God is a feminist (Judges 4)

I made a vow to myself never to watch another movie where everyone is black.

Or, at least, I vowed to be more careful about it. Too many of the most recent Hollywood films featuring a majority black cast showcase racism as the main theme of the story. And I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of crying through a movie.

I’m sick of being retraumatized by depictions of the horrifying mistreatment my ancestors went through.

When will black movies just be stories, where people fall in love or fight crime or vanquish superheroes, without heavy racial subtext hanging over each scene?

I’m looking for something kind of like the Bible, believe it or not. Or at least Judges chapter 4.

It’s not about black people, but it is about a woman. It stands out and blends in all at the same time, and in doing so, reveals something very important about the God we serve.

Don’t be weird about it

It’s funny, even though the Israelites lived thousands of years before us, their society was only a bit more patriarchal than ours.

While men struck out and became educated and were trained to work, women stayed in the home. While men took positions and became authoritative leaders, women raised the future leaders. It was important work and grueling work, but it was also the only work most women could ever hope to do.

But suddenly, in the midst of this man’s world, a woman takes on the leadership of an entire nation.

And the Bible is so nonchalant about it!

It states the facts: “Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.” (verse 4) And then it just keeps going!

Deborah delivers God’s message, a command to fight their latest oppressor, to the leader of Israel’s army.

He begs her to go with him into battle and she takes her sweet time agreeing!

Then she prophecies the outcome of the battle.

And then at the battlefield, she gives the order to fight!

And the Bible just shrugs its shoulders and moves on!

It’s astonishing. It all happens so quickly and then suddenly it’s back to all-male leadership as usual for most of the rest of the Bible. It’s almost confusing!

But it’s also deeply refreshing.

Isn’t this the world we dream of? Where people of all genders and colors and orientations can lead, serve, be represented, and do what they love without it being “the first ever” or groundbreaking or unusual?

And here God is subtly telling us that He’s already there. Humans have been struggling with this for millennia, but God has never blinked an eye. Forget society – God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us.

And that is astonishing and wild and confusing, but also refreshing and comforting and beautiful.

“I want you to be brave and confident in Me.”

Imagine an army of ten thousand men, spread across a Palestinian hillside. And at the front is Barak, arms crossed, gazing anxiously at the enemy army lining up in the distance.

Next to him, Deborah. Her head held high. Her face calm. She sees his hesitation, his nerves.

“Go!” she yells. “This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” (verse 14)

She’s right, Barak realizes. He chooses faith. He takes a deep breath. He signals the army. They fight.

It’s an amazing scene. The whole story is even better. But the line that struck me is Deborah’s. It’s bold. It’s straightforward. There’s no hesitation, no shyness, no deference to anyone but God.

And it shows us just how confident we can be when we walk with Jesus by our side.

We can charge into the unknown, tell our fears to step aside, speak out against injustice, and even face the hardest moments of our lives with confidence and strength, not because of who we are, but because of who God is.

So let’s claim it. Let’s step out in faith in the God who sees and loves and wants each and every one of us, no matter who we are.

After all, hasn’t God prepared the way ahead of us?

What do you think? How does Deborah’s story inspire you?

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