Great Women Of The Bible-The Mary Edition Part 1 (Mary & Mary Magdalene )

For the next two Great Women of the Bible Posts (including this post) will be dedicated to the Marys in the Bible. Mary Edition Part 1 is Mary, mother of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.

Mary-The mother of the saviour and a woman honoured above all

Bible Reference-Matthew 1:1-25; 2; 12:46; 13;55-56; Mark 6:3; 3:31; Luke 1; 2; John 2:1-11;19:25; Acts 1:14

Family Background-Mary was of the tribe of Judah and of the line of David. She was married to Joseph, son of Heli and they conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. She had sons James, Joses, Simon, Judas and unnamed daughters. Her cousin was Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.

Name Meaning-Mary is a Hebrew name meaning bitterness, rebellion

Who is Mary?

Mary was a women from the tribe of Judah and the line of David. She was from the city of Galilee called Nazareth. She was betrothed to a man called Joseph, who also was from the line of David and tribe of Judah. The Bible tells us she was a virgin.

The scripture tells us that an angel of the Lord called Gabriel appeared to Mary and said:

“Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Mary was scared and troubled when she saw the angel, wondering why the angel was there. The angel told her:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary asked the angel how this could happen as she does not man (keep in mind that she was a virgin and not married to Joseph yet).

The angel told her:

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.  Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Then Mary replied, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

After the visitation of angel Gabriel, Mary went to a town in Judea to visit her relative Elizabeth. The Bible tells us that once Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb rejoiced and was filled with the holy spirit:

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!”

Mary then replied with a song of thanksgiving in Luke 1:46-55. She stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Mary was pledged to marry Joseph, but before they come together she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. As Joseph was a man who was faithful to the law and did not want to disgrace her publically, he made up his mind to divorce her quietly. However an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to him to take Mary as his wife because what she had conceived was from the Holy Spirit.

Soon after this, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census that everyone had to take in their town. Joseph went with Mary to the town of Bethlehem as he was from the house and the line of David. While they were there, Mary gave birth to her son Jesus. She wrapped him up in cloths in a manager, as there was no guest room available for them.

Why is Mary great?

Mary, as the mother of Jesus Christ, is the most well known female in the Bible. She was called ‘highly favoured one’ and ‘blessed are you among women’. This means that Mary had received so much grace and unmerited favour from God. Undoubtedly, as the mother of saviour she is a great woman. This alone is not her only call to greatness, but her character.

Mary was a humble and young woman who faced losing her fiancé due to being an unwed mother. Even though she was to be honoured as the mother of saviour, she must of known the possibility of being rejected and publically disgraced . Mary’s submission to God’s plans could have cost her rejection from those around her yet she was still willing to submit herself unto God.

What amazes me, is the way Mary received the message from the angel of God. She did not doubt the message but received it in obedience and faith by answering “I am the Lord’s servant…May your word to me be fulfilled”. Mary’s song of thanksgiving showed her gratitude and also spoke of her humility. Mary was mindful of the fact that she was a humble village girl.

What can we learn from Mary?

We can learn from Mary’s submission and obedience to God. Mary must of known the challenges she could have faced by submitting herself to God’s plan. She risked losing Joseph and being disgraced publically as a unwed mother. Mary probably knew the suffering she would go through as Jesus’ mother. She knew that one day she will see her son die in order to save us from our sins. She may not have realised how painful the death was to be, only until she stood there watching her child die on the cross. Still, she willing submitted herself to God and his plans. She rejoiced in his plans. She had faith in his plans. Can we willingly accept God’s plans? Can we rejoice in God’s plans like Mary did, when we know we may face challenges? Can we have faith in his plans? Can we be submissive and obedient to his plans?

Mary Magdalene- A loyal and faithful follower

Bible Reference-Matthew 27; Matthew 28; Mark 15 ; Mark 16 ; Luke 8; Luke 24; John 19:25; John 20:1-18

Family Background-The Bible does not mention her family background.

Name Meaning-Mary is a Hebrew name meaning bitterness, rebellion. The name Magdalene in Hebrew means the tower.

Who is Mary Magdalene?

Mary Magdalene is one of the most speculated woman figures in the Bible. There have been claims that have been made about her which is untrue, such as the claim that she was a prostitute. The Bible does not mention the woman who washed her washed Jesus’ feet was Mary Magdalene.

However we do know that, Mary Magdalene was a woman that Jesus cast seven demons out. She, among other women became followers of Jesus Christ. The bible mentions that these women that followed Jesus helped by supporting his ministry with their own means.

Mary Magdalene witnessed many of the crucifixion events. She was there along with Jesus’ mother Mary and other women who stood near Jesus at the cross. She along with other women went to Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body, the stone of his tomb had already been rolled away. They were told Jesus had arisen and they should tell the disciples and Peter. The disciples did not believe Mary Magdalene and the others as the Bible says ‘their words seemed like nonsense’.

Early on in the first of the day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and did not find Jesus there. So she told Simon Peter and the other disciple, that they had taken the Lord away from the tomb. The disciples looked into the tomb and found the linen that was used to wrap Jesus’ head was there. Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb crying, the two angels then asked her why she was crying. She replied that had her Lord had been taken away. Mary Magdalene turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t realise it was him. She realised that it was Jesus when he said her name. Jesus told Mary to tell the rest that he was ascending to the father. Mary Magdalene told the disciples that she had seen Jesus. Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus out of his followers and disciples.

Why is Mary Magdalene great?

Mary Magdalene was great because she was the first person honoured to see Jesus after his resurrection. She had great faith and believed that he had arisen even before his disciples. Later on Jesus rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith in not believing that he had arisen when Mary Magdalene others who told them of his resurrection.

Additionally, Mary Magdalene was a loyal woman who was supportive and generous. She is listed amongst women who helped support Jesus’ ministry with their own money.

What can we learn from Mary Magdalene?

We can learn from Mary Magdalene’s great faith in Jesus. She was obedient in telling the others that Jesus had arisen when the angels of the Lord sent them. She believed when she saw Jesus and did not question him. Her faith did not waver. As a follower of Jesus, we are bound to face difficult times in the world. When Mary Magdalene and the others told the disciples that Jesus had arisen, they thought she was talking nonsense. As Christians, people may think your beliefs is ‘nonsense’ and you may be ridiculed for your beliefs. However you and I must hold onto the truth. We must keep the faith like Mary Magdalene, regardless of whether people think it is nonsense or not. Jesus is worth it all!

 

Stay Blessed

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Great Women Of The Bible- Lydia

 

Lydia-The Woman of Purple

Bible Reference-Acts 16:12-15;40

Family Background-The Bible does not mention Lydia’s family background.

Name Meaning-Lydia is a Greek name meaning woman from Lydia.

Who is Lydia?

