Jael

Judges 4:17-24

17 Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. 19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up. 20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’”

21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. 22 Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead. 23 On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites. 24 And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him.

Lord Bless Us!

It is normal to pray for blessing. What is God’s blessing? Anything from God that brings us supreme happiness is blessing.  How do we get His blessing specifically for us?

God’s commands are avenues for His blessings. When we trust that God blesses us through His commands, we obey. God’s blessing gives us amazing gladness. When God approves our obedience, His Holy Spirit fills us with supreme gladness, we call joy.

When the Lord told Barak to lead the Israelites, he hesitated. He may believe God but doubted that Prophet Deborah was God’s messenger. Barak wanted to be sure that it was really God who ordered him to lead Israel to battle. He demanded that Deborah should join him if she was telling the truth. Prophet Deborah obliged but she declared in Judges 4:9, “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.”

Subsequently, Barak destroyed the army of Sisera just as God said but Sisera has escaped. While his army retreated to the west from Kishon River, Sisera fled on foot going north. He sought refuge in the tent of Heber the Kenite. We read in Judges 4:11, 11 Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law, and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.

Kedesh in Naphtali where Heber lived was located approximately 15 kilometres north of Hazor. Hazor was the city where King Jabin lived. Jabin was king of Canaan, who oppressed the Israelites, and Heber the Kenite allied himself to King Jabin.

1. Allied

17 Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. 19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up. 20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’”

Is it amusing that Sisera did not seek refuge in the city of Hazor where King Jabin lived? He did not ask help from King Jabin, why? Why did he seek refuge in the tent of Heber? Sisera did not know that Heber had special connection with Israel. The Kenites were Hobab’s descendants. Hobab was Moses’ brother-in-law. As Israel’s scout, Hobab led Israel where to camp in the wilderness, and Moses promised him to be treated well.

Heber the Kenite became friend of King Jabin. So, being the commander of Jabin’s army, Sisera and Heber might have acquainted with each other. It’s possible that Sisera accompanied King Jabin each time he visited Heber at Kedesh. He knew Heber’s place. He may have enjoyed the hospitality of Heber’s wife, Jael. Such acquaintances of Sisera with Heber may have given him confidence to seek refuge in Heber’s tent.

Sisera did not hesitate when Jael invited him inside their tent and gave him milk. He had no suspicion of Jael’s plan. He trusted that Heber’s friendship with King Jabin was enough to guarantee his safety. Sisera’s defeat was declared by Prophet Deborah.

Was it God’s design for Heber to forge friendship with King Jabin? Was it God’s design that his wife, Jael would spontaneously did what she did? Can you identify with the vulnerability of Sisera? We are also vulnerable, careless and naïve sometimes.

White Blood Cell

With carelessness, we can catch infectious disease. God knows our vulnerability. When God created us He also gave us White Blood Cell (WBC). White blood cells are components of blood that defend the body against infection and disease. They ingest foreign materials and cellular debris. They destroy infectious agents and cancer cells. They produce antibodies to protect us from virus.

Interestingly, white blood cells can detect when foreign objects intrude or disturb the normal function of our physical body. How can such physical function be applied spiritually? If infectious disease attacks physical body, are there spiritual infectious diseases that possible attack the body of Christ? The church is the body of Christ.

It says in 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 

The church is compared to physical body. God gave different spiritual gift to His church just as He created different parts of our physical body. The church is healthy when spiritual gifts function well just as our body is healthy if each body part functions well.

Did the Lord give His body—the church spiritual White Blood Cell to defend parts of the body of Christ or church members from spiritual infectious diseases or intruders?

By faith in Christ, the Lord keeps us safe and secure. It says in Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Every believer in the church has been given different functions. When we are spiritually healthy, each part functions instinctively according to the spiritual gifts we received. When the church is healthy, each believer functions spontaneously in coordination with other part of the body. God will mobilize spiritual WBC if needed.

God’s work in the life of the Israelites is a practical illustration and similarity of how God works in our individual and church life as believers. By faith, we believe that it was part of God’s plan when Jael acted spontaneously after Sisera went to sleep?

2. Asleep

21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.

22 Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead. 23 On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites. 24 And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him.

The Lord declared through Deborah that a woman would destroy Sisera, and it happened. Did Jael hear Deborah’s declaration that a woman will have the honor to defeat Sisera? Did Heber the Kenite instruct his wife what to do? Where was Heber at that time? Heber’s friendship with King Jabin may have put him in a dilemma whether to support King Jabin or not. But Jael, his wife acted according to her conviction.

In Jewish culture, women were not fairly entrusted any significant authority in the society. It’s an isolated case that Deborah became Judge of Israel. This proves that God would mobilize those who are not significant in the society to accomplish His purposes.

Jael did not hesitate to do what she thought was favorable to the Israelites.

The Lord declared about Israel in Numbers 24:9, 9May those who bless you be blessed.

Jael must have been very glad. For sure, she was great God’s eyes because she is always mentioned in whenever Israel’s freedom from Canaanites oppression is told.

Jael’s story reminds us of a similar situation in the New Testament where a woman poured out an expensive perfume on the head of Jesus. What did Jesus promise?

Expensive Perfume

In Matthew 26:6-13, While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

           10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.

Christ desires us to offer our best. Expensive perfume signifies that the woman offered her best gift and the Lord appreciated. The disciples assumed that giving what’s best was waste of resources, why? They have not received the Holy Spirit yet at that time, and they did not know what Christ requires of His disciples. After they received the Holy Spirit, the same disciples were willing to give all they’ve got including their life.

Today, the Jewish people are at war with other hostile nations. God may not give us opportunity to bless God’s people the way Jael did but we can pray for their welfare.

Pray also to be filled with the Holy Spirit for you to have supreme gladness (we call joy) to serve God with the best you can give Him.

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