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

Women, God’s blessing

The devil’s successful strategy in the garden of Eden was to use the woman to accomplish his evil goals.  But God promised Satan that he will use a woman’s seed for good, to overcome evil.  God said, ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He [Seed of the woman] will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.’ 1

This ‘seed or offspring of the woman’ refers to Jesus the Messiah, who would free us from the bondage of the devil.  He was born of a woman.  God’s intention is to bless mankind through women, while the devil wants to abuse women.  Women were loyal supporters of Jesus and the first to arrive on the resurrection scene.

We want to trace some Bible history to demonstrate how Satan’s efforts to use women to derail God’s program always failed.  With the Noah generation the devil tried to defile their human bloodline (Was God the first feminist?).  God thwarted that plan and with the wives of the Noah family the promise of Genesis 3:15 moved forward.  The next steps were the promises to Abraham (Abram) and later to David.

Abraham

God called Abram to leave his country and go to Canaan.  The Almighty gave him a promise, ‘… all nations on earth will be blessed through you.’ 2  The only way that all nations on earth can be blessed was through the Messiah.  Thus the promise to Abraham was that from his and Sarah’s offspring, the Savior would come.  This was reiterated by Jacob when he blessed his son Judah: ‘…the scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until it comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is His.’ 3

The devil attempted to prevent that.  He influenced Abram to twice ask Sarai to save his skin and go into the harems of two Gentile rulers.  God saved Sarai in both cases.  Then Satan gave Sarai the plan to give her Egyptian slave, Hagar, to ‘help’ God along with His promise of offspring to her and Abram.  The devil failed again, because Abraham and Sarah eventually miraculously had their promised son, Isaac (it means laughter), after 25 years.  Sarah was so blessed to experience for herself that God’s promises never fail.  God gave Isaac’s son, Jacob, the name ‘Israel’ and from his 12 sons came the Israelite nation.

David

The next ‘link’ to the Messiah born of a woman, was David.  God promised him, ‘When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body [Solomon], and I will establish his kingdom.  He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of His Kingdom for ever [Jesus]. …  Your house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me; your throne will be established for ever’ 4  (it is very obvious that no man can have descendants on his throne for ever.  The promise refers to the Messiah.  See the Addendum for the verses about David and his ‘Son,’ the Messiah).

So the devil knew he had to concentrate on David and his offspring.  How did the devil try to outsmart God?  Obviously he had to watch out for a specific woman.  David had quite a few wives, and according to the rules of succession, his eldest son should succeed him on the throne.  In the case of David, that rule was overruled by God.  Let us look at it in more detail:

David’s first wife, Michal  

Michal was in love with David, they got married, and she even rescued him when her father, Saul, wanted to kill him.  Still, she did not have that special love for the Lord in her heart.  We see it in the idol she had, which could not have come from David.  She used the idol to give the impression that David was in his bed when her father wanted to kill David. 5  Saul himself never became an ardent follower of Jesus like David.

When David brought the ark to Jerusalem, she despised him for his exuberant joy before the Lord, “When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel had distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!’ 6  David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler of the Lord’s people Israel – I will celebrate before the Lord.  I will become even more undignified than this and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.  But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.’” 7

2 Samuel 6:23 says, ‘And Michal, daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.’  If ever there was a man insulted about his devotion to God, it was David.  It might have floored the faith of an ordinary man, but not David’s.  He never deviated from his faith and loyalty to God.  He is an example of a man with strength of character.  This effort of the devil to derail David, failed.

David’s other wives

  • In time David got more wives: Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith and Eglah. 8  Later he took even more wives. 9
  • His sons were:
    • Amnon, son of David and Ahinoam of Jezreel.  He was the eldest. 10
    • Kileab by Abigail. 11
    • Absalom was the third son. 12
    • Adonijah was the fourth son by Haggith. 13

There were more sons, Shephatiah, Ithream, Shammua, Shobab, et cetera. 14

Bathsheba

After God’s promise to David, Satan realized that God was serious that someone born of a woman would come to crush his head.  So it made sense to him to use a woman again to try to floor God’s plan.  He thought if he could destroy David’s testimony, even wrest the kingdom from him, he could prevent a son of David carrying on the bloodline.  That explains the detail about Absalom’s conspiracy, and how David fled.  Since God made the promise to David,  Absalom lost his life and David regained the throne.  These are the events that preceded Absalom’s rebellion:

