March 17, 2013
- Rahab – Joshua 2:1-21; 6:17-25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31 James 2:25 Her Sorrow: To see her own people destroyed and her city demolished.
Jericho may be the world’s oldest city. Established nearly six (6) thousand years before Miriam and Moses completed their desert wanderings, its ruins can be found just seventeen miles northeast of Jerusalem. It was the “Gateway” to Canaan, the Promised Land; it was also the home of a prostitute named Rahab, whose house nestled snugly into its thick surrounding walls. She is the only woman singled out by name and commended for her faith as part of the great “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in the book of Hebrews. A prostitute living in the midst of an idolatrous people, Rahab was like a brand plucked from the fire. Her own people destroyed, she left everything behind, becoming an ancestor of King David and, therefore, one of Jesus’ ancestors as well.
The story of Rahab reveals again God’s willingness to use the less than perfect, the outcast, what we might see as the unsuitable to accomplish his holy purposes. Throughout Scripture, with what can almost be seen as divine humor, God chooses a stutterer to speak for him (Moses), a weakling to defend him (Gideon), an infertile woman to be mother of a nation (Sarah), a forgettable youngest son to be the most unforgettable king of his people (David), an unknown youngster to be the mother of his son (Mary), and a persecutor to take the gospel to the nations (Paul).
- Deborah – Judges 4-5 Her Sorrow: That her people had sunk into despair because of their idolatry, forgetting God’s promises and the faith of their ancestors.
Jericho, had lain in ruins for two hundred years. From there, the Israelites had swept across the country like a storm of locusts, devouring everything in their path. But the native peoples had somehow managed to survive, and like well-rooted weeds, their idolatry spread until it began to strangle Israel’s faith. The slaves-turned-warriors were once again underdogs, oppressed for twenty years by a coalition of Canaanite rulers, whose chief warrior was Sisera. Deborah was a prophetess who held court under a palm tree several miles northwest of Jericho. Much of Israel was divided and dispirited but, she refused to lose heart.
Indeed, a mother in Israel had arisen, a woman whose strong faith gave birth to hope and freedom and a peace that lasted forty years. Deborah arose and called the people to battle, leading them out of idolatry and restoring their dignity as God’s chosen ones.
Scripture describes Deborah as “a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth.” But, interestingly, when Deborah described herself, she didn’t use terms like prophet or wife or judge or general or leader or any other term of influence and power. She described herself as “a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7).
- Dorcas (Tabitha) – Acts 9:36
Tabitha, or Dorcas, is the only woman in Scripture to be honored with the designation of disciple. The presence of women in groups of disciples is implied at times, but Dorcas is the only woman specifically called a disciple. A disciple is first of all a learner, a pupil. Second, a disciple is a follower.
- Huldah – 2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chronicles 34:22-33 Her Sorrow: That God’s people refused to respond to him with loving obedience, ignoring repeated warnings about the consequences of their unfaithfulness.
Huldah is one of only four women with an authentic prophetic ministry mentioned in the Old Testament (along with Miriam, Deborah, and Isaiah’s wife). Though prophets like Jeremiah and Zephaniah were also active at the time, King Josiah consulted Huldah about the amazing discovery of the Book of the Law (material that probably forms the core of the book of Deuteronomy). The bible doesn’t go into great length about Huldah, only that God entrusted her with his word in a time of national crises. After Huldah’s prophecy, Josiah led one of the greatest religious reforms in history, purging Judah and even parts of Israel of paganism.