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Women play a powerful role in God’s story of redemption throughout Scripture. Whether it’s International Women’s Day or not, this is an important fact that more Christians should know and celebrate.
Here are 5 who we should celebrate more and whose example you can follow in.
Hannah was initially childless, and prayed desperately for a son.
She made a promise to God that if he permitted her to bear a son, she would devote him to God, this was a promise she was intent on keeping.
When God fulfilled this request, she faithfully kept her word. She left her son, Samuel, to be raised in the temple of the Lord while continuing to provide him guidance and mentorship along the way.
The book of 1 Samuel introduces us to Hannah. On top of her womb being closed, her husband’s second wife did have children and used it to provoke her rival in marriage. Understandably distressed, Hannah prayed for a son, promising to return him to the Lord for His sovereign purposes. In God’s providence, He answered Hannah’s prayer through the birth of Samuel, whom He anointed to become a prophet, priest, and judge in Israel.
Do you pray with confidence that God hears and desires to answer your prayers according to His good purposes for your life? Are you praying with a surrendered spirit, ready to relinquish the gifts He gives for the glory of His name? This is an example to follow because of how Hannah drew close to God. She also offered something she has long desired back to God confirming that her most prized possession was always Him. Because Hannah’s love for God exceeded her love for His gifts, she is an example worth following.
It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be broken. The Most High will thunder from heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the earth1 Sam. 2:10
Deborah played a very unique role in Israel’s history, serving as the only female judge in a lawless period before the country got its first king. In this male-dominated culture, she enlisted the help of a mighty warrior named Barak to defeat the oppressive General Sisera.
Deborah’s wisdom and faith in God inspired the people. Thanks to her leadership, Israel enjoyed peace for 40 years.
After Moses led Israel out of the land of Egypt and Joshua had led Israel into the land promised to Abraham to conquer the Canaanites, Israel fell into cycles of disobedience that prompted God’s wrath to fall on Israel in the form of slavery to the Canaanites.
In this time, God raised up judges to redeem Israel from political slavery and give them an opportunity to repent. Israel often did repent for a single generation, but fell back into idolatry and disobedience, prompting once again God’s wrath.
“Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. But because of the course you are taking, the honour will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a womanJudges 4:9
Esther was a persecuted citizen of Israel under Persian reign.
In the 7th–6th century BC, Esther was chosen out of the women of Israel to be part of the harem of King Xerxes. She used her political influence to destroy the antisemitic actors who sought to destroy the Jews in Persia, and through her faithfulness, established the Jewish festival of Purim. She was thereafter chosen by Xerxes to be his queen, and she ruled Israel as a Jewish queen of a Gentile nation.
Like Deborah a thousand years earlier, Esther saved Israel from the consequences of its own spiritual folly and established a safe place for Jews to worship in the land. It was on this basis that Judaism was allowed to flourish under Greek and Roman rule in the centuries to come, and it was because of Esther that the ministry of Jesus was able to thrive freely and openly in a public society.
A young Jewish girl living among the exiles in Persia found herself queen of the empire when a plot was revealed to destroy all the Jews. Esther was the woman God had prepared “for such a time as this” to save his covenant people (Esther 4:14). Aware that going uninvited before the king could cost her her life, Esther went to plead for the life of her people.
Just as God used one woman’s courage to be an instrument of salvation for His people, He still uses women today who are willing to proclaim His name. Esther reminds us to count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord (Philippians 3:8). The days ahead may give us even greater opportunities to follow her example.
Priscilla was a powerful church leader in the book of Acts.
She and her husband, Aquila, led the church in maintaining theological purity, love for the poor, and mentorship of young, charismatic leaders such Apollos, who were still figuring out how Jesus fit into God’s story of redemption.
Priscilla represents God’s counter-cultural insistence upon the dignity of women in church leadership and the power He plans to accomplish through them to revolutionise what it means to belong in the people of God and what women can do to lead by example in faithfulness and hospitality.
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequatelyActs 18:26
These strong women in the Bible held the line of faithfulness when many men in Israel were satisfied to capitulate to the paganism of Canaan, Persia, and Greece.
These women represent not only the kind of bravery to which all Christians are called to in the face of suffering, but represent a uniquely powerful purpose which God has designated for women to achieve.