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Jael was a Godly woman, and she had the opportunity to prove that loyalty to God. We don’t know a lot about Jael. We do know that she married a Kenite named Heber. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had been a Kenite, and it appears that Heber was a descendant of Jethro. Jethro is referred to as a priest of Midian [Ex. 3:1]. It is apparent from Jethro’s interaction with Moses that he was a follower of the True God. So Jael - either from personal descent or marriage - had become familiar with Jethro. [This is about 200 years after Moses, so the events surrounding his famous life would have been very well-known, especially if there was a family connection.]
Heber has separated himself and his family from the other Kenites in the area. It is always a danger sign when someone wants to separate themselves. The attitude that we don’t need anyone else and don’t need fellowship with believers or even the Church in general is an act of pride. It is a symptom of a person moving away from God in independence. They may still say the “Christian” things or believe the correct doctrines, but they have painted a target on their back. Satan and his minions will not be long before they take aim, and since they have no one to help them, they will fall. Covid motivated many people to stay home from church in fear. Many have still not returned. If you are a Christian, you are part of the Church, and if at all possible, you need to attend a local church and be actively involved in it.
Perhaps Heber moved away because he wanted to align himself with the most powerful military force in the neighbourhood. Maybe he was thinking of his family and using this compromise to escape the cruel oppression others were facing. Or perhaps he was thinking of gaining power and wealth for himself. Whatever his motivation, he joined the enemy of God’s people. This may seem a “smart” move in the short term, but it will always lead to disaster in the long run. Even today, Christians compromise the Truth of God's Word on sexuality, creation and other topics in an attempt to gain acceptance with the world. They are aligning themselves with the wrong power! They are showing disloyalty to God.
What was Jael to do in this situation? Obviously, she disagreed with her husband’s actions; however, in the society in which she lived, she could not leave him. Like Rahab, she was outside the covenant people but was a true believer who wanted in. So she kept up appearances and waited for an opportunity - no matter how dangerous - to prove her steadfast loyalty to God.
Unlike Rahab, her life was probably not in danger in her own home, but her spirit must have been grieved as she witnessed her husband's actions. She may even have had to play the delighted and gracious hostess to Sisera and others while inside churning with disgust. [Spies and undercover police officers can probably identify.]
We don’t know if she had children, although it is likely that she did. In any case, her husband - knowingly or unknowingly - forced her into the difficult position of choosing between her family and God. Many Christians around the world are forced into this position. By becoming Christians, they face rejection by family, loss of jobs, direct persecution and perhaps jail or death. In some way, EVERY Christian faces an opportunity to prove their loyalty to God. It may be in avoiding unGodly friendships or activities, facing temptations and denying self, and witnessing to the unsaved. Whatever it is, our loyalty to God will be tested [probably many times!]. Will we put God first or ourselves and our needs and desires?
Jael courageously proved her loyalty to God. She risked her family - if Heber had not been killed in battle, would he have exacted his vengeance on her? She risked her life - what if Sisera had awakened at the wrong time? She risked rejection - what if Barak resented her taking his “honour?”
It was not easy, but her commitment to God required that she put everything on the line and trust God with the results. She is an excellent example for us, for each of us must do the same. It may not seem as dramatic as Jael’s decision, but it will come to each of us in some way. Who will we choose?
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