  • King David didn’t go to war with his soldiers as he should have.  So he was probably bored.  One evening he noticed a beautiful woman bathing herself on the roof of her house.  He sent someone to find out who she was.
  • Her name was Bathsheba.  Her husband was Uriah, a valiant soldier, one of David’s mighty men. 15
  • It was not a case that David was starved for female company.  Regardless of David’s many wives, and the possibility of more if he wanted them, he had Bathsheba brought to the palace.  He seduced her.  In 2 Samuel 11-20 we read the sad story that she became pregnant, David had her husband killed in battle, the child died and it resulted in serious family troubles for David.
  • David did not lose his faith in God despite the humbling experience.  He spent his last years on the preparations to build the temple. 16   Which is why we think God said about him, ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ 17  God said this of a man who had his own loyal soldier deliberately killed in battle when he made his wife pregnant.  What a God who can forgive such a grievous sin after David repented. 18
  • For Bathsheba the affair must have been a humbling experience.  Just think of the gossip behind her back.  They probably insinuated that she bathed on the roof of her house on purpose to get the king’s attention.  Yet, compared to David’s first wife, Michal, one never reads in the Bible that she led her husband astray, or tried to.

What did God do for Bathsheba?

  • Before the affair David already had six sons who should get preference.  He took more concubines and wives and had at least three more sons. 19  Solomon was the tenth son, so for him to become king was contrary to tradition.  Yet in His mercy, God named Solomon as David’s successor. 20   Solomon said, ‘…as surely as the Lord lives – He who established me securely on the throne of my father David and has founded a dynasty for me as He promised….’ 21
  • Bathsheba must have been special in king David’s life.  God loved their second son, Solomon.  ‘The Lord loved him [Solomon]; and because the Lord loved him, He sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah, ‘loved by the Lord.’ 22  God did not say that of any of David’s other children.  David promised Bathsheba that Solomon would be king when he is dead. 23
  • Later, after David died, Solomon treated his mother with the utmost respect, ‘When Bathsheba went to king Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne.  He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand’ (right hand always denotes honor, respect, like Jesus at the right hand of the Father). 24

Conclusion

Scripture is true, ‘There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.’ 25  The devil’s final attempt to kill off the promised seed of the woman, was with the Messiah Himself.  What would that outcome be?

References

  1. Genesis 3:15
  2. Genesis 12:3
  3. Genesis 49:10 2
  4. Samuel 7:12-16
  5. 1 Samuel 19:11-16
  6. 2 Samuel 6:1-23
  7. 2 Samuel 6:20-22
  8. 2 Samuel 3:2-5
  9. 2 Samuel 5:13
  10. 2 Samuel 3:2
  11. 2 Samuel 3:3,4b, 5
  12. 2 Samuel 3:3
  13. 2 Samuel 3:4
  14. 2 Samuel 3:4,5; 5:14-16
  15. 1 Chronicles 11:26,41
  16. 1 Chronicles 22-29
  17. Acts 13:22
  18. Psalms 32 and 51
  19. 2 Samuel 5:13-16
  20. 2 Chronicles 6:10
  21. 1 Kings 2:24
  22. 2 Samuel 12:25
  23. 1 Kings 1:13,17, 20-30
  24. 1 Kings 2:19
  25. Proverbs 21:30

Addendum

  • The New Testament explains, ‘Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.  But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that He would place one of his descendants on his throne.  Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was not abandoned to the grave, nor did His body see decay….’  Acts 2:29-32
  • Jesus is repeatedly called the Son of David in Scripture, ‘A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, the son of Abraham.’  Matthew 1:1
  • Jesus also verified it when He asked the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ?  Whose son is He?  ‘The Son of David,’ they replied.  He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls Him, Lord?’  For he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’  If then David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how can He be his son?'”  Matthew 22:41-45
  • There are many more verses to prove that David is the ancestor of Jesus and that God’s promise to David became true.  For example, ‘A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ son of David, the son of Abraham….’  Matthew 1:1  Luke 3:31 also mentions it. ‘…regarding His Son, who as to His human nature was a descendant of David….’  Romans 1:3 ‘Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.’  2 Timothy 2:8

Was God the first feminist?

We are still busy with Satan’s war against God.  God’s plan is to establish an eternal Kingdom of peace and happiness.  The devil opposes God continuously.  It began in the garden of Eden when the devil deceived Adam and Eve.  There he usurped Adam’s delegated authority to rule and became the ruler of this world himself. 1  He can use his authority to resist God’s plans.

