. I would like her ability to know what God wanted done and when. A lot of times I wish for confidence that my decisions are what God wants for me...or just what I want.

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  57. Sweetpea has stated my feelings and confusion brilliantly so there is not much more I need to add other than my desire to have unwavering faith, clear discernment in knowing the Lord's will for me, and the courage to execute His will.

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  58. To Rachel in Ohio- Children are a blessing from the Lord! When it comes to finances, it's always hard to make decisions. Like my pastor says, somehow it always works out financially when having children. I will pray for wisdom for you and your husband, as well as a good paying job so that you can have your own place. My personal opinion- I think it's great that you took that step and are leaving it in God's hands. (My mom says that children keep us young!)
    Connie- Canada

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  59. Hey ladies,
    First off, Plant Lady, my prayers are with you and your husband. Just know that whatever comes your way, has first been sifted through God's hands.
    After reading most of the comments the one thing that most of us have in common is that big IF word. If I had the faith that Deborah had. I've thought about this today and and God told me we all can have this kind of faith, we just have to TRUST Him. Sometimes it's so hard to do. I to have found it hard sometimes to understand how God would destroy whole towns, when He is such a loving God.
    Rachel I cannot tell you how much this bible study has brought to me. I am learning so much and "meeting" so many of God's girls.
    Can't wait to see what lady we visit next.
    In Him
    Tommie :)

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  60. I already commented, but reading everyone's thoughts made me think of something...

    In my almost 50 years (yikes, did I just type that??lol!) on this planet, I have always "heard" that quiet, still voice in my head that helps me make decisions. I haven't always listened to it, but when I do, things work out PERFECTLY! When I don't...well...let's just say it's a mess! lol! It dawned on me tonight...that little voice which I thought was mine...could it BE???? Could that little voice actully be the Good Lord???? After all this time, I never thought of that before! WOW!!

    Just had to share that with you all! :)

    Pat in NYC

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  61. The characteristics of Deborah I would liek to have is her ability to inspire/motivate people and her bold confidence.
    I have mixed feelings a bout Barak it is obivous that he was not putting his trust in God, but he had watched Deborah and knew what kind of judge she was. He knew that she had the hand of the LOrd on her so that could be the reason he wouldn't go without her. It reminded me that when we meet someone whom we know has the spirit of the Lord on them we want to touch the person have the Spirit fall on us you know when you are in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Barak wanted that extra assurance. He also showed that he was not interested in honor but in winning in this situation.
    Jael was also bold I don't think I see her actions as murder she was destroying the enemy. God often ordered the Isralites to destroy all people in a town as we just read with Rehab. He used Jael as the tool to carry out His plan. The lesson (even though we know God will not use us to murder) is to be open to all the possiblities as we do not know what He will call us to do.

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  62. I've read Deborah (and Jael) and it was difficult reading. I have asked God to give me insight and spiritual wisdom when reading His Word. I'm goig to read the story again, even though I understand it much better since reading your thoughts, Rachel O. I believe the characteristics Deborah possessed were definitely faith, trust, and obedience. If she had any fear of the coming events, it was never mentioned. She had alot of courage and faith which I would like to have alot more of.

    God put Deborah, Barak and Jael in position to do what He said He was going to do. Even though Barak was fearful and Deborah went with him at his request, God still completed what He said He would do. For Jael to put a peg through Sisera's head must have been a tough thing to do, but she did it. Courage, Trust, Faith, and Obedience.....this is what this story speaks about, the components we all need to have toward Our Father.....Jo Ann here in Denver, Co.

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  63. Both women in this reading are very inspiring because they both believed God and do what they were told to do. No matter what God wants them to do, they summit to God and did it.

    This shows us that no matter what God wants us to do, we listen, like it or not, God will bring goodness in our life, if only we choose to just listen.

    God is awesome no matter how the situation looks.

    Valencia - Charlotte, NC

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  64. One more thing, I would like to possess Deborah and Jael's strong faith in God. With that faith, I can do anything God wants me do.

    To take away from this story is to be strong, do not be afraid of what God want us to do. Just believe, listen, and Trust God in all that He does for us!

    Valencia.

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  65. as usual, God gave us some very amazing stories of His amazing servants.

    these two women are very bold in what they did ... their behavior exemplifies that ... and their willingness to be used of God. imagine going into a battle... even knowing that the battle is already won. there would certainly be a lot of blood and death to view. she was bold and brave and followed God's words. she trusted Him so fully.

    i'd like to so totally trust God that i don't worry about the daily struggles of life with a husband who has a terminal disease.

    sarah- texas

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  66. Definitely Deborah's strong faith and being bold about what God told her to do.