The Bible introduces Lydia as a woman from the city of Thyateira and a seller of purple. Thyateira is in modern day Turkey. Paul and Silas went to Philippi where they met Lydia and stayed with her. Lydia was a seller of purple, which was a type of purple cloth. Thyateria at the time was a well known place for the purple cloth.

Why is Lydia great?

There is little known about the life of Lydia in the Bible but what the scripture tells us is great. The Bible describes her as a worshipper of God. When Paul and Silas met her on that Sabbath day, she was among women in a place of prayer. The fact that Lydia worshipped God demonstrates that she was a religious woman. Although the scripture tells us Lydia was a seller of purple goods, Lydia still had time for spiritual matters. She did not let her business and her work take over what was important, which was worshipping God. However being a religious person is not enough, the belief in God is not enough, being saved is enough.

The Bible tells us that Lydia’s heart was open to receive the word of God from Paul and along with her household she was baptized. This highlights Lydia’s hunger for God, she wanted more than just being a religious woman, she wanted to be for God and to be saved. She opened up her heart and received Christ as her saviour. She is seen as the first European Christian convert.

Lydia was also an hospitable woman, she opened her home to those who helped her to become a Christian. Through her newfound faith, she was kind and gracious to give a place for Paul and Silas to stay and help them with their needs. She invited  Paul and Silas to her house even after they had been in prison.

What can we learn from Lydia?

We can learn from Lydia story the importance of wanting to hear the word of God. The Bible says she opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. Not only did she hear what Paul had to say, she acted upon it. To heed is to give careful attention and regard to something. So, Lydia listened to things spoken and took it into consideration. Sometimes we hear messages of God and that’s it. We go to Sunday church service and hear the sermon and that’s it. God wants us to heed to the things he has spoken. We should learn to listen and apply the word of God to our lives as Lydia did. It is important to listen, the Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Lydia abided by that and was willing to listen.

Secondly what we can learn from Lydia, is her eagerness for her to be saved and abide by the word. The scripture tells us that her along with her household was saved. She obeyed what Jesus had said, that being baptised was a important and necessary condition to be saved. In Mark 16:15-16  Jesus called for all to preach the Gospel and that who believes and is baptised shall be saved. 

Thirdly we can learn from Lydia is her kindness and hospitableness. She was a true Christian in opening her home to Paul and Silas. She was not ashamed also of the Lord’s prisoners.

Stay Blessed

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Great Women Of The Bible- Jochebed & Leah

I am so sorry, I have been away for a while, meaning no Great Women posts on the blog. I know  you all enjoy it and I enjoy studying it too. It’s back now, with two great women Jochebed and Leah-YAY!

Jochebed-The mother who bore great children

Bible Reference-Exodus 2:1-11; Exodus 6:20; Numbers 26:59; Hebrews 11:23

Family Background- Jochebed was a daughter of Levi and married a Levite man Amram, who was her nephew. This kind of marriage was later forbidden by the law of Moses (Leviticus 18:8-18; Leviticus 20:11-21). She had three children with Amram: Moses, Aaron and Miriam.

Name Meaning- God’s Glory

Who is Jochebed?

The story of Jochebed begins in Exodus 2:1-11. She is described as a Levite woman or a daughter of Levi who married a man of the house of Levi. The Bible describes how she conceived a son with her husband.

The Pharaoh had commanded that all Hebrew male babies should be killed as he feared they would become powerful and join his enemies in a war against him. With this in mind, Jochebed hid her beautiful child for three months until she no longer could. So, Jochebed put her baby in an ark of bulrushes and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. His sister then watched from afar to see what would happen.

The Pharaoh’s daughter bathed in the river and saw the ark, she sent her maid to get it. She opened the ark and saw the child. She realised the child was Hebrew and felt compassion for the child. The sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter whether she should call a Hebrew nurse to nurse the child and Pharaoh’s daughter sent her. The maiden sent for the child’s mother (Jochebed) and Pharaoh’s daughter told her to nurse the child and she’ll give her wages. When the child grew up she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and it became her son. She called his name Moses because she drew from the water.

Why is Jochebed great?

Jochebed can be recognised as a great women of God as she preserved the life of her baby boy. When she gave birth to Moses, she saw he was a beautiful child and instead of letting him be killed, she risked it all by putting him in an ark of bulrushes in the river. For this courage, the Bible recognises her in Hebrews 11:23 as one of the heroines of faith.

She was not afraid of Pharaoh’s decree that all Hebrews baby males were to be killed. Instead she devised a clever plan to save the life of her child. I can only imagine the fear that Jochebed had as a mother putting her newly born child in a cradle and in a river where there could have been dangerous animals. Or even giving her child to Pharaoh’s daughter when he grew up. The bible mentions a few times that Moses was a ‘beautiful child’ and in Acts 7:20 it says that when Moses was born he was pleasing to God. Her faith must have lead her to build up the courage to put her baby in the cradle, believing that her child was going to be a great man of God.

Jochebed was determined to save her child’s life, who later became one of the greatest men of God- the future giver of law and leader. She also had Aaron who was Israel’s first high priest and founder of Aaronic priesthood. There was also her daughter Miriam who was a talented and gifted musician and poetess.

What can we learn from Jochebed?

One of the key things we can learn from the life of Jochebed is her trust and faith in God. It could not have been easy in her position knowing that Pharaoh had commanded all Hebrew male children to be killed. Yet she pressed on her with plan, putting her child into a cradle in the river and saving his life. From this, we can learn that we must have faith in whatever situation we are in. When we are in trouble whether it us, or are family and friends we must remember Christ is with us. Jochebed had faith that God that he would protect her baby. I believe because of this she was able to put her child in the cradle. We can learn to let go and let God. Jochebed let go of her child and let God protect him. Look where her letting go and letting God brought her and her child-Mother of Great children and Moses the giver of the law.

Sometimes we need to realise by letting go of our worries and burdens and giving it to God, it can bring even greater results that we would have never imagined. Jochebed placed Moses in the river, little did she know that he will grow up to be one of the greatest of God’s leaders and deliver the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt.  By Jochebed letting go and trusting God, an extraordinary dream was fulfilled. Therefore as Jochebed did, we should learn to let go and let God. We will not always see why God wants us to let go, but his plan for us is always greater than what we can imagine.

Leah-The woman who was unloved but not unseen

Bible Reference- Genesis 29; 30; 49:31; Ruth 4:11

Family Background- Leah was married to Jacob, who was also married to her sister Rachel. Her father was Laban, Jacob’s uncle. Leah had seven children with Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah.

Name Meaning-Weary or tired

Who is Leah?

Jacob travelled away from his home to find a wife among his relatives. When he first met Rachel,  he fell in love with her at first sight. The Bible says she was ‘beautiful of form and appearance’ (Genesis 29:17 ) but Leah’s eyes were delicate. This could mean that she had poor eyesight or she lacked beauty that her sister Rachel had.

