Achsah

Text: Judges 1:12-15


Julie Herrera-Maxwell
Have you ever met a girl whose father is well known or important? This was the case with Achsah. She was Caleb's daughter; yes, Caleb the spy! Caleb, along with Joshua and ten other men, was sent by Moses to spy out the Promised Land; but only two of them -- Caleb and Joshua -- gave a good report. Despite the fact that there were "giants" in the land, they said: "Do not rebel against The Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them" (Num 14:9). While the Israelites were shaking and afraid, these two men proclaimed the power of Jehovah.
 
Forty years passed, as the Israelites were forces to wander in the desert, and only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter the Promised Land with the new generation of Israelites. Caleb was an old man and yet he declared to Joshua: "Here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that The Lord promised me that day" (Joshua 14:10-12). Caleb boldly claimed God's promised inheritance!

Caleb's daughter, Achsah, inherited her father's boldness. After Achsah was given in marriage to Othniel, she urged her new husband to ask her father for a field. Othniel refused and so Achsah got down off of her donkey and went to her father herself. Achsah already had land that her father had given her, but she asked for even more blessings. And guess what? Achsah's bold request paid off. Her father happily gave her more land -- the upper and lower springs.

Did you know that you can do the same with your Holy Father? Yes, He has already given you forgiveness and salvation through Jesus, but you can ask Him for even more. You can ask for spiritual things from above (upper springs) like gentleness, faith, compassion, etc. and you can ask Him for earthly things (lower springs) like a new job, health, family, etc. He is our father and He invites us to come down off our donkey of pride, insecurity, or doubt and come with boldness laying our requests before Him.

 

Suzy Silk
Achsah is an unusual woman in the Bible. Despite having many brothers (see 1 Chron 2:42-50, or 4:15), Achsah is given land by her father. During this time period, Israelite women were rarely given land, unless they had no brothers to carry on their father's name and territory. (See "the Daughters of Zilophehad" for more on this.) Yet here is a woman who is abundantly loved and valued by her father -- even more than his society expects. He not only gives her land, but wants only the best and bravest man to marry her. This man must attack a city full of "giants" (the Anakites whom the spies feared forty years earlier) and successfully capture it. Not only is Othniel a brave and wise leader, but he eventually becomes the first judge of Israel, bringing forty years of peace to the tribe of Judah. Caleb wants only the very best future for his daughter.
 
Growing up with a father who sees and adores her, Achsah has no qualms asking for even more of an inheritance. She is thankful for what she has -- land in the Negev near Hebron -- but she knows that (1) her land is mostly desert and without springs of water, and therefore will quickly wither; and that (2) her father is a wise and abundant man who loves her. So she asks - boldly! There is no hesitation, no groveling, no manipulation, no flattery, no bargaining, no apologues. She has nothing to fear and nothing to lose.

We may not always realize it, but we have a father even better than Caleb. Our Heavenly Father has given each of us an inheritance -- even though we do not deserve it and have done nothing to earn it -- an inheritance that is imperishable and eternal. And, Our Father wants only the best husband for His people. He gives us His Son, Jesus, who has bravely defeated every giant, every captor, every evil at work in the world, and even Death! Jesus will come to judge the earth and bring everlasting peace. And you and I, we get to spend eternity with Him in the New Jerusalem where the rivers of life flow forever.

In light of this, let us run to Him with boldness and ask Our Father for the things we need and desire (Heb 4:16). Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock because God gives good things to those who ask Him (Matt 7:7-11). Our Father deeply loves and invites us to become the kind of daughters who fearlessly hope in Him.

 

Sheerah

Text: 1 Chronicles 7:24

Julie Herrera-Maxwell
We’ve all heard of very wealthy women who don’t have spending limits and who have grown up among the most influential people of their time. Sheerah came from such a heritage and yet she never experienced opulence herself. Sheerah’s grandfather was Ephraim, one of Joseph’s sons, who grew up in the palaces of Egypt. After Ephraim’s sons were tragically murdered, he and his wife had a new son, Beriah (“sorrow” or “disaster”). Beriah, in turn, had a daughter named Sheerah (“remnant”). Although Sheerah was descended from the wealthy and powerful, once in the Promised Land all that wealth was a faint memory. Sheerah needed to work hard in this new land in order to provide a future for her family. And so she did -- building not one, but two cities: Lower and Upper Beth-Horon and Uzzen-Sheerah.