    If God tells us to do something we just need to get up and do it. And not wait.

    This was such an encouraging read to see how God uses a woman in such a powerful position!

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  67. I apppreciate Deborah and her leadership qualities. It is evident that she was highly respected among the men at that time...even though they appeared to be weak in their faith. I have opportunities in our church for leadership roles...it is important that we women not take the leadership role to our heads and remember WHO it is that has given us that role...God. God uses all people, regardless of gender. It takes a confident and humble person to be in a visible strong role, such as Deborah and still maintain respect from others. When God is at the helm,I am reminded that HE gets the glory..not I...I only want to be used by him, set an example and encourage others in their faith. As a leader, it is so rewarding to see others flourish!It is not about our power....just the power of God!

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  68. For Rachel in Ohio--I agree with Connie-Canada that it is great you took that step of trusting the Lord. I would add this: never do that just on your own--without your husband! There are several things that I think are priority in this kind of a decision about children. 1) you and your husband stay together on this issue 2)allow your husband to lead and you follow 3)repeatedly submit to God's will 4)be thankful and satisfied with what God sends your way, knowing it IS what He wanted!!

    1 and 2 may sound like a contradiction but I say it this way because you can allow your husband to lead and still be together on an issue. I think God often wants us as the wife to be more quiet and listen to our husband instead of always voicing our opinion (meaning repeatedly voicing the same thing) and then quietly taking our place alongside his decision. I am not saying here that you should just keep quiet about how you feel or your way of thinking but rather that, after expressing yourself, let God work through your husband. If you would totally disagree, talk to God about it. He is the one who can work in your husband His will (and will do it, if your husband is off on the wrong path)and you keep praying for your husband's heart to be open to God's Spirit. I am specifically thinking of the decision of having more children.

    Although I do think we are responsible to some degree about the amount of children we have I do not think it is all totally up to us. It is a true miracle from God involving two humans and we do need to remember who is ultimately in charge of our lives as a couple and as a family. It is an awesome thing and a delight to be a part of. I truly think God delights in a couple like you who care about and want a family of more than just one or two. He will take care of the particulars!
    Praying for you!

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  69. The Word of God says in Luke, if we keep quite the rocks will cry out. Deborah did the right thing by stepping up and carrying out the will of the Lord. I would like to think I would do the same thing. I would like to possess the boldness she had to lead the Israelites.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, God's work needs to be done regardless if it's by a male or female.

    Praise God that He is the One who actually speaks through us when we are doing His will. Because He says things a lot better than I would.

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  70. Thank you, Rachel, for once again making a story from the Bible become more understandable. I would hope to have her faith.

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  71. Sweatpea--I totally hear you. It does seem strange that a God who we understand as loving and compassionate would literally order entire cities (right down to the nursing infants and animals, who couldn't extract revenge at a later time, in some cases) to be utterly destroyed.

    But I think this confusion is due in large part to the fact that we tend to ONLY focus on God as loving and compassionate. He is also HOLY. I'm not sure that the currently prevalent cultural understanding of God fully grasps God's holiness and what that means for humanity-past, present and future. I would just encourage you to keep reading and digging in to the Old Testament. There is so much that seems confusing and contradictory to the way the we tend to understand God (ie-He is all about love.) But we can't ignore the characteristics of God that are revealed in the OT. (His holiness.)

    The idea that all killing of people is prohibited by the Ten Commandments is a very limiting view of what God was actually telling His people. Murdering a person is what is prohibited, but every time a person is killed, it is not necessarily murder. The OT contains plenty of instances of God commanding that certain people be put to death, and we know that God never contradicts Himself-everything He has ever said is in perfect agreement with everything else He has ever said. So that should illustrate that all killing is not murder. Killing people in wartime is not murder. David, who is called a man after God's own heart, killed lots of people, and also murdered some people (Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, and many of Uriah's fellow soldiers, were murdered by David.) His actions were treated very differently by God based on the circumstances that surrounded them.

    Sorry if this is too long already. I just want to encourage any of you who remain confused to really study and read the Old Testament. God is not contradictory, it is always our understanding of Him that is limited and causes confusion. There are some things that we may never fully understand, but you can always rest in the fact that God is good and God is consistent. Those things will never change, despite our inability to make those two things agree sometimes!

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  72. I know this study is geared towards learning more about the women of the Bible, but for some reason I keep going back to Barak and his request for Deborah to go with him....I can so relate to his request...as I too often distrust God's directions (or at least my ability to follow them)and need someone to bounce them off of...you may say that Barak was a chauvinist, but in some ways I think Barak was wise in trusting in another Christian that obviously had a strong faith and by doing so I would think the outcome would have strengthened Barak's faith...in the end God's purpose for doing anything seems affect soo many, in different ways.

