Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Daughters of the King

When I used to read the Bible as a teenager, I was often confused by the actions of men towards women in the Bible. There was Sarah whose husband said she was his sister, putting her at risk of being raped or taken as another man's wife. There was Tamar, who was raped by her half-brother Amnon, who desperately needed her father, King David, to comfort, protect, and defend her honor as she struggled with the deep shame that follows rape and incest. But he, with his loud silence, betrayed her as well. Then there were many women in Israel who had entered covenant marriages, hoping to be companions to the young men they married. But, instead they were betrayed by their faithless husbands. 

In my confusion, I began to pray that God would show me how He views women because I wasn't sure I wanted to follow after Him, if he didn't view women any better than the men whose stories filled the pages of His Word. Then I came across Malachi 2:14-15,"But you say, ‘Why does he not?’ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So, guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth." I began to see that God cares about women and the treatment they receive and over time, I saw other things from His Word that revealed how He loved, rescued, healed, and redeemed women broken by both life's circumstances and the hurtful and abusive actions of others. 

One of the things I saw from God’s Word was His inclusions of women in Christ’s genealogy. Right, smack, in the middle of it there are three women closely related. One was Rahab, who was a prostitute from Jericho. She saved the lives of Israel's spies by hiding them and then helping them escape. She had heard of their God and asked to be spared. So, they told her to hang a scarlet cord in her window when the battle began and she would be spared. She, by faith in the one true living God, hung that scarlet cord in her window and was saved. An Israelite named Salmon took her as his bride and they gave birth to a baby boy named Boaz. 

There was Naomi, who had moved to a foreign land, whose sons married Gentile women. Naomi's husband died and then her sons, leaving them all to grieve. Naomi became bitter and longed to return home and Ruth, her daughter-in-law, loved her and refused to stay behind. They traveled to Naomi's home town--the town where Boaz lived and he became a kinsmen redeemer, taking Ruth as his bride and they bore Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who became the father of King David, who was in the lineage of Jesus. I'm sure there was great joy in the grandma shaped hearts of Rahab and Naomi the day Obed was born. 

Those women are in the family line of Jesus by God's design. It is a long line of broken, sinful, weak and needy people. I love how God put Rahab who, as a prostitute, asked to be saved and trusted God enough to hang a simple cord in her window--an act that made no sense apart from God. I love how the Gentile, Ruth, even in her pain chose to love a bitter mother-in-law all the way home, trusting the God who holds life and death in His hands for something bigger. 

I found it comforting that God called a young woman to bear His son, Jesus, when Jesus could have entered the world in an infinite number of ways. I found it comforting that He tenderly cared for the mom pregnant with Hope by giving her many validations that the Child she carried and birthed was the Promised One--through Elizabeth's baby leaping in the womb, through the Shepherds seeking to worship the Babe, through Simeon and Anna proclaiming Him in the temple, and the Magi who came from afar to worship the King He gave her big grace for her Mama's heart to hold onto as she watched her Son, her Savior die on the cross.

I also found it comforting that Christ crushed social barriers that had made women second class worshipers. He even went out of His way to meet a Samaritan woman publicly rejected by men five times, offering her Living Water. She accepted Him and got to bring the community that judged her so harshly to sit at His feet.

He taught men that the woman who could only give two mites had performed a mighty and acceptable act of worship that meant more than the all giving that wasn't sacrificial.

He healed a woman who had been bleeding for twelve long years, fully reconciling her to Himself and restoring her to her community.

He stood up for a woman thrust at His feet by an angry mob of men who claimed they caught her in the act of adultery. In the face of His righteousness the men one by one dropped their stones and He, the only one who had a right to judge, graciously dealt with her sin.

He stayed in the home of Mary and Martha, allowing Mary to sit at his feet, learning with all His disciples. He also revealed Himself to these sisters as the God who has power over life and death by calling their brother from the grave helping them understand He was laying down His life.

He silenced the men who criticized the woman whose pure worship was displayed by her anointment of his feet with expensive oil and her own tears, allowing her to dry His feet with her hair. And, after the resurrection, He chose a woman to be the first to see His face.   

The Scriptures show us that women have been victimized for long time, but they also show us that God has a tender heart towards us and does not view us as second-class citizens. I believe the public outcry going on right now is exposing the depth of the sin of gender contempt, harassment, and abuse in this world and it is proof that the Lion of Judah is moving on our behalf. We need to remember abusers' actions do not reflect the heart of our God, they reflect only the hearts of the abusers. 

We can trust a God who places broken, hurting women in the lineage of Christ. We can trust a God who uses a woman to give birth to His Son. We can trust a God who let women sit at His feet, and listen to his teaching. We can trust a God who revealed Himself as the God over life and death to a woman. We can trust a God who defended a woman caught in adultery and a woman worshiping with her tears and her oil. And, we can trust a God who reveals Himself in resurrected form to women first. We can trust a Savior that left the glories of heaven and bore God's wrath for our sin when He died in our place on the cross. We can trust a God who sealed us with His Spirit and gifted us with spiritual gifts, declaring that we are as valuable to the body as our Christian brothers. We are not second-class citizens. We are the beloved daughters of the King of kings.   

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!