At one point or another in our lives we are going to go through difficult times -- low times, valleys. During these times we have two options: to build or to drown. We can build our faith and hope in the Lord, or we can drown in our problems and sorrows. Sheerah was a builder. May the God who we serve help you to build not only in the good times but also in the valleys of life.


Suzy Silk
Every Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching -- including genealogies! In this long list of the various sons of Israel, Sheerah appears. And what a fascinating woman she is. In a world of male conquerors, builders and leaders, this woman is credited with building both Lower and Upper Beth-Horon and Uzzen-Sheerah. When we study these towns in more detail, Sheerah's accomplishment is even more impressive. Lower and Upper Beth-Horon were built on either side of a road between two hills, a narrow pass that ran from the plain of Aijalon and then ascended to 2,000 feet above sea-level. If you controlled this road, you could control the highlands as well. It was therefore the location of numerous battles from the time of Joshua (and Sheerah) until the time of the Romans. Sheerah was a strategic woman. Like the daughters of Zilophehad, she was given an inheritance, and she used her inheritance wisely to fortify and protect the lands controlled by her tribe and Israel. This woman wasn't going to give up the Promised Land without a fight!

In the Bible we are taught to hope and trust only in The Lord -- to not hope in horses or military might, but rather in The Lord (Isaiah 31:1). At the same time, God wants us to steward the gifts He gives us (Matthew 25:14-30). Sheerah is a great example of a woman who hoped in The Lord and who also used the gifts God gave her wisely -- even when it meant doing a very unexpected task for a woman to do! By building these cities, she left a legacy for future generations of Israelites who were better able to protect the land because of her investment. She gave future generations peace, security, and hope because she first chose to take a risk and trust in God. What has God given you? How can you steward these gifts well so that others may benefit from your toil? How can you partner with God in building a "fortified city" that will provide peace and security for others?

Rahab

Text: Joshua 2:1-18

Julie Herrera-Maxwell
During the time of Joshua, one of the best forms of protection for a city was its walls. The higher and thicker they were, the better. Oftentimes the walls were so thick that people would build their houses inside the walls themselves. This is where we start our story today, with a woman living within the walls of Jericho -- a woman engaged in prostitution. We will never know what made her start in this business; selling her body for money was probably something she was not proud of doing. But Rahab's life forever changed when two Hebrew spies, who worshipped a God about whom she had heard rumors, sought refuge in her house. Once the king found out where they were staying, he ordered her to bring the men to him. Rahab hid the men, however, and helped them escape, but not before asking them to remember her and her family before they destroyed the city. The spies then told her to hang a red rope in the window so they would know which home to save. When the time arrived for the Israelites to surround the city, the people of Jericho jeered, but Rahab the prostitute had a red rope on her window.

What gave this woman hope in spite of her situation? Why did she believe that by putting a simple red rope in her window her family would be saved? When we come to God in faith and give Him our hearts, we have to believe that the blood of Jesus is the only thing that will cleanse us and allow us to be acceptable in His sight. Jesus is that rope of salvation, the only hope that we have for ourselves and our families. Perhaps, like the city of Jericho, you have built a wall around your life hoping that this wall will keep you safe. But walls can come down at any time. What will you do then? I urge you to hold on to the red rope -- the blood of the Lamb. Jesus will never let you down.


