Deborah the Prophetess
READ Judges 4:2-7
Who was Deborah?
A prophetess (see Exodus 15:20; 2 Kings 22:14-15; 2 Chronicles 34:22; Isaiah 8:3; Judges 4:17-22; Judges 5:6-24; Luke 2:36-38; Ezekiel 24:16-18; Acts 21:9).
The Judge of Israel.
A wife and mother (see Judges 5:7).
READ Judges 4:8-9
Why did Barak the warrior tell Deborah that he would only go to war if she was going?
He was afraid.
He sensed that she had spiritual gifts/insight/power that he would need to be successful against the enemy.
She had obtained the will of the Lord and he needed her with him to be able to fulfill the Lord’s commands – implied that either he didn’t feel he could receive his own revelations or that he could not fulfill them without her or both.
READ Judges 4:13-15
Who received the revelation from the Lord regarding the battle plan?
Josephus describes in more detail how a sudden storm of rain and hail swept down upon General Sisera from Mount Tabor, the Israelite's rallying place, and broke over the Canaanite army. The aim of the archers was deflected, and the horses were terrified, breaking free of the iron chariots and running amok among the foot soldiers.
Is priesthood ordination a prerequisite for possessing the gift of prophesy?
Obviously not (see 1 Cor 12:10; D&C 46:22; Moroni 10:13).
Naomi, her husband and two sons leave Bethlehem for Moab to escape a famine. Her sons marry local Moabite girls, Orpah and Ruth. In time, her husband and both of her sons die, leaving the three widows to fend for themselves. Naomi heard that the famine was over in Bethlehem and left for home, 30 miles away.
If we lived in Bethlehem, we might be curious about Ruth’s ancestors, and our ears would prick up to the fact that Ruth was a Moabite. Immediately, we’d think of the scandalous past of her people, and it would cast her story in a different light. We’d recall that when the weary Israelites were journeying to the Promised Land, the Moabites lured the Israelites into sexual immorality and idol worship (Numbers 25:1). From that time on, the Moabites were associated with sexual immorality. To us in Israel, it was even more disgusting because it was how they worshipped their “gods.” Because of that sin, God declared that Moabites were barred from being a part of the assembly of Israel in Deuteronomy 23:3. Was their sin ever forgivable, we’d wonder? Then we’d think back to the origins of the Moabites in Genesis 19:30-38. After Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, we read the not-so-nice story of how Lot’s daughters got their father drunk so that they could become pregnant by him, since their husbands had refused to leave the city and had both died. One of Lot’s daughters gave birth to a son named Moab, and he became the father of the Moabite people. So, that is why the Moabites are so immoral? If we believe that people are defined by their genes and ancestry, this might make complete sense to us...
READ Ruth 1:8-9, 14-17
Why did Orpah go back to Moab while Ruth begged Naomi to allow her to go to Bethlehem?
Ruth was converted to the Lord God of Israel while Orpah was not (although she likely practiced the same religion while married to Naomi’s other son).
Ruth showed her faith in the living God through her charity for and service to a doubting Naomi (see 1:13).
She truly loved her mother-in-law.
READ Ruth 1:18-21
How would you describe Naomi’s faith vs. Ruth’s?
Naomi is bitter with the Lord; she resents Ruth’s coming with her as now there are two dependent widows asking for help from family members, not just one; to her credit, she doesn’t expect anything from her daughters-in-law but releases them from obligation to care for her to try to better their own situations.
Ruth will sacrifice everything she grew up with to serve Naomi including her people, and her future prosperity (which was tied to heavily remarrying in this culture and age, and marrying locally in Moab was much more likely than remarrying in Bethlehem), all while grieving for her husband. Ruth’s love for Naomi is very real but her faith in the living God is likely an even more important factor here – did she receive revelation from God to go with Naomi or did she believe that her best opportunity to come unto Jehovah was to relocate to a place where many more people worshiped Him?
To enable the poor to care for themselves, landowners were forbidden from harvesting the corners of their fields or to pick up what fell to the ground. “Gleaners” would follow behind the hired servants picking up what grain they could - it was hard work but enabled people to survive without begging.
READ Ruth 2:3,7-12
What did Boaz see in Ruth, a Moabite foreigner?
Full of charity.
Sacrificed all material things.
Convert to the living God of Israel.
One that is blessed of the Lord, as demonstrated by the fruits of the Spirit which she displayed.
READ Ruth 3:11
What is the significance of this statement, given Ruth is a Moabite?
It goes against the racist stereotype.
