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America’s Deborah

Instead of being put on it by the government, she would have liked to have some of it from the government

Judges 5.6–9

By Don Ruhl

After the Lord gave victory to Israel through the leadership of Deborah the judge and through the military work of Barak, the two of them sang a victory song, in which you will find this part about Deborah,

“In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
In the days of Jael,
The highways were deserted,
And the travelers walked along the byways.
Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel,
Until I, Deborah, arose,
Arose a mother in Israel.
They chose new gods;
Then there was war in the gates;
Not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.
My heart is with the rulers of Israel
Who offered themselves willingly with the people.
Bless the LORD!”
(Jdg 5.6–9) 

America also had a Deborah, though this woman never had any of her own children, but did adopt the child of her second husband. This woman served as a mother to about 300 people, including her parents.

Her Story

She made 19 attempts to rescue people from a horrible life, enabling her to save over 300 people, including babies whom she had to drug to keep them quiet.

Those opposing her did everything they could to stop her, including offering a $40,000 reward for her capture, dead or alive, in the mid-19th century, because she was hurting their business! Like Paul in Acts 19, as his preaching affected the economy of Asia,

And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands…”

So the whole city was filled with confusion…And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater (Acts 19.23–31).

When people like Paul or Araminta live out their Christianity with fullness of faith and compassion for the suffering, it changes things, even whole economies, which will fill people with wrath real fast.

Araminta worked for the government as a spy and a scout, but the government did not pay her, and she, a mother-like woman, did not her work for money. An admirer wrote a book about her and sold it, giving the proceeds, $1,200 from the first edition, to this mother-like woman. I read that book this past week. The writer said of Araminta, who housed many people,

“How she manages to feed and clothe herself and them, the Lord best knows. She has too much pride and too much faith to beg. She takes thankfully, but without any great effusiveness of gratitude, whatever God’s messengers bring her” (page 10).

One man testified of her,

“She always told her tale with a modesty which showed how unconscious she was of having done anything more than her simple duty” (Oliver Johnson, page 8).

That is why I call her a mother-like woman, for mothers think the same way.

The threat of the lash, the blood-hound, even a fiery stake did not keep her from leading people out of the land of Egypt.

Here is the thing: No one ever expected this 5 foot-tall of a woman to amount to anything. A former employer had been so enraged at another employee that the boss threw a two-pound weight at the fleeing employee, but missed and hit her instead when she was just a girl. This left a permanent dent in her head, causing problems for the rest of her 90-year life. She would fall asleep suddenly. She appeared not to be very smart. She was slow.

Yet, she carried a large rifle, because she was a Second Amendment believing, Bible-quoting woman,

“Brought up by parents possessed of strong faith in God, she had never known the time, I imagine, when she did not trust Him, and cling to Him, with an all-abiding confidence. She seemed ever to feel the Divine Presence near, and she talked with God ‘as a man talketh with his friend’” (Page 23).

She had the spirit of the Bible as she thought of another horrible boss,

“I was always praying for poor ole master. ‘Pears like I didn’t do nothing but pray for ole master. ‘Oh, Lord, convert ole master;’ ‘Oh, dear Lord, change dat man’s heart, and make him a Christian.’ And all the time he was bringing men to look at me, and dey stood there saying what dey would give, and what dey would take, and all I could say was, ‘Oh, Lord, convert ole master.’ Den I heard dat as soon as I was able to move I was to be sent with my brudders, in the chain-gang to de far South. Then I changed my prayer, and I said, ‘Lord, if you ain’t never going to change dat man’s heart, kill him, Lord, and take him out of de way, so he won’t do no more mischief.’ Next ting I heard ole master was dead; and he died just as he had lived, a wicked, bad man. Oh, den it ‘peared like I would give de world full of silver and gold, if I had it, to bring dat pore soul back, I would give myself; I would give eberyting! But he was gone, I couldn’t pray for him no more” (Pages 23–24).

Praying for his conversion, and then wishing to give all she had, if she had it, even giving herself, sounds like a mother to me. Truly, she sounded like several biblical characters,

  • Judah, volunteering to take Benjamin’s place as Joseph’s servant (Gen 44.18–45.1).
  • Moses to be blotted out of God’s word, if He were to wipe out Israel (Exo 32.10, 30–32).
  • David, who would have died for Absalom, although he rebelled against his father (2Sa 18.5, 32–33).
  • Paul, who would be accursed or spend or be spent for lost souls (Acts 21.13; Rom 10.1; 9.1–3; 2Co 12.15).
  • And of course, Jesus did it.

