TODAY’S READING: Judges 3–5
The events in the book of Judges are thought to have occurred over roughly 400 years (around 1406 to 1050 B.C.). It is difficult to know the precise period as several of the judges served specific tribes and some overlap to their activity is likely. What we do know is that after Joshua died, things deteriorated quickly and the life of Israel spiraled downward in cycles of apostasy, oppression, supplication, and deliverance. Seven such cycles of oppression and deliverance occur between Judges 3 and 16. Each story is unique and in its own way, missionally didactic.
Othniel teaches us that when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon us, there is always a physical consequence (Judg. 3:10). In his case, the Spirit sent him to war, but in all cases, there is an initial physical consequence to Spirit filling. We will see this throughout the book of Judges and on into the New Testament. When the Spirit fills us, the result is always that we have a dynamite effect on the nations. Encounters of the Spirit that are gluttonous, secret, or retiring in their self-absorption are far from the intent of the God who sends us to war.
Ehud teaches us that secrets never tend to be positive (v. 19). Not to be confused with mystery, secrets almost always destroy. Secrets have led to gnostic pride and spiritual abuse. God is not about keeping news secret. God is all about us opening our mouths and boldly speaking truth in love. Boldness is not an enemy to discretion; it is merely a commitment to the God of light and truth. In missionary living there should be no secrets or questions of blurred identity about us. If we are not known, even in hostile communities and among resistant unreached peoples as proclaimers of the gospel, we are not doing our job. We are not bringing life, rather we are aiding death.
Shamgar teaches us that God can do mighty things with little weapons (v. 31) and Barak teaches us that God sometimes deploys great forces against us (4:6) so He can win greater glory. In taking God to unreached peoples, God continually uses the Mary Slessors of the world—unknown, simple, hardworking men and women who labor on the back side of deserts or far sides of mountains in such obedience that God gains great glory and 600 men and more are defeated by Jehovah’s love.
Deborah teaches us that God is no respecter of persons. God will use young and old, male and female, and if we shrink back from participation in God’s battle to win the nations to Himself, it is our loss, not His. God will ever get glory. Let it not be our shame to fear the battle. Jael teaches us that God can use housewives to do what strong men fail to do. Jael, a Saudi woman, humbly living out her life in a tent, is the hero of the great battle against Sisera. She shows us that housewives are some of our warriors as she pounds a tent peg through Sisera’s head. Many are the spiritual battles won because wives and mothers who may not have the public gifts, time, or desire of their husbands have weaponized their hospitality. They have prayed with tears as they stood at the kitchen sink. They have sung in the Spirit as they held crying toddlers in the middle of the night. They have hosted local guests and friends generously at every odd hour of the day. They have visited neighbors and cried when their friends endured agonizing loss. They have opened their mouths with little words of witness and giant expressions of kindness, pouring out the oil and the wine to their discouraged team members. They have raised their children in the fear of the Lord, and they have been the aproned drill sergeants who have prepared the next generation of missionaries. Housewives in mission among unreached peoples have won more battles then will ever be known.
Deborah is called a mother in Israel (5:7), yet she led the charge for God’s glory standing firm on the high ground of faith and courage. Jael is called a wife who is “most blessed among women” (v. 24), a biblical honor reserved for her and one other magnificent mother. These women weaponized their femininity and their hospitality, and God was glorified among the nations. Let there be many, many more.
 The Chronological Study Bible Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 262.