Finding modern inspiration from women in the Bible

International Women’s Day
March 8, 2022
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As we continue through this year under the motto "Together in Christ”, we want to remember all those who, together, contribute to the work of God. 

March 8th is International Women's Day, which is “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women."1. In honour of this day, we want to highlight a few incredible women from the Bible that we may not always hear about. While Jesus Christ is our ultimate example, we hope learning more about these women will further inspire everyone who is contributing to God’s work together in Christ. 

Deborah the Leader

The book of Judges is a historical book in the Hebrew Bible, teaching us about the different leaders of the various Israelite generations. In Judges, we can read about Deborah, a judge in the Israelite society. “Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders” (NIV Judges 2:16). A judge in this time was a military leader, who received and transmitted the word and will of God. 

Deborah was many things; she was a prophet, a poet, a judge, a worship leader, and a military leader. Deborah is the only judge in the book of Judges who offers her godly wisdom to settle disputes between Israelites (seen in the opening verses of Judges 4 where she holds court under the tree of Deborah and is approached by many). In the time of Deborah, the Israelites were under the rule of the King of Canaan. When the Israelite people wanted to defeat their oppressors, they went to Deborah to seek counsel. The leader of the Israelite army refused to go to war without Deborah by his side, and they eventually defeated the Army of Canaan. 

Esther the Advocate

In the book of Esther, we can read about a time when the Israelites found themselves in a foreign land. Esther became Queen but never told anyone she was an Israelite. When a decree went out that the Israelite population should be destroyed, Esther decided to make her nationality known, and advocated for her people saying, “I will go to the King, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (NIV Esther 4:16). Esther told the King her nationality, even though it could have gotten her killed, and she eventually helped to save the Israelites. 

Mary Magdalene the Witness

Another amazing woman you can read about in the Bible is Mary Magdalene. We don’t know a lot about Mary’s life, especially before Jesus, but we do know a few things. 

When Mary Magdalene is first introduced in the gospel according to Luke, we find out she had seven demons cast out of her. “After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases; Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out…” (NIV Luke 8:1-2). While it’s unclear exactly what these demons were, many believe it to mean that Mary Magdalene suffered from mental illness.

Beyond having demons cast out of her, we also know that Mary was one woman, among a few other women, who financially supported Jesus and the disciples throughout their travels: “These women were helping to support them [Jesus and the twelve disciples] out of their own means.” (NIV Luke 8:3). 

Finally, we know that Mary witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection. In each gospel, the resurrection of Christ is slightly different, however, in all the resurrection accounts, the first people to find out about the empty tomb and Christ’s resurrection are women. Mary is one of the main women listed in the accounts, and each time, these women are commissioned to tell this good news of Christ's resurrection to the disciples. 

Today women too are commissioned to spread the good news! The story of Mary Magdalene and the other women who witnessed the resurrection is incredibly inspiring. Because even in the time of the Bible, a time when women were not supposed to speak to men in public, the women were commissioned first to spread the news of His resurrection, “But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” (NIV Mark 16:8).  

Contributing to the work of God through Ministerial Work

What’s interesting about these women is that they didn’t just serve the Lord by preaching; Deborah wrote poetry, Esther advocated for those that couldn't advocate for themselves, and Mary Magdalene overcame her struggles to become a prominent witness of Christ’s ultimate miracle, and helped to spread the good news to all people. We each have our own gifts and talents that can be used in many ways to serve the Lord. 

There have been changes recently in the New Apostolic Church with regards to the concept of ministry, and we know that preaching behind the altar is not the only service one can provide. Anything anyone does to help spread the gospel and further the work of God is a kind of service2.

There are many people in the Bible who are great examples of serving, and these include Deborah, Esther and Mary Magdalene. They were poets and witnesses, leaders and advocates. They were all of these things and more, even in difficult times, even being exiled from their lands, living under the occupation of other nations or living with mental illness. 

This International Women’s Day, we honour and celebrate all of you who contribute to the work of God with whatever gifts and talents you have and use together in Christ.
 

1 https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About
2 https://nac.today/en/708140/674220

 

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