July 11, 2019

Jael as the Hand of God

Judges 4:11-24

When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law...

—  Galatians 4:4

A tired and thirsty Sisera accepted Jael’s invitation to rest in her tent. He had no reason to fear. Jael, the wife of a trusted ally, soothed him: “Don’t be afraid.” Then, after doing as hospitality required, Jael tent-pegged Sisera as he lay sleeping. “On that day,” we read, “God subdued Jabin king of Canaan.”

How could someone who violates norms of hospitality be God’s instrument of salvation? Couldn’t God use better people or a more acceptable means to set things right? According to Scripture, there are no “better people.” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even God’s justice seems unwise in the eyes of the world, which considers the cross of Christ foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:23).

In the days of the judges, Jael tent-pegged Israel’s oppressor. But even though God used Jael as his hand of victory in this episode, Israel would still need other saviors. They needed rescue again and again.

Having heard the cries of his people in distress, “when the set time had fully come,” God sent a Savior who would be “pierced for our transgressions . . . [and] crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus Christ, the ultimate Savior, “bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

Do you see God’s hand at work in this world? Has God opened your eyes to see the wisdom of his strange salvation?

Lord, help me to see your hand in the strange way your Servant has saved your people from unrighteousness. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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