Thursday, 8 March 2018

Celebrating Women's Day!! // Biblical Heroines


Happy International Women's Day to all amazing women! <3 I hope it's a great day for ladies everywhere.

When it came to choosing a post topic for today, I had a lot of ideas going round in my head. "Favourite Fictional Heroines" seemed too predictable, and since I only remembered it was Women's Day on Monday, I didn't actually have a lot of time to pull together a lengthy post.

But eventually I decided on something. As a Christian feminist, as someone who believes that God created men and women equally in His image, I wanted to honour that. So I've complied a diverse list of inspiring, courageous, complicated, very human women from the Bible - women who actually lived and who served God and others. Re-reading their stories, I was surprised by just how incredible these women were. They led armies, they saved nations, they had faith in God's perfect judgement, and they refused to bow to evil men's desires.
They're amazing. I hope you're also inspired by them :)


Esther

Esther was an incredible woman. She was beautiful, but she was also intelligent, courageous, and kind, and used her position as Queen to save the lives of thousands of people - the Jewish minority who were being oppressed at the time. Esther a true heroine. She literally risked her own life, but she continued to trust God and stayed devoted to her people; even as Queen, she didn't forget them in times of persecution. She was a young woman, a minority, and yet she saved an entire race.


Mary

Mary was a 16 year-old unmarried virgin when an angel of the Lord came to her and told her she would conceive God's beloved son. Despite the fact she was an engaged, insignificant young peasant girl, God had chosen her to carry his son on earth. And Mary accepted his decree. Her faith was incredible. As she said in Luke 1 verse 38: "I am the Lord's servant......May it happen to me according to your word." She gave birth to Jesus on earth, raised Him like a son, and above all, put her faith in God, not in man or herself.


Abigail

Abigail was the wife of Nabal, and both of them lived during King David's reign. The Bible calls Abigail "discerning and beautiful" (1 Sam 25v3) but Nabal was harsh and cruel. When Nabal refused to care for and house the King's men who visited his property, Abigail was the one who welcomed David, fed his troops, and eventually convinced him not to kill her husband - which would have been bad for the whole kingdom, considering Nabal was an Israelite, like the King, and killing his own people would not have helped David's position of authority.
Abigail is a truly heroic character. Her wisdom, discretion, and kindness stopped a war, and she even went against her own husband when she recognised his poor judgement.


Deborah

Deborah was a literal warrior. When the Canaanites oppressed Israel, God raised a woman - Deborah - to lead the fight against them. Before she lead them, however, she was a wife and a judge, someone the Israelites came to for advice and wisdom. Initially, Deborah wasn't going to join the actual battle, and had plans to send in one of her commanders. But he refused to go without her. So Deborah joined him and went into the fighting.

Deborah was a warrior woman. But she had great wisdom, too, and she was a strong political figure, passionate and unafraid. More importantly, she acknowledged God as her sovereign and as the one who'd given her her achievements. At the end of the battle, she sang a lengthy song of praise to Him in worship.


Vasti

Hardly anything is said about Queen Vasti, who was the first Queen of King Xerxes of Persia. But I think what is mentioned about her is extremely significant. When King Xeres is drunk during a banquet, he orders his eunuchs to bring his wife, Vasti, "before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at." (Esther 1 v10)

Firstly, this is an all-male feast the King is hosting. Secondary, I doubt he's the only drunk man there. And third, he's basically ordering Vasti to come so he can show her off and have everyone oggle her. But Vasti doesn't come. She refuses. And no one is allowed to refuse the King. One of his officials even says: "For the queen's behaviour will be made to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will, 'King Xeres commanded Queen Vasti to be brought before him, but she did not come'." (Esther 1 verse 17)

I admire Vasti so much. She loses her position as Queen, she essentially loses all respect and reputation in the land, but still she refused to let her husband parade her like property in the midst of his drunken male courtiers. If that isn't inspiring - empowering - I don't know what is. 


Hannah


Hannah suffered. She longed for a child with all her heart, but remained barren. She had to watch as her husband's other wife gave birth to child after child, and while the woman taunted her for being unable to bear any children herself. Hannah even stopped eating - her heart was so broken. But in her sorrow, she turned to God. She prayed to Him and begged Him for a child, and God heard her and answered her. Hannah conceived, giving birth to Samuel. She even gave her son up to the temple so he could live there and serve God, something which would have been agonising for any mother to do. But she did it as a way to honour God - as she said to the temple priest: "Oh my lord! As I live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord had granted me my petition that I made to him! Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord." (1 Samuel 1 verses 26-28)


Ruth


I absolutely love and admire Ruth's respect and kindness towards her widowed mother-in-law. A widow herself, she chooses not to abandon her mother-in-law when faced with the choice, and instead goes with her to a new land and works to earn a living for them together. She takes care of Naomi (her mother in law). And I also love how proactive and diligent Ruth is, working hard "in the field until evening" (Ruth 2 verse 17), gleaning barley and savouring what wheat she can for her and her mother-in-law.


Leah


I feel so sorry for Leah. She was the so-called "ugly" daughter, the one Jacob didn't want to marry and was eventually tricked into doing so by Leah's father. When Jacob finally married the woman he really wanted to marry - Leah's beautiful sister Rachel - Leah was ignored and rejected. She felt unloved, broken. Unwanted. But... "When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore son{s}."
And Leah praised the Lord for blessing her.

I love Leah's story because she's the "lonely, unwanted" woman. She's painfully relatable, and yet the Lord doesn't forget about her or her hardship. He looks after her and encourages her. That's why Leah's experiences are an inspiration to me.


Hagar


Hagar was a broken woman. She was a servant, and her mistress - Sarah - gave her over to her husband - Abraham - to bear children on behalf of her, since she herself was unable to conceive (that was a common occurrence in those times).
But Hagar was bullied and abused. Sarah treated her cruelly because she was jealous and angry, and Abarham didn't stop her: "Abram said to Sarai, 'Your servant is in your power; do to her as you please'. Then Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar, and she fled from her."

It's a heartbreaking story. Hagar escaped to the desert, but God did not forget her. He commanded Hagar to return to Sarai, and he allowed Hagar to bear Abram a son, who, as he says, "...shall be called Ishmael, because the Lord listened to your affliction...... I will multiply your offspring so they cannot be numbered..."
The Lord gave Hagar honour in her distress, and He upheld her when she returned to her master and mistress.


Jael

Jael's story is interwoven with Deborah's, and it's a remarkable tale. When the captain of Israel's enemy fled his army and came looking for a place to hide, Jael coaxed him into her tent with assurances to feed and care for him.
But as he slept, Jael took a tent peg from their tent and drove it through his skull, killing him. Deborah praised her actions and called her a hero, as Jael was the one who'd had the honour of killing their enemy.

Her story is brutal, but it's fascinating. Jael was the one who killed the enemy leader, the one who'd had the honour and who Deborah praised in a song after the battle. For a woman to have done that deed is extremely powerful.





I really hope you enjoyed this post and reading about these incredible women!  

Happy Women's Day <3

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