A Mother in Israel

I raise the question – How many mothers in Israel are there? I even said, ‘Are there any left?’

DeborahLast week we attended the burial of a dear sister.  For many years she had been in our gathering, and was indeed the mother, grandmother or great-grandmother of several in our company.  A couple of years ago she moved to be close to one of her daughters, so we had to travel to Scotland to be at the occasion.  I will not give her name: she would not have Many who know me personally know who I am referring to.

Like the prophetess Deborah, she was a mother in Israel.  For me she was one to whom you could go with any problem.  If you needed some advice, she had it – and if she had a word from the Lord for you, she gave it.  She was not afraid to speak her mind.  We missed her, but she was always available by phone.  Now she is not: she is with Christ which is far better.

Deborah was a leader, a judge. That would not have been normal.  You would have expected a man to hold that position.  Perhaps there was not a man in Israel who had the qualifications.  There was Barak, but he lacked faith and was timid.  She encouraged him, and there was a victory.

I raise the question – How many mothers in Israel are there?  I even said, ‘Are there any left?’  Maybe that is lack of faith on my part.  Maybe part of the reason is that her generation had to face the hardships of the second world war.  Those of us who were born at the end of the war or afterwards did not, and really we have had things pretty easy.

This is a greatly needed service.  Paul talked about being a nursing mother, normally a service for a sister.  Gifted brothers have the public services of preaching the gospel and serving in ministry.  Prophecy, or the ability to bring God’s mind into a situation, is a gift, open to all.  But it has a particular effect when vested in a sister.  She does not give a word publicly, but gets near, like a mother, one-to-one.  Indeed it is a greater gift according to 1 Cor 14:5.

May there be more mothers in Israel.



December 2015



The Irrationalism of Infidelity – Deborah praises Jael’s Atrocities

The prophetess Deborah, in an inspired psalm, pronounces Jael to be blessed above women, and glorifies her act by an elaborate description of its atrocities.

The Song of Deborah

(Click on link above for original)Jael and Sisera - Deborah's Song

Objection:  The prophetess Deborah, in an inspired psalm, pronounces Jael to be blessed above women, and glorifies her act by an elaborate description of its atrocities.

Answer:  Scripture is inspired by God.  God gives His mind on any particular subject to anyone spiritually capable of understanding it.

However, just because scripture provides a record of peoples’ words, that does not mean that what they said was inspired.   We have Satan’s words, wicked men’s words, and human accounts of various facts, recorded by inspiration, but not themselves inspired.    Scripture gives us a picture of what man, and particularly Israel, is.  It does it, not just by dogmatic statements, but by giving us a historical development of what man has does and felt in various circumstances.  If the Bible had merely given us God’s judgment, we never should have had the testimony to our consciences that we have.  Scripture affords us man’s actual history under the various dispensations of God.   We get an inspired testimony of what God’s mind is, adapted in grace to our consciences.  A gracious father speaks to his child according to what suits the child, yet always in a way worthy of himself.  That is how God has dealt with Israel and all men. How else could He have done so?

In the Old Testament we have a perfect, divinely-given picture of man, in various relationships with a gracious God.  His whole condition is brought out, so that by a divinely given history, we might know ourselves, and at the same time appreciate the whole course of God’s dealings with man.  Ultimately, in perfection God Himself is manifested in Christ in supreme grace.  Man and God get into a relationship according to the security of His nature, and the perfectness of His love.  When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom. 5:6).

We should not have the knowledge either of man or God, and His wondrous, perfect and patient ways, if we had not seen men presented at exactly as they were.  A statement of morality by God would, no doubt, have shown what man ought to be.  We have that in the law.  But that would not have shown us what man is.

People who were used to communicate things, such as Deborah, were pious and animated in their hearts by God’s Spirit.  In their dispensations, they were just not as instructed, as we have been in ours.  

Deborah’s song is not a communication of God’s thoughts, but of Deborah’s feelings.  Doubtless, her heart was moved by the Spirit in thankfulness for the deliverance of God’s beloved people, but there is no sign of its being a communication from God to His people.  It was consistent with the light she possessed, and coloured by the general condition of the people.  Like Hannah, she appreciates God Himself known in mercy to His people.  The song does not rise above the measure of Israel’s blessing.  Things were to be extended under David, Solomon and the prophets. 

The Old Testament is a spiritual instruction for us, so that we can know God, and His perfect ways, more fully.   I may know some scientific facts, and rely on these but I have the perfection of Christ to judge by.  To use the Word rightly depends on my spiritual progress and moral state.  This is exactly as it ought to be.

We are tempted to judge things from the standpoint of a clearer revelation.  I may pass a moral judgment on many things in the Old Testament, because God has given me the true light, and the darkness is now passed.  He who is light, has given me the light to judge these things.   Christ has given the perfect key by which to judge of it all.