By Tom and Susan Steere
First, we must recognize that “today’s world” is really no different from the “world” that ever was or will be until the Lord reigns on earth. Cultures may be different, but we all live in the same world. Technology has definitely changed over time, but the heart of mankind has not. The reply to God in the heart of men and women is similar, regardless of culture or technology.
With that said, let’s see what we can learn from the responses of a few women in the Bible who were women of faith, devotion and meekness.
Women Of Faith
Who comes to mind when considering women of faith in the Bible? There are many to choose from, like Rahab of Jericho who is mentioned in three places in the New Testament (Mt. 1:5; Heb. 11:31; Jas. 2:25). Sarah, wife of Abraham, is set forth as an example in the great chapter of faith, Hebrews 11, as are Moses’ mother and “women who received their dead raised to life again” (Heb. 11:11,23,35). Then, too, the unfeigned faith of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice brought joy and thanksgiving to the heart of God’s apostle, Paul (2 Tim. 1:5). Let’s consider a few women.
They Do Not Fear Man
Our first example is Rahab, a prostitute in the corrupt city of Jericho. Taking an opportunity God must have set before her, Rahab the harlot hid the Israelite spies from the king of Jericho who would have killed them. This act of treason might be condemned if it were not for the just judgment of God against her wicked city. Rahab considered the condemnation of God greater than the condemnation of man so she aided these men at the risk of her own life. She openly acknowledged the Lord their God as “God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Josh. 2:11 KJV). Rahab put her faith immediately into action by tying in her window the red cord the spies gave her that very day (Josh. 2:21), even though the actual judgment was at least a month away. How often she must have checked to make sure that little scarlet cord was still safely there! For her faith she is recorded with the faithful in Hebrews 11. In fact, in James 2 she is mentioned on equal footing with Abraham, the father of all who have faith in God (Rom. 4:16). Rahab is an example of everyone who puts his or her trust in the blood of Christ and the Word of God. She also takes her place in the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1, her former life never being mentioned. Quite a woman who had faith in the great God!
What are a few things we may learn from Rahab?
- God accepts anyone who comes to Him in faith.
- He will never hold our past life against us.
- Our faith should manifest itself in action.
- God will protect and exalt those who have faith in Him.
They Do Not Fear Circumstances
Abraham’s wife Sarah grieved over her infertility as do many women today. After she was too old to think of bearing children, God repeated His promise that Sarah herself would bear Abraham a son. Sarah at first laughed at the thought of ever bearing any children, but she must have repented for Hebrews 11:11 says she received strength to conceive seed. Many women in those days feared childbirth as it could easily mean death from complications or infection. Being ninety years old must have compounded those fears. She could also have refused to have relations with her aged husband, fearing discomfort, inconvenience, frustration or ridicule. Sarah faced those fears and received the strength she needed because she judged Him faithful who had made the promise. She was rewarded with her beloved son Isaac, the father of Israel.
Another example is Jochebed in Exodus 2. She and her husband were not afraid of Pharaoh’s command that every baby boy must be thrown into the river. She used her creativity to place a waterproof basket between the river and her precious child as she obeyed the king’s command. She was rewarded for that fearlessness by being paid wages by Pharaoh’s household to rear her own son, Moses.
Today, God exhorts women of faith to love their husbands and their children. This is not always easy as daily life becomes trying and personalities clash. Nevertheless, let us be sure we have the priority in our lives that God desires, no matter what our circumstances may be. God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20-21)!
They Hold On To The Promises Of God
Two women in the Old Testament saw their sons raised from the dead: the woman of Zarephath, by Elijah (1 Ki. 17:8-22) and the Shunammite woman, by Elisha (2 Ki. 4:18-37). Both of these women came to the men of God in great consternation [dismay or distress] for the death of their beloved sons because God had promised life to them. Did they give up in despair when tested? No, they came to God, the Source of all life, and were rewarded with the restoration of their children. God has not often done miracles of this kind, but we may rest assured that if we are tried as these mothers were, He will hear our cries with pity and is able to send comfort in His own time and way. Disease, accident, even random violence may separate our children from us through death. But if we, as parents, and our children trust Christ (or by the Lord’s mercy toward young children) we may rejoice with confidence that we will see them again and that they now are rejoicing with Him.
