As part of the symposium at the dedication of the Presbyterian Center, Louisville, Kentucky, October 28, 1988, the theologian Walter Brueggemann surprised the Presbyterian Church (USA) ? as well as all Americans ? by calling them to repentance. “We religionists [Evangelicals] are caught in an odd endorsing and legitimating, when in our knowing, we may want to talk about the sovereign absence of God, an absence evident in the secularization of a society which seems to manage very well by itself.” Brueggemann further suggests that we Evangelical Christians are in exile and need to act accordingly.
Okay. We live in a post-Christian era. So what?
Deborah lived in a post-Jewish era, a time where worship of Yahweh was no longer practiced by her society. There was a great falling away — like now — and God called Deborah to make things right — like God is calling you now.
Deborah was a prophetess and the fourth judge of Israel. She was a warrior mom, a culture creator. The only female judge mentioned in the Bible, Deborah led a successful counter-attack against the forces of Jabin, king of Canaan, and his military commander Sisera.
“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths. Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.”
I want you to be Deborahs to this generation. I want you to capture the high culture of this land, and I want you to do that by being very smart. Be very, very smart!
I am persuaded that Deborah was not merely a great warrior — she was that — but she was much more. She won military victories, true, but she won a cultural war too.
“You who ride on white donkeys, sitting on your saddle blankets, and you who walk along the road, consider the voice of the singers at the watering places. They recite the victories of the Lord, the victories of his villagers in Israel.”
It was at the “watering places” that culture was created and maintained. The “watering places” were places of sustenance for body, mind, and spirit. It was the place where one came for gossip, for water, and for spiritual insight. In other words, the “watering places” were the universities of Deborah’s time. There, insight was shared and policy was debated. This was the epistemological center of Jewish life.