Mary: Blessed Among Women (Part Two)

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Mary, mother of Jesus, instantly, humbly and joyfully submitted to God’s will without doubt or question.  She could hardly have had a more godly response to the announcement of Jesus’ birth.  Mary’s response to the angel’s unexpected news revealed  her true character.  It demonstrated that she was a young woman of mature faith and one who was a worshipper of the true God.

In the second part of this blog on Mary, I’m going to focus on her song that is often called ‘The Magnificat’, the first word in the Latin translation of this passage.  Mary’s song has often been used as the basis for choral music and hymns.  Like Hannah , the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10), Mary glorified God in song for what he was going to do for the world through her.  In both songs, God is pictured as a champion of the poor, the oppressed, and the despised.

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Mary understood that Christ’s birth fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham to be merciful to God’s people forever (Genesis 22:16-18).  She was not surprised when her special son announced that he was the Messiah.  She had known Jesus’ mission before his birth.

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To put the song in context, after receiving this news from the angel, Mary filled with joy and bubbling over with praise, went to visit Elizabeth.  There is nothing in God’s word to suggest that Mary was fleeing the shame of her premature pregnancy.  Perhaps Elizabeth was a kindred spirit with whom Mary could share her heart.  The angel had informed Mary about Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  We might assume then, that it completely natural for her to visit a close relative who was both a strong believer and also expecting her first son by a miraculous birth, also announced by an angel (Luke 1: 13-19).  Both women had been blessed by God in a supernatural way.  I can imagine the excitement as these two women gathered together to share their news and rejoice together in God’s goodness to them both! Oh, to be a fly on the wall!

Apparently the Holy Spirit told Elizabeth that Mary’s child was the Messiah because Elizabeth called Mary “the mother of my Lord” as she greeted her.  I’m sure that during Mary’s journey to Elizabeth she must have been wondering if the events of the last few days were real.  Elizabeth’s greeting must have strengthened her faith as she confirmed what the angel had told her.  Mary’s pregnancy may have seemed impossible, but her wise relative believe in the Lord’s faithfulness and rejoiced with Mary in her blessed condition.

41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 

Luke 1: 41 – 45

Mary responds to this prophetic message with one of her own.  ‘Magnificat’  is Latin for the first word of Mary’s outpouring of praise. Her song expresses unspeakable joy and it reminds me of the Psalms.  It is a song filled with hope of the Messiah to come.  Mary’s song not only echoes two of Hannah’s prayers but also shows a knowledge of the law, psalms and the prophets.

I believe that we can learn a lot from the example of Mary.  God is the only one that she magnified.  She praises the glory and majesty of God whilst acknowledging her own lowliness.  She took no credit for anything good on her self.  When Mary said “From now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48) she was not being proud but rather recognising and accepting the gift that God had given her. She praised the Lord for his attributes, naming some of the chief ones specifically, including His power,  his mercy, and his holiness.  She confesses God as the one who has done great things for her.  Her song is all about God’s greatness.  Mary worshipped God from her heart.  She was in awe of God’s grace towards her.  She seems overwhelmed that God would do this for her.  It was customary in Jewish prayers to recite God’s past faithfulness to His people.  Mary followed that convention in her song in an abbreviated form.  This can be seen in how she recalls how God had helped Israel, in fulfillment of all His promises. How amazing it must have felt that her child would be a living fulfillment of God’s promises. No wonder her heart overflowed with such praise!!

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  • Mary was willing to be available to God
  • She knew and applied Old Testament scriptures and this poured out in her worship of God
  • She gave God all the praise and glory  for all that He had done for her and acknowledged her own lowliness as a humble servant
  • At the risk of going off on a slight tangent, thinking about Mary being young in age but yet spiritually mature in her relationship  with God got me thinking about:
    • Where are we on the path of our journey with God?  Are we still taking baby steps or are we growing in maturity in our relationship with God?  To a certain extent our age is irrelevant in this regard.  Are we getting a good diet of God’s word in our day to day lives?  Are we committing scripture to memory so that we are equipped to deal with life, especially the challenges!  God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  We can also use it to build others up and to encourage.
    • How do we as a church, the body of Christ, respond to our young people?  Do we just see them as immature Christians?  This might not be the case.  Do we see them as having something to offer or teach the church?  Are we encouraging them to be fully involved in the body of Christ or do we still separate them from church life much of the time? Let’s be passionate about developing positive relationships with our youth and encouraging them to play an active role in the body.There is a difference between being young in age and young in faith.  Look at Mary’s example …… she may have been young in age but she demonstrated spiritually maturity and look at how God used her!
  • Like Mary, let’s remember God for all that He is, for his goodness to us and his grace poured out through Jesus’ death on the cross.  Let’s be people who pour out our hearts in worship for all that God has done, is doing and will do in the future!
  • Let’s be willing and available to be used by God and let’s remember where our good gifts come from and use them for His glory!

