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Posts Tagged ‘Bible Women’

Dear Readers,

I am currently in the middle of the second year of pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree. Over a year ago I posted that I would like to write a book about women in ministry using some of the over 200 stories that are on my blog. I have recently changed my mind and will be writing a curriculum on women in the Bible and history. Some day I might write a whole book but for now I believe I need to write Bible stories.

The reason: I sent a survey on women in the Bible to many churches and received very disappointing results. For one thing, very few men said that the speak about women from the pulpit. There were many reasons, but I am concerned that this is NOT encouraging to women. At the very least it makes us feel unnecessary.

More importantly, the stories are in God’s Word. God included the stories of women for our benefit. When we skip over them we lose out on what God would teach us. That includes all of the inspiring stories of women that God has used in Kingdom work.

An important reason for writing a curriculum is to show that God does indeed use women in ministry. But equally important is a list of resources for women to use. I have been blessed by each and every book or article I have read. An important part of the curriculum will be a bibliography containing a list of the many books available. Other women will be blessed too as they read these inspiring stories.

So, for the next few weeks we will be looking at the stories of women in the Bible. Most of these women will be very familiar to you, but we will examine them more closely than you may have had opportunity to in the past.

The first and foremost attention will be paid to what the Bible has to say about the women. There is a lot of misinformation out there that can be cleared up by just looking at what the Bible actually says.

For example – what would most people say the occupation of Mary of Magdala was? It might surprise you to learn that the Bible does not say that Mary was a prostitute. This idea originated with Pope Gregory the Great in the late sixth century and it has stuck to this day. Hollywood has helped to cement the idea in place by castigating Mary as a loose woman. I don’t expect anything better than that from a group that uses lurid details to sell movies whether they are accurate or not. But I would like a chance to set the record straight for Christians by telling the story from the Bible.

And so, that will be the format of all of these lessons. We will begin by reading the Scriptures. Next, I will bring in some background material from well-respected Christian historians. Why are these stories in the Bible? What can we learn from them? How do they fit in with God’s overall plan of Redemption?

The Bible is really a story with the Lord Jesus Christ as the central character. The stories of the men and the women in the Bible are interesting and important in themselves, but they all point to God’s plan of salvation. By studying the stories of these women in their context, we can see how they fit into God’s plan of redemption.

Jesus asked the Church to take the Gospel to all of the nations. That is a big job. It will take all Christians, men and women working together to fulfill the Great Commission.

Are we looking forward to Christ’s appearing? There is only one place in the Scriptures that gives us an indication of when Christ will return. “The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Now with technology, GPS, easy travel, more cooperation between some countries, and the many new Mission Organizations I believe that we can reach every nation. This is exciting for all of us who look for and love His appearing.

And so please study and enjoy the stories of God’s kingdom women. You are a kingdom woman! How will God use you to bless others while you serve Him?

 

 

 

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Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life. Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also. Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up,” for he thought, “I am afraid that he too may die like his brothers.” So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house. (Genesis 38:6-11)

Tamar was married into Judah’s family. Judah was the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. Isaac was his grandfather and Abraham was his great-grandfather.

Our story interrupts the general flow of the story of God’s dealings with the Israelites in the early days of the Jewish nation. At this point in our story, Joseph’s brothers have sold him into slavery. A passing caravan had purchased Joseph and would eventually sell him to Potiphar in Egypt. (Genesis 37:36) At home, their father, Jacob is grieving because he thinks that Joseph is dead.

Genesis 38 is a “time out” in the story of Joseph and Egypt and how the Israelites eventually went there during the time of the famine. We are very familiar with the story. After working in Potiphar’s household for some time, Joseph gets unfairly thrown into prison. God helps Joseph get out when he interprets Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph is given leadership in Egypt, wisely guiding that country through seven years of tremendous harvests and then seven years of famine.

