"Spirit Of Deborah" - June 2012
At intercessory prayer group the other day we were discussing the tropical storm that was brewing in the Gulf-- tropical storm Debby. One of the ladies wondered what the name Deborah meant. As Christians we are suppose to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh. This means that we see things from a spiritual rather than a natural perspective. Therefore, we believe that many things that happen on earth are symbolic of what is happening in the spiritual realm and that they are closely related. The Lord often uses natural things to reveal and explain spiritual things. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
As intercessors we want to know what the plan, heart and mind of God is in matters that affect the church, nation and the world so that we can pray accordingly. We want to pray His will and purposes alone. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9,10) So we looked up the name Deborah in the Hebrew to see what it meant. We discovered that the name means- bee (like a honey bee). While looking in the Bible about the name Deborah, we discovered that there are only two women in the whole Bible who were named Deborah, and they are both in the Old Testament.
The first one mentioned was Deborah, the nurse of Isaac's wife Rebekah. “But Deborah, Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.” (Genesis 35:8) The second one was Deborah a prophetess who judged Israel. “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.” (Judges 4:4)
As the prayer group was discussing Deborah, we wondered if the Lord was saying He wanted to raise up a woman to help lead His people and the nation in the right direction. The more we prayed and sought Him, the more I believe that He wasn’t referring to one particular woman/person but more to a “spirit” that He wants to raise up in the church in these last days- the “spirit of Deborah”. By “spirit” I mean that He wants to raise up a certain attitude or disposition in the body of Christ. An attitude and disposition that has the characteristics of Deborah.
So what is this “spirit of Deborah”? To understand it a little clearer let’s look back at the two Deborahs in the Bible. As we do, keep in mind the meaning of the name-- bee. Just like a bee, the spirit of Deborah has a twofold characteristic. This spirit (attitude/disposition) will look like both even though both seem to be so totally opposite.
Let’s first look at Rebekah’s nurse Deborah. She is only mentioned twice in the Bible, and only once by name, but from those couple of verses we have no trouble knowing who she was and what she did. “And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men.” (Genesis 24:59) What do we know about this Deborah? We know that she had been with Rebekah when she was still in her father’s home. She went with Rebekah to meet Isaac and become his wife. Deborah would have been there helping Rebekah give birth to her two sons, Jacob and Esau. Then she would have helped nurture, raise, protect and care for these children. She was not just a servant in Isaac’s employment, but a very vital part of the family. She was Rebekah’s confidant. Perhaps Rebekah turned to her faithful nurse for loving support and words of wisdom during trying times-- perhaps even during the time when Jacob deceived his father Isaac and had to leave. She was an eyewitness to everything that went on in Isaac’s tent. We also know that she was dearly loved because when she died she was buried under an oak tree which they named Allonbachuth. Which means “oak of weeping”.
Now let’s look at the other Deborah- the prophetess judge. Her characteristics are so different from the first Deborah. She was not a nursemaid. She was a wife, mother, prophetess, judge, poetess, singer and political leader. There is so much you could say about her such as she was a woman of wisdom, she believed God, she had a keen sense of discernment, she was active in God’s service, fearless, courageous, uncompromising and a wonderful influence. These are definitely the types of attitudes (spirit) that we need in the church, but this isn’t what I am referring to when I talk about the “spirit of Deborah”. Let’s continue.
“And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles. And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.” (Judges 4:1-3) Deborah lived in a period of Israel’s history when the nation was oppressed by Canaanite rulers. Their oppression (bondage) was because of the spiritual decay that had corrupted the nation.
God was ready to show mercy to Israel and deliver them from Canaanite oppression and bondage. “And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.” (Judges 4:5-8) Deborah called for Barak and asked him why he had not obeyed the Lord. The Lord had already told him that He was going to deliver the captain of Jabin’s, the king of Canaan, army into his hands to defeat him. Barak was afraid to go unless Deborah went with him. She did and the Lord gave the Israelites victory. (Please take time to read Judges 4,5)
The first Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse had the characteristics of a caregiver, a nurturer, one who is loving, supportive, encouraging and serves out of devotion. She was there to help in the birthing process. The second Deborah, the prophetess and judge, was a warrior. She heard from God and helped deliver her people from bondage. Remember that their name means bee? A bee has two main characteristics. Out of a bee comes something sweet-- honey. Out of a bee also comes something powerful-- a sting. In the bee we see both characteristics that we see from both of these women exhibited. The honey- Deborah the nurturer; the one who brings something sweet, pleasant, comforting, satisfying and strengthening. The sting- Deborah the warrior, fighting for the faith, serving God without reservation, fear or compromise.
