God and women’s rights

Many people have written books and articles that accuse God that He does not care about women.  They contend that Scripture suppresses them and regards them as inferior, et cetera, et cetera.  The problem with those people is usually a lack of Bible knowledge.  Scripture says, ‘…pay attention to what I [God] say; listen closely to my words…’ 1  That means,

  • You have to read the Bible very carefully, otherwise you might jump to your own conclusions and not discern God’s character.
  • God is only revealed in the 66 books of the Holy Bible.  Information from outside the Bible is just that, information or personal opinions that often don’t accord with what Scripture reveals about God’s character.
  • Let us look at what an easily missed Old Testament portion teaches about God’s attitude towards women.

God’s attitude towards women

  • There are many ‘Christians’ who claim that they are ‘New Testament’ Christians.  For them, the Old Testament is of no use at all.  Where they get that idea, nobody knows.
  • Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith was an Old Testament scholar.  He, the omniscient Son of God, quoted from the Old Testament because it was relevant to what He taught (of course the New Testament was not yet written).
  • The Holy Spirit never threw the Old Testament into the dustbin.  It is part of God’s revelation to us.  So, what does the Old Testament teach about women’s ‘rights?’

Zelophehad and his five daughters

We meet Zelophehad from the tribe of Manasseh in Numbers 27:1.  He had five daughters who were so special to God that the Old Testament mentions their names (Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah) four times in Numbers 26:33; 27:1; 36:11; Joshua 17:3.  1 Chronicles 7:15 also mentions them.

They had an interesting history.

  • Their father, Zelophehad, died without sons.1  According to the law at that time, daughters could not inherit land.  As members of the tribe of Manasseh, they refused to be deprived of their right to an inheritance.
  • They approached the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly. 2  There they stated that their father died because of sin and had no sons.
  • They thought it unfair that their father’s portion of the promised land should be lost, since they could not inherit land.  Their plea for justice was, ‘Give us property among our father’s relatives.’ 3

Moses discussed the issue with God.

God’s answer was fair and without favoritism, ‘What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right.  You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance over to them.’ 4  Scripture is clear, ‘This is to be a legal requirement for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.’ 5

Five daughters who insisted on their rights

When it was time for the allotment of the different tribes, the five daughters went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua and the leaders, and said, ‘The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brothers.’ 6  Joshua obeyed, ‘Manasseh’s share consisted of ten tracts of land besides Gilead and Bashan east of the Jordan, because the daughters of the tribe of Manasseh received an inheritance among the sons….’ 7

The lesson?

  • The lesson of Zelophehad’s daughters carries through to the New Testament.  In God’s Kingdom men are not superior to women, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ 8
  • Peter also writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit, ‘Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.’ 9

Conclusion

Godly women need never fear that they will ‘inherit an inferior portion’ to men on the new heavens and earth.  Our wonderful Lord will see to it.

References

  1. Proverbs 4:20
  2. Numbers 27:1
  3. Numbers 27:2
  4. Numbers 27:4
  5. Numbers 27:5
  6. Numbers 27:11; Numbers 36:1-11
  7. Joshua 17:4
  8. Joshua 17:6
  9. Galatians 3:28
  10. 1 Peter 3:7

Can we afford to neglect the Bible?

Many people are called ‘Christians,’ 1 ‘followers of the Way’ 2 or ‘saints.’ 3   They are all united by one book, the Bible, or the Holy Scriptures.

Some of those people might have had the same experience that I had when I was called by the Lord.  I joined a local church and they told me to read the Bible, have faith and pray.  Somehow no one seemed to realize that I knew absolutely nothing about the Bible.  They assumed that I would understand what I read.  It took me years of private study to build up my faith and get to know God through His Word.

That is why we want to follow Jude’s lead and say, ‘Dear friends, although we are very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, we felt we had to write and urge you to contend for the Holy Scriptures that was entrusted to the saints.’ 4

#  Is the Bible just another book?

We are very used to books.  Millions have been written in human history.  It still happens, though the electronic media has changed it a bit.  Yet, out of all the countless millions of books, one book stands apart.  It is that special book, the Bible.  Let’s look at some of its outstanding characteristics:

#  It is a once off edition.

It will never be updated.  It cannot be updated, because its 66 books/booklets were written over a period of about 1,400 years (from the first book, Genesis to the last book, Revelation).  If you use the same method and time frame to update it, who knows if the world will still exist, seeing the rate of biological decay that is the result of God’s curse on creation.

#  The Bible covers an immense time space.

It describes the origin of the universe, of life on earth, how humans came to be, et cetera.  Then it describes how this present order will end.  It explains that there will be a future new heaven and earth.  This present natural heaven and earth is just a prototype of the coming one.  The Bible urges us to prepare for the coming one.

