A Woman's Place...
The Messiah's relationships with women were unusually open and candid for the time, and he always treated them with great respect. It was the Messiah's female disciples who stood by him as he expired on the Mount of Olives; it was the women who came to his sepulcher to anoint his body; and a woman was the first person to whom the Messiah showed himself after his resurrection. Women were elevated by the Messiah to be accepted as reliable witnesses in law -- which they had not been before! All this was a foreshadowing of the spiritual place women will eventually hold in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God.
by Patricia Bagwell
The recent move to have the first right of Royal Succession to the British throne extended equally to a daughter as to a son has brought to the fore again the issue of women's rights. The feminist movement of past decades, which has sought to redress perceived wrongs done to women for centuries, has often been strident and its demands unreasonable, hence alienating many people of both sexes. But this mundane movement is simply a natural, and therefore flawed, reflection of a deeper spiritual truth -- the restoration of all women to their place lost by the Fall of Eve -- which will be fulfilled in the great Millennium soon to come.
In the Garden
When YEHOVAH God created Adam from the dust of the ground and placed him in the Garden of Eden, the scripture then records YEHOVAH's pronouncement, "It Is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18) -- the only time during the creation that YEHOVAH God said something was not good. And so the LORD took a rib from Adam's side and from it formed a woman to be a help "meet" (i.e. suitable) for him. (Not a "helpmeet," as it is usually quoted.) Adam called the woman's name Eve (Hebrew Havah -- "life-giver"), calling her "the mother of all living," and she became his wife.
Adam had been instructed by YEHOVAH God, and had presumably passed the word on to Eve, that they were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil -- the Tree in the midst of the Garden along with the Tree of Life -- or they would surely die. However, when the serpent enticed Eve to question YEHOVAH with the words, "Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof; then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5), she partook of the fruit, with Adam following suit, causing the Fall of humankind into carnality and death.
The inevitable result of this Fall from grace was that it brought about three curses: on the serpent, on Eve, and on the earth and Adam's husbandry of it. All three are worth studying in detail, but it is the curse on Eve that interests us here. For unto the woman YEHOVAH said, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee" (Genesis 3:16). The first part of this curse is taken to mean the pain of childbirth, while the latter part gives the husband dominion over his wife -- "he shall rule." Since Adam's rulership was the consequence of Eve's disobedience, it follows that this was not the case prior to the Fall -- i.e. that she and Adam were then coequal, neither ruling over the other.
In the great plan of YEHOVAH God, which was foreordained before the foundation of the world (I Peter 1:20), the tragic effects of the transgression in Eden could be overcome only by the sacrificial death and resurrection of YEHOVAH's only begotten Son, Yeshua the Messiah. His act of atonement reversed the curse of the Fall, but it did not take complete effect immediately -- people are still suffering and dying. It will only be at YEHOVAH God's and the Messiah's advent -- and during their following thousand year reign -- that the restoration of all things will begin to take place. And part of this restoration will be to bring women back to a place of equality with men, such as they had at the beginning. This equality, however, does not mean that men and women are interchangeable. They each have their own particular gifts, strengths and weaknesses, and so, complement, rather than substitute for one another. And this is nowhere better demonstrated than in the lesson of the sun and moon.
Sun and Moon
The first chapter of Genesis speaks of YEHOVAH God creating "two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night" (Genesis 1:16). They are spoken of as "greater" and "lesser" according to the amount of light they produce, but both were created to "rule," and the domains they rule over are of the same extent, since throughout the year, the lengths of day and night average out to be equal. The effect of the sun on the earth is obvious, for without its light and heat, the world as we know it, and human beings, could not exist. By comparison, the moon's effect seems insignificant. But is it?
We know that the moon's gravity creates the tides on earth, without which the oceans would become stagnant and incapable of sustaining life. Also, our bodies are about 75% water (our brains, 85%), and science is only now beginning to discover the subtle influence of the moon's gravity on them, affecting our biorhythms and even our emotions, which are spiritually related to water. It is well known, for instance, that hospital emergency rooms and mental hospitals are much busier at the time of the full moon (hence, the term "lunacy"). So, in many different ways, the effects of the moon on the earth are just as great as those of the sun, though. in a more mysterious or unseen manner.