It is interesting that the name Deborah means bee, because that is a true symbol of what the “spirit of Deborah” is. Again, what is the “spirit of Deborah”? I believe the spirit of Deborah is the spirit of “unity”. Bees are classified as “families”. The body of Christ is considered a family-- the family of God. The first Deborah was part of the family of Isaac even though she was not so by birth. We become part of the family of God, not by natural birth, but through the “new birth”. Our relationship to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ is what unifies us with one another. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 3:7; 1:12)
Look with me again at the two Deborahs and we can see the “spirit of unity” at work in their lives. Bees work in unity. They have a common goal although they do not all have the same position. Their goal is to produce honey. Deborah, the nursemaid, was not the mother of the Esau and Jacob, but she shared the same goal as their mother-- she loved them, she helped nurture them, she protected them, she wiped their tears when they cried and corrected them when they were bad. Although she did not give birth to them, she was there helping in the delivery process- perhaps she was the midwife who delivered the babies. She was standing beside Rebekeah, holding her hand, supporting her during the process and I am sure she rejoiced with Rebekah at their birth as much as she would have had they been her own children. Deborah’s life was devoted to this family, and not her own desires.
The “spirit of Deborah” nurtures, encourages and helps you produce something “sweet” in your life. Something “sweet” that will benefit the Kingdom of God. What is that sweetness? It is the likeness of Christ formed in our lives. It is through us who are conformed to His image that others can “taste and see that the Lord is good”. “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalm 34:8) “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:15a) How is this a spirit of unity? This spirit doesn’t get jealous when someone else is blessed- jealousy brings disunity. It rejoices with those who rejoice and it weeps with those who weep. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Romans 12:15) It brings unity by helping others see their God-given purpose and fulfill it through loving instruction. It encourages and supports you in the plan of God for your life. It has a goal-- to see the “family” blessed and it works toward that goal, selflessly, keeping others in mind and putting them above their own selves. It knows what position it is in and it works within that position while working with others in another position to accomplish the task of helping expand the Kingdom of God.
The “spirit of Deborah” is also an uncompromising warrior spirit. How can this possibly be a spirit of unity? Look back at the story of Deborah the judge. When she sent for Barak, and discovered the reason for his disobedience- fear and unbelief- he said he would not go unless she went with him. She could have stayed where she was, after all, she was a judge and people were coming to her for guidance. She could have told him to stay there since he was a coward. But she didn’t, she didn’t leave him behind she went with him. Together they got the victory. “Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, raise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.” (Judges 5:1,2) Here is where we see the spirit of unity. Deborah went with Barak but she didn’t go as the leader of the army. She stayed in her position (a prophetess/judge) and Barka stayed in his (captain of the Israelite army), but they went together. They each did their God-given part working together for the same goal. Consider this, Barak is mentioned in the “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11) but Deborah isn’t. Because of Deborah, Barak had his name listed among those who were named as champions of the faith. If it had not been for Deborah, his name would not have been there. That’s what unity does. It works with and helps others accomplish God’s purpose. “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.” (Hebrews 11:32,33)
Both of our Deborahs were each called to come along beside someone else. They weren’t called to the same position as the one they helped but they were called to walk and work together with them to accomplish a task. We tend to think that just because we are all in the same “orchestra” unity means we are all playing the same note. It doesn’t. The Holy Spirit directed the writer of 1 Corinthians to describe unity through the example of the human body. “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-20) Each member is different- it has a specific role to perform- but they each work together for a common goal. When I am hungry the goal is to feed me, so my hand picks up a fork, my elbow bends to make it reach my mouth, my mouth opens to receive it, and my digestive track finishes the process of converting the food to nutritional properties my body needs to sustain life and health. If one part of my body is weak and can’t fulfill its part of the process, one of two things will happen. I could starve to death or one of the other members will come along to help it. I remember many years ago I hurt my shoulder. I couldn’t pick my arm up more than about an inch. In order to get my arm above my head to put my clothes on, my fingers would have to take over and “walk” up the wall to lift the arm. At other times, my opposite hand would have to reach over and lift it. My body was working in unity to do what needed to be done and they accomplished it by coming to the aid of my injured shoulder.
