THOUGHTS ON POWER

Power

Harsh, gross, mean, violent,
and full of intrigue
is the imagery in this text.
Does it
represent the Word
and love of God,
or is it an example of hack writing
by a writer trying to throw
responsibility
for the ills, and successes,
of the people onto God’s back?
What bothers me most
about this text is
that it is the very kind of text
opportunistic preachers use
to convince
their ignorant constituency
that this is the Word of God
and how God works,
and how it will work
in their lives.
It is a fear-based promulgation
That panders to
hate, xenophobia, and fear of anything unusual.
God selling God’s people into slavery,
then God starting a war,
then God allowing Jael
to murder a sleeping person,
so God could then destroy the very people
to whom God sold God’s people into slavery?
Ah, come on!!!
A good story,
a great saga,
but the word and work
of a loving and just God?
No.
There are many texts that reflect
God’s love,
this is not one of them.
If this is how God really works
we are all in trouble.
This is more a text about power,
but whose power?
God’s power?
The Hebrews power?
Jael’s power?
Or maybe the power
of the writer of the text?
Taken as a historical work
that is full of the
naïve biases
of an ancient uncritical people,
it works just fine,
but not a text to be considered as
the Word of God.
To be clear,
I do not consider the
so called “red letter words”
of some versions
to be fully trustworthy,
either.
When I am looking for what might
be God’s word,
the Gospel Jesus proclaimed,
(which, by the way,
is scattered throughout
the Bible,)
I look for what those texts
have Jesus doing
rather
than what the writers
have him say.
Jesus saved,
he forgave,
he set free,
he taught us of God’s love,
he was an advocate
for the powerless—
he did not show us how to drive
tent stakes
into our opponents’ temples.
Rather,
he taught we are
to love and forgive
those who do us harm..
It is in this forgiveness
there is true power.

# # #

In Case you’d like to read the text, I am including it below.

Judges 4 — The Message

1-3 The People of Israel kept right on doing evil in GOD’s sight. With Ehud dead, GOD sold them off to Jabin king of Canaan who ruled from Hazor. Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim, was the commander of his army. The People of Israel cried out to GOD because he had cruelly oppressed them with his nine hundred iron chariots for twenty years.
4-5 Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth. She was judge over Israel at that time. She held court under Deborah’s Palm between Ramah and Bethel in the hills of Ephraim. The People of Israel went to her in matters of justice.
6-7 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “It has become clear that GOD, the God of Israel, commands you: Go to Mount Tabor and prepare for battle. Take ten companies of soldiers from Naphtali and Zebulun. I’ll take care of getting Sisera, the leader of Jabin’s army, to the Kishon River with all his chariots and troops. And I’ll make sure you win the battle.”
8 Barak said, “If you go with me, I’ll go. But if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”
9-10 She said, “Of course I’ll go with you. But understand that with an attitude like that, there’ll be no glory in it for you. GOD will use a woman’s hand to take care of Sisera.”
Deborah got ready and went with Barak to Kedesh. Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together at Kedesh. Ten companies of men followed him. And Deborah was with him.
11-13 It happened that Heber the Kenite had parted company with the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ in-law. He was now living at Zaanannim Oak near Kedesh. They told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. Sisera immediately called up all his chariots to the Kishon River—nine hundred iron chariots!—along with all his troops who were with him at Harosheth Haggoyim.
14 Deborah said to Barak, “Charge! This very day GOD has given you victory over Sisera. Isn’t GOD marching before you?”
Barak charged down the slopes of Mount Tabor, his ten companies following him.
15-16 GOD routed Sisera—all those chariots, all those troops!—before Barak. Sisera jumped out of his chariot and ran. Barak chased the chariots and troops all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. Sisera’s entire fighting force was killed—not one man left.
17-18 Meanwhile Sisera, running for his life, headed for the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. Jabin king of Hazor and Heber the Kenite were on good terms with one another. Jael stepped out to meet Sisera and said, “Come in, sir. Stay here with me. Don’t be afraid.”
So he went with her into her tent. She covered him with a blanket.
19 He said to her, “Please, a little water. I’m thirsty.”
She opened a bottle of milk, gave him a drink, and then covered him up again.
20 He then said, “Stand at the tent flap. If anyone comes by and asks you, ‘Is there anyone here?’ tell him, ‘No, not a soul.’”
21 Then while he was fast asleep from exhaustion, Jael wife of Heber took a tent peg and hammer, tiptoed toward him, and drove the tent peg through his temple and all the way into the ground. He convulsed and died.
22 Barak arrived in pursuit of Sisera. Jael went out to greet him. She said, “Come, I’ll show you the man you’re looking for.” He went with her and there he was—Sisera, stretched out, dead, with a tent peg through his temple.
23-24 On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the People of Israel. The People of Israel pressed harder and harder on Jabin king of Canaan until there was nothing left of him.

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