Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. I did not marry a weak, superficial woman. I am not raising my daughters to be weak, superficial women.
And I do not want this church to create them either. Yes, we are here to help you ladies be better wives and mothers if that is a role that God has given to you. But we are also passionate to see those of you whom God has called to be leaders become those leaders. The Summit Life with pastor, author and theologian J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Bedovich.
We're so glad that you're back with us today. Pastor J.D. is passionate about introducing people to the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially in passages like the one that we're looking at today. We're in the Book of Judges and our teaching series is called Broken Saviors. When God inspires a woman to step forward and give leadership and ministry, how can the church help her become all God intended? This is a hot topic today, and Pastor J.D. 's response is informed by a fascinating story in the Book of Judges. If you'd like to follow along with the transcript of each message, you can find them free of charge at jdgreer.com. Now let's get started with today's message titled Calling All Leaders, Both Male and Female. Here's J.D.
in 2009. We finally squeaked in a little boy right at the buzzer. You guys can pray for Adam, my son.
In some ways, I feel like the deck is really stacked against him. He has four moms instead of one who dress him up like a princess and carry him around our house. He is a pastor's kid, and then on top of all that, he shares a birthday with Jesus. So I feel like he's got a lot to overcome in his life. Pretty late in developing his speaking and his walking abilities, at least relatively late compared to our daughters. People a lot of times will ask me why I think that was.
It is very simply, there was no reason at all for him to do any of those things himself for the first four years. Everywhere he wanted to go, one of his four moms carried him around, and between them, enough words transpire in our house that neither Adam nor I feel like we have a lot to add. But anyway, that is the world that I live in, and I share that because this passage in the Book of Judges today has very special significance for me as a dad of three very smart, very, shall we say, high school high-spirited daughters. This passage speaks to what I hope for them, what I dream for them, what I pray over them. It is the story of Deborah, the only female judge.
Now guys, do not zone out because I'm telling you there is plenty in here that you can learn from too. So if you have a Bible, Judges chapter four is where we are going to be. Judges chapter four and five, we're gonna look at the story of Deborah and Barak. Deborah and Barak.
Judges 4, one, the story begins. When the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that left-handed Ahud was dead. Remember, left-handed Ahud was the southpaw savior we looked at a couple weeks ago that delivered Israel. Well, as long as he was alive for 80 years, the people followed God, but when he died, they wandered back into their ways, and so the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin, the king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. I told you the first week that chariots of iron in those days were like the tanks of modern day. You know, it's like the Panzer tanks, and so they could mow down hundreds of foot soldiers. Israel didn't have any of them.
And so, Sisera has a decided tactical advantage over Israel, so he cruelly oppresses the Israelites for 20 years. The Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. You know, is it a gold and white dress, or is it a blue and black dress?
They would ask her questions like that. Just out of curiosity, how many of you gold and white? Just raise your hand. How many of you blue and black?
You guys are crazy. I wore a gold shirt just in honor of it this weekend, but she settled things like that for them, and so she sent for Barak and said to him, the Lord, Barak, the God of Israel, commands you, go and take with you 10,000 men, and I will lead Sisera into your hands. Barak said to her, if you go with me, I'll go, but if you don't go with me, I won't go. So, Deborah responds, and you've got to read in this a very deep sigh, certainly I will go with you, but because of the course you were taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman. Now, Hebrew the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, and they pitched his tent up by the oak in Zananim, which is near Kadesh.
That seems like a random detail that came out of nowhere, right? We're talking about Deborah and Barak in an imminent battle, and now, all of a sudden, we learn about this guy named Hebrew, who can't get along with the other Kenites, and so he takes his trailer with his wife, and he moves out to the desert, but it's not a random detail at all, as I will show you. So, meanwhile, back at the palace, verse 12, Deborah directs Barak and the army down to a region at the base of Mount Tabor.