Women of faith, fearless of man and of their circumstances, hold to the promises of God!
Women Of Devotion
When it comes to dedication and devotion, who comes to mind – Ruth, Hannah, Mary the mother of Jesus, Anna, Mary who anointed the Lord’s feet with that expensive ointment, or Dorcas? The common thread among these women, young and old, single, engaged, married or widowed, was that they kept one object in view without being sidetracked by the things of this world.
Ruth, a young widow, did not return to her family and former friends among the ungodly Moabites, nor did she follow after attractive young men, but she trusted in the God of Israel to provide a loving husband for her. She stayed under the protective wings of the One in whom she had come to trust. Ruth’s object was a relationship with her kinsman redeemer, who turned out to be Boaz. He was a wealthy man who must have been much older than she, but who gladly redeemed her even though she was a Moabite. What a beautiful picture this is of Christ’s redemption of ungodly sinners!
Hannah, like Sarah, dealt with infertility and consequent ridicule, but her devotion and desire for a child who would serve the LORD were rewarded with a son, Samuel. She followed through with her promise and willingly gave him to the service of the LORD, even as a little boy. God then blessed her with five more children, and Samuel became a great prophet (1 Sam. 1-2).
Mary, of course, was the chosen vessel to carry the Baby who would be “called the Son of the Highest” (Lk. 1:32). She was willing to be the handmaid of the Lord so she became the fulfillment of the 700 year old prophecy: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14) – Immanuel meaning “God with us.” She accepted this calling gladly, even though it meant disgrace before people who would misunderstand her pregnancy while still just engaged and not yet married. She was nearly put away by her fiancé, Joseph, for what appeared to be her unfaithfulness to him before their wedding. Yet God sent an angel to explain the situation, providing through Joseph protection for Mary and a legal connection to the throne of David for her child. Mary was highly favored by God and is highly honored today (Mt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:26-56, 2:1-20).
Dorcas of Joppa was evidently an older, single woman since no family was mentioned among the mourners at her death. Her single-minded dedication toward the needy around her resulted in many widows’ devotion to her. They appealed to Peter who raised her from the dead. God’s eye is even on the sparrows – little, devalued creatures in the eyes of the world – and He will reward those who serve Him in humbleness (Acts 9:36-42; Mt. 10:29-31).
Anna, a widow for 84 years who must have been more than 100 years old [or a widow 84 years old], spent her time and energy devoting herself to fasting and prayer in the temple. She was rewarded by being an eyewitness to the redemption of Israel, embodied in the tiny child Jesus, and she became one of the first to spread the good news that God’s promised Redeemer had come (Lk. 2:36-38).
The attitude of these women can be summarized by the words of Mary in Luke 1:38: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.” Ladies, do you accept the word of the Lord in your lives? Can you accept, especially in our days of extreme feminism, God’s way for you? Are you willing to submit yourselves, not to man’s domineering, but to the Lord’s word, spoken through the apostles in passages like 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 and 14:34-37, 1 Timothy 2:9-15, Titus 2:3-5, and 1 Peter 3:1-6? Are you dedicated to following His Word? If you are, you may be described by our final theme of godly women.
Women Of Meekness
Meekness can be defined as power under control for another’s benefit. Women hold a large amount of power in the family, in relationships and in the church. Their influence on the people around them is tremendous. Without meekness that same power can cause much heartache. Consider Eve who chose to act in independence from her husband and gave that forbidden fruit to Adam to eat. His choice to follow along with her plunged our race into perpetual sin and made our redemption necessary (see Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12-21). We thank God that there have been many women since who have acted in a “meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Pet. 3:4). The passage in First Peter specifically mentions Sarah, the wife of Abraham. Just at the time her faith faltered concerning having a child, she called Abraham “lord” (Gen. 18:12). Her meekness saved the day, as it were, so she could eventually lay hold on God’s promises and find strength from Him to bear a child at such an elderly age.
If your faith falters and devotion is slipping, remember to be meek and quiet. Commit yourself to God, and He will help you to grow in fearless devotion and to be strong in faith.