Capture or Kill?

Monday, May 9, 2011

One week after the raid on the compound of terrorist and master-mind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden, some are questioning whether he should have been killed or captured. I’ve read with special interest these debates in light of the Bible study I taught this week about another terrorist.

The account of Sisera appears in Judges 4 when Deborah was a judge of Israel. Deborah was a prophetess and judge who ruled during the reign of Jabin, king of Canaan. Jabin had ruled Canaan for twenty years and made life miserable for the Israelites. Sisera was the commander of his army that claimed 900 iron chariots and thousands of trained soldiers. The Israelites called out to God for help from their oppression. The Lord spoke to Deborah and commanded her to gather troops and promised that He would defeat the evil commander, Sisera. The prophecy states, “The LORD’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman”

Deborah’s brave army, led by Barak, assembled at Mount Tabor and faced Sisera with his terrifying force of soldiers and iron chariots. Imagine the deadly force that would be against Deborah’s rag-tag band of soldiers. Deborah roused the troops with her call for victory and declaration that God was marching ahead of them.

Sisera’s forces were pushed back, troops were slaughtered, and the Israelites were victorious. Their faith in their God was strengthened.

In fear for his life, Sisera fled from the battlefield towards the encampment of Jael the Kenite woman. When Sisera arrived at the encampment in the last stages of exhaustion and terror, Jael saw him and called him to her tent. Jael covered him with a rug suggesting that Sisera was afraid and wanted to hide. She gave him goat’s milk and Sisera fell asleep exhausted from battle and running.

Then occurred one of the most graphically described murders in the Hebrew Scriptures:

21 Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died. 22 When Barak came looking for Sisera, Jael went out to meet him. She said, “Come, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he followed her into the tent and found Sisera lying there dead, with the tent peg through his temple. Judges 4:21-22

Clearly the prophecy was fulfilled. God heard the cries of the Israelites. He ended twenty years of oppression that had been led by Sisera’s army, and the commander fell at the hands of a woman.

This intriguing story raises many questions.
Is Jael seen as a cold-blooded murderer or heroine?
Should Jael have captured or killed Sisera?
What connections do you see between Sisera and Usama Bin Laden?

Perhaps the Psalmist sums it up best –
Let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous. The One who examines the thoughts and emotions is a righteous God. Psalm 7:9 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Rooted in the Storm

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Amid the stories of heartache from the tremendous storms that plagued the southeast last week, I’ve also heard many stories of near misses and miracles. Drew McCallie, our new assistant youth director, shared a tornado miracle with the congregation this morning. In his words…

“Last night, my family while celebrating a good job interview for my sister, a panicked a determined voice bellowed from my mother’s voice: "GO"

My sister, father, mother, a dog, cat, and I scurried into the centralized bathtub in the house. In seconds, the feeling of being near a God-sized vacuum cleaner consumed us. Through the sounds of roaring winds, weeping, and cries out to our Lord Jesus, the storm passed with only a small 8x8 square hole torn out of the roof above our heads. When we opened the door however, the roof had been completely lifted off of the house and slammed 20' away from the house. To our amazement, the sky was now the roof over our heads and a great sense of uncertainty but most of all thankfulness to God flowed through us all.

We all survived a lethal dose of wind, but the house and some of our vehicles are demolished or in need of repair. This message is perhaps more thanksgiving and praise to God than anything. I ask for your prayers over my family as we go through the process of resolving this situation.”

God’s hand of protection was on Drew’s family. Drew’s testimony was one of thanksgiving for God’s providential hand.

Many have shared stories of “near misses.” Houses left unscathed where the storm wreaked havoc all around the property. People able to dash into safe quarters when the storm was seconds away. I too experienced one of those “near misses.” Twenty minutes after I left for work on Wednesday morning, a large tree fell on the spot where my car was parked. That tree caused quite a bit of damage to my parents’ home but, praise God, no one was hurt. The trees lost in our yard had 8 – 15 fee-wide root systems that were totally uprooted and caused havoc on the homes and property nearby. Compared to the tragedies all around, my family is fortunate only to deal with a damaged home and the continued loss of power four days later. Others, like Drew’s family are dealing with a loss of all their worldly goods. Still others have lost loved ones or have personal injuries.

No matter what loss we’ve experienced, we’re all still faced with the same question. In times of storms, where are you rooted? Worldly roots, like those on the old, old oak trees, can be uprooted from their source. When we’re deeply rooted in our faith, we have a root system that will never be displaced.

As Paul told the church at Colosse, we are to let our “roots go down into him.” When we follow him and build our lives on him, our faith will grow. Like Drew, we will overflow with thankfulness even in our darkest times.

6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2: 6-7

Thank you, God, for a hand of protection. Even in the darkest storms, you are in control.

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