Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Called by God: Extraordinary Women of Faith (Part One)

While reading EXPERIENCING GOD (Blackaby, Blackaby, and King) the following sentence made me nod in agreement:
"...unless God opens your spiritual eyes to recognize what He is doing, you will remain blind to His presence and work....We do not naturally seek God on our own initiative. Everything we are experiencing from God comes in response to His invitation....He leads us from being self-centered to being God-centered." (pgs. 55 and 56.)


Personally, 1 Timothy 2:12-15 describes me pretty well...I am easily deceived and I am an offender/ sinner.

There are many women of the bible. Though 1 Timothy 2:12-15 talks about women not being placed in a leadership roll...(and there might be some ladies unhappy or offended I have said that)...I feel God STILL uses women to further His kingdom just in a different capacity (which falls within the "scope" of their "job description", if you will)...especially in some areas, like child bearing, which men are not designed to do.

When I think of great ladies of scripture (and the areas in which they served and for which they are known best), the following come to my mind first:

Ruth: daughter-in-law
Esther: queen
Mary: mother
Mary Magdalene: believer

Each had favor with God, received a place in history and in God's precious word, and NONE of them were leaders. They were obedient to God and did not doubt nor challenge His sovereignty.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44.ESV.)


Ruth:
Ruth was Naomi's daughter-in-law and after the deaths of both of Naomi's sons and her husband (Ruth 1:5) Ruth went back to Bethlehem with Naomi saying,
"Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you."


Ruth met and found favor with Naomi's relative, Boaz, because of all she had done for her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:10-12.) She worked in the fields like a servant gradually collecting barley during the harvest (of barley and wheat) to bring back to Naomi. As God would have it, Ruth married Boaz according to the laws regarding Levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) and was the great grandmother of David the king in the genealogy of Christ Jesus (Matthew 1:5.)

Esther:
Esther was adopted by her uncle, Mordecai, and raised as his own daughter (Esther 2:7, 15).

After Queen Vashti was banished (Esther 1:10-12, 15-22) it was decided beautiful young virgins would be sought for the king and the one who pleased the king would be queen in Vashti's place (Esther 2:1-4).

Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. 9And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. 10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her. (Esther 2:8-11. ESV.)


Esther received favor with the king and was appointed queen in the place of Vashti (Esther 2:17). When Mordecai became aware of a plot against the king he told Esther who relayed the message to the king (Esther 2:21-23). The offenders were hanged and Haman was promoted. Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman which angered Haman and he "sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus" (Esther 3:1-6).

Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them. 9If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the king’s treasuries....Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation to all the peoples to be ready for that day." (Esther 3:8-9, 13-14. ESV.)


Mordecai told Esther to go to the king and beg his favor because not even she would be safe though she was within the king's palace. Esther agreed to go to the king though it was against the law for her to do so and said, "...and if I perish, I perish" (Esther 4:16). So, she went before the king and he held out his scepter and asked what she wanted. She said,
"My wish and my request is: 8 If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said."


Haman went to the king to ask that Mordecai be hanged however the king (who was not able to sleep) decided he wanted to reward Mordecai for reporting the plot against him which had been recorded in "the book of memorable deeds". The king asked Haman, "What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?" Haman thinking only of himself said,
"For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. 9 And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: 'Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.'"
Haman was then instructed to do to Mordecai exactly as he had just said without leaving anything out. Afterward, Haman returned to his house "mourning and with his head covered" (Esther 6:1-12).

During the second day of the feast Esther had prepared for the king and Haman, once again the king asked Esther what she wanted. She said,
"If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. 4 For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king."


When the king asked, "Who dared to do this?" Esther responded with, "A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!" Because God had placed Esther in the palace and gave her favor with the king she was able to advocate for her people. Haman was hanged (on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai no less) (Esther 7) and Mordecai was "set over the house of Haman". The king gave Mordecai his signet ring and permission to write an order "to revoke the letters devised by Haman". God used Esther to save His people (Esther 8).

To be continued...
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