It's a river basin, which is another important detail I'll show you in a moment. Verse 14, then Deborah said to Barak, go, this is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands, as not the Lord and God ahead of you. And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot. We're gonna find out in chapter five that the reason Sisera had to flee on foot was a sudden rainstorm had come, and the river flooded, so Sisera's 900 chariots of iron got stuck.
Now, what is remarkable about that is all this took place during the dry season, when it never rained. Had there been any chance at all of rain, Sisera would never have taken his 900 chariots of iron. It's down into a river basin, so what you see is that God sends, essentially, a snow in July, is how it would be for us, and in a matter of just moments, he, with a little moisture, takes Sisera's huge tactical advantage and turns it into a liability. So, Sisera is now running on foot and with his 900 chariots behind him, and he comes, verse 17, to the chin of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.
Remember them? Sisera would never have run anywhere near an Israelite city, so now he's running out to the wilderness, and there you have, you know, Heber, the guy that can't get along with the other Kenites, and his wife that have pitched their trailer out there, you know, all by themselves. Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, come, my lord.
Come in, right in, don't be afraid. So he entered her tin, and she covered him with a blanket. I'm thirsty, he said.
Please give me some water. She didn't give him water. She opened up a skin of milk, and she gave him a drink and covered him up there, there.
Big warrior man needs a little nap, doesn't he? She starts to sing him a little lullaby, and he drifts off to sleep, verse 21. Then Jael, Heber's wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep. She drove the peg through his temple and to the ground, and he died. I'm not sure that last sentence was necessary, to be honest with you, but you didn't see that one coming, did you? If you don't know this story, neither did he.
That was kind of the point. She walked outside and said, nailed it, and that's the end. Now, you read that, and you say, what a smashing salvation story.
But what is there that we can learn from it? I know some of you say, that seems really violent. Stories like this and judges are violent. I don't understand it. I'll come back to that toward the end.
But here's the question. What piercing truths can we learn from Deborah, Barak, and Jael? Let me give you five of them, okay?
The first one is the longest. Number one, God gives to women the same spiritual gifts He gives to men. That's one of the things you can learn from that story. You see, this story, as much as perhaps any in the Bible, gives you a glimpse into the role that God has for women in His kingdom. Deborah is called a prophet. She is a wise and respected leader in Israel. Some people have said that the only reason that Deborah was a prophet is because there were no men around to lead, which somehow indicates the moral degradation of Israel.
But there is nothing in this passage that would indicate that. It's true that you see Barak demur or waver in his faith. But even before that, Deborah was an established leader and teacher in Israel.
She's not there because Barak has failed. She is there because she is wise, and the Spirit of God has anointed her and set her up to be a leader, which leads me to emphasize something we believe very strongly here at the Summit Church, and that is that women have access to every spiritual gift that men have access to. You see, there is a myth alive in certain parts of the church that men in the church ought to be taught deep, rich theology, and men ought to learn how to match their curtains with the pillows on their couch or how not to feel sad on rainy days. I saw one Christian author point out that any time you go to a Christian women's conference and they teach out of the book of Ephesians, the only part they ever focus on is Ephesians 5, where Paul talks about how wives are to relate to their husbands, as if the rest of the book is written for men and just that one chapter is written for women. The entire book of Ephesians, and the whole Bible for that matter, is written to women, and you women need to learn all of it. I did not marry a weak, superficial woman. I am not raising my daughters to be weak, superficial women, and I do not want this church to create them either.
So our ministry here at the Summit Church aims, yes, we are here to help you ladies be better wives and mothers if that is a role that God has given to you, but we are also passionate to see those of you whom God has called to be leaders become those leaders. Now, having said that, in both the Old and New Testaments, God establishes certain positions that he wants only men to play, and others that he wants only women to play. In the Old Testament, for example, women could not be priests. Or you see right here in this story that Deborah won't lead the army. When Barak demurs, she doesn't say, well, I'll do it. No, she encourages him. Or did you notice that when she is introduced in chapter 4, she's identified as the wife of Lapidoth. You see, the writer never does that for the men. The writer never says Joshua, the husband of Kim, or Barak, the husband of Michelle, just to pick a random name there. That is a Hebrew way, when he does that, of indicating that she has an identity in a home led by her husband.