From great antiquity, the sun has been thought of as typifying the male principle and the moon, the female -- partly due to the twenty-nine day lunar month being the same length as the woman's reproductive cycle -- and so, they are a perfect representation of the balance of the roles of men and women on earth. This co-equality is awesomely demonstrated by the phenomenon of the total solar eclipse, when the moon moves in front of and completely blocks the light of the sun, so that the sun's corona or "halo" becomes visible. This effect is only possible because, though they are vastly different in size, the sun and moon were placed by the Creator in the heavens such that their sizes as seen from earth appear to be exactly the same. This conjunction of the two heavenly bodies united as one is like a marriage in the heavens, indicative of the way the functions of the male and female principles should complete and enhance one another. Thus, nature itself teaches us that women and men have an equally important, though different and complementary, role to play, and that neither should take precedence over the other.
Women as Persons
When YEHOVAH created Eve to be Adam's companion for their mutual contribution and benefit, the act was really prophetic of the far future. For as a result of the Fall, for thousands of years women were instead regarded as just an adjunct of their husbands -- so much so that there were heated debates in medieval church councils as to whether women had souls! It was not until the latter part of the nineteen century, beginning with the movement known as the suffragettes, that women began to awaken to their own identity. In Canada, for instance, in 1929 a group of women, led by the intrepid Nellie McClung and known as the Famous Five, took their cause all the way to Britain's Privy Council (the highest court) to have women declared to be "Persons" by law!
In 1893, New Zealand became the first western nation to give women the vote, and due to its unique geography, this act also had a symbolic significance. For with New Zealand being just west of the International Date Line, it is the first country on earth to see the sun rise, and so its granting of voting rights to women was like the breaking down of the new age.
We see, then, that as these measures became law, women were no longer considered to be part of their husbands, but persons in their own right. It was nothing less than the separation of Eve again, according to the pattern shown in the Garden, but this time taking place en masse, so that women could come into their own spiritually, becoming independent spiritual partners to men -- something which had not been allowed by biblical law for the previous 5,900 years.
Four Exemplary Women
The Bible, however, is not silent on the restoration of women. It is prophesied in many Old Testament scriptures such as Isaiah 54 and 62, and the book of Hosea. But it was during the years of the Messiah's ministry, which were like an interpolation or a period of grace for women, that the most significant foreshadowing occurred. The Messiah's relationships with women were unusually open and candid for the time, and he always treated them with great respect. We have an example of this in John, chapter 4, with the story of the Messiah and the Samaritan woman. While passing through Sychar in Samaria, the Yeshua paused to rest by a well and asked a drink of a woman who came there to draw water. He used the occasion to explain to her that he was the source of living water, and that, in fact, he was the promised Messiah.
This is the first recorded instance of Yeshua telling anyone that he was the Messiah, and he chose to reveal it to a woman, and a Samaritan woman at that! When the Messiah's disciples returned, they marveled that he talked with a woman, as this was so unusual. The woman immediately went into the city and called the men to come and see the Messiah, saying, "Is not this the Christ? [anointed one -- Messiah]" And so, she became the first person during Yeshua's ministry to bear the glad tidings that the Messiah had come.
We know that the Messiah healed hundreds of people during his ministry and, of necessity, only a few examples of these are recorded in the Gospels. The few that have been chosen are, therefore, important for their symbolism, and three of these are particularly telling as they apply to women. In the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, we are told the story of a woman who had an issue of blood twelve years, and who had spent all that she had on physicians, yet was not healed but rather, grew worse. Hearing of the Messiah's many miracles, she came to him in the crowd, by faith touching the hem of his garment, and immediately her issue of blood staunched.
When Adam and Eve chose sin over their relationship with YEHOVAH God, justice demanded that man pay a price for sin. Sin opened their eyes and they knew that they were naked. YEHOVAH God shed the blood of an animal in the garden to cover their shame. This was the first shedding of blood as a result of sin. So, since the shedding of blood came about as a result of the Fall and since, in women, this included the menses -- sometimes referred to as "the curse" and declared in the Bible to be unclean (Leviticus 15) -- when the Messiah healed the woman of her issue of blood, it was a sign that all women would eventually be cleansed of that part of the curse as well.