Suzy Silk
The book of Joshua only gives the first half of Rahab’s story – her life during the destruction of Jericho. We have to search the rest of the Bible to find out what happened afterwards. Now I don’t know about you, but if I had been Rahab, having just risked my life for a God and a people that I barely knew and then having witnessed the massive destruction of my home and of all the residents of the city I lived in, I would have been in total shock! I would know that I cast my lot in with the winning team, but I would be in awe and fear of the God who could destroy a city in a day. What I find fascinating about Rahab is that she does not shrink back in fear but she joins herself to the Israelites. She marries a man named Salmon of the tribe of Judah. Salmon was most likely the leader of the whole tribe of Judah, as his father Nahshon had been. Nahshon is described as the “prince of Judah” leading 74,600 men and his tribe was the first tribe when the people marched into war, stopped to rest, or worshipped (1 Chron 2:10, Num 1:7, 2:4, 10:14). Rahab’s husband Salmon was just a young man when the Israelites left Egypt, so his father died in the wilderness, but Salmon was able to follow Joshua and lead Judah into the Promised Land. This is the man Rahab marries – not any Israelite, but the head of the leading tribe! God gives Rahab an entirely new identity. She goes from living on the edges of society, serving men with her body, to marrying into Jewish royalty. As Matthew 1:5 tells us, Rahab became the mother of Boaz (another famous man) and the great-grandmother of King David. And of course the most exciting part is that she was a distant descendant of King Jesus!

Rahab is not only remembered for whom she married but also for how she lived. Both Hebrews and James make special reference to her as a woman of great faith. In Hebrews 11, Rahab is one of only two women mentioned by name – Rahab and the great matriarch of the Jewish people, Sarah! And in James 2 she is the female counterpart to the great patriarch, Abraham. Rahab – a non-Jewish prostitute – makes it into the “Jewish hall of fame!" Why is she so highly esteemed by the New Testament writers? Because of her faith which worked itself out in action. Rahab does not simply learn about the God of the Israelites and give Him some honor (like she might in a Canaanite polytheistic religious system), instead she risks everything to follow this One God she has never met before! She does not simply hope intellectually, instead she puts her hope into action - making it true, righteous faith. As the writer of Hebrews states: “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. For by it the people of old received their commendation.” God saw Rahab’s young but bold faith, her deep-rooted hope in Him, and He rescued her, declared her righteous, gave her a new identity in the people of God, and then blessed her with a royal inheritance. The same is true for each of us. No matter our past sin, God offers us the opportunity to truly risk it all to follow Him – to put our hope and faith in action. When we put our faith in Him, He forgives us and saves us through Jesus; He declares us righteous in His sight and joins us to the people of God; and He blesses us with a royal, eternal inheritance.

Daughters of Zilophehad

Text: Numbers 26:33, 27:1-11


Julie Herrera-Maxwell
A few years before I moved to America, my country was going through a very difficult time politically. The revolution took over my city and soon became part of daily life. As in any situation, once it touches your family you can no longer take the situation casually. One of my uncles was arrested for no reason, and the government sent him far away to an unknown place. He had three daughters, and even though they were still relatively young (between the ages of 19 and 23), they were not afraid to go to the most dangerous places, to where the government kept their political prisoners, in order to fight for their father's release.

There is a lot of power when women get together to fight for a cause. Just ask Nancy G Brinker, the pioneer of breast cancer awareness advocacy. Zilophehad's five daughters were women of hope and conviction. These women decided to take their concerns all the way to Moses. Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah prepared their argument -- probably even rehearsed what they were going to say -- and then took their case to the highest authority, hoping for a good result.

What influenced these women to take this kind of stand? What gave them the courage to plead their case before hundreds of men? I believe it was the fact that they knew Israel's God. They knew that He was a just God, so they acted upon that hope and knowledge. In other words, they put hope in their shoes and walked by faith.

 

Suzy Silk
When the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, God gave Moses specific instructions for dividing up the land among the twelve tribes. Each tribe was to be given a portion of land that was then to be divided up among the clans in that tribe -- one portion for each of the sons of the original 12 sons of Israel. 

At this time the Israelites lived in a patriarchal society in which sons were given leadership and inheritance, and daughters were simply married off. And yet, throughout the Bible we see moments when God intervenes in this patriarchal system in order to protect and provide for his daughters. The daughters of Zilophehad are a perfect example of this. These five daughters did not want their father's legacy to be lost once the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land. They didn't want his inheritance to be divided up among the men these women chose to marry. And so these women broke the norm by presenting their case before all of the male leaders of the Israelites. They broke social norms so they could obey a greater commandment - to honor their father (and mother). And how did God respond? He said "they are right"! Not only does God provide for these women by changing the rules and giving them an inheritance, but He also extends this change in inheritance laws to all of Israel. 

