Women in the Church: Why I am an Egalitarian
Part 4: Women as Leaders in the Bible (OT)
There are many stories in the Bible that feature women in significant ways. In some of these stories, women are prominent leaders in Israel or the church. In others, they are prophets speaking God’s Word, sometimes speaking directly to the people and sometimes advising and admonishing those in power. In others, they are church leaders and evangelists, serving Christ’s body effectively and faithfully with their gifts.
In my next two posts, I want to highlight ten significant women in the Bible, five this week and five next week. These are not the only women I could have chosen, but I find these ten particularly inspiring.
- Eve the Mother of all the Living (Genesis 2-4): Eve was created to be Adam’s equal in a way that no other creature could be. Genesis two portrays this beautifully, poetically narrating the story of her creation from the side of ‘Adam’ (the ‘ground-creature’ in Hebrew). As Matthew Henry famously wrote, “Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but from under his arm to be protected by him, near to his heart to be loved by him.” Genesis 1:26-28 declares that both men and women are created in God’s image and are called to rule over the earth together, representing God as his vice-regents or stewards. This was God’s original intent for men and women.
- Miriam the Prophet (Exodus, Numbers): Miriam was known as a prophet amongst God’s people during the time of the Exodus. She sang a song of celebration after God delivered the Israelites from the hands of Pharaoh; her song is recorded in the Bible and is God’s Word. With her brothers Moses and Aaron, Miriam helped lead the people of Israel (Micah 6:4).
- Deborah the Judge (Judges 4-5): Deborah was a prophet who became the fourth Judge of Israel, and thus the leader over the whole nation. She led the armies of Israel into victory over the Canaanites. Afterward, she publically proclaimed a song celebrating what the Lord had done for His people. Israel enjoyed 40 years of peace under her rule.
- Ruth the Foreigner turned Jesus’ Great, Great . . . Grandmother (book of Ruth): Ruth is a fascinating figure, celebrated in the Old Testament as one who exemplifies faithfulness, kindness, and love. Ruth is a non-Israelite, a pagan foreigner not related to the family of Abraham by birth. Yet, she is drawn into the People of God, and—even more amazing—becomes a key figure in the Messianic line. She becomes the mother of Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of King David, the great ancestor of Jesus the Messiah! Ruth, an outsider, becomes a key link in the chain of God’s chosen people, a people through whom God plans to bless the entire world. Her story is significant on several fronts (I blogged about it here).
- Huldah the Prophet (2 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 34): During the reign of King Josiah, after the recovery of the Book of the Law (which had been forgotten and neglected), the prophet Huldah was called upon to speak the Word of the Lord . In so doing, she explained the meaning and significance of the Scriptures to the high priest, and through him to King Josiah, the elders, the priests and Levites, and “all the people from the least to the greatest.” So, Huldah played a prominent role in the spiritual renewal of Judah. This is probably my favourite story on this list!