“. . . until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.”
“. . . and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”
Many are the heroes of faith!
They appear everywhere in the Word of God. Sometimes they are catalogued as, for instance, inHebrews 11.
By faith the elders . . .
And later, by faith Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, David, Samuel, and the prophets!
But, brethren, let us never forget that also women are among the heroes of faith.
Think of Deborah, the mother in Israel!
Yes, Deborah arose, and in a time when the cause of God was at a low ebb: “the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways. The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel. They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?”
At a low ebb, so low that the angel of the Lord mandates the church to “Curse Meroz, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.”
Oh yes, Deborah was among the heroes of faith, Deborah a mother in Israel.
And so was Sarah, the wife of Abraham.
We have heard sermons about the father of all believers, of Abraham the arch-patriarch, and these sermons were listened to eagerly.
No, he and his son Isaac, with Jacob, did not receive the promises, but having seen them afar off were persuaded of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Imagine, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob never owned a house, a home, a dwellingplace, but dwelled in tents all their long lives.
Yes, yes, but we are inclined to forget the wives, the Sarah’s, Rebecca’s and the Leah’s.
What is the life of the nomads, the wanderers on the face of the earth? And what of their wives?
They shared with the heroes of faith all the deprivations of their pilgrim existence.
They shared the reproach of Christ!
They were the mothers in Israel!
A name of distinction, a name of glory, a name of honor before Jehovah.
They were the fore-ordained to be the comforters, the helpers, the helpmeets for God’s servants.
And as the representative of all these we find the name of Sarah among the catalog in Hebrews 11: “By faith Sarah!”
Deborah, the mother in Israel, ran the course of her life, and she is now in glory.
She is waiting for you and for me in heaven above.
And of Sarah we read that she died in Kirjath-arba, the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.
And when she died she had reached the age of “an hundred and seven and twenty years.”
I think she could have echoed the sentiments of Jacob later: “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and seven and twenty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been . . .”
Few—in the face of eternity.
Evil—in the face of the devil, the evil world, and the power of sin.
Sarah, a mother in Israel, in the midst of the reproach of Christ all her life.
Deborah, a mother in Israel, very actually warring the wars of Jehovah, also in the midst of the reproach of Christ.
But they died!
There came an end to the suffering of this present time, which Paul calls “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, but which worketh for us a far more exceeding weight of glory.”
The mothers in Israel serve their time and the purpose which God has for them, and then they die.
And enter their reward.
It will not be so long and you and I will also die and go to heaven.
And then you will see these mothers in Israel, and then you will be able to measure the rewards” of grace they received.
Yes, Abraham has a lofty station in the palaces of the King, but do not forget that also Sarah, Deborah, and all the others will have their glorious reward.
Sarah went to heaven, but Abraham tarried for a while.
Mourn for her, Abraham!
Weep for her, thou father of all believers!
And he did.
Standing at the bier of Sarah there rushed through his heart and soul and spirit all the years of their pilgrimage which they had shared together! All the sweet and the bitter, all the laughter and the tears, all the good and the evil they shared, for they were in truth ONE FLESH! And more than one flesh, they were one in spirit. They loved the same Jehovah, they hated the same devil, they abhorred the same evil, and loved the same righteousness.
Yes, when such union is broken, you go and stand before the sons of Heth, and you say: “I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”
“And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying place by the sons of Heth.”
And with bowed head, and weeping soul, Abraham continued his pilgrimage.
There comes a time when the hearts of men are turned inside out when you shall know and hear and see the thoughts of the heart of Abraham, mourning and weeping for Sarah.
We can read in Genesis 23 that Abraham mourned for Sarah, and wept for her!
For a great mother in Israel had passed on tom her reward.
Be still now, be very still. Do not disturb the tears and the bitter suffering of the saint.
As for the body of this mother in Israel: sleep in Jesus until He returns. Take your rest now until the atoms of that body are gathered by the Holy Spirit of Christ, and renewed with heavenly splendor.
Then you will not be the wife of Abraham anymore, but you will be like an angel of God.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.”
Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord!
And so Sarah, Deborah, Rahab (she is also included in the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11), Mary and Dorcas, and all the others, are blessed, blessed unto all eternity.
With their men, they shared the reproach of Christ, wept with them, suffered with them, and often strengthened them as helpmeets.
I’ve heard it said that behind every great man there stands a woman. And I can well believe it.
Many are the mothers in Israel.
God points with His finger and you see your wife, your helpmeet.
You are joined together and you become as one.
This union of two souls is one of the most beautiful things on earth.
Therefore small wonder that the husband, bereaved of his wife, weeps and mourns for her.
Abraham was not the first to do this, nor was he the last.
It happens every day, every hour of the day.
But the tears are gathered in God’s bottles.
Because they are precious in God’s sight.
A mother in Israel died among us.
I know it, I know it, we are called by the name of a man, and the sound of that name has not lost its beauteous melody. You better remember that the same Jehovah who called Abraham from the Ur of the Chaldees, called him.
And the circumstances around Deborah prevail in our day.
Many are the thousands who refuse to come to the help of God. The church of our day rather comes to the help of man, and of the world.
But he stood. And the length of his stand you may now measure in decades.
And during all these decades he was laden with mockery, reproach, and dishonor. It is the simple truth that he was despised and they esteemed him not.
For that he should rejoice. It is the reproach of Christ.
But that is not the point I wish to make.
It is this: behind him stood a mother in Israel, and she stood there as a rock. She partook of the Rock, and this Rock is Christ.
She has fulfilled her time, her task, her privilege and the Lord said unto her: It is enough! Come up hither!
But we mourn and weep, not so much that she is gone, as that we cannot go too. Which is far better.
And so we will return from the cave where rests a mother in Israel and continue our pilgrimage, with our eye of faith towards the city that hath foundations!
Sleep sweetly, my sister!