Jacob worked for his uncle Laban for seven years to have Rachel as his wife. However Laban had tricked him sending in Leah to Jacob in the night. When Jacob found out that his Uncle had deceived him he was upset and felt deceived. Laban told him that is not their custom to give the younger daughter first and he will give Rachel also in return for another seven years.

The two sisters competed for their husband’s affection. It was Rachel who received Jacob’s love and attention. They both made the mistake in giving their servants Zilpah and Bilhah to Jacob in order to out do each other in times of barrenness. Even though Leah had more children, the Bible says that the Jacob’s love for Rachel was greater.

Why is Leah great?

Why is Leah a great woman you may ask?  She remained loyal and true to her husband, even though he had greater love for her sister. Leah remained strong in God enduring the envy of her sister and the sad situation she was in. Rachel had became envious because her sister was having children and she was not  at that time (Genesis 30). It seems that Leah’s heart remained pure, even though she was not loved and envied by her very own sister.

The names she gave to her children showed that she knew that God remembers her. It also showed that she had faith in God. For example her sons Reuben, Simeon and Levi:

Reuben- ‘She named him Reuben, for she said “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband should love me now” (Genesis 29:32)

Simeon-“Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too” (Genesis 29:33)

Levi-“Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons” (Genesis 29:34)

Despite Leah’s loveless marriage, she bore six sons who were to become the founders of the six tribes of Israel. From her son Judah came Jesus Christ, the saviour. This shows that although her husband did not give her as much love as her sister, God remembered her. God remembered that Leah was a great woman who remained faithful and loyal in her sadness. Additionally, the Bible recognises Leah as a great woman in Ruth 4:11, who along with her sister built the house of Israel. At the end of Jacob’s life, he requested to buried with Leah, this highlights the possibility that Jacob saw the great virtues in Leah and had grown to love her.

What can we learn from Leah?

One great lesson we can take from Leah’s story is that God is not concerned about our outer appearance. God cares for our inner beauty rather than what is outside of us. The bible says Rachel was beautiful and Jacob loved her. However what is interesting and amazing, is that the saviour, Jesus Christ came through Leah not Rachel.  Though Leah may have had weak eyes, God saw her and her inner beauty which Rachel did not have. Rachel was envious and that is not inner beauty.  God looks at the heart, Rachel’s heart was envious and Leah’s was faithful. We can learn from this that God loves us regardless of what we look like. Whether the world finds you and I attractive or not, God will not reject you. He is concerned with your inner beauty, whether you are faithful and have a good heart.

Leah tried to make Jacob love her by her behaviour and actions. This was seen when she was naming her children. She thought by having many children, that her husband would love her. This is another lesson to show us that love is not meant to be earned by behaving in a certain way or pleasing someone. Love is to receive and give in a kind way. As in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, love is not meant for us to feel bad or feel sad, or to do things in order to make another person love us. We need to remember that God’s love is enough, he loves us more than any man or woman ever can. God loves us unconditionally. The Bible describes that God saw her ‘When the Lord saw Leah was unloved…”(Genesis 29:31). This shows us that even when we feel ignored or unloved there is someone who notices us and loves us. This person is God. As discussed above (Why Leah is great?) and in this section, Leah’s hopes was on winning the love of her husband. When giving birth to her son Levi, she thought “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons” (Genesis 29:34). However when she had her fourth son, Judah, there was a change of heart, she praised God and turned to him. Maybe she realised that God is enough.

We need to remember not to look for love in the wrong places. God will give us people in our lives that will love us- sister, mother, father, children, friend, brother, husband and wife etc. However we need not pin our hopes on winning the love of man, when we have an almighty God who loves us unconditionally.

Stay Blessed

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Great Women of The Bible Challenge- Jemima & Joanna

 

Jemima- Most beautiful and a women of inheritance

Bible Reference- Job 42:12-15

Family Background- Jemima was the daughter of Job, the eldest of three daughters (sister to Keziah and Keren-Happuch)

Name Meaning- Jemima or Jemimah means dove in Hebrew

Who is Jemima?

Jemima was the eldest daughter of Job. Job, was a blessed man who lived righteously. God sings praises of Job and the Devil challenges Job’s character, suggesting that he only served God because God protects him. God removes his protection and allows Satan to take his children, his health and his wealth but not his life in order to test Job.  Despite what Job went through, he continued to serve, worship and praise God. For this, God restored his fortunes and gave him twice more than he had before. Jemima was born to him after his return to prosperity.

Why is Jemima great?

Even though there is little known about Jemima, she is a great character in the Bible. Not only were her and her sisters the most beautiful women of their time, their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. This is unusual especially at that time for women to receive inheritance. This demonstrates that Jemima and her siblings were distinguished women of their time. It was expected for men to receive inheritance but not for women.

What can we learn from Jemima?

It is interesting to see that Jemima and her sisters names were mentioned but not her brothers names. What we can take from this story, is that we can all be great regardless of our gender. It does not matter whether you are a woman or a man you have been called to be great. You may think that because you are a female you can not be in a particular position or achieve something that is not expected. You can! Look at Jemima and her sisters, they were not expected to receive inheritance yet they did.

Joanna- Jesus’ Supporter and a woman healed by Christ

Bible Reference- Luke 8:1-3, Luke 23:55-56, Luke 24:1-12

Family Background- Joanna was the wife of Chuza,the manager of Herod’s household.

Name Meaning- Joanna means God is gracious in Hebrew

Who is Joanna?

We are introduced to Joanna in Luke 8. We are told that Jesus travelled from one town to the other preaching the good news. There were twelve with him and some women who had been cured of diseases and evil spirits. This included Mary Magdalene,  Joanna, Susanna and many others. These women were helping to support using their own means.

We are not told whether she was delivered from evil sprits or healed from a disease. However we do know that Joanna gave her life to Christ and followed him.Her husband who held the position of a steward of Herod’s household suggests that Joanna and her husband had social prominence. It also suggests that they were a wealthy couple.

At the burial of the Jesus, Joanna and the women saw the tomb and his body laid in it. They then went home to prepare spices and perfumes. They stayed obedient by resting on the Sabbath.

Joanna and the rest of women took the spices they prepared and went to the tomb. They rolled the stone away from the tomb but the body was not there. They wondered where the body went, then two men appeared, telling them that Jesus had resurrected. The women including Joanna, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James went to tell the apostles but they did not believe them.

Why is Joanna great?

Before I read this, I did not know much about Joanna. I am so glad I included Joanna as part of the Great Women of the Bible. What strikes me so much about this woman and the others, is their incredible faith. She along with the other women in Luke 24:1-12:

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Joanna and the women told the apostles that Jesus had risen and they did not believe it. Think about it for a minute, these were the guys that accompanied him everywhere in his ministry, knew him personally and loved him. These same men thought that the women were speaking nonsense.  Yet Joanna spoke boldly to the apostles and told them what she had heard.  She believed that Jesus was crucified and had risen by remembering his words. The bible tells us that faith comes through hearing by Christ which she did. She heard God’s word and believed it. She had great confidence in Jesus. You can tell she cared so much for Jesus by preparing spices and perfumes for his body. The one who cured her disease and her soul became precious to her. She showed this love by supporting him and his followers financially.