Another thing that I found interesting was in Judges 4:5- “And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.” In the Jewish Encyclopedia it is believed that the “palm tree of Deborah” was not named after Deborah the judge, or a landmark so that the people could find her for counsel, but instead was a reference to a historical site-- that site being where Deborah, the nursemaid, was buried. So we now see both Deborahs brought into the picture. If that is indeed true, then we need both characteristics to have the “spirit of Deborah”- the “spirit of unity”. In the Bible the Word of God is referred to as honey- sweet to the taste. It enlightens, comforts and instructs (nurtures). “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103) The word is also said to be a two-edged sword-- it cuts (it stings). “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) The bee represents both- sweetness and power. These Deborahs represent both- sweetness and power. The word of God represents both- sweetness and power. To have unity you have to have both-- instruction (the sweet part) and application (the power part). Deborah the nursemaid gave loving, nurturing instruction; Deborah the judge gave uncompromising, powerful, faith application of the word of God. We have already said that our unity comes through Christ- faith in Him brings us into the family of God- into unity. And He is the Living Word of God. Unity is sweet- “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for ever more.” (Psalm 133) Unity is powerful. “How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up?” (Deuteronomy 32:30) “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19)
True enough you will not find the “spirit of Deborah” mentioned in the Bible. Like I said earlier, it is an attitude or disposition that has the characteristics of unity that we have talked about. In the Book of Revelation another woman is mentioned in connection with the end times at the church of Thyatira. “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” (Revelation 2:18,20) While this seems to be a particular woman that is being referred to here, there is also the “spirit of Jezebel”. It is the attitude of seduction, deceit, domination, self-centeredness, self-seeking and rebellion. It causes disunity. It does not speak the truth, it does not hold up the true Word of God, it leads people away from the Lord instead of to Him. The “spirit of Jezebel” and the “spirit of Deborah” are not confined to women only, men can have these same attitudes. Sadly, we see more of the “spirit of Jezebel” in the church than we do the “spirit of Deborah”. I think that is a clear indication of where we are in history and on God’s time clock.
At the beginning I talked about how natural things help reveal spiritual things. The spiritual conclusion that I come up with from this natural occurrence associated with the tropical storm being named Deborah is that we need the “spirit of Deborah”- the spirit of unity- the blow across our land into every church. We need the “spirit of Deborah/unity” to start blowing down division and disunity. Blowing down discord and competition among believers. Blowing down the plans and programs of man. Blowing down intellect, which has replace anointing. Blowing downdenominational and racial barriers. .Blowing down false religion. Blowing out selfishness and self-centeredness. Blowing down respect of persons. And at the same time blowing in holiness. Blowing in God’s Word of Truth. Blowing in humility. Blowing in a hunger and thirst for this unity.
In the life of a bee, unity in the hive brings a fruitful harvest. There is also a blessing and harvest for us that is attached to unity. Deborah helped nurture Jacob who was chosen by God to be the father of the sons who became the nation of Israel. Through that nation came our beloved Savior and soon coming King Jesus. Through the victory that the Lord gave to Deborah and Barak it gave the Israelites their first access to the fertile and prosperous plain of Jezreel/Esdraelon. Unity brings prosperity personally, collectively to the Body of Christ and to God’s Kingdom through souls being added to His family. While Deborah was judge, as a result of that victory, not only did the Israelites come into a fertile plain, come out from under Canaanite oppression, but “the land was undisturbed for forty years”. (Judges 5:31) This means they lived in peace. Unity brings peace. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.” (Ephesians 4:1-4) So we should pray that the “spirit of Deborah” blow into our churches.