When Jacob hears that there is grain in Egypt he sends his sons there to purchase some. Eventually all 11 brothers and Jacob end up there. The Israelites remain there for four hundred years as slaves to the Egyptians and then God raised up Moses to take them out of Egypt back to the Promised Land.
That is the general flow of the history of God’s people.

So why do we have this whole chapter in the middle of the story talking about Judah and Tamar? Why is Tamar so special?

Perhaps it is because the writers of the Old Testament, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit were tamar genealogygiving us details of the history of Israel AND of God’s larger plan of redemption. For we find out that Tamar is an ancestress of Jesus. We know that Jesus was a descendant of Judah. “Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar…” (Matthew 1:3). This story in Genesis 38 gives us the background to how that worked out. We also know that Jesus was a descendant of David. Tamar was an ancestress of David as well. This story shows us God’s great sovereignty over history. It shows us that God’s plans worked out just as He foretold through the prophets. Tamar would be in the line of ancestry of the Lord Jesus along with several other Bible women – Sarah, Rebecca, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Rahab.

Tamar had married Judah’s eldest son, Er. Er had displeased God in some way, so God took his life. According to Levirate Law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) a brother could try and give a child to the widow so that his dead brother would have an heir. Onan, Er’s brother, married Tamar but “wasted his seed” instead of giving Tamar a child. He was disobeying God’s law by doing this and so God took his life too. (For all of the details read Genesis 38.)

Judah was apparently afraid to give Tamar his third son, Shelah, after watching the first two sons die. Apparently Shelah was not quite old enough to marry, so Judah sent Tamar home to her father.

Time went by and Shua, Judah’s wife died. Someone told Tamar that Judah was going to be nearby soon for the sheering of his sheep. Tamar decided on a plan. She would deceive Judah into thinking she was a prostitute and thereby get the child by him that she had been promised.

Tamar and JudahSo she removed her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up and she had not been given to him as a wife. (Genesis 38:14)

It is hard to put ourselves into Tamar’s shoes and think about why she would commit a sin like this. Wasn’t she taking things into her own hands? Why didn’t she just trust God? What did she think would come of this?

We won’t know until we get to Heaven, but the fact is that she chose to waylay Judah and trick him into lying with her as if she was a prostitute. Judah promised her a goat from his flock as payment. He said he would send it later. Tamar was wise enough to get his seal and cord and staff as a pledge for payment. She also surmised that she would need proofs later when and if she got pregnant. She was so right.

Sure enough it was discovered that she was pregnant a few months later. Judah was told that it was by harlotry and he believed it. After all, Tamar was an unmarried widow. Judah demanded that she be brought out and punished according to the law at that time – she was to be burned.

In the meantime, Tamar sent word to her father-in-law that she was pregnant by the man who owned theGen 38-26 seal and cord and staff that she possessed. Judah recognized them and was humbled. “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” (Genesis 38:26) Judah repented and “did not have relations with her again.”

God gave Tamar not one but two sons. She had twins, Perez and Zerah. In fact, the name of Perez became great in Israel and was later used as an example of blessing in the book of Ruth: “And all the people who were in the gate, and the elders, said,.., ‘let thy house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore unto Judah’” (Ruth 4:11-12). It was through the line of Perez that Jesus would come.

What can we learn from Tamar’s life? A woman in her place and time had very few options. We cannot just dismiss her as a terrible sinner. Judah did not. He said that she was more righteous than he was. He knew that his sin in not giving her Shelah as he had promised led her into desperate means. If not for Tamar, Judah’s line would not continue. It was his responsibility and he neglected it.

Another lesson for us is the incredible love and mercy of God. God did not reject Tamar either, making her an ancestress of the Savior, His Son. God works out good even from our mistakes (Romans 8:28). Let’s don’t presume on God, however and always strive to obey Him without sinning. While the method that Tamar used seems wrong, we live in a sinful world and we should not judge her too harshly. God blessed her!!

 

 

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