She once prayed while lying alone on cold and damp ground,

“Oh, dear Lord, I haint got no friend but you. Come to my help, Lord, for I’m in trouble!” (Page 32).

Several of the psalmists uttered similar prayers,

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psa 73.23–26)

This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
(Psa 34.6)

Araminta encouraged a man whom she had rescued,

“De Lord had been with them in six troubles, and he would not desert them in de seventh” (Page 47).

When Araminta Ross went to save more people, her friends begged her not to go, believing that she would not return. It was like Paul’s friends in Acts 21, begging him not to go to Jerusalem because a prophet had warned that the Jews would arrest Paul, bind him, and deliver him to the Gentiles. Paul said to them,

Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21.13).

Araminta spoke similar words to her friends,

“Now look yer! John saw de City, didn’t he?”
“Yes, John saw de City.”
“Well, what did he see? He saw twelve gates, didn’t he? Three of dose gates was on de north; three of ‘em was on de east; an’ three of ‘em was on de west; but dere was three more, an’ dem was on de south; an’ I reckon, if dey kill me down dere, I’ll git into one of dem gates, don’t you?” (Page 79).

She knew the Bible. She knew how to use the Bible. The Bible gave her a spirit of fearlessness. The Bible gave her hope. The Bible also gave her a spirit free from bitterness, for you see when her master died, she and her family were free, but,

“…were kept wrongfully in a state of slavery all those long years; but she simply states the fact, without any mourning or lamenting over the wrong and the misery of it all, accepting it as the will of God, and, therefore, not to be rebelled against” (Page 129).

Something Wonderful

She had rescued her brothers and sisters, but then learned of her aged parents, who were in a bad way in the land of Egypt, so Moses had to get money to save her beloved parents.

She went to someone who often had the capability to help financially.

She left the home of her friends where she was staying, and said,

“I’m gwine to Mr. ____________’s office, an’ I ain’t gwine to lebe dere, an’ I ain’t gwine to eat or drink, till I get money enough to take me down after de ole people.”

When she arrived at his office, he asked her how she was doing and what did she want,

“I want some money, sir.”
You do! How much do you want?”
“I want twenty dollars, sir!”
Twenty dollars! Who told you to come here for twenty dollars!”
“De Lord tole me, sir.”
“He did; well I guess the Lord’s mistaken this time.”
“No, sir; de Lord’s nebber mistaken! Anyhow I’m gwine to sit here till I get it.”

She promptly sat down and went to sleep. Some people urged her to leave. She would insist on staying until she got her $20, telling people,

“No, sir; I’m not gwine to stir from here till I git my twenty dollars!”

People talked about her in town that day as people do about mother-like women. What she had done to lead people out of Egypt like Moses, amazed people and while she slept, they started giving money, until she awoke and found that she had $60!

Later, Araminta Ross married. This woman, whom her people called Moses, and whom Captain John Brown called the General, changed her first name to Harriet to honor mother, and took on her husband’s last name to honor him. The woman who supported the Second Amendment, who lived the First Amendment, who quoted the Bible and lived the Bible, only wanted $20 from a man to save her parents…will now grace the $20 bill.

America’s Deborah led over 300 people out of slavery in what became known as the Underground Railroad, but to her the spiritual condition of man exceeded even the physical and political conditions of man. That is why she could wish that her old slave master would have converted to Christ, and after the man died, she would have given anything, including herself, for him to come back to have a chance again to be saved.

But please, do not tell political and secular liberals, and other religion-bashers, church-smashers, and Bible-trashers, that ole Harriet Tubman was a follower of Jesus Christ, first and foremost, and that she believed in freedom of religion, freedom to bear arms, and freedom from big oppressive government that want to run our lives, for then they will probably remove her out of spite toward us, because they think they are spiting us by replacing a white man with a black woman. Do not be surprised if all you hear about Harriet Tubman is everything but her religion, her gun, and her fight against the Confederacy.

However, what will it profit a man, if he gains all the political freedom of the world, and loses his own soul? Political freedom will only last as long as you live. Spiritual freedom will only last as long as God lives! Someone says, But God will never die! Thank you for making my point so boldly!

Right now believe on the Moses of your soul, the Lord Jesus Christ, and even as Israel was baptized into Moses when they crossed the Red Sea, so you get baptized in water into Christ, and then it will be said to you,

But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6.17–23).

Come forward now as we stand sing.

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