God gave the serpent, the devil, a promise in the garden of Eden that a person born of a woman, will crush his head.  Satan does not particularly endorse or like the promise.  For a world ruler, he thought God was overdoing things.  So much that he resolved to make sure it would not happen.  He reckoned that all he had to do was to keep his eyes on women, and see how he could thwart it.

The devil’s first strategy

  • Satan assumed that his Conqueror (our Redeemer) would be a child born of a man/woman relationship because of the promise in Genesis 3:15, ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he [Jesus] will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’  So his first strategy was to contaminate the pure human bloodline from Adam and Eve.  He got some of his demons to intermarry with the beautiful daughters of men.  The plan was to change the ‘womanhood’ of women by ‘introducing’ his rebellious angelic blood through unnatural marriages.  Some people might wonder if it is possible for angels (or demons in this case) to marry women?  Look at the description of angels who appear as men in the Bible.  So it is not impossible, it happened. 2
  • God countered Satan’s ploy when He destroyed all life in a universal flood.  Only Noah and his family were saved.  The devil lost that round decisively.  Satan’s next big battle against God’s plan came when God called Abraham.
  • Please note that God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 caused the devil to hate especially women, intensely.  He detests mankind, created in the image of God, but now he had more reason to loathe women, since from one of them would come the promised Savior.
  • As we discuss the different strategies of the devil against two very important ancestors of Jesus (Abraham and king David), we will also discuss the devil’s attempt to floor God’s promises through women.  Yet at the same time, we will give attention to how highly God regards women, which explains the title, ‘Was God the first Feminist?’

The devil’s strategy against Abram and Sarai

  • God called Abram and his wife Sarai to relocate to Canaan.  God promised Abram, ‘I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ 3
  • Abram and his wife, Sarai, had no children.  She was barren.
  • How would all the people on earth be blessed by one childless man?  It could only be because the Redeemer would come from him.  He could not bless all people through some great scientific discovery because science was not that well developed.  He could not bless them because he performed the exploits of a famous leader.  From all accounts he was basically a farmer who looked after livestock.
  • The blessing God spoke of had a connection to Genesis 3:15.  The New Testament confirms it, “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith [through Jesus] and announced the Gospel in advance to Abraham, ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’  So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.'” 4
  • God’s promise to Abram, the childless man, was a great nation.  When Abram later complained to God about the problem that he had no children, God answered him, ‘…a son coming from your own body will be your heir.’ 5  Repeated in Genesis 17:2, ‘I am the Lord Almighty.   Walk before me and be blameless.  I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.’
  • When we look behind the scenes, it is interesting to see how the devil attempted to floor God’s promise to Abram.  Obviously the devil was very aware of God’s dealings with Abram.  He heard God’s promises.  What strategies could he devise to stop this plan of God to have Jesus be one of  Abraham’s descendants?

He had to ‘mix’ Sarai’s possible offspring with a foreign unbeliever.

  • So when Abram went to Egypt because of a drought, he told his beautiful wife to say she is his sister (she was his half sister) so that they won’t kill him and take her.  Pharaoh’s advisers saw how beautiful Sarai was.  They took her to Pharaoh’s palace to become part of his harem. 6  In those days such women were given an extended ‘beauty’ treatment (Esther’s was 12 months, Esther 2:12).  So we are sure Pharaoh had no intimate relations with her.
  • Sarai was also already 65 years old.  Why would Pharaoh prefer a 65 year old woman above a beautiful 18 year old?  We see the hand of the devil in it all.  However, God intervened on behalf of Sarai and inflicted various diseases on Pharaoh’s court.  So Pharaoh let Abram and Sarai go.  The devil did not succeed.
  • Abraham repeated the Egypt episode with Abimelech.  He again expected Sarai to say she was his sister and she was taken into the harem. 7   There God also protected Sarai and they left Abimelech’s court.

Another opportunity for the devil was with Hagar.