Joanna could have lead another life of power and riches, being married to Chuza (manager of Herod’s household). Yet she used the power that she had and found the greatest power of all, Jesus. God then honoured Joanna’s faithfulness by her being one of the first witnesses to the Resurrection.

Joanna was truly great!

What can we learn from Joanna?

The Bible tells us without faith it is impossible to please him. If we wish to draw near to God we must believe that he exists. Joanna and the other women believed in his words, they remembered that Jesus would die and rise on the third day. For this she was rewarded. We can learn from Joanna’s story, to believe in God always. When God tells us something, we should believe, we shouldn’t think it is nonsense like the apostles did or go out and check for evidence like Peter. We should build our confidence in Christ Jesus.

Stay Blessed

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Great Women of the Bible Challenge- Jael

Jael- The woman who killed Israel’s enemy

Bible Reference- Judges 4:17-22, Judges 5

Family Background- Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite

Name Meaning- Jael also Yael, is a Hebrew name which means wild mountain goat

Who is Jael?

We are introduced to Jael in Judges 4. God told Deborah that she would deliver Israel from the King of Canaan. Deborah called Barak to lead a army against the King of Canaan. However Barak wished that Deborah would go with him in battle. Deborah agreed but prophesied that it was a woman that would deliver Israel from its enemy. The King of Canaan’s army was led by Sisera.

We learn that Sisera the enemy of Israel  fled to Jael’s tent. The Bible tells us this is because there was an alliance between Jabin the King and Jael’s husband.

Jael greets Sisera and invites him into her tent. She tells him not to be afraid.  He asks for water and she gives him milk. Sisera tells Jael to stand by the doorway of the tent and if anyone asks if anyone is in the tent say no.

However Jael picket up a tent peg and hammer, went quietly to him while he was sleeping and killed him.

Then Barak was looking for Sisera and Jael met him. She showed him the dead Sisera.

Why is Jael great?

To be honest when I first came across Jael when reading Deborah’s story, I did not think much of her. Should I include this woman in my study of the Great Women of the Bible? This woman used her hospitality skills to kill a man. What a sly woman? These were the thoughts running through my head. But then something struck me which is in Judges 5:17-22 and completely changed my mind on Jael.

Deborah described her- ‘Most blessed of women be Jael’. This struck me. Why did it? Jael is only one of two women in the Bible to be described as blessed, the other is Mary (mother of Jesus). This tells us something, that this woman is  special indeed. She is great because she was a fearless heroine, who killed the man who oppressed God’s people.

What can we learn from Jael?

Jael is not your ‘typical biblical great woman’. She is not as well known as the others. I questioned Jael’s actions over and over again. To offer hospitality and safety to a person, then the next minute murder him, I thought was really mean. In fact, evil. Remember, Jael’s husband was at peace with Sisera’s master King Jabin.

She may not be your Mary or your Hannah but there is something incredible we can learn from her. That God can use anyone to fulfil his plans. God told Deborah that he would deliver Israel from Jabin and Sisera. Jael, a non-Israelite and woman gave Israel the final victory over King Jabin and Sisera. Imagine at the time, a woman playing a role like that- it is only right to describe Jael as fearless and blessed.

Jael’s actions could be seen as unjustifiable, as she murdered Sisera. However God out of that, brought something good. Sisera under Jabin oppressed God’s people, Jael’s actions gave Israel deliverance and victory. There is a lesson here that although we may have committed a sin or been unfaithful to God, God can always bring about good.

Stay Blessed

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Great Women of The Bible Challenge-Hannah

Hannah- The woman of prayer

Bible Reference- 1 Samuel 1, 1 Samuel 2

Family Background- Hannah was married to a man called Elkanah (who was the son of of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph who was an Ephraimite). The Bible says her husband was from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim. Elkanah had another wife called Peninnah who had children, Hannah had none. Hannah was Elkanah’s favourite wife. Hannah later gave birth to Samuel, three other sons and two daughters.

Name Meaning- Hannah in Hebrew means favour or grace

Who is Hannah?

Hannah, is one of the most famous characters of the Old Testament. Like many others in the Bible, she was barren.  At that time, not being unable to conceive was considered shameful.

Yearly, Hannah and her husband went to worship  the Lord at Shiloh. The Bible says ‘Year after Year’ , which suggests Hannah and her family went frequently to worship the Lord. The Bible describes Elkanah’s love for Hannah, as he would give her double portion to sacrifice because of his love for her. His other wife, Peninnah reminded her of her sorrows constantly. The Bible says she provoked her until she wept and would not eat. Her husband reminded her that he loved her by asking her why she wept, was sad and that his love was more than ten sons.

Hannah, was in the house of the Lord  praying and weeping bitterly. She made a vow to God, that if he gave her a son she would give him to God for all of his life.  She continued to pray and Eli, the priest observed her mouth. She was praying so intently that her mouth moved without words coming out. Eli thought she was drunk. Hannah told Eli, that she was pouring out her heart to God. Eli, moved by Hannah’s pain told her to go and that God will give her what she has asked for.

Afterwards, Hannah and her husband went back to their home at Ramnah, they slept together and she became pregnant. She gave birth to a son, called Samuel. She named Samuel, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him’.

Hannah had made a promise to God, to give him back for God’s service. Hannah kept her promise. She gave her son to Eli, where her child was trained in ministering and priesthood.

God honoured Hannah for keeping her promise. She gave birth to three more sons and two daughters. Hannah’s son Samuel, grew up to be the last Judge for Israel, a prophet and counselled Israel’s first two Kings (Saul and David).

Why is Hannah great?

Hannah, is one of the most well known women of the bible.  She was the mother of Samuel, who himself was a great man of God. I believe Hannah is great for several reasons: she was perseverant, had extraordinary faith, she kept her promises, prayerful and lead a godly life.

Hannah was perseverant, she never gave up on God. She continued to pray day and night and never lost hope. She prayed year after year and was frequently at the house of God. She prayed until people thought she was drunk. It reminds of when Paul, said that we should pray without ceasing. This is what Hannah did and God answered her prayers.

Hannah had extraordinary faith, it was a peculiar type of faith. To be  praying for the same thing year after year  is incredible. Especially, when her rival wife Peninnah was poking fun at her constantly. Yet, her hope in God remained. True to her name, she walked in grace and did not retaliate. Even though God had shut her womb, she opened up her heart even more to God. As Eli told her to go home, notice how she went and was no more weeping. She believed that God had answered her prayers.

