Beloved, you are about to read accounts of some women in the Bible times, who in spite of their circumstances and challenges of life, were used by God to bring about His Eternal design for mankind. Though, these are Eastern women who lived in ancient times, yet their stories apply to our lives and the difficult issues we face in our world today. These women were on the edge; they had courage, took risk, did unexpected things, lived daring lives and made mistakes. These women were not perfect, but God in His Infinite mercy used them in His Eternal Plans and Purpose for mankind. There are lessons we can learn from them, that when applied in our own life situations will help us fulfill God’s design for our lives.
The First Woman
Eve was a redemptive instrument in the Hands of God. We know from the bible that God created Adam and Eve, and that all mankind are descendants of these ancient couple. While Eve was deceived by the serpent, and the first to violate the divine regulations governing their life Gen2:16-17, the Word of God holds Adam as the disobedient one, who knowingly broke trust with God 1Tim2:14.This does not mean that the woman was less intelligent or more vulnerable to deception than man, but under the circumstances of the Fall of man, deception of the woman preceded active disobedience of man. It is remarkable to note that God in His Infinite mercy and divine Grace chose to bring about the redemption of man from the yoke of sin, through the Seed of the woman. The one first scarred by sin is selected to be the one first promised to become an instrument of God’s redemptive work Gen3:15. The birth of Seth, the “seed” given to replace the murdered Abel, was the first in the “bloodline” that will trace to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Eve’s distinct place in the failure of the first couple becomes the soil in which God’s mercy plants the first seed of promise. The lesson is obvious, however deep the failure, God’s grace is deeper, “for He is able to make all grace abound towards of us”.
JOCHEBED EX6:20; NUM26:59
Preserver of A Nation.
Though mentioned only twice in the bible, she emerges as an intricate part of the divine will in the redemption of Israel. Distinguished as Moses’ mother, she is pivotal in the preservation of his life.Ex2:2-3, an action that is described as faith filled and courageous Heb11:23. The personal effort and work of her hands coincided with her faith in the saving grace of God. Faith does not absolve us of responsibility in utilizing the resources, gifts and abilities given us by God Jas2:17-18. The decision to surrender the child to the water was a total affirmation of her confidence in God. Jochebed not only saved her son, but was used by God through devotion and diligence to preserve a nation. The lesson we learn from her encounter with destiny is that, to know whom we believe, encourages us to place our most valued possession in His care 2Tim1:12. This is the focus of faith, not merely what we believe, that is understanding a particular promise, but knowing Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith Heb12:2; focusing on the Person behind the promise more than the promise itself. Vital faith rests in Him Heb4:9-10; abides in Him Jn15:4&7 and cannot be separated from Him by any circumstances or power Rom8:38-39.
DAUGHTERS OF ZELOPHEHAD NUM27:1-11
A Godly Quest for Equal Rights.
Zelophehad, a Gileadite, of the tribe of Manasseh had no sons, but had five daughters who set a legal precedent in Israel. Their names were: Mahlah meaning “Sickness” or “Disease”; Noah meaning “Rest” or “Comfort”; Hoglah meaning “Partridge” of “Boxer”; Milcah meaning “Queen” or “Counsel” and Tirzah meaning “Pleasantness”. If we accept the names of these women as pictures of their abilities, natures, or adversities they had to overcome, then we see all the qualities necessary for the tenacity, tact, courage, wisdom and grace they needed to request and receive an inheritance for themselves. Their presentation of their case to Moses and the Elders of Israel (Num27:2), when land was being shared to the tribes, is the first instance of an appeal for equal rights for women. All five daughters manifest a balance between a spirit of confrontation and a spirit of cooperation. They attacked injustice Num27:3-4, and God defended them when they allowed Him to be their Deliverer/Provider Num27:6-7. Their wisdom in trusting God to see that they were not denied their request paid off. They reveal a contemporary pathway to overcoming inequality while sustaining a godly spirit.
DEBORAH JUDGES 2:4-9
The Spirit filled Multitalented Woman.
Deborah whose name means “Honeybee” was a prophetess, and she rose in ancient Israel as a female Judge, whose multiple leadership functions demonstrate the possibilities available to any woman who will allow God’s Spirit to fill and form her life. Deborah also acquired a reputation as a wise settler of disputes, counselor, wife and deliverer in time of war. She was a mother in Israel Judg5:7. She became a celebrated leader of political influence and authority, while maintaining the grace and dignity of womanhood. Her successful mobilization of Israelite militia demonstrated her leadership ability and spiritual insight. Because of Deborah’s godly and skillful leadership traits, Barak (as Commander of Israel’s armies) would not go to battle without her, even when told that he would not get full honor for the victory Judg4:9. Under her leadership, the people witnessed God’s providential assistance in the form of a massive storm and the defeat of Sisera’s superior armed forces. Deborah represents the finest possibilities of a gifted, God fearing woman who allows the Spirit of God to develop her full potentials to impact the world around.
