Woohoo! Double blessing. A book about one of my favourite bible characters and by a new writer for me to discover and tell you about. The Prophetess delivered an inspiring story crowned with biblical truth accentuated with brilliant jewels sparkling of contemporary relevance.
Deborah was a judge, prophetess, and warrior. A courageous heroine for her time. Wise and strong. A woman used mightily by God to bring victory to her nation. A captivating icon larger than life beckoning to know more about who she was and what it must have been like to be a female leader through troubled times.
Yet the Bible provides few details about the life and times of this influential woman who changed the course of history. Questions like how did she become a judge? What made her stand out as a prophetess? Did she become a mom at some point? What circumstances brought together the supporting actors, like Jael, the woman who cleverly dealt the final fatal blow, into the drama that would restore peace and holy reverence to God’s chosen people? Questions this book rises up to address.
At first, I wrestled with how much the novel leaned towards the author’s imagination. By the time I turned the last page I felt satisfied and came out with a richer understanding of that period in history and the God who never gave up on the very people who turned away from Him.
Main characters, such as Deborah’s children, were completely fictitious, yet purely believable. They may not have truly existed but were fleshed out true to life. Their lives embodied the hopes and dreams, challenges and fears typical of their generation. In fact, Deborah’s made-up daughter, Talya, was my favouite character.
Maybe things didn’t play out exactly as penned by Jill Eilleen Smith but no doubt she painted an accurate, colourful portrayal of the situation under Canaanite oppression and idolatry. I found she did her homeowork and presented a credible storyline that evoked faith and compassion.
When I went back to the biblical text to compare, I got so much more out of it. What happened became real and alive in powerful ways. Jill’s persuasive narrative in sync with the bible account unveiled a clearer vision of Deborah’s role, of what being a judge in those days entailed, the horror of terrorism, and the jealous God who commands our allegiance and is forever faithful.
Ultimately, this book pointed to the God who forgives, redeems and restores. Back then and now. It spoke to my heart reminding me that victory came to Israel after 20 long years of oppression. It may take years for God to work things out for you and me too. In the meantime, He goes before us preparing the way, equipping us with everything we need for success according to His will.
Like the people in Deborah’s time, even in our darkest hour, we can recall how God has never let us down in the past. We can trust Him to keep His word today. No matter what we are up against or the challenges we face, God will fight for us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. Never.
Disclosure: Many thanks to Revell Publishing for the invitation to be part of The Prophetess Blog Tour and the complimentary book in exchange for this unbiased review.