  • Sarai got impatient.  She told Abram to take her slave, Hagar, as his wife to bear the promised son.  The Bible does not explicitly mention it, but Satan is the father of disobedience.  God made a promise to Abram and Abram believed it.  But, as in the case of Eve, Sarai took matters in her own hands to ‘help’ God.  Abraham was part of the plot to ‘help’ God along.  They did not want God to be embarrassed because Sarai did not fall pregnant, despite God’s promises.
  • Abram’s son from the Egyptian servant was born, but God was not impressed.  His promise was that Abram would have a son by Sarai, not by Hagar. 8  For thirteen years God did not speak to Abram.  Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born, and God spoke again to him when he was 99 years old.
  • When God appeared to Abram at the age of 99, He told him very clearly, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you:  You will be the father of many nations.  No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you the father of many nations.  I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.’ 9  God promised that Sarai would have her son within a year.  Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah.  It means laughter because both she and Abraham laughed at God’s promise.  Yet that laughter came to full fruition of joy when their son Isaac was born. 10
  • Abraham and Sarah had only one son together.  Ishmael was jealous of him and Abraham sent him and his mother away.  Isaac married at 40 after the death of Sara.  His wife, Rebecca was barren for 20 years.  Isaac followed in his father’s footsteps and also required his wife to save his skin and ‘marry’ the king of the land. 11  Rebecca eventually gave birth to twins, Esau and Jacob.  Sibling rivalry in the family caused Jacob to flee to his mother’s family in Haran.  There he married two sisters and their maidservants.  All in all he had twelve sons, who became the twelve tribes of Israel.

God’s love and care of women

  • Sarah must have been humiliated when they took her into both Pharaoh’s and Abimelech’s harems.  She was also despised by Hagar when she became pregnant by Abram.  Yet God protected her.
  • God elevates her in 1 Peter 3:6b.  He tells women who believe in Jesus, ‘You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”  One can imagine that the message is, ‘Your husband gave way to fear and allowed you to be grabbed by another man, but you remained steadfast.’
  • Sarah is also the advertisement for God’s beauty treatment, ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.  They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master.’ 12
  • Hebrews 11:11 includes Sarah in God’s hall of faith, ‘It was by faith that Sarah together with Abraham was able to have a child, even though they were too old and Sarah was barren.’ New Living Translation.  The NIV is not that clear on Sarah’s faith, but other translations are.  Holman’s, ‘By faith even Sarah herself, when she was barren, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the One who had promised was faithful.’  The Interlinear Greek English Bible also agrees with the above translation.

Principles

  • It would have been the devil’s delight to mess Sarah up.  He failed, as he did when he tried to subvert the Noah generation.  God demonstrated in Sarah’s life how highly He values a woman.  He made a wife specifically to complement her husband.  They can become one in Christ as it is by faith we are saved, and there is no distinction.  In God’s Kingdom there is neither male nor female. 13
  • Through the ages there have been many efforts to accuse God that He favors men above women; that He regards women as inferior.  Bible Bashing is ‘normal,’ ‘His letters [Paul’s] contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.’ 14  Distortion is the name of the game.  Don’t be fooled by it.
  • Jesus, the Messiah, illustrates God’s high regard for women.  He is the ‘Bridegroom’ to be married to His Bride.  God’s creation of male and female as a bridegroom and bride is a shadow of that.  Jesus loves the Church, the Bride, and gave Himself up for her.  He went through agonizing, excruciating pain to buy a Bride for Himself with His own life and blood.  That gives one a very clear idea of how worthy women are in God’s sight.
  • So feminists who supposedly fight on behalf of women are slightly late.  God already did it thousands of years ago.
  • There will probably be people who ask, what about the women who were killed in the flood?  Noah took 70 years to build the ark while they heard him preach.  God gave them 120 years to repent and they refused. 15

Conclusion

  • Satan does not love women because of the promise of God.  Through the ages he did his best to cause them to often be treated very badly.  God is always the champion of women, as we see in the case of Abraham and Sarah.
  • Furthermore, Satan might be clever and gifted, but it is no guarantee that he can outwit God.  His attempt in the case of Abraham and Sarah failed.  God’s promise to Abraham about a large offspring is already true, ‘Understand, then that those who believe are children of Abraham.’ 16  That must be countless billions.

References

  1. 1 John 5:19b
  2. Genesis 19:1-3
  3. Genesis 12:2-3
  4. Galatians 3:8-9
  5. Genesis 15:4
  6. Genesis 12:14-20
  7. Genesis 20
  8. Genesis 16
  9. Genesis 17:4-6
  10. Genesis 18
  11. Genesis 26:1-11
  12. 1 Peter 3:3-6a
  13. Galatians 3:28
  14. 2 Peter 3:16
  15. Genesis 6:3; 2 Peter 2:5
  16. Galatians 3:7