This past month we celebrated the decision of General Synod to recognise equal ministry for women and men. It may have seemed to some of us a completely new concept, but I am glad to report that this is, in fact, not the case.
I have been blessed recently by being encouraged to read through the whole Bible as if reading a novel. I have had new insights by doing this and thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants an overview of what the Bible has to say.
From my reading, the following situations came to mind:
1. In Judges 4 we read that one of the leaders or judges of Israel, before there were kings, was Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lapidoth. She lead Israel and held court between Ramah and Bethel. The Israelites went to her to have their disputes decided. She helped them overcome their disputes and even helped them overcome their enemies. She was clearly a powerhouse of wisdom and gave excellent advice.
She combined being a legal judge with being a religious leader and it seems that her word was listened to and obeyed to the benefit of Israel.
2. In 1 Kings 10 we read that the Queen of Sheba wanted to find out for herself
whether the reports of Solomon’s wisdom were correct, so visited him to judge for herself what the true situation was. She was obviously an intelligent, successful, scientifically minded person who needed primary evidence before making a decision. She was also rich in her own right. I am always impressed that she made such a journey to satisfy her intellectual curiosity.
3. In 2 Kings 22: 11-20 we read that after the rediscovery of God’s Revelation, King Josiah called his advisors, including the high priest, and told them to go and pray to find out what they must do. The men went straight to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum. The men consulted with her and she told them what to do. She gave them God’s message without holding back, explaining the consequences. The men took her message back to the king. This was a person who could preach right to the heart of the matter in an uncompromising but necessary way.
4. In Mark 7: 24-30 we read about the clever Syrophoencian woman, who is one of my personal favourite characters in the Bible. She had the courage to approach Jesus asking that her daughter be healed. In the following debate she held her own intellectually and Jesus was so impressed that he granted her request. I definitely would want her to approach Jesus on my behalf!
5. In John 11:21-27 we find out another side to Martha, the sister of Mary. In Luke 10:38-42 we find the practical Martha considering how she can feed and look after her guest. In the John passage, that practical person is now discussing deep theology with Jesus and it is to her that Jesus says, ” I am the Resurrection and the Life.” We are often told about Peter declaring that Jesus is the Messiah in Matthew 16:16 but in verse 27 Martha makes the same declaration. She clearly had a good understanding of his teachings. Here is a practical housekeeper and impressive Biblical scholar wrapped into one.
6. In John 20:11-18 we read about Mary Magdalene, who along with other women hurried to Jesus’s tomb to keep vigil there. Mary’s love for her teacher was profound. It was to her that the risen Jesus first revealed himself. Her response was to to tell the good news to others with true missionary zeal. A deep love for Jesus naturally leads to a desire to spread the gospel everywhere. We also see this in the story of the Woman at the Well in John 4.
But that’s yet another great woman…
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