Sunday, 26 January 2014

Jael: Warrior Princess

    Following the previous post on Deborah, the natural progression is to look at Jael. She’s a woman you might well never have heard of (it’s funny quite how many of those there are in the Bible: women whose stories go unnoticed or whose contributions go unacknowledged). In a nutshell: Jael let Sisera (who was fleeing from Deborah) into her tent, and then whilst he slept she hammered a tent peg through his skull. Niiiiiccceee!

    She murdered a man in cold blood after tricking him with promises of hospitality and safety. Yet a whole section of the song of Deborah (Judges 5) literally sings her praises: ‘Most blessed of women be Jael…’ (verse 24). I’m guessing you might not be hugely comfortable with celebrating an act of massacre. Me neither! But the message of Jael’s actions go deeper than taking a man’s life. 

    She defended her people without a second thought. God gave her the opportunity and she grabbed it without worrying about her reputation. She didn’t hang about and wait for instructions, she followed her instinct and acted. She delivered a nation from danger and persecution. Remember Esther saving her people from Haman’s planed holocaust, Abigail preventing the murder of her family, and Mary ultimately delivering all of humanity by being the vessel which brought God to earth. Sensing a theme? Time and time again when whole tribes of people are under threat God uses a woman to save them.
    To fully understand Jael’s story we have to go back to Deborah’s prophecy. In sending Barak out to fight, she told him that because of his reluctance to go without her he would ‘not get credit for the victory. The Lord will let a woman defeat Sisera’ (Judges 4:9; Youth Bible). Sisera was the sole survivor of the battle, and so in killing him Jael finally delivers the Israelites from their enemy once and for all. What Deborah prophesied, Jael fulfilled. 

    By the standards of ancient warfare, both of these women were undisputed heroines, but we don’t fight in the same ways today. We are not always battling physical enemies – often spiritual warfare presents a greater problem. ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:12). This battle was ultimately won by Christ 2000 years ago, and so instead of physical armour we don spiritual armour. Christ called us to tackle our enemies with tenderness rather than brutality, and to fight for peace not superiority. We must fight nonetheless, but with respect for our brothers and sisters.

    As daughters of the King we are called to be warrior princesses. No, I don’t mean we’re supposed to hammer tent pegs into the heads of people who threaten or offend us! But we are supposed to fight for justice.   

There is power in the voice of a woman who is courageous enough to use it.

    Where we see injustice in the world, we are called to act. Not to wait for someone else to stand up and face the consequences. We fight not through violence but through our example, as the infamous woman of Proverbs 31 ‘opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy’. We are called to be the change. 

We are warrior princesses.

We are instruments of the Lord.

We are the voice of those who cannot speak.

We are messengers of love.

We are servants of justice.

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