When I was a young Christian woman, I hardly went a day without listening to Elisabeth Elliot’s godly advice on her Gateway to Joy radio ministry. She’s just one of those people who exudes confidence and wise counsel at every turn. I remember thinking, ‘This woman must have a direct line to God!’ Her wisdom was a lifeline for me in the early years of my marriage and child rearing.
Many of you may be familiar with the story of Elisabeth and Jim Elliot, both made famous by his martyrdom on the Ecuadorian mission field in 1956. She has chronicled their life story in several of her books. After meeting and falling in love at Wheaton College, they delayed marriage for five years because Jim Elliot felt that God was directing him to go into the mission field alone. I imagine it must have been heart wrenching for him to leave this incredible woman behind. Eventually they married and served side by side in Ecuador until his death. Elisabeth Elliot was a strong, faithful, and like-minded partner for Jim Elliot in a difficult and hostile environment. She continued on with their work, ministering to the very tribe responsible for killing her husband. Now 85 years old, her books and radio ministry have been a source of teaching for millions. Elisabeth Elliot is a remarkable woman.
This week in our study of Judges we meet Deborah, another remarkable woman. “There’s a woman deliverer in Judges?” you ask. Yes, she was indeed unique and rare in patriarchal Israel. But her gender is only part of her legacy in the preservation of God’s people. I think Elisabeth Elliot says it well. “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian. But the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.”
After Ehud’s death, Israel once again falls into sin and disobedience. Soon they are under the thumb of a wicked Canaanite king and his military leader. Deborah calls forth her own military commander, Barak, and tells him that the Lord God of Israel has commanded him to take 10,000 Israelites and defeat the formidable Canaanite army that is equipped with 900 iron chariots. Barak’s response reveals the gravity of the situation and how he feels about Deborah.
“I’ll go if you go…but if you’re not going, I’m not going”, he says.
Clearly, Deborah inspired confidence in Barak and he trusted her judgment. Her relationship with God made her a decisive, wise and fair judge over her people. She was a prophetess so Barak knew that God spoke to her and through her. He wisely wanted her right by his side in battle.
I hope you are inspired to be a Deborah for someone in your life. Just as important, do you have a battle partner like Deborah? You know what I mean, that person whose prayers for you always seem to be answered? That person you trust completely because of their wise counsel? In addition to himself, God in His mercy gives us relationships that bolster our faith and give us courage to go to battle when we need to. In this life it seems to be quite often.
“I will surely go with you…” Deborah tells Barak in Judges 4:9
Who is the person who will say that to you?