Even though she is the most important person in all of Israel, arguably the wisest and the best leader, she has identified herself in a home led by her husband because that is a role that God has given him to play. In the New Testament, Paul says very clearly in 1 Timothy 2 and 3 that women should not serve in the role of pastor, elder at the church, but that does not prohibit them from leading in other spheres or from exercising all the same spiritual gifts that men have, including leadership and teaching, just not in the capacity of pastor, elders. There's a really controversial statement in Paul's letter to Timothy, chapter 2, verse 12, where Paul says, in a church, a woman should learn with all submissiveness. And we read that and we say, well, what does that mean? Well, let me tell you what it can't mean. It can't mean that women do not speak prophetically in the church or teach or even teach mixed audiences.
Here's how I know that. We see them doing that all through the New Testament. They're called prophetesses, they're all deaconess.
Priscilla, in Acts 18, is said to be the tutor of the great preacher, Apollos. Paul tells you exactly what he means by that statement in the next couple verses. Unfortunately, in the English Bible, there's a break between 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Timothy 3 that somehow mask for us, or usually mask, the flow of thought. Paul tells you exactly what he means by that statement in chapter 3 when he says, right after that, that women are not to be the ruling elders in the church.
That's all that he means. Of course they teach, of course they prophesy, of course they explain the Bible. We see that happening all through the New Testament, just not in the capacity of pastor or elders. Tim Keller says it this way, God forbids one kind of role in the church to women.
As he did in Israel. We must not jump from that to forbidding all teaching and tasks to women. And we shouldn't assert all sorts of specific tasks are off limits to women. For example, working outside the home or teaching males over 12 or speaking in the front of church services. It is better to say that everything a man who isn't an elder can do, a woman can do also. We'll get right back to our teaching in just a moment here on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. You know, one way you can be sure to continually see God's word saturating your life is to participate in our daily email devotional from Pastor J.D. Couldn't we all use encouragement first thing in the morning to remind us of God's love? The best part is that it follows along with our teaching here on the program so you can dive deeper into all that we're learning and share it with others. Sign up for this free resource at jdgreer.com slash resources.
That's jdgreer.com slash resources. Now let's return for the conclusion of today's message. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. You see, there's been a false dichotomy put forward in the church. On one side you say, well, either you believe there is no distinction of roles at all or the other side you believe women can only serve in some kind of diminutive role because women don't have the capacity to lead. We need to reject that dichotomy at this church and instead adopt what the Bible puts forward as our standard. Women are equals without being equivalents. The Bible teaches equality of position, equality of gifting, but with distinctive roles to play in the family and in the church. So specifically to the women of the Summit Church, I want to say three things. Number one, God has a calling on your life. Yours is not simply to sit on the sidelines and make coffee and have kids. Do you know what that calling is? Have you risen up to obey it? Like Deborah, you need to get into the fight and not just sit on the sidelines and cheer for the men. Number two, you are a leader with spiritual authority. I know a lot of women who are entirely too dependent on their husbands who never take spiritual responsibility. That's not what you see in Deborah.
Here you see a leader of the highest caliber. She is the wisest and most courageous person in all of Israel. Number three, you can do all of this while respecting God's order, as you see Deborah do here. She refuses to take positions that God had assigned to men and she identified herself in a house headed by her husband. You see, we need to reject both sides of the dichotomy that God doesn't give the women the same gifts he gives to men or that there's no distinction of roles in the church.
I mentioned that I have three daughters. One of the things I pray for them, literally, is that they will become Deborahs. That is literally how I have it written down in my prayer journal. I pray over Charis, Ali, and Riah that God will raise them up to become Deborahs because we need a lot more Deborahs in this church and in the kingdom of God. We need Deborahs in the home speaking courage into their children and their husbands. We need Deborahs in ministry that are calling us to give and pray and go and sacrifice and get in the fight and leading us in that. I thought of a dozen women at our church I could use to illustrate, but I chose two because I didn't have time to get either of their permission so these are the two that I knew that I could just do it and they would just go along with it.