I admire Hannah for keeping her promise: to  give her child back to God. Remember this was her first child that she had prayed for many years. The sacrifice that she made, blessed her even more. She was rewarded, Hannah and her husband gave birth to five more children.

Hannah was a praying woman. She prayed without ceasing. Even though what she had asked for did not come immediately, she continued in prayer. Even though she was barren, she still believed and through her pain she found refuge in prayer. She took her worries to God even when she was sorrowful. In 1 Samuel 2, it gives us Hannah’s prayer. She gives thanksgiving for God’s goodness.

What can we learn from Hannah?

The lessons I believe we can learn from Hannah is to never give up. Hannah never gave up and pressed on in faith.  She never doubted God’s abilities. After years and years of waiting on God, her prayer life remained constant even though her rival wife irritated her. Many of us would give up, but Hannah didn’t.  Hannah teaches us to never give up, to remain prayerful, to lead a godly life, to have faith and to stay perseverant.

Stay Blessed

x

Great Women Of The Bible Challenge- Esther & Eunice

Esther- The woman who saved her people from genocide

Bible Reference- Book of Esther

Family Background- Her father was called Abihail, who was the Uncle of Mordecai. When her parents died, Mordecai her cousin, took care of her and took her as his daughter

Name meaning- Esther means star in Persian. The biblical meaning of Esther is hidden or secretive. Her original Hebrew name Hadassah means myrtle.

Who is Esther?

We are introduced to Esther in Esther 2:7 as Hadassah, where Mordecai took her as daughter as her parents died. She was also known as Esther. The Bible describes her as a young woman who had a lovely figure and was beautiful.

The story is that King Xerxes had a feast for 180 days where he displayed his wealth of his kingdom. After this he had a banquet for seven days. He summons Queen Vashti in order for her to show her beauty off to the people and the nobles. However she refuses. King Xerxes banishes her and she is punished to not enter the presence of the King. A new Queen is sought and Esther is chosen. Esther did not reveal her nationality or family background as Mordecai forbidden her not to do so. Mordecai uncovers a conspiracy, during his time sitting at the King’s gate. Two of the King’s officers conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. Mordecai tells Queen Esther who then tells the King, giving credit to Mordecai.

After these events King Xerxes honours Haman, giving him a position higher than any noble. All royal officials had to bow down to him. However Mordecai refused. Haman was angry. When he found out that Mordecai was a Jew, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews in King Xerxes’ kingdom.

Mordecai calls on Esther to talk to the King. However the King does not know of Esther’s background. Esther is reluctant to go to the King. Remember, to approach her husband without permission she risked death.  She would be breaking the law and be punished by death. Mordecai reminds her of background and purpose:

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther then replied to Mordecai, to tell everyone in Susa to fast and pray for three days. She also said will do the same and after this she would go to the King.

Esther then entered the King’s court. The King was pleased with her so she requested to have a banquet with the King and Haman (she said she would give her petition at the banquet). So Haman got cocky and did ‘guy guy’ because he had been asked to attend dinner with the beautiful Queen Esther. He saw Mordecai who again did not bow to me. Haman’s wife suggested to him and his friends that he should set a 75 ft (23 m) pole for Mordecai to be hanged on.

The King the following night couldn’t sleep. He read the records of his reign and he found that Mordecai had exposed the officers who conspired to assassinate the King. The King asked Haman what should this man receive for his good work. Haman without realising it is Mordecai, told the King he should have a royal robe, sit on the house and be paraded through the city. When Haman realised he was sad and angry.

At the banquet Queen Esther told her husband King Xerxes of Haman’s evil plans to destroy the Jews (Queen Esther’s people) and kill Mordecai.  The King was angry and the pole that Haman planned for Mordecai, was instead set up for him.

The King gave Queen Esther Haman’s estate and she appointed Mordecai over it. The King gave Mordecai his signet ring which he reclaimed from Haman. The King also reversed Haman’s plans to destroy the Jews which was written into an edict. The decree granted all Jews across his kingdom the right to assemble and protect themselves.

Why is Esther great?

From Esther’s story you can tell what an extraordinary woman she was. She risked her life and interceded on behalf of her people to the King where she could have been punished to death. She knew the risks ‘And if I perish, I perish’ (Esther 4:16) yet she was willing to sacrifice her life in order for her people to be saved. Esther’s bravery, courage and faith in God highlights the strong belief she had in God. She was committed in fasting and praying, knowing that fasting gives favour and protection from God. She allowed God to use her in the position she was in to win deliverance for her people.

Esther, was a rare individual. She was chosen as a candidate for the King who must not only have been charmed by her beauty but her personality.Whilst reading this, I noticed the King was always eager to listen to his wife, Queen Esther. He greeted her with love and was willing to understand everything she put across. This demonstrates that Esther was a great wife too.

What can we learn from Esther?

We can learn from Esther’s obedience. Mordecai told her not to reveal her background and asked her to intercede on behalf of the Jews. She did whatever he asked. Imagine, as a young woman without no father and mother. Our parents from birth teach us how to respect others. However, Mordecai as her adoptive father took on that role. I learnt from this, the importance of obedience. Sometimes young people, even old can disagree with their parents, but look where Esther’s obedience brought her.

Furthermore, we can learn from Esther’s character from her determination to seek God’s guidance in her time of difficulty. We can be going through difficult times and forget the tools of prayer and fasting. In our trials and tribulations, we may lose hope and faith thinking what is the point. However Esther sought after God and we should learn from this.

Even though Esther kept her background a secret. She never forget where she came from. She was not ashamed in the hour of trouble to reveal who she was. We can learn from this that we should always love who we are, which includes our heritage and background.

From Esther’s story we learn that God can take you from nothing to something. She was  a young woman called Hadassah from Susa but then became Queen Esther of Persia. He had a plan for Esther, just like he has a plan for you and I. God used Esther as an instrument for his glorious purpose, to deliver the Jews and give them their rights. The same way God will use you and I. God put Esther as a Queen to do this. God can put us in a similar position for a purpose. Esther’s life is a demonstration of how God works. God puts each one of us into a position for his plan and purpose. We may never know what he is doing and think to ourselves- Why this? Why here? Why now? Why am I doing this? Then when everything comes together, then we look back and say to ourselves God I understand why you did it like that. She was put as a candidate as ‘for such a time as this’, she was given to the King as ‘for such a time as this’, she was the Queen as a ‘time for this’. Whatever position you are in, believe it is ‘for such a time as this’.

Eunice- The woman whose her son became a famous evangelist

Bible Reference- Acts 16:1-3, 2 Timothy 1:5, 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Family Background-Eunice was the daughter of Lois. The Bible does not mention who Eunice’s father is. Eunice married a Greek.

Name Meaning- Eunice means good victory

Who is Eunice?

Eunice was Timothy’s mother.

Why is Eunice great?

