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

Some interesting tidbits about the Old Testament

The Jews believed firmly in the Shema, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.’ 1  So when Jesus said, ‘I and the Father are one,’ 2 they questioned Him.  Jesus answered, ‘… If He called them ‘gods’ to whom the word of God came – and Scripture [Old Testament] cannot be broken….’’ 3

#  Jesus declared:

  • The word (Word) of God is Scripture.
  • Scripture is the Word of God.
  • Scripture cannot be broken.

#  Why can’t Scripture be broken?

Besides that it is the Word of the eternal God, it must be available to all people in all ages.  It is imperative that people since about 400 BC (Malachi is the last book of Old Testament) have the same document that expresses the will of God.  The Bible is the map that shows the way to eternal life on the new heavens and earth.

#  Jesus never once doubted the Old Testament Scriptures,

When Judas Iscariot led the crowd, sent from the chief priests and the elders, to arrest Him, Jesus said, ’But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’ Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, never doubted the truth and accuracy of the Old Testament.

#  It never once says the word of God came to Jesus.

The reason is that Jesus is God, revealed to us in the New Testament.  He is ‘the Word of God,’ according to John 1:1 &14 and Revelation 19:13, who spoke through the prophets in the Old Testament and the apostles in the New Testament, by the Holy Spirit.  So the word of God did not come to Him, He is the Word.

#  The Old Testament teaches about Jesus.

Paul wrote, ‘…from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures [Old Testament], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’ 5

#  God exalted His Word:

It is written, ‘…For you [Lord] have exalted above all things your Name and your Word.’ 6

#  What should our attitudes be?

Followers of Jesus who are filled with the Holy Spirit should have the same attitude as our Lord Jesus.  The Old Testament is the Word of God and thus important for us to hear what God says to us.

Conclusion

Let’s agree with the psalmist, inspired by the Holy Spirit, ‘I have put my hope in your word.’ 7

References

  1. Deuteronomy 6:4
  2. John 10:30
  3. John 10:35
  4. Matthew 26:54
  5. 2 Timothy 3:15
  6. Psalm 138:b
  7. Psalm 119:74, 81, 114, 147

How to answer questions about Jesus

People often ask whether the Old Testament (75% of the Bible) is necessary?  There are churches who concentrate only on the New Testament message that Jesus Christ saves from sins.  It is a true statement, but the problems begin when people in those congregations have to answer why they believe it.  It is a difficult question to answer when you concentrate only on the 25% of the New Testament.

#  Possible questions 

  • Why is a person born in sin and why does he need to be forgiven?
  • Why can’t Jesus just forgive all people their sins?
  • If your sins are forgiven, does that mean you can live as you like, with the ‘guarantee’ to enter heaven?
  • If Jesus forgives sins, what about Allah, Buddha and others?

#  Possible answers

You can only answer those question, and many others like them, if you take a Kingdom view of Scripture (Old + New Testament), instead of a New Testament view only.   The differences in broad terms are the following:

  • The ‘Jesus saves’ view,  ‘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 Kingdom view, ‘The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; His Kingdom will never end.’ 2

In broad terms, we can say the Matthew version is the New Testament one, Jesus saves.  The Luke version is the Kingdom view, which includes both testaments.  Note the references to Jacob and David in the Old Testament.

#  Answers from both testaments

The complete Bible gives a more comprehensive view of Jesus’ work on earth.  Look at some aspects:

  • Adam was banished from Eden because of his disobedience.
  • Eden, which represents God’s ideal Kingdom, expects obedience from its citizens.
  • The Old Testament proves that eventually obedience is an elusive concept, because the Israelites failed most of the time.  The Gentiles also failed.
  • God’s New Covenant was in Jesus.3  He would cleanse people’s hearts by forgiveness, and fill them with the Holy Spirit who lives in a ‘clean’ house.
  • Only the Holy Spirit can help a person to be obedient to God, based on what the Bible teaches.
  • Only through Jesus are we reconciled to God.  The fellowship was broken by Adam’s disobedience.

Conclusion

The Kingdom view of Jesus’ work on earth does not minimize Jesus’ work.  On the contrary, through the failure of Adam, one understands how important Jesus is.  Only He reconciles us with God, only He can give God children.  Only by taking into consideration the whole message of the whole Bible can we answer why Jesus had to die to forgive our sins.

References

  1. Matthew 1:21
  2. Luke 1:32
  3. Jeremiah 31:31-34