Training for Reigning - 49 - Mothers in Israel

I N OUR OCCASIONAL visits to Assemblies two evident needs thrust themselves forward continuously. These are the lack of under- shepherds who will EXPLAIN the Scriptures relating to the Local Assembly (not merely warn and condemn), and that of sisters who are ready (in their Scriptural sphere) to serve the saints as "Mothers in Israel."
This expression occurs only twice in the Bible, first with reference to Deborah (Judg. 5:7) then re the Wise Woman of Abel (2 Sam. 20:19). But in the New Testament Paul (by inspiration) tells us that Rufus’ mother was also a mother to himself (Rom. 16:13). Many times our teachers have pointed out the need for such mothers in the Assemblies - women who have the Lord’s interests at heart, after the counsel of His Word, in seeking, particularly, the welfare of younger Christians (Tit. 2:3-5). And I cannot help but feel that much of the confidential matter that comes my way does so because of the lamentable scarcity of mothers in Israel . . . because their elder sisters are failing in their duty!
In Rom. 16:1-2 we learn that Phoebe was "a succourer" (a helper and protectress: gk) "of many"- surely Mother-in-Israel characteristics. Likely Priscilla qualified for the title as well. Mary (vs. 6) and the three sisters of verse 12, are recorded for their "much (wearisome) labour," also. But since the two Old Testament women have been marked out by the Holy Spirit in clear outline, let us notice, brieffly, a few pertinent features of their walk and fitness.
(1) Judges 4:4-5: Deborah, a prophetess of the Lord, was first and foremost, a woman to whom the Lord could make known His mind . . . the supremely vital factor if one is to be a mouth-piece through which the Lord may pass along the counsel of His Word to others - something much less "impossible" than many Christians suppose, even though we are neither prophets nor sons of them.
Next, since the people "came up to her for judgment" (vs. 5) it would seem likely:
 (2) That she didn’t go around poking her nose into other people’s affairs, but waited for people to come to her with their troubles (Prov. 18:16; 20:3b; 25:9-10).
(3) That she knew how to keep her place, ministering privately whatever of His mind the Lord revealed to her.
(4) She could go with Barak to the battle courageously, in complete dependence on God.
(5) She did not go to direct Barak, but to pass on to him the encouragements the Lord gave to her (vs. 14).
In Chap. S we find that she is a praising woman (vs. 1-2); that God fitted her and called her forth to pass on His counsel to others, at a time when His people were in great distress (4:3; 5:6-7), and when departure from God, and great weakness, were general in Israel (5:8). Yet she could be appreciative of any who were willing to serve (5:9, 14, 18, 24), as well as declare God’s mind respecting those who made great resolutions, but did nothing (5:l5b; as per J. F. and B.) and the neutrals of Meroz (5:23). In the last glimpse we have of this noble mother in Israel she is seen praying, seeking only God’s glory (5:31). No wonder the closing sentence could say, "And the land had rest forty years."
2 Sam. 20:15-22. The Woman of Abel, we may notice briefly, was not officious (vs. 17); was both peaceable and faithful in Israel (vs. 19); while from certain of the expressions used one would gather that:
-she was no gossip, no spreader of scandal (Prov. 26:22).
-in speaking to Joab she did so wisely, making her appeal by means of a question (vs. l9b).
-she spoke to her people wisely, also (vs. 22), setting forth facts rather than scolding or making wild statements, one would think; neither would she try to get results by scheming. She could not have built a reputation for wisdom by using any such means, we may be sure. No true Mother in Israel must ever be suspected of craftiness - . - What a mercy it was that there was a Mother in Israel in that ancient city at that time.
But let us return to Deborah, and the basic point of her fitness as a Mother in Israel. She was a woman to whom the Lord could make known His mind in order to have it passed on to others. After all, Beloved, when we need counsel is it not the counsel of the Lord we require? Surely human experience cannot furnish such advice I "There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand" (Prov. 19:21). Moreover, the solemn lesson of Job 42:7-8 must ever be a warning to us if we would give advice on the basis of our own experience.
Now it is some years since John 10:27 persuaded me that I should seek to learn to listen for His voice from His Word, rather than to rely on intuitions, as many do. Let me give you a few thoughts from the little I have learned, hoping they may prove useful.
First, we’ve simply got to learn to humble ourselves, truly and DEEPLY, before the Lord if we are to be in any condition to hear His voice clearly, speaking by the Holy Spirit through His Word. (Note Psa. 138:6; 2 Kings 22:18-19; Isa. 6:5-8). If we are not willing to prepare our hearts to seek the Lord after this fashion there will be little use in our bothering about it. Time needs to be found, also, to get alone with God, if at all possible. Our minds need to be calmed and freed from the many demands of our creature existence if our spirits, led by His Spirit, are to get into His presence. David went in and sat before the Lord (2 Sam. 7:18) humbling himself, receiving God’s great kindnesses and promises, before his request was made (vs. 29), and we shall need to learn to do the same. Just to bow down, pray, jump up and go about my business has proved of but little value in my case. It is a bit like yelling a greeting to a neighbour as one goes hurrying past. It often takes half an hour, or more, of self-examination, confession, reviewing my own past disobedience, recalling His mercy and loving kindness to me, and going on to tell Him of the perfections of His Son, before communion is established and I am consciously in His presence - even as many others have found. And only when that moment comes is it time to lay before Him my burden, in detail, and to ask that His counsel be given to me through His Word.
Occasionally, His answers may be given quickly as I read through my Bible. More often they are gleaned a verse at a time over a period of days - or weeks. When nothing more is being received I seek His face afresh for understanding of the message, earnestly endeavouring to set aside my own ideas or desires. In this manner, during past years, He has been pleased to give me a great many answers to problems of His perplexed people. Therefore I make bold to say that, since I am only a very ordinary Christian, there is no reason at all why any spiritually minded elder sister might not prepare her heart to seek the Lord on behalf of any in the Assembly who might profit from the care of a Mother in Israel. Through the means just described she can learn whether or not to speak a word to a person; can receive counsel as to how to approach him, or her; can learn what is to be read, or spoken, or can be given His answers to their problems, or to her own.
May it please the Lord to raise up many badly needed Deb. orahs as Mothers in the assemblies of His people . . . if He be not come.