Esther is great because of the way she brought up her son. The Bible tells us that Timothy’s faith first came through his grandmother Lois and then Eunice. This means Eunice trained her son with scriptures. The bible reminds us to teach children in the way they should go. Paul speaks highly of Timothy, as his ‘dear son’. Eunice must have been proud that her son’s who was an evangelist, had an companion such as Paul. Looking at Timothy, Eunice did a great job.

What can we learn from Eunice?

We can learn from Eunice that we should bring up our children in the right way. She made sure  that from birth, Timothy was surrounded by the ways of God. We can take this from Eunice, that if we have positive Christian training in our homes our children would not depart from it.

Great Women Of The Bible Challenge- Dorcas (Tabitha) & Elizabeth

I hope you all had a lovely bank holiday weekend. Great women I looked at was Dorcas and Elisabeth.

Dorcas (Tabitha)- The woman full of good works

Bible Reference-Acts 9:36-43

Family background-There is no mention of Dorcas’ family history.

Name meaning- Dorcas is the Greek translation of the Aramaic name Tabitha. The meaning of the name is gazelle.

Who is Dorcas?

We are introduced to Dorcas in Acts 9:36 as a disciple. This means that she was a Christian. Her name is given as Tabitha, but the Greek equivalent is Dorcas. She lived in the seaport town of Joppa. The Greek variant of her name and her residence highlights the fact she would have been surrounded by Greek speaking people.

Why is Dorcas great?

Dorcas’ story shows greatness as she accepted responsibility as a disciple in her community. She gave her life to those in need. The bible describes her as always doing good and helping the poor. This suggests that she she dedicated her life to philanthropy and charity work. So many of us wish to do this, we talk but will never do. Dorcas not only talked about it but she carried out her plans.

The scripture describes the time  of her death as a very sad time. When she died, they sent for Peter who was in a nearby town to urgently come. This suggests that she was highly respected and loved. It seems that she was a person, that many in her community cared about. When Peter went, the widows stood around him crying.  They even showed him the clothes that Dorcas had made for them. This demonstrates that Dorcas’ death was a big blow to her community.

However, Peter prayed for the dead Dorcas and she got up, opened her eyes and when she saw him sat up. Peter called in the believers and especially the widows to see what God had done. The Bible says that this miracle was known all over Joppa and because of this, people found God. I believe that that the resurrection of Dorcas had a twofold effect. The first effect that it had was when Peter called the widows. He did this so they will be encouraged in the Lord- that God is great and can do all things. It would have brought comfort to Dorcas’ mourners that her life of charity work was not over. Secondly, I believe that the miracle was to bring people to believe in God. It was not a coincidence. The miracle was to show God’s glory, so that people will be saved. Dorcas was a blessed woman- her resurrection was for a reason. The  purpose in her life was not over, God had more in store for her life.

What can we learn from Dorcas?

We can learn from Dorcas’ life that she cared for people rather than just focusing on her title as a leader in the community. Some people have a title in their church as a deacon or worship leader but dwell on their post rather than carrying out the work. Many are proud and brag about their title, yet they do not carry out the good deeds like Dorcas. Dorcas demonstrated dedication in helping to those in need. She was obsessed in doing good. From time to time a person may carry out a good deed, but for kingdom people it is a duty to carry out good deeds all the time. It doesn’t mean that we should go and work for a charity or we must donate millions away, it could mean encouraging, giving and praying for the needy. For example this could be cooking for the hungry, praying for the broken hearted or giving clothes to those in need. I found out something really interesting that the The Dorcas Society is named after her. This shows the effect that this great woman had on the world and still has. The charity carries out similar work Dorcas did-making clothing for the poor. She died leaving a mark. Before her resurrection, those who were mourning her remembered her for making garments for the needy. What are we going to remembered for?  What would you be remembered for? We should all want to be remembered for our service unto God and unto others like Dorcas. Dorcas is a great example of a true charitable woman.

 

Elizabeth- The woman who bore in her old age

Bible Reference- Luke 1:5-80

Family Background- Elizabeth was a descendent of Aaron. This means she came from a priestly family. Her husband was Zechariah who was a priest. He belonged to the priestly division of Abijah, which was one set of priests who were chosen to minister in the temple. Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist. She was a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Name meaning- Elizabeth means oath of God

Who is Elizabeth?

Elizabeth was a Godly woman who lived in Judea. She along with her husband is described in the Bible as ‘righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly’. To be given such a description like this means that she was a woman who preserved the traditions of her descendants and walked with God. She was a priestly woman who lead a holy life.

Elizabeth was an old woman. Her and husband had been praying for a child but she was unable to conceive. This must have caused heartbreak and disappointment for the couple. I could not imagine the humiliation they may have received especially with Elizabeth as a priest’s wife. Especially in ancient times, when barrenness was considered a disgrace. It is dream for every woman to become a mother, so it must have been hard for Elizabeth.

Why is Elizabeth great?

An angel appeared to Zechariah and told him that their prayers have been answered. The angel told him that they will have a son called John. Zechariah did not believe the angel and was made mute. Just as the angel said, Elizabeth conceived. Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus visited Elizabeth. As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt for joy. Then Elizabeth gave birth to a son and Zechariah’s speech returned. Elizabeth’s son became John the Baptist, the prophet who foretold the saviour and messiah- Jesus Christ.

This is the story. But why is Elizabeth great? Her life was full of faith and piety. Unlike her husband, who had doubt of conceiving in old age, Elizabeth believed. She was never sad or upset because she was unable to conceive. She had faith and continued to pray. She continued to serve God and his commandments even though she may have felt like a disgrace. Even though she probably was gossiped about, she kept her faith.  She was thankful for what God had done for. Elizabeth was grateful for the favour that God had given her.

Additionally, when Mary visited Elizabeth she heard her relative’s greeting and her baby leapt for joy. She was filled with the holy spirit and said:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!”

Elizabeth was a privileged and favoured woman as she was the first to declare who Jesus was. She gave a prayer and a blessing. I think the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb because he was welcoming Jesus. The baby was excited that the messiah who was to bring salvation, was near. Elizabeth knew the messiah had come and she confessed this with “the mother of my Lord should come to me”. Elizabeth presented herself with humility, knowing that was she blessed and highly favoured to be the first to confess who Jesus was.

Moreover, the birth of John showed that Elizabeth was a great woman. The bible describes that her relatives and neighbours had heard the Lord had shown her great mercy and they shared their joy. Elizabeth obeyed God. She could have listened to her family and called her son Zechariah Jr. However she said his name is John just like God had commanded.  She was a special woman who listened to God’s commandments and because of this she was given a special blessing. She was blessed with a child who was not only to be a joy to his parents but to others (her son was great in the eyes of God, her son was to be filled with the holy spirit before his birth, walk in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn lives around and prepare people for Jesus Christ). Not even double double blessings for this one, this was an extraordinary blessing. This woman was truly blessed! Elizabeth gave birth to her son who would become John the Baptist, who had a role in God’s salvation. The fact that she was involved in the fulfilment of Messianic prophecy and promise, shows that Elizabeth was a great woman.