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  73. One more thing Sweatpea.

    If you get yourself too twisted up in knots trying to make sense of it all, I encourage you to read Psalm 131 (its really short) and meditate on it for a while.

    But, don't just ignore your questions. They are good and even helpful if they drive you to seek answers and truth from God's Word.

    Your sister in Christ,
    Hadassah

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  74. I would like to have Deborah's boldness and her unwaving faith!
    I wondered about the wars that God had His people in and how they would wipe out EVERYONE, but Rachel put a new spin on that for me as well. Awesome story and Rachel you helped so much with your comments. Your comments help to open my mind and look at things differently for greater understanding. As for Jael, I figure she is thinking well if the King is on the run then his enemy is after him, and she wasn't just about to die for him, so she killed him to protect herself from a battle in her tent that she could have ended up dead behind. Makes sense to me.

    Kerri watch speaking things over yourself, you said you are a worrier! I understand that you are explaining but everytime you confess that, it has a greater hold on your life. You are more than a conqueror!
    Ingyr Columbus, OH

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  75. Thank you to "Anonymous" who responded to Rachel in Ohio and agreed with Connie in Canada. You spoke to my heart also. God bless.

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  76. Rachel, can I just add as a word of caution, that if you and your husband are unable to support yourselves financially, to the point that you are living with your parents, it might not be the best decision to try for a baby right now.

    I know birth control is very controversial, and I don't want to hijack this thread with a totally off topic post, and yes children are always a blessing from the LORD, but God also gave us common sense to use in making major decisions.

    It might be possible for you to damage your relationship with the parents you are living with right now by further infringing on their hospitality in seeking to get pregnant. Try reversing the scenario and see if you would want someone to be living in your house and then adding another child to the mix without consulting you.

    Even though you are 32, there are many years of child bearing age left in your life. God can still provide you with a large family if that is what He desires for you. It doesn't mean you have to get pregnant right now.

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  77. Rachel, I have finally caught up for the last 2 weeks this morning and I am just amazed at how much I am learning from these women and also how much some women today have in common with them. This is truly awesome.

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  78. This was really eye opening.
    Jael did not commit murder. She was acting in a time of war to defend herself and the Israelites.
    We don't know if she knew the Lord but we do know that He could act in her anyway. She was courageous and bold.

    Deborah is a wonderful role model. She trusted the Lord completely and acted in His will. She was willing to lead Barak when he was weak in faith. She led the men to do God's will. Oh, to have her courage and insight would be wonderful.

    Plant Lady, you and your husband are in my prayers. Financial concerns of any sort seem to pull us away from Abba Father and His perfect concern and love for us. We need to do as Deborah did and trust Him and His word. As we move into the Passover season in this year of adar we need to trust in the miracle of God's provision for us.

    Rachel, I am loving this study and all the comments. I also feel like I am learning so much I have been missing on my own.

    Janet, Latrobe, PA

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  79. I totally agree with the last anonymous right above me. I didn't want to say it and step on toes but everything she said is so true. I think that children being a blessing is not really the point. I am a woman who has never bour children and I doubt I will of my own choosing. I don't see myself as refusing God's blessing by not having children. Not everyone is called to have children either physically or by choice. Not everyone is called to have a certain number of children. God does in deed give us common sense and though children are blessings He also expects us to make wise choices in planning a family. I totally see a red flag with the financial hardships already in place and expected to last. Financial hardships is the number one (or top) reason for divorce. I would caution in putting any more undue stress on your marriage and relationship with your parents. I can't imagine the stress in living as a married couple with parents, no matter how great the relationship is.

    Also 32 is SO young. Remember Sarah had a child at 80. I know that's not likely in this day. But remember God's way are not our ways. We may plan and want children and many of them but God knows how many we can have/handle. Blessings are necessarily in numbers.

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  80. agape13c (Janet),

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. It helps me to be reminded of God's faithfulness and provision. When the enemy is roaming about, it is far too easy to get distracted, but with God's people like you and others, I am able to get back on the right track with my thoughts.

    Please come over to my blog sometime. I would enjoy talking to you further and not be taking up space on Rachel's blog "off topic". I am enjoying these Bible studies with all of you.

    My blog is: plantladysponderings.blogspot.com

    Anyone else who would like to come also is invited!

    Plant Lady

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  81. Wow, these women changed the course of nations. I think I would like to have the confidence that Deborah had to go forward with the plans she knew God had revealed to her despite the doubts and opposition of those around her.

