Sermons

Summary: Judges, Pt. 1

Judges is a most bizarre period in Israel’s history. Every man did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord (Judg 3:12, 4:1, 10:6) and what was right in his own eyes (Judg 17:6) The transition from Joshua’s leadership to the kings of Israel was characterized by lawlessness, apostasy, and disbelief. God had used Israel’s enemies to test her faithfulness (Judg 2:3), but Israel failed miserably. God gave Israel judges who were local or national leaders to relieve Israel of her misery from her enemies’ oppression as individual tribes struggled to keep the land they were promised. The period of the Judges was characterized by internal and external strife, individual and collective sin, disasters and deliverance.

Six wars took place during this era that lasted a few hundred years. The enemies included the Mesopotamians (Judg 3:7-11), the Moabites (3:12-30), the Canaanites (Judg 4, 5), the Midianites (Judg 6-8), and the Ammonites (10:6-12,17), but the biggest test, even till the period of the Kings, were the Philistines. At times, God delivered their enemies into Israel’s hand, but at other times the Lord delivered Israel and even sold them (3:8, 4:2) into their enemies hands - once, seven years to Midian (6:1), but not as severe as the forty years into Philistines hands, the longest duration of suffering in the land (Judg 2:14, 13:1)

A WOMAN’S PLACE (JUDGES 4)

Los Angeles Times (5/13/02) called the 45-year old Karen Hughes one of the most powerful unelected women in the United States, but she resigned from her post less than a year and a half after Bush had successfully won the presidential election. Her husband and teenage son were “homesick,” so the family headed back to Texas. The Austin family did not fit into Washington. Hughes told reporters, “Throughout my career I have tried to prioritize my family while I have a career. I’ve prided myself that this is a family-friendly White House, and I think this is a family-friendly decision.” Hughes will continue her unique work for Bush - as a confidant, advisor and speechwriter - but she will no longer serve constantly at his side. She will return regularly to Washington to advise the president and will be in touch constantly by phone.

A few editorials lauded Hughes’ family-centric decision, but Washington insiders openly wondered if there were not other reasons. Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, insisted that Hughes had not quit working: “The fact is Karen is going to continue working, just in a different location for the president. We keep pushing people back into the old boxes - work or family, all or nothing. But none of us really fit that anymore.” Kay Koplovitz, a prominent author, also rose to her defense: “Every time there is someone this visible who makes such a decision it’s a big stir mostly because people still don’t trust that women can stay in these positions, but trust me, we will hear more from Karen. She’s very strong, so don’t be surprised if she does something else important.”

Mary Matalin, an advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, said, “Karen didn’t care about the power and access thing that is so big in the Washington culture. The only thing she liked about her job was [writing] the speeches, the big projects and advising [Bush]. She’ll keep doing all that. What she didn’t like was all the Kabuki dancing in the White House, all of which ate away at her time with her family. And that’s over.”

The president gave her the biggest endorsement yet, saying, “Karen Hughes will be changing her address, but she will still be in my inner circle.”

The story of Deborah is not a forum or statement on biblical equality, a proof-text for and a biblical defense of feminism in the Bible, or a theological treatise on the role of women in the church or pastoral ministry. It was about a woman who used her testimony, gifts and skills faithfully and selflessly dedicated more than forty years of her life in consistent service to God (Judg 5:31), her country and her people. Unrest, oppression, and suffering were at its peak when Deborah arrived on the scene. The suffering of the Israelites in chapter 4 bore resemblance to the suffering in Egypt, a situation unheard of when the first two judges, Othniel and Ehud (Judg 3), were around.

What good is a woman in a male-dominated society and ministry? What role has a godly woman today? How can a woman excel in service to God?

Be Firm in Service

4 Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided. (Judg 4:4-5)

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