This theme is picked up in the New Testament when God gives an inheritance to all those who believe in Jesus -- whether male or female. He declares all of us his "sons" -- eligible to receive the Holy Spirit, eternal life, and every spiritual blessing. He invites us, as His daughters, to approach His throne with confidence and to present to Him all of our prayers and petitions.

The daughters of Zilophehad were women characterized by Hope -- they believed in a God who would provide for them, even when there seemed to be no easy way to do that in their society. The systems and structures of their society provided them with no help, so they confidently approached the highest authority -- God himself.

Is there an area of your life in which you need God's provision? In what aspects of your life do you feel hindered -- unable to live confidently as God's daughter? How can you approach God more boldly, asking to receive your full inheritance guaranteed you through Jesus?


 

Miriam

Text: Exodus 15:19-21, Numbers 12:1-16

Julie Herrera-Maxwell
The first time we are introduced to Miriam, she is listening to her mother's instructions on how she can save her brother Moses. The assignment was very dangerous; every detail was important and one mistake could have ended her brother's life. The second time, Miriam is already a grown woman; the first woman called a prophetess in the Bible! The Hebrews had just crossed the Red Sea in a miraculous way. God had opened the waters in the middle and the people had crossed on dry land. Miriam suddenly becomes a psalmist, singing a beautiful song of triumph. She also helped her brothers Moses and Aaron to lead the people to Sinai. Miriam was a very special woman – smart and thankful!

The next time we hear of Miriam, she's much older. After many years of working among a generation whose hearts were hardened, Miriam's heart has also become hard. She and Aaron oppose Moses' marriage and complain that they are not getting enough credit as prophets in their own right. In return for all her complaining, God inflicts Miriam with leprosy. Due to her disease, she is removed from the camp for seven days.

Don't you think this is a sad way for her to finish the race? This is why we have to guard our hearts from any kind of bitterness or sin. This race is not an easy one. Life is hard sometimes and we have to face things that may discourage us; but He promises that He will never forsake us. We have the Holy Spirit who prompts us to continue to run after Him. How are you going to finish this race? May God help you finish strong, mature, and above all with a heart full of hope and faith in Jesus our Messiah.


Suzy Silk
In Exodus 15:19-21, Miriam the prophetess takes up a tambourine and invites all of the other women to follow after her. She sings: "Sing to The Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea." We don't know if Miriam was a good singer or not, or if she was simply loud, but regardless she grabs up an instrument and leads the crowd in worship. Miriam writes a song of triumph to proclaim and recount the deeds of The Lord. This song isn't long or verbose or theologically complex. It is simple and honest, something everyone can understand and sing along with. Even though the Exodus has just happened, Miriam immediately begins recounting the works of The Lord.

Remembering and retelling is central to the Hebrew Scriptures. The Exodus is one of those events God is constantly reminding the people of, reminding them that if He can bring them out of Egypt, He can certainly provide for them in their current troubles. Their faith and hope in trouble rested upon their ability to remember. Miriam is an agent of hope by taking up the mantel of reminding the people of God's goodness to them. Though they had left their homes and were now wandering in search of a new land they could hope in their triumphant Lord.

How can you lead like Miriam, reminding others of the faithfulness of God and calling on them to join you in song? What good things had God done in your life that others might be encouraged by? How can you take up your tambourine and proclaim the Lord's works in your life?

Midwives Shiphrah and Puah

Text: Exodus 1:15-20


Julie Herrera-Maxwell
There are people in this world who have changed the course of history without even knowing it. Usually they are ordinary people that at one point or another just stepped up to help somebody, probably not even thinking how far their action would impact our world. Rosa Parks refused to get up from her seat and that simple action ignited the Civil Rights movement in America. Mother Teresa decided to serve those outside of the four walls of her monastery, and soon she had started a movement working among the poor and sick in Calcutta. 