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  82. Don't people today say that God has commanded them to kill others in His name?

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  83. Again I am so thankful for this study. The OT has always been hard for me, but I know there is so much in there that we need to learn. I was encouraged for years by a dear friend to read song of solomon. I tried, over and over again. Then when I finally "got it" I just wept with joy as to how much God loved me. The holy spirit opened my eyes and whenever I hear anything from the song of solomon I just get this "giggle in my belly" and usually have tears of joy. I say all this to say ... (sorry) I am really beginning to "get" more and more out of the OT as we study these stories one by one. It's exciting and such a blessing to learn these new things. I've been a christian for so many years and somedays felt like I was "drying up". Thank you so much Rachel! And I'm really enjoying the comments from you gals - it brings further reflections with even more study.
    Jo Beth

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  84. I'm unhappy about "Thou shalt not kill -- unless I tell you to" but have to accept that those who wrote down the OT stories were people of their time.
    I'd want Deborah's discernment.

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  85. The name Deborah means "bee" perhaps emphasizing the organized life of that insect according to my Key Word Study Bible. She was also called a "prophetess" with Samuel being the only other Judge in the bible to also be called a "prophet". The commentary in my bible stated; that Deborah's life challenges us in several ways. She reminds us of the need to be available both to God and to others. She encourages us to spend our efforts on what we can do rather than on worrying about what we can't do. She demonstrates what a person can accomplish when God is in control. It went on to say that God chooses leaders by his standards not ours. Something for us to remember as we are praying for our next President!

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  86. Hello again ladies,
    A lot of good insight has been posted as to the story of Deborah and Jael.

    I am afraid that my choice of words in my post gave
    everyone the idea that I thought Jael had murdered
    Sisera. I used the word murder hypothetically, to get the point across that
    I thought she could have done it in a less
    “grizzly” manner. Since she was so experienced
    at swinging the hammer, that would have seemed
    the lesser of two evils, in my mind. Just the idea
    of feeling the peg going through someone’s temple,
    is very disturbing, to say the least. After all, her
    people, the Kenites, were friendly with Jabin. so
    her life wasn’t being threatened by Sisera’s presence. She is the one that went outside of her tent and said “Come, my Lord, come right in. Don't be afraid." So he entered her tent, and she put a
    covering over him.

    Also, someone had mentioned that they missed
    the part in the reading where it mentioned the fact
    that it was raining and the chariots got stuck in the mud. I checked several different versions of the Bible to find where that was stated. The only
    reference that I could find re the weather was in
    the song in Judges 5 3 "O LORD, when you went
    out from Seir, when you marched from the land
    of Edom, the earth shook, the heavens poured,
    the clouds poured down water,” and that is referring to another time.

    Anxious to get on to our next reading. I have
    really enjoyed going through all of the posts.
    I want everyone that expressed the need for
    prayers to know that I have prayed for you.

    <*////><

    Blessings to all,
    Karyl ~ Bonners Ferry, ID USA

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  87. ginger- mid IllinoisApril 07, 2008

    I had a difficult time following this reading- had to keep going back and reading it over.
    I think of all of Deborah's characteristics named by everyone, i think that i would desire the characteristic of discernment- actually being sure of what God was telling her and what she needed to do.
    As i found this reading exhausting to follow, Rachel your comments were very helpful.
    Maybe it's just too late of an hour for my brain to follow the reading, after such a long day for me today!
    Thank you for your insight, everyone!

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  88. i feel like i could be like deborah if i keep my faith in god and not succumb to my fear and anxiety

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  89. How i wish i had the boldness and courage that both Deborah and Jael had. Thank you so much for helping me to see clearly the message because it was very hard to get into and understand the story of Deborah and Jael.

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  90. I've been on vacation so am lating posting this. Before I read this today I felt God leading me to help Him bring my family to Christ. I am the only one in the family I was born into that has a heart for God. Today I felt him telling me he gave me that heart to lead my family to Him. After reading about these two ladies I see how God can use us for his will. I know all things are possible for God and I am willing to be as coureagous as Deborah and Jael. If it is God's will, He will show me the way. I trust Him completely and will follow him.

    Jeri in Holland, MI

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  91. deborah was so bold! i would like to be that bold, but i suppose it would go against my character to be bold. i cannot help but applaud these two ladies. certainly they were both afraid to an extent but that didn't stop them. i have to wonder what jael's motivation was; that would be really interesting to know. GOD made jael do what HE wanted by whatever means available, so i guess it doesn't matter so much why.

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  92. Karen in Jamestown, CAApril 10, 2008

    I did it...a little behind, but catching up quick.

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