“Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.” Judges 5:7
The book of Judges, chapters four and five, record the story of Israel in the time of the prophetess Deborah.
After the death of Joshua in Judges chapter one, life as Israel had known it dissipated. Moses and Joshua had each been leader, minister, and teacher to the Jewish people, and Joshua’s death left a substantial secular and religious leadership void. Now in the Promised Land, the generation after Joshua began a vicious cycle of disobeying God, being punished by previously conquered enemies infiltrating their land, crying out to the Lord in repentance, and God providing a leader, or judge, for their deliverance.
The age of the judges lasted over three hundred years before Israel had its first king. Deborah was the fourth and only female judge in the epic story of how Israel takes the land of Canaan.
“And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, she judged Israel at that time.” Judges 4:4 (KJV)
After the death of Ehud, the third judge of Israel, the Hebrews again rebelled against God. He gave them into the hand of Jabin, King of Canaan. Jabin’s army was mighty and commanded by a fearsome warrior, Sisera. For two decades, Sisera oppressed and terrorized the Israelites. When God raised up Deborah as prophetess and judge, He equipped her to strategically lead His people according to His purposes.
Deborah called on a man named Barak to carry out a crushing defeat of Sisera’s army. Barak, though, feared the 900 iron chariots used in Sisera’s army, and he begged Deborah to go with him. The battle cry that began Israel’s deliverance was that of a woman – a mother with her heart set to protect her people and vanquish the enemy. Deborah did not fight the battle along with Barak and his men. Instead, her example was a mighty lesson of faith and courage, and Israel defeated Sisera’s army. Judges chapter five is a song of victorious worship, written and sung by Deborah and Barak.
Deborah’s fierce and feminine mother-nature provides for us a picture of God Himself and His design for women. One beautiful name for God in Scripture is El Shaddai. It comes from the root word shad, which means “breast”, or “the blessing of the breast”. Shaddai in this view presents our God as the One who supplies, satisfies, gives strength, and nourishes. And He has created women in this special image of Himself.
Deborah, operating within this image of God, became a mother to Israel. She was willing to both lead and be led, was able to motivate men without becoming as one, was unmoved by another’s fear, was insightful to the ways of the Lord, and was victorious in her obedience. The Bible doesn’t tell us if Deborah had biological children, but she had the heart of a mother, and that was the primary motivation behind her rulings for and interactions with her people. A wellspring of life, one of Deborah’s major responsibilities was to bring the heart and mind of God to her nation.
In America in 2016, the mothering instinct and anointing is tragically near extinction. The wombs of women in the twenty-first century are no longer places of sacred protection, but a dangerous threat to our nation’s next generation. The minds of women today search for ways to destroy the precious lines that make us delightfully distinct from men. The hearts of women in this generation reject the essence of nurturing, training, and teaching others. The place and power of the mother-heart is tragically missing in the minds and wills of America’s women.
We must recapture and restore the nature of the nurturer. Women are called to nurture life, whether we biologically bear children or not. Ladies, we must allow God to mold and use our innate motherly instincts and qualities to influence our children and sisters in Christ, and encourage them in godly character, love, and sound judgment.
Who do you think of when you hear the word “Mother”? Besides my mom, of course, my mind pictures a small, striking lady lovingly referred to as “Mama C”. Yes, our own pastor’s wife, Sister Charissa Smith.
Charissa has no biological children of her own, yet she is a Mother in Pueblo. She is gentle when dealing with the bruised and brokenhearted, but she is strong as steel when dealing with the forces of darkness. She is a woman of prayer, worship, empathy, and compassion. Her soul burns for the souls of others. She is a mother.
Deborah was a vision keeper, she had consistency of character, sound judgment, and a steadfast love for her people. Sound impossible? It isn’t. Here is how this works…
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Sisters, God calls us to be mothers – with or without biological children. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by this call today, let me reassure you: Deborah wasn’t always a mother, either.
God’s call is progressive. He can and will bring you gradually into the fullness of His plan. Keep saying yes to your Lord, and He will bring about His will in His good time. Everything you are experiencing now will prepare you for what He has in store for your future. Learn to discern the ways, times, and seasons God has ordained for your life and begin to feel the rhythm of His perfect timing. Small acts of obedience in private will align you with His perfect timetable in public. The God who orders the earth’s seasons orders your life’s seasons, as well.
You can be a mother. Will you answer the call?
I’d love to hear from you. What stands in your way of being a mother in your community? In what ways are you fulfilling your call?
We are mothers – all of us. Let’s arise.
In His name and for His glory, Jodi Greene