God bless,

Ali x

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Woman, who art thou? Mary: Blessed Among Women (Part One)

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Welcome to the sixth blog in my series called “Woman, who art thou?” which explores key women in the Bible and how their examples are relevant to us today.  In this blog, I’m going to be exploring the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and in particular, her visit from the Angel Gabriel and her response.  I write with a little reticence but only because I want to make sure that I do her justice, being that she is the mother of our  Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The blog will be in three parts.  The second blog will focus more on the Magnificat – Mary’s response of worship.  The third blog will focus on Mary’s relationship with her son.

So, who was Mary?  Mary was a first century  BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth. She was young – probably a teenager, poor and female.  It was quite normal for girls of that culture to be promised in marriage while they were still as young as thirteen years of age.  Marriages were ordinarily arranged by the bridegroom or his parents through the girl’s father.  To be honest, she had all the characteristics that, to the people of her day, would make her unusable by God for any major task.  But yet God chose Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience He has ever demanded of anyone.  Centuries earlier, God had promised David that David’s kingdom would last forever (2 Samuel 7:16).  This promise was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus, a direct descendent of David, whose kingdom will never end.

Motherhood is a privilege, a painful one, but a privilege nonetheless.  Mary, at a young age, had the unique privilege of being mother to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  This is why she is seen as being blessed among women. She had found favour with God.  Mary herself, in the ‘Magnificat’, testified that all generations would regard her as profoundly blessed by God.

“….for he has been mindful of the humble servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name”

Luke 1: 48-49

Was she being proud? No, she was recognizing and accepting the gift God had given her. Mary was showing complete humility and glorifying God in song for what God was going to do for the world through her.

Until the visitation of the Angel Gabriel, Mary’s life was quite ordinary.  She had recently become engaged to a carpenter, Joseph, and was anticipating married life.  She had no clue that her life was about to change in such a dramatic way.  This was not the first time that the angel had appeared. Gabriel had visited Zechariah, as well as Mary and even the prophet Daniel, some 500 years earlier.  Each time, he brought important messages from God.

I would imagine that, once Mary had got over the shock of being in the presence of an angel (if that is even possible!), when Gabriel greeted her she might have been puzzled as to what was coming next (Luke 1:29).  What did this heavenly being want with her?! Maybe she felt like she had won the grand prize in a contest that she had not even entered.  It’s no wonder she was puzzled and frightened.  What came next was the news that almost every women in Israel hoped to hear – that her child would be the Messiah.  God’s promised Saviour and the fulfillment of scripture.  God’s announcement of a child to be born, throughout scripture, was met with various responses:

  • Abraham’s wife laughed (Genesis 18:9-15)
  • Zechariah doubted (Luke 1:18)
  • By contrast, Mary submitted, she believed the angels words and agreed to bare the child, even under humanly impossible circumstances.
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Mind Blowing!!

What really stands out to me about Mary is that she does not doubt what the angel tells her, not even for a second!  She does not refuse to believe it or laugh it off as an impossible task.  Rather she asked how pregnancy would be possible because she was still a virgin.  Gabriel told her that her baby would be God’s son.

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his Kingdom will never end.”  Luke 1: 31-33

“…The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” Luke 1: 35

His blessing on Mary, the honour of being the mother of the Messiah, would cause her much pain and come at a high cost to her personally: with her story about being made pregnant by the Holy Spirit, she risked being considered crazy; her peers would ridicule her; her fiance would come close to leaving her; her son would be rejected and murdered. But through her son would come the world’s only hope, and this is why Mary has been praised by countless generations as the young girl who ‘found favour with God’.  Mary’s submission was part of God’s plan to bring about our salvation. I’m quite in awe of her willing obedience to God, something I can only aspire to!

“I am the Lord’s servant….May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38)

When Mary said that, she didn’t know about the tremendous opportunity she would have.  She only knew that God was asking her to serve him, and she willingly obeyed.

