“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.”
The Lord speaks to us in the oddest of ways, doesn’t He?
A few years back, a friend of mine and her husband longed to have a child, but had gradually lost faith after years of unsuccessful attempts. Unbeknownst to my friend, a family member wanted to help and consulted a medium to find out if they would ever conceive.
My friend does not believe in communication with the spirits of the dead, so she was surprised to hear God speaking through the medium’s response – “It is a matter of faith. If they believe it will happen, then it will.”
The medium served as an unlikely messenger, showing how the Lord can use anyone to accomplish His will. Take, for instance, Jael. She, too, was an unlikely messenger, but God used her to accomplish His will and in quite the dramatic fashion.
In Judges 4, we find the Israelites asking God to free them from the oppression of Jabin king of Canaan. The Lord told Barak, the leader of the Israelite army, that victory would come at the hands of Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army. As the Israelites began to overtake him and his numerous chariots, Sisera fled on foot.
He came to the tent of Jael, who was the husband of a man who’s family was in good standing with Jabin king of Canaan.
Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. (Judges 4:18)
It seems Sisera found a haven in Jael’s tent, escaping an ill fate. He is confident Jael will protect him. He asked her for a drink. After giving him milk, she covered him. In need of a safeguard as fatigue consumed him, he asked her to stand at the doorway of the tent.
He told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’” (v. 20)
Jael was not an Israelite, but had faith in their God. Although she was loyal to Jabin, her allegiance to the Lord was far superior. She would not compromise her religious obligations by lying for this man. So, rather than protect Sisera, Jael did the exact opposite.
She picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. (v. 21)
Jael did not plot to kill Sisera. She did not seek him out nor make plans to harm him. It’s likely she was legitimately trying to help him when he approached her tent. But God used her to accomplish His will and it was the Lord who prompted Jael to take Sisera’s life.
Matthew Henry comments, “It was a divine power that enabled her to do it, and inspired her with a more than manly courage. What if her hand should shake, and she should miss her blow? What if he should awake when she was attempting it? Or suppose some of his own attendants should follow him, and surprise her in the face, how dearly would she and all hers be made to pay for it? Yet, obtaining help of God, she did it effectually.”
Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead. On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites. And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him. (v. 22-24)
The Lord’s faithfulness is evident in this account, for in Judges 4:6-7, the prophet Deborah told Barak this: “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”
Despite our best efforts to predict just how the Lord’s plan will play out, He often surprises us, using the most unlikely messengers along the way. We must never take for granted the people God places in our lives, for they, too, have purpose. Even when we least expect it, God makes His intentions known, just like He spoke to my friend through the medium.
The Lord’s message can be heard through the words we speak. As Malachi 3:1 reminds us, He will send His messenger – we must be aware and ready to receive His guidance. We must also be prepared to be used.
How might the Lord be calling you to be an unlikely messenger?