If you’re spending December with me, you know we’re on an Advent journey. It’s not like the typical Advent posts I’ve written in the past, this year we’re focusing on women who served an important role in God’s redemption plan.
Closer to Christmas we’ll study Mary, the mother of Jesus, who, early in her pregnancy was greeted by her cousin Elizabeth with this significant word of high praise:
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
Today and tomorrow we’ll discover the only other woman in Scripture who had that kind of blessing poured out on her:
“Most blessed of women is Jael . . .”
With this kind of blessing, you might think she was the mother of a great prophet?
Or perhaps she was a faithful martyr?
Jael was an obscure woman in Scripture and when you hear what she is being praised for (unless you’re familiar with the story) you might be a little surprised. To give us some context for understanding this celebration, I want to lay out an important, but difficult principle:
God is good when He is merciful.
God is good when He brings judgment.
God knows what He is doing.
In Judges 5, when we hear Jael being praised, it’s in the middle of a major victory celebration. It will be difficult to understand why Jael’s actions are so admirable unless we get a handle on the nature of righteous judgment and honorable victories. Sometimes we get confused on that stuff in today’s “politically correct” culture.
As an example of this principle, it would be helpful to read all of Psalm 98, but let me pull just a few verses from it:
[box]Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth;
Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises . . .
Let the sea roar and all it contains,
The world and those who dwell in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy
Before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth;
He will judge the world with righteousness
And the peoples with equity. (Ps. 98:4, 7–9)[/box]
What we have going on here in Psalm 98 is a big praise celebration! If you read the entire Psalm you’ll see that God is calling for singing, clapping, shouting, and lots of music. We’ve got a band playing and creation joining in with a raucous expression of praise.
What is going on? Why all the celebration?
Verse one tells us it’s a “victory” celebration.
In order to have a “victory” you need to overcome something or someone, victory can’t happen without an opponent being defeated.
Do you have a problem with evil being annihilated?
I’m not saying I’m the one to make the judgment call on what is evil.
And I’m not the one who is in the position of determining annihilation.
God has every right to exterminate evil and it’s His call on when and how it’s done. And when He executes judgment, it’s a good thing.
The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes we read Scripture, and when we get to the messy parts (like Tamar’s story) or the gory places (like Jael’s story), we get uncomfortable. Some people claim they don’t like the “God of the Old Testament” as though He’s a different entity than the “God of the New Testament” as expressed through the humble and gentle Savior.
Those who take issue with the “Old Testament God” may not realize that the humble and gentle Savior, who came as a helpless babe, is returning as a victorious warrior who will judge all mankind.
And that will not be pretty.
On the second day of our Advent journey, we started in Genesis with the first hint of the Redeemer, the Dayspring, who would come to bring deliverance from the bondage of sin and guide our feet into the way of peace. But even with the promise of peace came the prophecy of conflict and victory.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
Although it was foretold that Satan would “bruise him on the heel” (a veiled reference to the cross) Christ will one day crush the serpent with a fatal blow. What a violent prophecy of the babe in the manger!
This babe’s birth brought a battle cry in the heavenlies that rocked the enemy’s realm with tremors. Jesus’ entrance was announced by hosts of angels issuing praise—the enemy’s domain was now threatened by the presence of their Lord.
The Heavenly Host knew this babe’s birth signaled Satan’s end.
The angels shouted “Peace on earth!” but they knew that peace could only come through the victory secured by this Babe’s death and resurrection. You talk about a raucous victory celebration—I would’ve loved to have been there that “silent night” to have heard the noise!
This babe was born to die. But through His death He conquered the power of the enemy. He came to establish peace, but peace purchased at great cost—His precious blood.
There is no clearer picture of righteous judgment, and no clearer picture of mercy, than what we see occur at the cross. God is just in pouring out His wrath on sin—but the sinless Son (God in flesh) is receiving the penalty, not for His sin, but for our sin.
That is amazing mercy and grace!
If we ever struggle with the justice of God, we will find our confusion settled by looking at the supreme work of justice and mercy found at the cross.
One day He’ll return wearing a robe stained from that precious blood, when He wages war at His final Advent, in battle apparel as our warrior King.
I look forward to that victory celebration!
[box]And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Psalm 19:11–16)[/box]
Tomorrow, we’ll continue with Jael’s story. As we discover why Jael was heralded for her actions and showered with blessing, I hope you will keep in mind that God is righteous as the Judge over the affairs of mankind.
Join me in a raucous celebration of praise for this coming King?
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