The two midwives of Exodus 15 were just simple women who had likely been working at their trade for decades. What made them extraordinary women was not their job or title, but rather their faith and courage — their refusal to obey Pharaoh's orders. They were risking their own lives and families for the sake of others. Even though they were facing off with the all-powerful Pharaoh, there was something inside of these women that was stronger than any fear they may have felt -- the fear of God. These women realized that life is given by God and He is the only one who has the right to take it away. As a result of their faith in God and bravery, these women not only rescued an entire generation of children, but also all their future generations as well! Shiphrah and Puah placed their hope in God to rescue them from Pharaoh, and in turn God used them to bring real hope to those who needed rescuing.

 

Suzy Silk
Shiphrah and Puah were living out their calling as "Ezers!" They feared The Lord more than they feared the all-powerful Egyptian Pharaoh, and they were willing to risk their lives in order to come to the aid of the Israelites and their defenseless baby boys. When the Israelites were weak and without hope, God raised up these two Ezers from within their midst to bring them hope and help. Pharaoh felt threatened by this growing minority of Israelites, fearing he would lose his power; the midwives, on the other hand, placed their hope and found their security in the true God, the God of the Israelites. In response to their faith, God cared for them by allowing Pharaoh to be fooled by their lies and by then blessing these two midwives with children of their own. 

Shiphrah and Puah are agents of God's hope, bringing hope in a life and death situation, bringing hope to the helpless and weak. How is God calling you to be an agent of His hope and to protect others? How is He calling you to intervene when there is injustice (especially against those who have no means of defense)? Or maybe, as He chose Shiphrah and Puah, could God be calling you to pray for, care for, or protect children and infants in your life? Ask God to open your eyes to any situations in your life in which you may need to act as an Ezer for a child or woman in a desperate or unsafe environment.


 

Hagar

Text: Genesis 16:1-16, 21:8-21


Julie Herrera-Maxwell
The day you get married it seems that all the dreams you had when you were a young girl come to life. You have played house and played with dolls all those years and now the time has come to do it for real. You have walked into a sacred relationship, and the man who swept you off your feet will finally be your husband. Something even more magical happens when you become a mother, regardless of the situation in which your baby was conceived. The connection between you and your baby is so strong that nobody can break it. 

But this fairy tale story of marriage and motherhood was not Hagar's story. Hagar conceived a baby with Abraham - the husband of the woman whom she served. The idea of someone forcing a woman to carry their master's child is grotesque and unimaginable, but in those times it was a normal practice. And even though Hagar was obedient to the orders of her master, in the end she was still kicked out of the house -- impoverished and with no means to provide for her son.

Have you ever felt this way? Perhaps you entered into a marriage full of hopes, but now you are confronted with problems and deception, and it feels like you are walking alone with your children in an unknown place. This was Hagar's story. But in the middle of this awful situation, God never forgot about this lonely woman. When Hagar and Ishmael were about to die in the middle of a hot desert, God showed up to provide them with water and a future. Ishmael, Hagar's pride and joy, was not forgotten. God promised he would become a prince of many nations.

Are you going through something similar in your life? You may have just gotten a divorce, or the man that once promised you love has changed his mind, and now you are all alone. Or maybe you are a mother struggling to provide for her children and give them a better future. Let me tell you that you are not forgotten; God has plans for you and for your children. Life is often not a fairy tale; it is full of heart-break, injustice, and struggles. But in the midst of it all God remembers and sees us.

 

Suzy Silk
In this two-part story of the early life of Hagar and Ishmael, the verb "to see" is the impetus for much of the drama. Hagar looks with contempt at Sarai after she sees that she has conceived for Abram when Sarai has been unable to; later, after the birth of Isaac, Sarah sees Ishmael laughing, and wants to send Hagar and her son away; and throughout the story God sees Hagar. The first two of these instances of seeing highlight the fact that it's possible to "see" without truly seeing. 