What can we learn from Elizabeth?

We can learn from Elizabeth and her story that God is amazing-he can take you from barrenness to fruitfulness. Even though she was unable to conceive, she continued to have faith and pray. Sometimes when we do not get what we want, we become frustrated and lose hope. Is it ever going to happen? Am I going to get my miracle? As Elizabeth said blessed are those who believe God’s promises and the fulfilment of them. Elizabeth could have given up. But she didn’t. We need to remember and believe in what God has promised us. Look at what he did for Elizabeth! I have learnt that God rewards and blesses those who are obedient and believe in him. It reminds me of a hymn lol. You know the one … Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. It isn’t a surprise that Elizabeth is a common name. Who wouldn’t want to name their child after a woman who was humble, had great faith and was blameless and righteous before God?

Stay Blessed

x

GREAT WOMEN OF THE BIBLE CHALLENGE-BATHSHEBA & DEBORAH

I hope you all had a great weekend and a blessed start to the week. Great women I looked at was Bathsheba and Deborah. Hope you are blessed by it. Enjoy!

Bathsheba-A woman who turned her sin around

Bible Reference- 2 Samuel 11, 2 Samuel 12, 1 Kings 1:11-31, 1 Kings 2:13-19, 1 Chronicles 3:5

Family Background-She was the daughter of Eliam and was married to Uriah the Hittite

Name Meaning- Bathsheba means the daughter of an oath

Who is Bathsheba?

Bathsheba is introduced to us from 2 Samuel 11:2 onwards. She is described as a very beautiful woman and her family background is given.

David got up from his bed one evening and saw Bathsheba bathing. He saw how beautiful she was and sent someone to find out about her. He found out her family background and that she was married yet he still sent for her. They slept together and she conceived. What I find hard to understand is why was Bathsheba bathing outside? The fact that David saw her bathing must have meant she exposed herself for all to see. If she was modest then she would have realised that people may have been able to see her. Additionally, if she had been a faithful wife, she would have refused David when he had sent for her. If she was a woman of principle she would have refused to take part in adultery.

After Bathsheba tells David of her pregnant condition, David comes up with a plan. To hide his sin, he sends for Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah the Hittite. Uriah was fighting as a solider in the Israelite army. Uriah refused to come back home and have physical contact with his wife whilst his colleagues was fighting. Uriah was a man of integrity and honour. He wished to be with the rest of the soldiers and serve his King. David even made Uriah drunk, but he did not go home. Realising that his plan had failed, David sent a letter to Joab for Uriah to be put in a place where the he was likely to be killed. I find it shocking that Bathsheba could take part in an affair with a man her husband risked his life for. After her husband’s death, Bathsheba mourned for him. However after mourning, Bathsheba she moved to David’s house. She became his wife and bore a son.

God was displeased with Bathsheba and David’s behaviour. God sent the prophet Nathan to make David and Bathsheba realise the sins they had committed. As a result the son they bore died. Nathan told David, God had forgiven him but there would be calamity in his household.

 

Why is Bathsheba great?

You must be wondering why I think Bathsheba is great. After all she did with David committing adultery, murder, deceit, lust and betraying Uriah. However she turned it all around. From a woman whose sin resulted into murder, became a blessed woman with favour. God blessed David and Bathsheba with a son called Solomon which the Bible says the Lord loved him. David was repentant of his sin and it seems Bathsheba was too, otherwise God would not have blessed her with this child. God could have given Solomon to one of David’s wives, but he chose Bathsheba. Bathsheba continued to have influence over David which is seen when she reminded David of his promise to her. This promise was that their son would be his successor. Bathsheba’s son, Solomon was known for his wisdom which is seen in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Songs of Solomon. Solomon became King and was known not for only his wisdom but also his wealth and power. To have a child who was an extraordinary blessing, Bathsheba herself must have been great.

Indeed, Bathsheba was a great woman as she was included in the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1. This is evidence that God restored Bathsheba to divine favour.

 

What can we learn from Bathsheba?

We can learn from Bathsheba, that God can turn it around. He can take away our sin and make it clean. All we need to do, is to be repentant of our sins. I am amazed at how God blessed Bathsheba- look at how she started and look at how she ended! From the woman who lead a King to commit murder, then give birth to a renowned wise King and became an ancestor of Jesus. This is a 360! Bathsheba did not allow one sin to ruin her life. Instead she used her mistake to  direct her future steps.  God can take our sins and turn it into something great!

Deborah-The Prophetess Judge

Bible Reference-Judges 4, Judges 5

Family Background-She was the wife of Lappidoth

Name Meaning-A bee

Who is Deborah?

Deborah was a prophetess, a judge and a warrior. She is introduced to us in Judges 4:4 as a wife and a prophetess leading Israel. At this time, Israel was under the King of Canaan who was oppressing them. The commander of his army was Sisera. Immediately as you read this passage, you get a sense that Deborah was a woman of substance. She was leading a nation, was a wife, prophetess and a counsellor. She is also described as the ‘mother of Israel’ in Judges 5:7. This shows that Deborah was a maternal figure to all of Israel, that she took everyone in and was a mother to all.

Why is Deborah great?

I believe Deborah was great because of her role as a Judge of Israel. She is the only noted female judge in the scripture where  she sat under a palm tree named after her. Deborah’s role as a ruler is extraordinary, as at that time women would have been in the background. However she gave justice and settled disputes under her palm tree. Deborah was  a wise and intelligent woman to lead a land where it had peace for forty years.

I also admire the patriotism and fight Deborah had in her. She was brave and had great courage. This can be seen when she sent Barak to lead the 10,000 army and deliver Israel from their oppressors. Barak was hesitant to go, but he wished that Deborah would go with him. This shows that Deborah was respected as a fearless and brave warrior. Sisera had commanded 900 iron chariots. However Deborah declared that God had given Sisera into their hands. This came to pass where Barak and his men won the battle where not one man was left. Deborah knew that when God is on your side of the battle, that the enemy cannot win.

In Judges 5, the song of Deborah can be seen. This demonstrates not only could Deborah prophesy, lead battles and counsel but she could write. Deborah was a songwriter and a poetess. The song gives praise to God for delivering Israel through their leaders. Deborah was a woman of many talents.

What can we learn from Deborah?

Deborah was an incredible leader. Deborah had a remarkable personality and various gifts which delivered Israel from its enemy. She was gifted with wisdom and courage. I also admire how her reputation is based on her own merit, rather than coming from someone else. Most great women in the Bible, were married to great men or related to one. However Deborah did it on her own. Girl power! From this I learnt that you do not always have to rely on someone’s name to be great, you can carve out a name for yourself. She trusted in God’s words that he gave her. I also learnt that in a powerful position you must be grateful, thankful and humble. This is seen in the Song of Deborah when she magnifies God for enabling her and Barak to conquer Israel’s enemy.