One is Jamie Warren who is sitting right here in front of me. She leads my personal prayer team at this church and she helps lead our prison ministry. I thought of Bonnie Shrum who is now on our staff.
She was a corporate executive at a very high position, a vice president at a large corporation around here who resigned that and came to help organize and lead in our missions ministries here at the Summit Church. I did not get their permission, but I figured if Barack could shove Deborah into battle I could bring these ladies forward and at least use their names and they wouldn't complain about it. We need more Deborahs in society who rule and lead and teach with wisdom and courage and faith. Man, let me say to you, maybe you're married to a Deborah. Maybe you're married. Maybe you're Lapidoth.
You need to platform her like Lapidoth did. He's kind of the unsung hero in this story. He gets one mention, but because he did what he did, he allowed her to bless Israel the way that she did. Maybe you're married to a Lapidoth and that's the way that you're going to serve the kingdom of God. Cindy Peterson, who leads our women's ministries here, told me just this week, she said, you know, two years ago when I came on staff here at the Summit Church to lead the women's ministry, she says, I never told you this, but I had actually made up my mind to say no. I just felt like there was so much going on in our family and our lives and John's life and ministry that I just felt like I couldn't. She said, my husband, John, sat me down and said, one day I have to stand before God and I have to answer for how we stewarded these leadership and teaching gifts that God gave you. Cindy, do not make me stand before God and have to explain why you sat on the sidelines and I did not give you the ability to bless the Summit Church the way that God has gifted you to bless the Summit Church.
There are men of you that are married to this kind of woman and you need to platform her and you need to be behind her and you need to release her. That is lesson number one. God gives to women every spiritual gift that he gives to men. There's more though.
That's just rule number one, but I told you it's the longest. The others are in the next chapter, chapter five, because Deborah writes a song and in that song are four important lessons for both men and women. By the way, if you happen to be one of those people who feel like women should never teach you in church, you should probably excuse yourself during this section because this entire chapter is written by a woman and so you might have a conflict of conscience or you could just change your mind and quit being an idiot. Number two, when the leaders lead, when the leaders lead, the people praise the Lord.
That's the first thing she says. Chapter five, verse one, Deborah says, when the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves, praise the Lord. My heart is with the willing volunteers among the people. Then in verse 13, she begins to list out the various tribes of Israel and she talks about which ones joined the fight and which ones did not. For example, verse 14, from Ephraim they came to help. Verse 15, the Issachar faithful followed us in the battle. Verse 18, the people from Zebulun, anybody here from Zebulun, risked their very lives.
Verse 17, however, Gilead remained in Jordan and Dan, oh, Dan, Dan lingered with the ships. Blessed are the ones, she said, who step forward in faith to fight. Now, you could apply this to both men and women, but specifically she talks about the men because princes, not princes, but princes is male. She's saying when the leaders lead, when the princes lead, then the people praise the Lord. So let me direct this point specifically toward the men.
We have a lot of men hanging back by the ships that ought to be out in the fight. You see, there's one way of reading Genesis 3, the story of the original sin, in which you see the original sin as beginning with passivity on the part of the man and refusing to take the lead. God had given the man instructions that they were to eat of every tree except for this one. And when Genesis 3 opens up, you see the serpent having a conversation with Eve. And we are tempted to think that Adam was somewhere, you know, raising crops or doing his quiet time or something, and here's Eve out talking with the snake. But the way it's written, it doesn't really come clear in English, but in Hebrew, it says that Adam was with her when this conversation was happening, and with her means he was standing right beside her. So he's watching this thing go down, he's letting the serpent have this conversation with Eve. He knows that God has said, the day that you eat of it, you will surely die. So he's going to let her take the first bite like a crash test dummy and be like, I wonder if she's going to drop dead.