It demonstrates the depth of her conversion vis-a-vis the “chosen people” of Israel who should, given all their knowledge growing up in the faith, be just as virtuous or much more so.
It shows that when someone truly comes unto Christ, they 1) sacrifice ALL of the cultural baggage - good or bad - that they are carrying and 2) the Lord can make them into new creatures in His image, regardless of how lowly or lost they were.
Boaz ends up marrying Ruth; their grandson is Jesse and great-grandson is King David. The scriptures repeatedly stress Ruth’s Moabite origins. The Law expressly forbad Israelite men from marrying “foreign” women.
What can we learn from the Story of Ruth?
The Lord is no respecter of persons - if you come unto Him in faith, keeping His commandments, you will receive the blessings.
The principle of adoption - if you make and keep the covenant, the Lord will MAKE you His, regardless of your starting point or bloodline.
The concern about foreign women was that they would influence their Israelite husbands to worship false gods; in this case, Ruth demonstrates tremendous faith in and faithfulness toward the God of Israel – so it’s not about being “foreign” as much as being “faithful” to the true and living God.
A man, Elkanah, had two wives, Hannah who was barren, and Peninnah, who had children. Peninnah taunted Hannah, and while her husband loved Hannah very much, he did not fully understand her desire for a child.
READ 1 Samuel 1:10-11
What is Hannah’s response to her sorrow?
She prays to the Lord.
She vows to consecrate the child to the Lord - a Nazarite vow.
She does not ask for help with her tormentor, Peninnah.
Hannah is blessed to conceive and has a son, who she names Samuel. When he is weaned (aged 2 or 3), Hannah takes baby Samuel to the Temple to live the Nazarite vow she had made on his behalf.
READ Judges 13:4-5
What is a Nazarite?
Nazarites separate themselves from the world unto the Lord - consecrate the time unto the Lord - keep His commandments
One becomes a Nazarite by making a vow to God. The Nazarite Vow includes several measurable, behavioral aspects including following God’s commandments, abstaining from wine/drink, not cutting hair, not becoming unclean through touching the dead, not profaning the Sabbath (see Numbers 6).
Think of Hannah, Samson’s mother and Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist; what is the relationship between these three barren women and the Nazarite vow they made on behalf of their sons?
God intervened directly in enabling these births - they would not have happened otherwise.
The mothers each made a covenant by sacrifice (actually two sacrifices: the possibility of death at the birth of the baby and then giving up the child to the Lord).
All three of their sons had missions to perform on behalf of their Lord.
Next week we will continue the story of Hannah and her son Samuel.
READ John 2:18-21 and 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
What are the functions of a temple?
The function of a temple is that it is meant to be a house for the Godhead on earth.
It can serve as a connection or portal between heaven and earth.
It is a place to teach and invite people to come into God’s presence through the use of ceremony or rite.
How is the body a temple?
It is a place where the Spirit of the Lord dwells.
It is a place that can either be set apart (like the Nazarite vow) or defiled (see Mosiah 2:37; Alma 34:34-35; D&C 97:15-17).
READ Ether 2:6
What separates us from God?
A dimensional boundary.
The temple is a place of veil work. Individuals pass from one place to another, from one level of light to another or from one level of understanding to another, by going through veils or separating boundaries.
How does this veil-work idea apply to Christ’s body being a temple?
Christ’s body is a temple because through His sacrifice of it, we pass from being fallen mortals to becoming redeemed immortals, if He will allow us through the veil (He is the keeper of the gate and employs no servant there).
How does veil-work apply to the idea that our mortal bodies are temples?
Our mortal bodies are “avatars” which enable a being of light (our spirits) to “come down” and interact in a probationary environment that we would not be able to experience otherwise.
We cross a boundary or veil when we enter and leave these mortal bodies (birth, death and spiritual transformation – i.e. spiritual birth and death).
The “veil of the flesh” also acts as a memory boundary, enabling the testing aspects of mortal life.
How does the mantra “holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord” apply to our bodies as temples?
It is not just our spirits that can abide with us in the mortal body, because God’s spirit can also abide with us or animate/quicken us: take up a habitation with us.
We must keep ourselves unspotted and undefiled, if we are to have God visit the temple of our body.
Who does (or stewards) the work of “raising up” a mortal temple?
Women partner with the Lord (who will ultimately redeem these mortal bodies) to enable the “veil-work” of mortality to continue.
A women’s body is a temple in an additional sense because it is a gate through which immortal spirits pass through the veil into mortal bodies.
Women are veil workers.