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  • Mary may have been young in age but I have a feeling  that she is mature in her faith and relationship with God.  Initially, when the angel appeared to her, she may have been afraid BUT she listens to what he has to say from God and accepts it
  • At no point does Mary doubt that what the angel has told her will come to pass – “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1: 38).  If anything she is curious as to HOW it will happen but she does not doubt that it WILL happen
  • Mary willingly submits to the will of God and is obedient despite the potential risks to her personally, socially, culturally etc.  She doesn’t ask “Why me?” or say “I cannot do this!”.  She basically says “Okay God, let it be, let’s do this!”
  • Mary, being young, poor and a woman, may have appeared insignificant to others in society but she definitely was not insignificant to God.  God chose her for a task that would require an extreme amount of obedience.  Don’t ever feel that your ability, experience, or education makes you an unlikely candidate for God’s service.  Mary’s story shows us that this isn’t the case where God is concerned.
  • Don’t limit God’s choices.  He can use you if you trust Him!
  • If sorrow or sadness weighs you down and dims your hope, think of Mary and wait patiently for God to finish working out His plan.
  • “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1: 38) – When Mary said this, she didn’t really know about the tremendous opportunity she would have.  She only knew that God was asking her to serve Him and she willingly obeyed.  Don’t wait to see the bottom line before offering your life to God.  Let’s offer ourselves willingly, even when the outcome seems disastrous.  God has a plan for our lives and knows the bigger picture – we just have to trust in Him 🙂  I’m sure God waits to hear a similar response from us.
  • God’s best servants  are often ordinary people who make themselves available to him
  • God’s plans involve extraordinary events in ordinary people’s lives
  • A person’s character is revealed by his or her response to the unexpected

Be blessed!

Ali x

Woman, who art thou? The First Lady

Hi everyone!

“Woman, who art thou?” is a series of blogs I’m writing about women in the Bible.

You may remember that I hinted at this in my very first blog   I have also previously written a blog about Rahab.  Part of the inspiration for this theme was discovering a book written by John MacArthur called ‘Twelve Extraordinary Women.  The underlying theme looks at twelve women in the Bible to see how God shaped them and what we might learn  from them today.  Discovering the book was timely because i found it at a time in my life when I was struggling a bit with my own identity after going through some big life changes.

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ORIGINS.

Learning about our ancestors often helps us to understand ourselves.  One of my uncles has recently spent some time researching the ‘Mackenzie’ family tree (that’s my maiden name by the way) through www.ancestry.co.uk. It brings to mind TV programmes, like ‘Who do you think you are?’, where past secrets are uncovered when celebrities trace their ancestry. I think that many of us have a innate need or desire to know where we’ve come from and to know our roots.

EVE.

So….I thought that it made sense to start with Eve, seeing as she was the earth’s ‘First Lady’as it were, being the first woman to walk the earth.  She, along with Adam, was the highlight of God’s creation. Genesis 2:21-22 tells us that Eve’s creation was unique.  He could have made her from the dust of the ground just like Adam.  But He didn’t.  God chose to make her from man’s flesh and bones.   A Puritan, Matthew Henry, in his classic commentary on the Bible says “The woman was made of the rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to beloved.” This symbolism fits well  with what Scripture teaches about the proper relationship between husband and wives.  It reminds us of how Scripture exalts women. Adam had gained another human being with whom he could fellowship.  They had an equal share in God’s image.   Eve was Adam’s ideal companion and mate.  They were created perfect for each other.  Their’s was a complete, innocent, and open oneness, without a hint of shame. Together they were greater than either could have been alone. This is one of the potential ‘greats’ of marriage today  I believe – that’s how I feel about Dan & I’s marriage anyway ❤ 

Genesis 2: 23 says “The man said, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man”.

Until the creation of Eve, Adam had been the only human being on the planet and had been given  the task of naming all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. No suitable companion had been found amongst them.  I’ve tried to imagine that moment when Adam set eyes on Eve for the first time.  Can you imagine it? I wonder whether Adam exclaimed “WOWZERS!!” when he set eyes on her ( maybe a bit like good old Tom cat below ha ha).  I’m sure she epitomised pure beauty standing before him.  1 Corinthians 11:7 says “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man” – Adam  represented the supreme species (a race of creatures made in the image of God) then Eve was the living embodiment of humanity’s glory.

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THE SERPENT.

Disguised as a serpent, Satan approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, we read in Genesis chapter 3.  He questioned her contentment with what God had given her and Adam.  Eve accepted Satan’s perspective on things without even checking with God or even discussing it with Adam.  She became focused on the fruit on the tree of knowledge of good and evil.   It was that “I’ve got to have it!” feeling.  Her desires took over …“When the woman saw the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it”.  We might say she was impulsive. I think we can perhaps see ourselves in this scripture and repeat the same mistakes.   Our own desires, like Eve’s, can be quite easily easily manipulated. They should not be the basis for our actions.  We need to keep involving God in our decision-making process always.

