It is only day 4 but already we have learnt so much about women in the bible. It has been invaluable to understand how we can apply the characteristics of the godly women and ask God to help us remove those unfavourable ones. Today was our last day in Galilee. The rest of the tour would be spent in Jerusalem. Along the way we would walk in the footsteps of more wonderful women of the bible.
From Harlot to Heroine
Our first stop of the day and backdrop for the next biblical woman was the ancient city of Jericho. We stood facing the mount of temptation, where Jesus was approached by Satan whilst fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. It was here that Pamela and Rev. Taylor spoke to us about the life of Rahab.
Rahab’s name comes from the Egyptian god Ra and means insolence and fierceness. She was an Amorite prostitute from an idolatrous nation. Rahab was very intelligent and had heard about the reputation of the God of Israel, how he always led them to victory. By faith Rahab chose to protect the Israelite spies who had come to spy out the land of Jericho and destroy the Amorites. Rahab put her faith in the God of Israel and because of this she and her family were saved.
After Israel defeated the Amorites, Rahab married one of the spies. Jesus was a descendant of this union. Her story shows us that God can turn any life around. Through faith she obtained a new life that led to the earthly life of even our Lord Jesus. We too can be changed and obtain a new destiny if we just have faith in God. There is no depth of sin that God cannot lift a person from, if they turn to Him by faith.
Mary and Martha – Which One Are You?
After lunch and fellowship in Jericho we went to Bethany the home town of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus (Luke 10:38). At Bethany we learnt about the intimate relationship that Jesus had with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They had true friendship, they loved Jesus and Jesus loved them.
In Luke we see how Mary loved to sit at the feet of Jesus, whilst Martha was encumbered with the duties of serving. When Martha asked Jesus “Lord do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” Jesus said lovingly “Martha, Martha you are careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her”.
Sometimes we can get caught up in practical things but miss special moments with the Lord. We must be careful of busyness!
Jesus loved both Mary and Martha and both types of characteristics are required in our spiritual lives. Martha was dependable and task orientated whilst Mary was a free spirited woman, spiritually sensitive and wept freely. It was Mary that poured expensive perfumed ointment on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. These sisters were very different and so are we all.
Mary and Martha had a characteristic in common and that was Faith. When their brother became sick they both called for Jesus knowing that he could make things right. Jesus did not come straight away and Lazarus died. When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Martha knew that even then, whatever Jesus asked for God would grant it to Him. Jesus called Lazarus forth and he rose from the dead.
God makes room for so many personalities and we need to embrace the way God made us. There are times when we need to be busy but we must also have those quiet times with Jesus. There will be times when extravagance is necessary (such as Mary’s use of expensive ointment) but God will also lead us to frugality. Loving and serving God is the most important thing.
Leap for Joy
In Jerusalem Rev. Taylor and Pamela highlighted the faithfulness of Mary (Mother of Jesus) and Elizabeth her cousin who had been barren for many years but remained faithful in serving God.
Mary and Elizabeth had a special relationship and are great examples of women celebrating each other. They were both pregnant and although Elizabeth had been barren for years, she displayed no resentment towards her teenaged cousin but was honoured to have the Saviour’s mother in her house. The baby even leaped in Elizabeth’s womb, when she heard Mary’s salutation.
We were all encouraged to keep having faith and celebrate the answers to each other’s prayers even if we are still waiting for ours. With God nothing is impossible.
Taking Refuge Under God’s Wings
Before retiring to the hotel in Jerusalem we journeyed to Bethlehem where we recounted the life of Ruth. Pamela explained that In order to understand the town of Bethlehem we had to look at the features that create the word Bethlehem, which means the ‘House of Bread’ or ‘House of Fruitfulness’. Pamela then showed us an opening blossom of an olive tree with wheat growing all around. Pressed olives and wheat are used to make bread and so the landscape itself was a physical representation of the meaning of the area. The biblical diet was grain, wine and oil and that is what Bethlehem is all about, a fertile place where wheat and olive trees grow. The way that Bethlehem is set up on limestone terraces is that the oil trees are planted with wheat growing in between.
In the book of Ruth we see that a man named Elimelech of Bethlehem Judah went to live in Moab because there was a famine in Bethlehem (no wheat and oil). As we read this, we could actually see the hills of Moab in the distance. Elimelech and his wife Naomi had sons in Moab, who married two Moabite women Ruth and Orpah. Both sons and the Father died. Naomi journeyed back to Bethlehem with Ruth as she had heard that the Lord had “visited his people by giving them bread”.
Ruth had a great capacity for love; she shows this by leaving her homeland and sojourning with Naomi. In Bethlehem Ruth gleans in the field and builds up a good reputation. She chooses the God of Naomi and looks after Naomi, carrying herself in a humble and respectful way. Boaz, the owner of the field in which she gleans notices Ruth for her great character. He comments on how she has left her own land to take refuge under the Lord’s wings. Eventually he marries her. They have a child and he is the grandfather of King David who is in the ancestral line of Jesus.
Ruth’s life shows us that if we give up everything for God he will honour us and we will see the glory of God in our lives.