 

Stay Blessed

x

Great women of the bible challenge- ABIGAIL & Anna

I hope you all are having a lovely weekend. I decided early in the week that I would do a ‘Great Women of the Bible Challenge’. This is where I would look at two great women of the Bible each week. I want to be a great woman and there is nothing better than drawing inspiration from powerful women. I was inspired by my best friend who was doing something similar. I saw the great effect it was having on her and thought I need some of that lol! I can’t miss out! This week it starts with Abigail and Anna. Hope you are all blessed by it. Enjoy!

Abigail- A woman with beauty and brains

Bible Reference1 Samuel 25:1-42; 2 Samuel 3.3

Family background– The Bible does not point to Abigail’s family history or background. All we know she was married to Nabal. The meaning of Abigail’s name indicates that maybe her father was a joyous person.

Name Meaning– Father’s joy or gives joy

Who is Abigail?

We are introduced to Abigail in 1 Samuel 25:3.  She is married to a man called Nabal who was very wealthy.  Nabal could be viewed as the  modern day Donald Trump. He owned property in Carmel and  4000 goats and sheep.

Abigail’s description in the Bible was that ‘she was an intelligent and beautiful woman’. She was a woman with beauty and brains. Today, many believe that their beauty that will open doors for them. Yes, this is true at times. However, beauty does not last forever. Abigail demonstrates in this passage how important it is to have intelligence. She shows women that beauty and intelligence work hand in hand. Her intelligence equalled her beauty. To have a beautiful mind and a beautiful appearance is highly admirable and something that many should inspire to have.

Why is Abigail great?

I find it fascinating that Abigail was this beautiful and intelligent woman yet her husband Nabal was mean and surly. Abigail was painted in a good light whilst her husband was painted in a bad light. It seems like Abigail and Nabal were opposites. I think Abigail must have been patient to be married to a man who was not kind. This would take a lot of understanding. It also suggests she was down to earth and humble. The way the bible emphasises her beauty, she could have the attitude of  ‘I am far too hot for this, bye’. However she respected the value and the institution of marriage. I think we can learn from Abigail where we should have patience with unkind people. It also teaches us to be humble and down to earth. Just because you are a ‘hottie’ or a ‘great beauty’ does not mean you should be boastful or have a proud heart.

David moved to the desert of Paran whilst he was there he treated Nabal’s shepherds well. The scripture points out that that Nabal’s shepherds even spent time with David and his companions. At this time David was in the wilderness, he sent his ten young men with a kind message of good health and long life. They heard that it was sheep wearing time and wished Nabal to give them whatever they could find. Can you imagine the rude behaviour Nabal displayed to David’s men? He told them ‘Who is David?’, ‘Who is the son of Jesse?’. This demonstrates Nabal’s churlish behaviour. He definitely knew who David was. How can you mention his father’s name and claim that you don’t know him? As for this Mr Churlish, I think he knew David and that he is the King in waiting. I think Nabal just did not like David. Can you imagine someone displaying that kind of behaviour to Prince Charles? Or Prince William? That is what Nabal did. Adding insult to injury he refused to give food to David’s men. He also said that he would not give it to men that he knows from no where when the food is for his shearers. This shows Nabal’s selfish, harsh and brutal character.

Word got back to David. David was ANGRY. The Bible mentions strapping the sword thrice. David meant business and was coming for Nabal Churlish. A servant told Abigail of her husband’s lack of social graces. The servant mentions that Nabal is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him. The fact that the servant came to Abigail, suggests that she was the logical one in their household. This can be seen when the Bible says she ‘acted quickly’. She went out without telling her husband to meet David with food supplies. A woman of this period, probably risked the anger of their husband by going out without permission. I applaud and commend her bravery! She did what she had to do, to save her household.

When Abigail saw him she fell with face down to the ground. I love the respect, humility and submission she showed David. She mentions that her husband is just like his name-foolish.No wonder his behaviour is foolish. She asks David to spare her household. I love that Abigail knew who David was in the Lord.

‘ The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant’

Indeed, Abigail was a wise woman. She recognised who David was. She had a great understanding and judgement of David.  I believe that David was moved by Abigail’s wisdom and judgement which lead him to to preserve Nabal’s household. He states that if it was not for Abigail’s wisdom he would have destroyed Nabal’s household. He respected Abigail for the care she had for her husband and household.

When Abigail returned home, Nabal was having a party and was extremely drunk ‘holding a banquet like that of a king’. How did Abigail deal with her husband? I know many of us could not do it. I certainly could not. She told him later of her actions when he was sober. The Bible describes that he had heart failure and become like stone. He died ten days later.

David then remembered Abigail. He sent his servants to ask Abigail to become his wife and she accepted willingly. Lol, who would not remember Abigail? A woman of beauty, intelligence, wisdom, bravery and humility of course David would want to marry her. She saw herself as a servant and even was ready to wash David’s servants feet. Such humility!

Abigail is mentioned another time in the Bible, as the mother of David’s second child.

What can we learn from Abigail?

I have learnt a great deal from Abigail. Her story is an example of submission, courage and wisdom even in times of danger. Abigail was truly an amazing woman. She was respectful and humble. I love the way she was so humble to fall down to the ground. This really moved me. I know many of us would be like I aint bowing down for nobody. However Abigail’s bowing down is something that we can learn from, that we should be respectful, humble and submissive.

Anna- The Prophetess

Bible ReferenceLuke 2:36-38

Family background-Anna was the daughter of Phanuel. The name Phanuel means the face of God. This suggests that Anna may have come from a family that seeked God or a devout religious family. She was from the Asher Tribe. Anna had a husband, but he died.

Name Meaning– Grace or Favour

Who is Anna?

Anna appears in the Bible in Luke 2:36-38.  The Bible describes her as a prophet. So Anna was a woman of God who heard and spoke from God. She was a widow, she had been married for seven years but her husband died. The scripture describes her as very old.

Why is Anna great?

Anna was great because she seeked God’s face and presence. She never left God’s temple, fasting and praying everyday. She knew the importance of worshipping God. She recognised that Mary and Joseph’s child, Jesus was the saviour and gave thanks.

What can we learn from Anna?

I admire Anna’s longing to be with God at all times. It seems like she was a woman who loved spending timing with God. The constant fasting and prayer showed she wanted to draw closer to God. Nowadays many of us regard fasting as old fashioned. I, myself was guilty of this some time back. However I have realised the importance of fasting and prayer. Fasting and praying are key principles in our faith. Jesus himself highlighted the importance of fasting and praying. It is important to fast and pray because we may need to seek God on important decisions in our lives. It also makes us stronger against the flesh and can bring breakthroughs. Anna knew the importance of fasting and praying.

 

Stay Blessed

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