The Woman God Remembered.
Hannah whose name means “grace” had to contend with a situation that exhibited the exact opposite of her name. She was barren. Barrenness was the ultimate tragedy for a married Hebrew woman. The inability to perpetuate the name of her husband, and secure the orderly transfer of his estate upon his death, often resulted in insecurity, humiliation and disgrace 1Sam1:6-7. Even in our contemporary world, there is a social stigma attached to being barren. Hannah had something to her credit; she was a woman of prayer, faith and strong desires. Her prayer in 1Sam1:10-11 demonstrates the proper way to handle situations over which we have no control. She sought God for what only He could do Ps34:15. God used the burden of Hannah’s heart to bring about a surprisingly, larger solution to the burden of His own Heart. Barrenness was not only Hannah’s condition; it was Israel’s condition as well. It was a season of spiritual need and little prophetic activity 1Sam3:1. God sought a voice to speak on His behalf to His People. Little did Hannah know that her intense intercession for a child was moving in concert with God. He gave her a son and also brought forth His will and blessing for a whole nation 1Sam3:19-20. Hannah’s prophetic prayer in 1Sam2:1-10 reveals much regarding her spiritual maturity and insight, she was filled with joy, she recognised God’s Holiness and Strength; His Sovereignty and Grace. As we entrust the longings of our hearts to God, He moves on our behalf, but also advances His larger plan through us at the same time.
ABIGAIL 1SAM 25:2-35
A Woman of Understanding
Her life was difficult in that she married a harsh and evil man (Nabal), but she was a woman of good understanding, she was wise, respectful and kept her heart right before the Lord. When her husband played the fool (1Sam25:25), she did not try to change his behaviour, but she intervened wisely by interceding for the lives of her people. She took up the role of a peacemaker 1Sam25:18-51. She was also a woman of courage under pressure, she turned from her own short sighted agenda to God’s eternal purpose. She did not allow revenge for all she had suffered in the hands of Nabal to blind her to take a wrong step. Her courage resulted in a great deliverance for her household. As a wise woman, her wisdom in effect surrounded and protected her mind, thereby bringing honour to her household Pr12: 4a. Finally, she was a godly woman; she knew God and His ways. As a result, God could use her to powerfully influence others, even a king. As a godly woman, abiding in the Holy Spirit, learn to trust in the insight and understanding the Lord gives you concerning the affairs of your home. A godly woman adorns herself with a spirit that is not self-exacting, or casting herself as her husband’s teacher, but seeking ways of being a true helpmeet for her husband, in order for him to fulfil his God given vision. She receives insights from the Lord and with a humble spirit relates it to her husband for the good of the marriage. A woman who cultivates her relationship with God first, then relates appropriately to her husband will powerfully influence him in every area of his life.
The Woman and Today’s Prophetic Possibilities
The name Huldah is derived from the Hebrew root word “cheled” which means “to glide swiftly”. Her name probably reflects her quickness of mind and her ability to swiftly and rightly discern the things of God. She was used by God in a fleeting moment of history to voice His judgment and His prophecy, and to spark off one of the greatest national revival in the history of Israel. She is a case study of the character and the potential of a woman, who today will receive the Holy Spirit’s fullness and step through whatever open door God provides. She commanded the respect and confidence of the High Priest Hilkiah and Shaphan the Scribe, this shows that spiritual influence flows from spiritual lifestyle, not merely from the presence of spiritual gifts. Acts 2:17-18 promises that the Church age allows for a rapid increase of the Holy Spirit’ anointing upon women. Huldah’s example of respectful, trust begetting, forthright living teaches on the grounds for wise and effective spiritual ministry.
Rising to meet your Destiny.
The account of Esther unfolds the way God opens destiny to any person who will keep His priorities. Esther was a Jewish orphan, a virtual nonentity, raised by her cousin Mordecai. Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah which means “Myrtle”, she reflected the myrtle in her courage and obedience, which clearly did not wither even in the face of death Esth 4:16. In Persian, “Esther” means “Star”. Again her beauty, grace and character shone bright and unwavering, against the darkness that threatened her people Esth 5:1-8; Esth 7:1-10. Even in the presence of recognition, success, wealth and luxury, an environment many covet, but which has so often proven destructive to spiritual commitment, Esther retained her sense of perspective and integrity. The following are the lessons to be learnt from her account:
1. She recognized God’s providence in her placement in life: she believed God, and not her beauty put her on the throne Esth 4:14.
2. Her respect for the power of prayer and fasting: she recognized the reality of the spiritual realm and the Holy Spirit’s resources Esth 4:16.
3. Finally, her unswerving will to lay down her own life for others and her wisdom and patience in pursuing her enterprise.
MARY LUKE 1:26-56
Faithful Mother: Obedient Disciple.