This difference between seeing and truly seeing is lived out every day on the streets of NYC. How many times in a day do you pass people, seeing them enough to not bump into them but not seeing them enough to remember their faces? Or the person at your corner store -- do you see their face, but not truly see them as a person and know their name? Or how many times have you seen a mother struggle to carry a stroller down the subway stairs, and not one person has seen her enough to stop and help? Both Hagar and Sarah see each other, without truly seeing each other. Society and culture and sin and fear have trained them to see each other a certain way: maidservant and mistress, pregnant and barren, threat and threat. They are unable to see with God's eyes, to see each other with love and mercy.

But God -- He is the one who truly sees. And He is the one who can open our eyes. God sees this young servant girl, one overlooked by society and seen as property. He knows her name, He values her, He opens her eyes to see her way out -- the water she and her son so desperately need; He gives her an inheritance, and He calls her to follow and obey Him. God also sees Sarah -- her struggles as an elderly woman to believe that God can fulfill His promise and give her a son.

God continues to see the unseen today. He sees those enslaved and oppressed, He sees those shunned by society, He sees the lonely and broken-hearted, He sees and He provides. He provides by meeting our daily needs, but even more so by giving us His Son, that promised descendent of Abraham, and by giving us His Spirit.

Where do you long to be seen? Understood? Known? Where do you long to be cared for and provided for? Are there others in your life who may feel looked over, shunned, or forgotten? How can you begin to see them with God's eyes and give them hope by loving them with God's love?


 

Sarah

Text: Genesis 12:1-5, 18:10-14, 21:1-3


Julie Herrera-Maxwell

One of the most difficult things for a woman to do is to move. The place where we live, our home, is our little kingdom. It doesn't matter if the place is big or small, fancy or simple, our home is our haven and dominion. God had many plans for Abram and Sarai, but these required a huge move -- away from friends and family, away from everything they had ever known.

Even though Abram was talking with God, I'm sure Sarai had plenty of questions: Where? How long? Will we find a new place to live? Will we have enough to live on? Will we have friends? Like Sarai, we have so many questions and often don't want to move until everything is perfect, with all our questions answered. In other words, we want a map with all the directions and details needed. But God doesn't operate like this. His thoughts are grander than ours.

And so this couple started the greatest journey they ever imagined. They stepped out in faith and God was faithful. He gave them a new home and protected them from enemies. Yet they lacked one thing -- a child. In those times, a sign of being blessed by God was by the number of children you had. While they were still childless, God changed Abram's name to Abraham, meaning "father of multitudes." I'm sure Sarai thought her wonderful husband was going crazy. Father of multitudes?! They didn't have any children!

Despite all of this -- moving to a new land, being childless to the age of 90, and having a husband named "father of multitudes" -- Sarai continued to hope and submit to God's leading. She was not without her failings -- giving Hagar to Abram, laughing at God's promises -- and yet God in His Word still commends her as a woman full of hope, who made herself beautiful by the way she trusted in God and in her "father of multitudes" husband. And this hope she had in God -- amidst challenging and difficult situations -- did not disappoint or put her to shame. Instead, at the age of 90, she gave birth to a son!

 

Suzy Silk
In Genesis18:14, God reminds Sarah -- "Is anything too hard (too wonderful) for The Lord?" How often do we forget this! The reality is that The Lord created the heavens and the earth, covered the earth with waters, split the Red Sea, and gave an elderly woman named Sarah a baby boy. Nothing is impossible for God, and yet we continually limit and restrict him. Like Sarah, we laugh in disbelief and struggle to get our minds around the impossible, fantastic things God has promised us. As Paul reminds us, "No eye has seen, no ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Cor 2:9, based on Isa 64:4)

Faith and hope are inextricably intertwined with the knowledge that nothing is too hard or too wonderful for The Lord to do. We can have faith in difficult situations and hope for the impossible because of the character and nature of God. The Bible tells us that God is all-powerful and also that He is good, just, righteous, and loving. The Bible is full of stories of God giving good gifts to His children and kindly disciplining those whom He loves. And everything He promises, He does -- just as Genesis 21:1 demonstrates.