SERPENT IN THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE

Satan made Eve doubt God’s goodness.  He implied that God was strict, stingy, and selfish for not wanting Eve to share his knowledge of good and evil.  Never mind the consequences! She quickly forgot all the God had given her and just focused on what was forbidden.  We can fall into the same trap too.  We can dwell on what God says we must not do rather than count the blessings and promises that He has given us.  If we stop feeling sorry for ourselves and thinking about what we don’t have and instead consider all we do have and thank God, then doubt won’t lead to sin, giving up on God’s ability to provide or change your situation.

“Give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

Satan used a sincere motive to tempt Eve – “you will be like God”. It wasn’t wrong for Eve to want to be like God.  That’s humanity’s higher goal isn’t it?  – To be more like God? But Satan misled Eve concerning the right way to go about it.  He told her that she could become more like God by basically defying His authority, by taking God’s place and deciding for herself what was best for her life.  In effect, he told her to become her own God.

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

To become like God is not the same as trying to become God.  Instead, it is trying to reflect the qualities or characteristics of God and to recognise His authority over your life. We can be the same, like Eve, sometimes, we can have a worthy goal but try to achieve it in the wrong way. Self-exaltation leads to rebellion against God. As soon as we leave God out of our plans, we are placing ourselves above Him.  I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve done this in the past – thinking I know best.  Foolish woman!

Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans”

Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”

We can trust God with our plans, we do not need to go it alone.

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

Satan tried to make Eve think that sin is good.  Knowledge of both good and evil seems harmless to her.  People often choose wrong things because they have become convinced that they are good, at least for themselves.  Sins do not always appear ugly to us and the pleasant sins are the hardest to resist! When we face temptation, however, there is always a way out.  God has promised us that in His word. Use His word and His people to stand against it! Don’t suffer alone, talk to someone that you can confide in.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13

Sin spreads.  

“….She took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3:6-7

After Eve sinned, she involved Adam in her wrongdoing.  Often we try to relieve our guilt by involving someone else.  Sin can spread like wildfire or like toxic waste spilt in a river.  They were also so quick to place the blame at someone else’s feet instead of recognising and confessing their sin to God.  Adam blamed Eve (and God for giving the woman to him in the first place), Eve in turn blamed the serpent. Neither of them had given a thought to the long-term consequences of their sin.  In Genesis 3, we cannot tell whether or not Adam and Eve had any sort of discussion about whether or not they should eat the fruit.  We know from Genesis 2 that God had certainly told Adam not to eat it and we know that Eve was also aware of the rule because she mentions it to the Serpent when they talked in the Garden of Eden. Satan had deflected her thinking away from the consequences and instead convinced Eve that God was almost holding something back from her by not letting her eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman (Genesis 3:4).  Despite Satan’s role in this original sin, Eve (and Adam)  were responsible for their own actions and had given in to desire.  Satan did not force her to do it.

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It’s rather amusing that Adam and Eve, once they become aware of their nakedness, cover themselves with fig-leaves and attempt to hide from God – surely they were already aware that God was omnipresent and omniscient?They couldn’t hide from God and neither can we.  I’m reminded of these scriptures from the Old Testament.

“There is no deep shadow, no utter darkness, where evil doers can hide.” Job 34:22

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7′

“Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord, “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:24

HIDING-BEHIND-A-TREE, hiding

Feeling guilty, like Adam and Eve did, makes us aware of our sin so we can ask for God’s forgiveness and then correct what was wrong.  Make a U-turn….that’s repentance.  Honesty will strengthen our relationship with God. God’s commands are for our own good and we may not always understand the reasoning behind them (a bit like Eve).

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” Deuteronomy 10:12-13

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Eve had chosen her course of action.  Then God chose his.

Like any good parent, God had to act in a consistent manner – consistent with his perfect moral nature.  Their sin could not go unchecked. The punishment had to be given. Maybe we think that the consequences are extreme? However, let’s not forget that their actions set into motion the world’s tendency towards disobeying God – original sin. We inherited their sinful natures which is why we need Jesus. Their fall from God’s grace had consequences for rest of humanity and all of creation.

Genesis 3:14 – 24 says:

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 

15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” 

16 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 

19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” 

20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. 

