This post is part of the International Women’s Day synchroblog. The idea of the synchroblog is to write about a woman/women in the bible and to talk about what your church is doing, if anything. I had actually forgotten about the synchroblog until I received Julie’s email reminder on Thursday. It’s been kind of fitting though as the children and I have been reading Esther this week!
There are so many women in the bible who I am in awe of. They all have their own character traits. Some are bold, courageous and feisty, others are reflective and wise. There are risk takers and worshipers. Some are doers others just want to listen and soak up. There are so many qualities that we find in women today.
I’ve found it hard to decide who to write about. The obvious choices are the bold matriarchs or Mary, their stories alone leave us with a lot to learn about in regards to walking with God. As I’ve read about Esther this week, I’m going to focus on her first.
To very briefly refresh your mind, Esther became King Xerxes queen, at this time Haman sent out an order for all Jews to be killed in Xerxes territory. Mordecai, who was Esther’s uncle, came to her and asked her to save her people. She boldly went to the king and asked him to eat with her and Haman and then pleaded for the safety of her people. Xerxes granted this and had Haman killed, and thus the Jews were saved.
What can we learn from Esther? Well, to start with, Esther was very safe in the palace. No one knew she was a Jew and it would have been very easy for her to remain within her safety and let Haman’s order go ahead. God isn’t actually mentioned in the book of Esther, but we know that Esther fasted food and drink for three days and prayed for wisdom, and asked for the Jews in Xerxes territory to pray for her too. Following this she went to Xerxes to invite him to dinner. This in itself was dangerous for her to do, as the King always asked to have the company of the Queen, and if he hadn’t requested her presence she could be killed for approaching him. He had to offer her his gold scepter to touch or order for her to not be put to death. He did indeed do this and asked Esther what she wanted for he would give it to her. At dinner with the King and Haman, Esther pleaded for the lives of her people, this again was dangerous, as she revealed she was a Jew. Esther did not try to put words into the King’s mouth or manipulate him, she simply pleaded for her people and then let God do the rest. She was a very wise woman. Due to her bravery and the safety of her people, the Jewish began to celebrate Purim, and they still do today. Incidentally Purim begins tomorrow (March 9).
There are two women who I love that appear in Jesus’ genealogy – Ruth and Rahab. Ruth is a Moabite, yet she follows her Mother-in-Law, Naomi to Judah after Naomi’s husband and two sons (one of whom was Ruth’s husband) had died. Ruth was an outsider, plain and simple. She did not fit in, she was an alien and no one wanted her around. Yet there is a wonderful redemptive story that unfolds in Ruth’s life. Ruth is so faithful to Naomi. I love the line “Where you go, I will go, where you live, I will live, your people are my people, your God is my God ….” (Ruth 1:16-17). As Ruth and Naomi return to Judah we meet the honorable Boaz who is a close relative of Naomi and “Kinsman Redeemer.” Boaz could have taken everything Naomi had and claimed it as his own, but he’s a nice guy and eventually marries Ruth. Ruth is so devout and faithful that she follows everything Naomi tells her to do, even when it comes to wooing Boaz! Ruth’s story shows that God is working in all of our lives, however out of place we feel. We all count. This is shown in that Ruth becomes the great grandmother of David and the great, great, great, great, great ……… grandmother of Jesus . Like Ruth, Rahab’s story is one of redemption too. She was a prostitute living in Jericho who harboured some of Joshua’s men and protected them from the King of Jericho who sought to kill them (Joshua 2 & 6:17-25). In return for this Rahab was protected, along with her family, when Jericho was destroyed. So what happened to Rahab? Well, she went on to mother a child named Boaz! I think it’s amazing that Jesus’ family tree is not perfect. There are misfits there, adulterers, a prostitute, gentiles etc. That in itself shows God’s redeeming power and love.
Finally I want to mention Hannah. Hannah was amazing IMO! She was desperate for a child, she was ridiculed by her husband’s other wife, she felt inferior, maybe incomplete. She prayed and prayed to God. On a yearly visit to the temple she says to God “give me a child and I will give him back to you” (1 Samuel 1:9-11). God hears her prayers and blesses her with a child. As promised, she returns to the temple with the child, Samuel, once he has weaned and gives him back to God to serve in his temple. Then she worships God:
“I’m bursting with God-News! I’m walking on air. I’m laughing at my rivals. I’m dancing my salvation. Nothing and no one is holy like God, no rock mountain like our God … ” (read the rest in I Samuel 2).
Wow, Hannah is showing an amazing amount of unconditional love.The child she has always wanted she has and then dedicates back to God, knowing she will only see him once a year on her temple visits. If I’m honest, I would struggle with doing this. What love, what faith, what courage.
The women in the bible can be great examples and can encourage us. They show us how to live a life with God well. I can read about some women in the bible and feel so inadequate, yet at the same time realize that they were women just like us today, with their own struggles and imperfections. They, like us, all share one common goal – to serve and love God.
Others taking part in the synchroblog (updated as more posts are added):
ulie Clawson on the God who sees
Steve Hayes on St. Theodora the Iconodule
Sonja Andrews on Aunt Jemima
Sensuous Wife on a single mom in the Bible
Minnowspeaks on celebrating women
Michelle Van Loon on the persistant widow
Heather on the strength of biblical women
Shawna Atteberry on the Daughter of Mary Magdalene
Christine Sine on women who impacted her life
Susan Barnes on Tamar, Ruth, and Mary
Kathy Escobar on standing up for nameless and voiceless women
Ellen Haroutunian on out from under the veil
Liz Dyer on Mary and Martha
Bethany Stedman on Shiphrah and Puah
Dan Brennan on Mary Magdalene
Jessica Schafer on Bathsheba
Eugene Cho on Lydia
Laura sorts through what she knows about women in the Bible
Miz Melly preached on the woman at the well
AJ Schwanz on women’s work
Pam Hogeweide on teenage girls changing the world
Teresa on the women Paul didn’t hate
Helen on Esther
Happy on Abigail
Mark Baker-Wright on telling stories
Robin M. on Eve
Alan Knox is thankful for the women who served God
Lainie Petersen on the unnamed concubine
Mike Clawson on cultural norms in the early church
Krista on serving God
Bob Carlton on Barbie as Icon
Jan Edmiston preached on the unnamed concubine
Deb on her namesake – Deborah
Makeesha on empowering women
Kate on Esther
Doreen Mannion on Deborah
Patrick Oden on Rahab
Scot McKnight on Junia
Erin Word on Mother/Daughter/Mother
Jonathan Stegall on Eve
InHo Kim on Sarah
Mimi Haddad on deception