So why do we, like Sarah, wrestle to believe these things? Why do we lose hope that God will keep His promises to us? Is it fear that we have misheard him and will be disappointed? Is it a lack of knowledge of the promises of God as stated in the Scriptures? Have we forgotten who God is and begun to believe lies about Him? Or maybe like Sarah, we've become skeptical and impatient.

The Bible is replete with skeptics and timid people like you and me -- men and women hesitant to truly hope in God. And this is why we need their stories -- to show us how God still came through for them, how God turned their skeptical laughter into joy and delight. Just as Hebrews 11 reminds us, every person of faith recorded in the Bible eventually received what they were promised. And we will too. We are not promised easy lives, but we are promised God's continual presence. We are not promised earthly wealth, fame, or security, but we are promised an eternal inheritance through Jesus. And as we walk by faith with hope, Jesus promises to give us life in abundance.
 

Eve

Text: Genesis 1:26-28, 2:18, 3:1-20


Julie Herrera-Maxwell
Have you ever felt that you made a mistake so big that no matter how much you try to fix it, it seems that there is no solution? Day after day in your mind you go back to that unforgettable day and moment and think of all the things that could have been done to prevent this mistake. Then you think there might be something that you can do to fix the problem, but the blame and deception grows larger every day. How could you do such a thing? Why didn’t you do what you knew was right? What were you thinking?

I’m sure that was the way Eve was feeling after making the wrong choice. By listening to the lies of the enemy, she ruined her life and, in this case, the entire world. She hadn’t realized how much she was responsible for. What are you supposed to do in a situation like this? Where do you go? Who would understand you? But even in your worst mistake, when there seems to be no solution, there is a merciful God who is a master at designing a way for redemption. Through Eve and her descendents came a man who would step on the snake’s head, a man who would willingly give his life so that you and I can have life today. In the middle of your worst mistake there is hope. Where there appears to be no remedy available, He can provide a way out to a new and fresh beginning. There is no worse executioner than yourself. Today is a new day– open the curtains of your ailing heart and let the light come in. Hope has arrived in your life and His name is Jesus. 

 

Suzy Silk
As women, we have a unique calling to be agents of God's hope, because the first name ever given to Eve was "ezer" -- the one who comes when you need HELP in a battle or dire situation. From the start, women were meant to reflect God's image, to rule and reign over the earth, and to bring hope in difficult situations. After the Fall, God doesn't give up on humanity or on Eve. Instead God announces His plan to one day crush the serpent (Satan) through "her seed" (or her offspring). Here we see the dual aspect of being agents of God's hope: "the seed" is Jesus, who is our ultimate Hope, and "her" refers to God's desire to still use Eve, despite her sin, to usher in God's Hope. We see this promise come to fruition both during the virgin birth and also at the resurrection when Jesus chooses a woman formerly possessed by demons (Mary Magdalene) to proclaim the good news of his resurrection -- a woman ushering in the ultimate hope of the Seed having crushed the Serpent. 

How is God calling you, like Eve, to be an Ezer -- one who brings real help in dire circumstances? Is there a friend, neighbor, or co-worker who needs to hear or experience God's hope in her life -- how can you be an agent of God's hope? Is there an area of your life where you have sinned and feel like God can no longer use you? Go to God and ask for forgiveness; ask Him to redeem you and empower you to once again be His image-bearer. The Lord never gives up on his daughters!

**To listen to an extended version of the Eve/Ezer discussion, listen to Suzy Silk's 2014 talk here.**

Post-Gathering Devotions

Thank you for joining us for the HOPE Gathering.

As an extension of last weekend's Gathering, Suzy Silk (Hope Gathering Founder) and Julie Herrera-Maxwell (Suzy's mother-in-law and 2014 speaker) will be writing a daily weekday devotional (with additional editing provided by Anne Silk, Suzy's mom). Together we will be studying through different women in the Bible (one each day) and how they interacted with God as their source of hope.

The theme verse for the devotional is Romans 15:4: "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have HOPE."

Check back each weekday morning for a new post.

 

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