Oh, if she didn't, no, I'll take some. So the first, the original sin, there's one way of reading it where you could say, before there was a sin where anybody actually did anything wrong, there was a failure of the man to do anything, period. The temptation of man, the great temptation of man is not that you do something evil. The greatest temptation of man is that you do nothing.
Even Barak here demurs at first and won't go without her. The great temptation of man is not to do evil, it's to do nothing. The same is true today. We've got a lot of guys who are not bad guys. They're just hanging back by the ships when they ought to be out leading in the fight.
You want a great example of this? The International Mission Board, whom we send most of our missionaries through, says that for the last five years in a row, when you look at the places in the world that are the hardest to reach, the places where it's the most dangerous to spread the gospel, women applicants to those places, serve in those places, outnumber the men four to one. Praise God for the women that are stepping forward to do that.
Where are the guys that are hanging back by the ships who ought to be out leading in the fight? It is when the princes lead that we praise the Lord, Deborah says. Men, God has given you a crucial role to play that cannot be replicated by anybody else. And if your family is going to praise the Lord, it's going to be because you step forward to lead. Every sociological study of its type done points to the fact that the leadership of the Father is the greatest determining factor in how the kids turn out.
For instance, one study that I have right here in front of me, and I've shared it with you before, says this. If a child in a family is the first one to come to faith in Christ in that family, there is a 3.5% chance that everybody else in the family will become Christian. If the mother is the first one to come to faith in Christ in a family, there is a 17% chance that everyone else in the family will become Christian.
If the Father is the first one to come to faith in Christ, there is a 93% chance that everyone else in the family will come to faith. It is when the princes lead, she says, that we praise the Lord. When the princes advocate their duties, the people suffer. Sitting on the sidelines not only robs you of reward, it puts you under a curse. You active in the kingdom of God with your time? You leverage your talents to be of use in the kingdom of God? How about your treasures and your resources? How much of your resources, how many are engaged in the expanse of God's kingdom? You wanna know the difference between a budget that God blesses and one that God does not? Has a lot to do with how much of what God has given you is engaged in the expanse of God's kingdom. Do not tell yourself that you're okay as long as you're not committing crimes and as long as you are somewhat regular at a church attendance. You see, there's more than one way in God's eyes to be wicked.
Wickedness can come from what you do, but wickedness can just as easily come from what you fail to do. Although Pastor J.D. Greer has directly addressed his congregation at the Summit Church, these principles in Judges four and five apply to any church, yours included. You're listening to Summit Life, where the gospel of Jesus Christ is our central focus. Today's message is titled, Calling All Leaders, Both Male and Female, and there's much more to learn from this passage.
To listen to this program again or to dig in deeper on your own, check out the helpful resources at jdgreer.com. Pastor J.D., we all have so many questions about life, about the Bible, about how to live in today's world, and in our newest resources, you answer some of these questions that keep us up at night, right? Yeah, sometimes we got big questions and we need to know how to give answers. Peter tells us that, be ready to give an answer when we get asked a lot of these questions. And so we've created this new resource that will help you answer some of the more challenging ethical or theological questions that you get asked by your kids, by your neighbors, or maybe things that just come up out of your own heart. If a couple of examples are like, when is it okay to get divorced?
And is there such a thing as unanswered prayer? Now you might remember volume one of this book, also called Honest Questions, Quick Answers. Now that's volume one and this is volume two. If you'll indicate that you want also volume one, it'll give you instructions about how you could get ahold of that first volume as well. Just go right now to jdgreer.com to reserve a copy of one or both volumes today. When you give to support Summit Life with a gift of $35 or more, we'll say thanks by sending you the brand new resource we put together. It's a book that has 16 quick answers from Pastor J.D.
to your tough questions like he was just telling us about. Give online and request your copy at jdgreer.com or call us at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Come back at the same time tomorrow when Pastor J.D. Greer continues this teaching series called Broken Saviors, right here on Summit Life. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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