#  It is a book that has divided humanity into two groups.

  • People are either for it, or against it.  They either embrace it or ignore and hate it.  There is no neutrality, no feigning of ignorance about the God it introduces.
  • Many volumes of books are commentaries on it.  Many other volumes denounce and persecute it.
  • We know that there are numerous tribes and nations who still do not have Scripture, but even they are divided.  Some have the laws of God written on their consciences, some not. 5

#  One person described in the Bible has divided history into two slots.

  • It is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  Time was always indicated by, Before Christ (B.C.) and After Christ (A.D.).  It has now been changed to Before Common Era, and Common Era.  Why?  Because the ruler of this age, the devil, does not like the name of his conqueror, Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
  • The Cross sharply divided the light of God and the darkness of the evil one.  There are no any illusions about the Cross: either one’s sins are forgiven, or they are not.  Either one pays the punishment for sin oneself, or one lets Jesus do it.
  • The tragedy of the post cross era is that the devil has firmly established his anti-Jesus propaganda.  That propaganda never stops to tell people how bad Jesus is. Despite it, the Kingdom of God grows.  Jesus’ dominion will never end.

#  The Bible reveals what science and clever thinking cannot discern. 

  • It reveals the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Who could imagine that there exists three Persons with one essence?  Definitely not science!
  • The Bible introduces the enemy of the Trinity who rules over the world.  It is the devil and he forms his own trinity with the Beast and the False Prophet.
  • He is hostile to the Bible, and everything connected to it.   There are very few people, especially in the Western World, who are not aware of the war against the Bible.
  • The Bible teaches about angels, God’s good, loyal ones and the devil’s rebellious, evil ones.

Conclusion

Scripture is one of a kind.  Psalm 138:2 says, ‘…You have exalted above all things your Name and your Word.’  The Bible, the 66 books that is the Word of God, is incomparable, and a book no one can afford to neglect.

References

  1. Acts 11:26
  2. Acts 22:4
  3. Ephesians 1:1
  4. Jude 3
  5. Romans 1:20; 2:15

Jesus finally wins

In Genesis 3:15 God promised the devil, when he deceived Eve in the garden of Eden, that some day, Someone born of a woman, will crush his head.  We have traced some of the devil’s futile attempts to thwart this promise.  His next attempt was on Jesus Himself.

The promised One

The devil had kept a watchful eye on events in history for the One who would crush his head.  He realized that the promised One had come when:

  • The angel Gabriel announced to Joseph, ‘She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.’ 1
  • The Magi confirmed the birth of the King of the Jews, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’ 2
  • Mary announced the glorious news in a song to Elizabeth, ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.…  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name.’ 3
  • The devil and his followers knew Gabriel’s message to Mary, was true, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.’ 4

Gabriel, Mary, Joseph and the Magi confirmed to Satan that a decisive moment in history had arrived.  This child, Jesus, was the promised Messiah, the Son of God, ‘For to us a child has been born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Councillor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ 5  The devil realized that Genesis 3:15 was about to be fulfilled and he would have to get rid of Jesus.

  • He first worked through Herod.  Herod, a jealous and heartless leader who did not want anybody to usurp his kingly throne decided to kill Jesus.
  • He asked the Magi to reveal the whereabouts of the newly born King, “Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child.  As soon as you find Him, report to me, so I too may go and worship Him.'” 6
  • But God warned Joseph, “When they [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.  Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill Him.'” 7
  • In his frustration, Herod later ordered that all the young boys two years and under in Bethlehem and vicinity, be killed. 8  Jesus was safely hidden in Egypt.

The devil’s next opportunity – to repeat the successful strategy of Eden

The Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the desert right after His baptism by John the Baptist.  There He fasted for 40 days and the devil tried his best to convince Jesus to pay allegiance to him rather than to God.  He reckoned that Jesus was so weakened by the fasting that He would succumb to his suggestions.  In both Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13 he tried his clever plan that worked so well with Eve.

  • Eat the delicious fruit.  Eve obeyed, but Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’” 9
  • Believe me [Satan].  Eve forgot God’s command, but not Jesus who replied, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord Your God and serve him only.’” 10
  • You can be like God!  Eve fell for the proposition, but Jesus said, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 11  Jesus knew that He was God incarnate.  He would inherit the eternal Kingdom, not the kingdoms of the world the devil offered Him, because they will one day be destroyed by a massive fire.