21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 

22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 

23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 

24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Thank God that’s not the end of the story!

Thank God that He wants to have a relationship with us even though we have a sinful nature!

Thank God that He provided a way back to Him through Jesus Christ and that through Him we can have victory over sin and temptation!

Mother Of All Living

So …. until Adam and Eve were cast out from the Garden of Eden (which had probably seemed like heaven – every thing being perfect) Eve was called ‘woman’ because she was formed out of man. Adam gave her the name ‘Eve’ because she would become the ‘mother of all living’, starting with Cain and Abel.

First wife and mother.

From her the human race began.

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Woman, who art thou?Women Of Faith: Rahab


Hebrews 11:31 “By faith, the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient (or unbelieving)”. (NIV)

You can read about Rahab in Joshua 2 and 6:22,23 in the Old Testament and in Matthew 1:5, Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 in the New Testament.

Rahab was a prostitute, a pagan and a Canaanite when we first read of her in Joshua 2. On the face of it, she may not seem the likely candidate to help fulfill God’s purpose at all! A prostitute?! But yet she became the heroine in this story which describes the conquest of the city of Jericho by the Israelites, led by Joshua.  Jericho was one of the main places of idol worship, being especially devoted to Ashtaroth, the goddess of the moon.  This place represented all that was most vile about the Canaanite religion.

Before trying to conquer Jericho, Joshua sent two spies to look over the land.  Rahab hid Joshua’s two spies in her house and lied to the King of Jericho to protect them. Now there has been much discussion on whether Rahab was justified in lying to save the lives of the spies because most of us might agree that it is morally wrong to lie.  Yet despite this, Rahab is commended for her faith in God in Hebrews 11:31 amongst other big Biblical names in Paul’s “Faith Hall Of Fame”.  Her lie is not mentioned again. We could suggest that God forgave Rahab’s lie because of her faith.  We could perhaps argue that this was acceptable behaviour in a war-time situation – Rahab was just deceiving the enemy.  We could also suggest that because Rahab was not a Jew so she could not be held responsible for keeping the moral standards set out in God’s law.  We could argue that lying was the “lesser of two evils” in her situation.  Rahab broke a lesser principle in order to uphold a higher principle – protecting God’s people! There may well have been an alternative solution to save the lives of the Israelite spies. But under the pressure of the moment, Rahab needed to make a decision.

Read the story of Rahab and the spies here….

Rahab already knew that God was going to give this land to the Israelites.  She spoke of a great fear that had fallen on the people of Jericho (see Joshua 2: 8-11) as they heard about what God had already done:

  • drying up the water of the Red Sea for the Israelites when they came out of Egypt
  • what God did in Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, who He completely destroyed

If we look at the fact that Rahab was a pagan, a Canaanite and a prostitute, we might assume that she would never have been interested in God.  But she was full of surpirises. At this point in the story, I think Rahab has faith and strong faith at that. She had already made a choice to follow God and turn her life around.  That is why she chose to help Joshua’s spies, despite the great risk to herself and her family.  Imagine what might have happened if the King of Jericho had not believed her lies about the spies whereabouts. Rahab was willing to risk everything for a God she barely knew.  Clearly we musn’t judge a person’s interest in God by his or her appearance, background or lifestyle

In verse 11 she says “When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below”.  To me,  this is a declaration of faith, a statement of belief.  She is making it clear that she believes that the God that the spies serve, the God of Moses and Joshua is the one true God! Perhaps God directed the spies to Rahab’s house because He knew her heart was open to him and that she would be instrumental in the Israelite victory over Jericho.

I look back over Rahab’s story in Joshua 2 and I wonder how she got to this point of faith. Quite often, as Christians, we take great joy in recalling the steps we took to come to Christ, perhaps we heard a friend’s testimony of God’s goodness or we had an encounter with God. Sometimes conversions are dramatic and eventful and sometimes they are slow and gradual.  Every journey to Jesus is special and unique, no matter what route we’ve taken.  Rahab and the people of Jericho had heard of what God had done for His people. The majority of the people in Jericho were living in fear, their courage had failed as a result.  Perhaps the people of Jericho had surcumbed to their fear and felt defeated but Rahab declares that the God of the spies is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

I believe that the stories she had heard had a dramatic impact on her and led to her conversion.  She took the risk in helping the spies because perhaps she sensed that the Israelite God was a God worth trusting.  The evidence was clear to see.  I believe that this led Rahab to have faith and be victorious when she could have or should have given up and perished along with the rest of Jericho.  I believe these stories, probably passed on by word of mouth (a lot like a game of chinese whispers), of God’s goodness and power had a huge impact on her life.  This got me thinking about our own testimonies as Christians.  We can see that word of God’s power spread, Rahab heard and responded. 

