Joshua 5:4 “LORD, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens poured, the clouds indeed poured water. 5 The mountains quaked before the LORD, the One of Sinai, before the LORD, the God of Israel. 6 “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, caravans ceased and travelers kept to the byways. 7 The peasantry prospered in Israel, they grew fat on plunder, because you arose, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel. 8 When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel? 9 My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the LORD.
Here the writer praises God for victory, and for raising up a woman (Deborah) to lead the people of Israel. She is described as “a mother in Israel”. As one of the twelve judges of Israel in the time before kings, following in the footsteps of Moses, she was the final arbiter for the entire nation. The spirit of the living God rested with her.
I know there are lots of Christians across the globe who believe women should not serve in senior leadership roles in the church, particularly as clergy. This is less so in the United States, but is still current practice in denominations such as Southern Baptists, Roman Catholics, and others. And I know the writings of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament support the notion of male-only senior leadership. While I don’t agree with my fellow Christians in this matter, I respect them as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
That said, it’s worth noting that, while Paul was opposed to women as senior leaders, it is obvious that God the Father was not – for it was God who raised up Deborah as judge over all Israel. I don’t believe God gave such incredible leadership gifts to people who were not expected to use those gifts at the highest levels.
Lord, today I give you thanks for the multitude of capable women who lead in every capacity. They are gift to us and to you. Continue to raise up leaders, women and men, to serve your purposes in the world. Amen.