God (Jesus) was victorious over Satan.  The devil failed, and he retreated in the face of Scripture truth spoken by Jesus.  However, Scripture is very accurate when it says, ‘When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.’ 12

The devil’s last opportunity – Jesus’ death on the Cross

The opportune time came.  Satan is one of the most brilliant students of the Bible.  He studies it intently and looks for clues to oppose God and to deceive mankind.  The Cross would be the final time for the devil to try to thwart his eventual death sentence prophesied in Genesis 3:15.  He had all his plans ready to get rid of Jesus.  He would make sure that Jesus would be deader than dead, never to rise from the grave.  He, Satan, would be the world ruler, the king of this planet – for eternity.  He would rule over humanity and harass them with evil, wars, addictions, danger, et cetera.  He knew Jesus had to die:

  • Jesus Himself told His disciples that He would fulfill Isaiah 53 when He said, ‘From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.’ 13  He repeated it often in the Gospels. 14
  • Isaiah 53:4-5 summarizes Jesus’ mission on earth, ‘Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted.  But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.’
  • Jesus is ‘the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ 15
  • So Jesus died, and was buried.  The grave was sealed and Roman soldiers were posted around the grave. 16   The devil thought nobody could get out of that grave.

What happened next is very interesting.  On the third day disturbing news reached the headquarters of the devil.  There were rumors of sightings of angels, an earthquake, an opened grave, et cetera. 17

  • A vicious battle ensued for the body of Jesus (to understand this type of battle, let’s recall the war in heaven in Revelation 12:7-8: ‘And there was war in heaven.  Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.  But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven’ – the devil lost that war and subsequently all his major campaigns to thwart God’s plans).
  • The war to keep Jesus in the grave was tremendous, because Ephesians 1:19-21 tells us, ‘That power is like the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion….’ 
  • We know that God is all powerful, because He created the heavens and the earth in six days according to Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11.  Yet Ephesians 1 says that ‘He exerted His mighty strength when He raised Jesus from the dead.’  The devil and his demons must have fought valiantly and desperately till the end.  But it was to no avail: Jesus rose from the dead, ascended and after His ascension sits at the right hand of His Father in heaven.
  • What a final, devastating fulfillment of Genesis 3:15.  The devil failed big time.
  • However, there is still another episode in the Bible to finally and systematically crush his head.  It is a future event that will bring a fitting end to the deceiver, murderer and liar.  It will happen at the end of this age.  No wonder the devil has no love for the book of Revelation which describes it.

The serpent’s head is finally crushed

The devil still reigns as ruler over the world because God uses him to sift people and gather the citizens for His eternal Kingdom.  Scripture tells us that there is still a struggle between man and the forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 18  At the end of time Jesus will finally exercise His kingly authority over Satan.

  • It begins with the opening scene in Revelation 5.  The apostle John cries his heart out because there is nobody who can open the seals of the scroll in God’s hands.  He realizes that the scroll is a type of testament or will.  If no one can open its seals, the saints cannot receive their inheritance from God.  So he just knows that it will be the end of all hope for the saints.
  • Then one of the elders say, ‘Do not weep!  See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.  He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ 19   The scene is magnificent, ‘Then I [John] saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain [Jesus], standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.’ 20  He takes the scroll and opens it, and the rest is history (because not one of God’s words have ever failed21).
  • After that Jesus systematically destroys the might of the devil and Revelation 11:15 tells us the magnificent news, ‘The kingdom of the world [the devil’s kingdom] has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever.’
  • From Revelation 6-20 one defeat after another hits the devil.  He spends a thousand years in the Abyss, but not even that cures him of his evil ways.  When he is released, he immediately sets out to deceive the nations.  Jesus handles it effectively and, ‘…the devil, who deceived them [the nations] was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet [his unholy trinity] had been thrown.  They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.’ 22

Finally, God’s plan is fulfilled

  • Then, ’…the dwelling of God [will be] with men, and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.’ 23 
  • ‘…the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants [we the followers of Jesus] will serve Him.  They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.’ 24

Conclusion

What else can we say, than to do like the apostle John did, fall down and worship.  We do not fall down before the angel, but before our glorious God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (who will be with the Bride). 25

References

  1. Matthew 1:21
  2. Matthew 2:2
  3. Luke 1:46-49
  4. Luke 1:35
  5. Isaiah 9:6
  6. Matthew 2:7-8
  7. Matthew 2:13
  8. Matthew 2:16
  9. Genesis 3:1-5; Luke 4:4
  10. Luke 4:8
  11. Luke 4:12
  12. Luke 4:13
  13. Matthew 16:21
  14. Mark 8:31-32; 10:33-34; Luke 9:22,44; 18:38, 24:25-27,44
  15. Hebrews 12:2
  16. Matthew 27:62-66
  17. Matthew 28:2-7; Mark 16:4-7; Luke 24:3-8; John 20:1-9
  18. Ephesians 6:12
  19. Revelation 5:1-5
  20. Revelation 5:6
  21. Numbers 23:19
  22. Revelation 20:10
  23. Revelation 21:3
  24. Revelation 22:3-4
  25. Revelation 22:8-9