If that was the case way back when in the Old Testament then surely testimonies can and should have the same impact today on non-believers? Do we as Christians have a responsibility to tell our stories too?  Should this be happening on a larger scale than it is? Surely we should share our testimonies of God’s goodness in our lives so that people can see who God is and how God’s acts in the world today? Sounds easy I know!

So why don’t we do it? It could be face-to-face over coffee with a friend or via a blog , via Facebook/Twitter or a website. “Evangelism” can feel daunting I know.  It always feels harder when we give it an official title lol.  But let’s be bold and see people’s lives transformed by God’s Holy Spirit and the saving grace of Jesus Christ! We shouldn’t let anything get in the way of our telling people the Good News! 🙂

Some final thoughts on Rahab…..

  • Like Rahab, who was probably a new believer when she helped the spies – God often uses people with a simple faith to accomplish a great purpose, no matter what kind of past they have had or how insignificant they seem to be (look at David and Goliath?!) So please be encouraged
  • Rahab didn’t allow her past to keep her from the new role God had for her
  • Rahab had to make a decision on the spot when faced with the King of Jericho – most of us will face dilemmas at one time or another.  We may feel there is no perfect situation to our problem
  • Thank goodness! God does not demand that our judgement be perfect in all situations.  He simply asks us to put our trust in Him and to do the best we know how.  Rahab did that and was commended for her faith (See Hebrews 11:31)

 

Sources:

Life Application Study Bible (NIV) – Joshua 2, Joshua 6:22,23, Matthew 1:5, Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25

John Macarthur, “Twelve Extraordinary Women”, Nelson Books/Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005, p51-68

http://www.gotquestions.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Woman, who art thou?” 

Beginnings 

A few years ago I was listening to my pastor preach on Mothering Sunday. He was talking about the importance of mothers. He set out a scenario of a party where people were mingling, as you do, and you meet and greet and then someone you meet asks the question “What do you do for a living?”. You pause for a moment and consider your response. You’re a mum. Fact. You’re not working. Fact. You’re a ‘homemaker’ for want of a better term. How do you make that sound interesting compared to other careers that people have? How will your new acquaintance respond to your answer? Will they admire you for your dedication and commitment to your family? Or will they think that you are lazy or a kept woman perhaps? Will they think that what you do everyday is of no significance? Or will they congratulate you for doing such a high value yet unrecognised job? 


As the pastor continued, the response that came, within his imaginary scenario, was “Oh, I’m just a mum”….Just a mum? Just a mum? The pastor continued to explain that we should never think of ourselves as “just a mum” and expanded on this is his usual clear and straight to the point kind of a way, backing up his points with God’s word. 

Now, for some reason, this sermon had a real impact on me and as time went on I would ponder this sermon every now and again. Perhaps this sermon struck a chord because I was at a turning point in my life, a crossroads, let’s say. It had been a challenging few years. My marriage had come to an end after 13 years, I had turned 40 (Not such a big deal really!) and I had resigned from a good teaching job within the space of three months in order to be more available to my children. I became a single mother. I had tried, on and off, to return to the workforce either to a teaching job or in another sector but to no avail. 

When I tried to look ahead, to look to the future, to plan what I might do next, all I saw was a blank canvas! I had nothing! No ideas, no desire and no inspiration! None at all! This was possibly the first time in my life I had experienced this…..and it scared me! Big time! I had prayed and asked God to guide me ….still nothing! And God knows I’m an impatient person….so this was a real challenge! 

I started to read a book written by John MacArthur entitled “Twelve Extraordinary Women”. The blurb on the back of the book went something like this : “How God shaped the women of the Bible and what He wants to do with you”.

https://goo.gl/images/OiXDnl

“What does He want to do with me? How do I find out?” I thought. Perhaps I should look to the example of women from the Bible and see what I can learn from their amazing example and apply their lessons to my own life.  I felt that it wasn’t so much about job or career but more about me coming to a deeper understanding of my own identity in Christ as a woman. Who am I in Christ? What does he want me to do?….and numerous other questions! 

So to cut a long story short…..I have embarked on a personal quest with so many strands  and questions to explore. I’m excited to see what God is going to teach me through it all about myself and about women of faith. I hope I discover something new and insightful to share with you!

Ali x