Mary loved the Lord from her childhood; she was devoted to God, brought up in the way of the Lord. She was a virgin, uneducated, from a poor background. To make matters worse, she lived in an obscured village that most Jews disdain, Nazareth Jn 1:46. Above all, she was a privileged vessel, chosen to bear God’s Son. She was a participant in the miracle of incarnation at a level no other human being can comprehend. It is clear she did not claim to understand it herself, but simply worship God in humble acknowledgment of the phenomenon engulfing her existence: “My soul magnifies the Lord” she exclaimed Lk 1:46. We can hardly fathom the bewildering moments she experienced when:
1. Simon prophesied future mental/emotional suffering Lk 2:34-35.
2. She and Joseph spoke with Jesus after they thought He was lost in Jerusalem Lk 2:40-50.
3. Jesus gently rebuffed her at the wedding in Cana Jn2:4.
4. Jesus seemed to reject her and His brothers’ efforts at helping Him, though they clearly misunderstood Him at that time Matt 12:46-50.
These instances teaches us the wisdom of persistence and obedience in following God’s basic directives on our lives, even when the details of the outworking of His Will are unclear or mystifying. Mary is a case study in the pathway forward in God’s will. Rather than using her position as the Mother of Jesus, to sought elevation in authority and influence for herself, among those who saw Jesus for who He was; Messiah, she remained steadfast with Him all the way to the Cross, not caring for her own protection Jn 19:25. She obediently joined the other disciples of Jesus in the Upper Room, waiting as He commanded, for the coming of the Holy Spirit Acts1:14. Mary was a model of responsive obedience, one who lived out her own directive to the servants at Cana. A timeless advice for all ages “whatever He (Jesus) says to you, do it” Jn2:5.
WOMAN OF SAMARIA JN 4:7-42
An Empowered Witness.
The story of the woman of Samaria teaches us a classic lesson in God’s redemptive action. Looking at the scenario critically, a lot of factors were against the woman:
1. The ongoing contempt of Jews for Samaritans Jn 4:9.
2. The reputation of the woman Jn 4:18.
3. The cultural restrictions of male and female interaction Jn 4:27.
But Jesus initiative forgave, restored and empowered her to persuade men to heed a Jewish Messiah. A transformed woman became a great evangelistic influence, as many Samaritans responded to Jesus as Messiah Jn 4: 29-30, 39-41.
Our Savior’s grace, seen in this woman of Samaria, illustrates how prejudices, beliefs, practices and exposures need not confine or destroy the potential of a person. An unnamed Samaritan woman received life changing revelation that eluded many learned scholars (1Cor 1:26-29). Spiritual insight that propelled her to another dimension; perceiving Jesus as a “prophet” Jn 4:19, then as “Christ” Jn 4:29. She is a model of how true revelation can translate into a powerful witness.
DORCAS ACTS 9:36-41
Practical Ministry: Helps and Hospitality.
Dorcas was a devout and compassionate woman, whose acts of generosity improved the quality of life for the less privileged in the community. Her concern extended beyond prayer, to various sorts of practical services of hospitality. She was noted for her aid to the poor, in particular to widows, for whom she served and did noble deeds Prov31:20. Because of her interest in the matter that touches the very heart of God; that is caring for the poor, the marginalized, the homeless, the widows, the orphans etc. God rose up in her defense when death came knocking on her door Prov19:17; Heb6:10. Through her ministry of Helps and Hospitality, her community experienced the manifested love of God.
PHILIPS’ DAUGHTERS ACTS 21:8-9
Women and New Testament Ministry.
The reference to Philips’ daughters each exercising the gifts of prophecy, makes clear that women did bring God’s word by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that such ministry was fully accepted in the early Church. Paul reinforced this in 1Cor11:5, where he directs that a woman may ‘prophesy, but she must be properly “covered”, that is, rightly related to her husband or other spiritual authority’. Women were also in the Upper room, waiting the Holy Spirit’s coming and the birth of the Church Acts1:14. Peter’s prophetic sermon at Pentecost affirmed the Old Testament promise was now realised: “your daughters” and “maidservants” would now, share fully and equally with men in realising the anointing, fullness and ministry of the Holy Spirit, making them effective in witness and service for the spread of the Gospel. For example:
Phoebe was mentioned as a servant of the Church probably a deaconess. John’s letter to an elect (chosen) Lady with instruction concerning who she allows to minister in her “house” (a designation for early church fellowship) 2John.
Priscilla and her husband mentioned as co workers with Paul were more like a husband/wife teaching team Rom16:3-4. The acceptance of women in public place ministry in the Church is not a concession to the spirit of feminist movement, but the refusal of such a place might be a concession to an order of male chauvinism, unwarranted by and unsupported in the Scriptures. Clearly, women are to be encouraged to use their God given gifts to evangelize Christ in their homes and neighbourhood. Acts2:17; Acts18:24-26; Phil4:2-3.