Enter the women! The women of the Bible that is. They are there, and they are an important part of God’s plan. Yes, I know that much of the Bible is written about men–kings and servants, rich men and poor men, good men and evil men. But in the beginning, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27.
Despite the current trend to try and eliminate “gender” from our society, it cannot be done, science proves that. If God had wanted only one gender he could easily have stopped creating after Adam. He specifically wanted there to be men and women. His divine design included both. We certainly would not have the Bible as we know it, or even the world if he had not created both.
So, let us begin at the beginning. Enter Eve. God had created Adam from the dust of the ground, then said it was not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18) He put Adam into a deep sleep and removed a rib from him. From that rib, God created woman, Eve (Genesis 2:21-22) I think this may be more profound that we realize. God created man from dirt, (Genesis 2:7) but when it came to creating the woman, he did something completely different. Instead of scooping up another handful of dirt, he took part of the man’s body to use to form the woman. Was this because he truly wanted them to be a part of one another? Was it because he was creating something lesser than the man? Or was she the revised version, Man 2.0 as it were? Was she the newer model, offering more bells and whistles, making her the superior version? Part of me would really like to think that. But the other part of me believes that she was created from Adam’s rib so they would be almost two halves of a whole. Together, they created a new entity. They created a partnership of man and woman, which we call marriage, and from the marriage the man and woman created a family.
Eve takes a bad rap for having given Adam the apple to eat, but really, was he such a poor spineless thing he couldn’t think for himself? I don’t believe so, he simply did not want God to be mad at him, so he pointed the finger at Eve. The real culprit here was the snake, but that and the fact that neither Adam nor Eve took responsibility for their own actions is a story for another day.
Through the centuries many women have played important parts in God’s plan. Some are specifically named and others are not. Take Noah for example. Without his wife (unnamed) and his son’s wives (also unnamed) there would have been no re-creation of mankind after the flood. We are all descendants of Noah.
Centuries later enter Ruth the Moabite. The story begins with a Jewish family; Elimelek, his wife Naomi and their two sons Mahlon and Killion. There is a famine in Israel and Elimelek moves his family to Moab where there is no famine. It is here both sons marry Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. Within the space of a few years, all three men die. Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem. Ruth accompanies her, saying “Where you go, I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.” In the end, she ends up marrying her kinsman-redeemer. Ruth is a woman of spotless character and true obedience. So much so that she gave her firstborn child to Naomi to raise as her son. What a rare form of goodness, obedience and love.
Somewhere around the same century as the book of Ruth was written, so was this next book. Enter Esther. Esther (also known as Hadassah) was a Jewish orphan being raised by her uncle Mordecai. She was an extremely beautiful young woman. King Xerxes (or Ahuesuerus) of Persia was looking for a wife and had posted throughout his kingdom his intentions, Several young women, including Esther were taken to the palace and placed under the care of a eunuch named Hegai. He took a special interest in Esther because of her modesty, innocence and true inner beauty. To make a long story short, Esther is picked as the queen but the king does not know she is Jewish.
The enemy of the Jews, Haman, was an honored noble of the king’s entourage. Haman tries to destroy all the Jews, but Esther and her uncle come up with a solution to put Haman out of the picture and prevent the massacre of thousands of Jews. Esther’s courage, love and family devotion, allowed her to take the steps necessary to save her people even if it cost her life. Ruth and Esther are two of my favorite books of the Bible. They contain romance, mystery, tragedy, comedy and a triumph of right over wrong, all revolving around each of these women and their time and place in history.
There are many other women, though they don’t have an entire book of the Bible accorded to them, they are important to the overall plan of God. Women such as Dorcas, Lydia and Phoebe who all played vital roles in growing the new church, after the resurrection of Jesus. I will tell their stories and more in another post.
Now, enter two of the most important women in the New Testament, the two cousins Elizabeth and Mary. One elderly, one very young, both giving birth to people who would change the world. Elizabeth bore John the Baptist, who was “the voice of one calling in the wilderness” the one who was sent to prepare the world for Jesus. And Mary, barely more than a child herself, upon being told she was to bear God’s son, praised God for the privilege and walked what was probably a very difficult path. She was pregnant and not by Joseph her betrothed husband. But she faced those trials anyway. As Joyce Meyers might say, she did it afraid. Even though she may have been afraid, she stepped outside her comfort zone to follow God. Such incredible obedience and faith
Not only did she appear in the Gospels as the young mother of the Christ child, she is notably there at the crucifixion of her son also. “The women” is the description we are given about a group of faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Enter the women at the tomb.
There were several of them, some named, some not that went to the tomb after the Sabbath to attend to the body of their Lord. One last time they would honor him. They had mixed their burial spices and were ready. The came to the tomb early in the morning. They knew where the tomb was because after the crucifixion, when the disciples had all gone into hiding, these women followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who procured the body of Christ and laid it in a new tomb owned by the same Joseph. They wrapped the body in linen cloths but could do no more as the Sabbath was about to begin.
These women, these faithful servants arrived at the tomb only to find it empty, and the stone rolled away. While the details of each gospel recording of this event are a little different, the main theme is the same. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the mother of John the Lesser, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Salome the mother of James and John (sons of thunder)are named in the four gospels. God chose these women, not one of the apostles, to share the news of Christ’s resurrection with the others.
Throughout the Bible, there are many important women woven into God’s plan for this earth. I have only named a few, but there are many more, each with a distinctive role to play. I know that women have been told by society for many years that they are not as important as men. That simply is not true, not in the Bible and not in our society today. Both genders, male and female, play equally important parts in this mystery of life.
We too have a role to play, responsibilities to shoulder and work to be done to further the kingdom and to fulfill the great commission to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Have you found your role? If not, I suggest you seriously pray about it. The Bible says in James 1:5 “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” So go ahead and ask, God is waiting for you to call, but your cell phone won’t work for this call.