Intertwined with this incident in all three Gospels is the story of the raising of the daughter of Jairus. His little daughter of twelve years of age had just died, and when the Messiah heard of it he reassured Jairus, saying, "Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole"; and he came and raised her from the dead (Luke 8:50). As the time factor in both stories is the same, twelve years, it shows that they are related; hence, the raising of the girl becomes symbolic of the raising of all women from the state of spiritual death brought about by the transgression of Eve.
This symbolism is also evident in the story of the woman who had been bowed down for eighteen years and was not able to lift herself up. When the Messiah saw her, he called her to him and said, "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity, and he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God" (Luke 13:10-17). What this illustrates for us is that the female principle or pillar, which had been bowed or broken down since the Fall, will be raised up again and restored as it was in the beginning. And what is noteworthy about this incident is that the Messiah loosed the woman from her bond on the Sabbath day, which was again a foreshadowing that the freeing of women will take place during the great one thousand year Sabbath of the Millennium.
It is often pointed out by those who are rightly opposed to the ordination of women, that the Messiah's twelve apostles were all men. While this true, it ignores the fact that the Messiah also had many close female disciples, such as Mary and Martha, whose home he frequented, and many others who travelled with him and even supported his ministry from their substance, Joanna and Susanna being named as two of these (Luke 8:2-3). But the two women closest to the Messiah were his mother, Mary, and Mary Magdalene, the latter having been regarded in the past as a reformed prostitute, though there is no biblical warrant for this.
Mary Magdalene seems to have had the clearest understanding of the Messiah's impending death for she anointed him with expensive ointment on the feet and head for his burial. When his apostles objected to this Yeshua rebuked them, saying, "Let her alone: against the day of my burying she hath kept this...Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her" (John 12:7, Mark 14:9). And so it has been, for Mary is most often depicted in works of art with her alabaster jar.
The Bible speaks of only the twelve male apostles being present at the Last Supper, and then accompanying the Messiah to the Garden of Gethsemane. But the next day, when the Messiah was condemned to be crucified, all the men, with the sole exception of John, fled and went into hiding. It was the female followers of the Messiah who accompanied him as he carried his crosspiece, and who stood at the foot of the tree on the Mount of Olives: the Messiah's mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome being mentioned by name, as well as many other women who had followed him from Galilee (Mark 15:40-41, Matthew 27:55-56). What a comfort their loyal faith must been to the Messiah in his suffering! Some of these women also went with Joseph of Arimathea to be present when the Messiah was laid to rest in Joseph's own new tomb.
Then, on the morning of the first day of the week, it was again the women who came to the sepulcher with sweet spices to anoint the Messiah's body, only to find the sepulcher to be empty. Mary Magdalene was the first to arrive and, hence, became the first person to whom the Messiah showed himself after his resurrection (Mark 16:9). Mary and the other women who had come were instructed by the angels, and by the Messiah himself, to go and tell his disciples that he had risen from the dead. So, once more, it was the women who were the first to proclaim the good news of the Messiah's resurrection. This, in essence, made them apostles, for the word apostolos in Greek simply means "one sent"; and Mary Magdalene has even been called "The Apostle to the Apostles."
When the Eleven did not believe the women's testimony, thinking their words to be but idle tales (Luke 24:11), Yeshua again "upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen" (Mark 16:14). In other words, women were now elevated by the Messiah to be accepted as reliable witnesses in law, which they had not been before. All this was a foreshadowing of the spiritual place women would eventually hold in the Kingdom, which the secular feminist movement is merely pointing towards (albeit, going overboard in their demands!) in these latter days.
In the book of Acts, we are told that according to Messiah's command, 120 of his disciples waited in the Upper Room of the Temple for the holy spirit of YEHOVAH God to be poured out, enduing them with power from on high. Included in this company were Mary, the mother of the Messiah, and the other women (Acts 1:14). When, on the day of Pentecost, the disciples were filled with the spirit and began to speak with other tongues (languages), Peter stood up and proclaimed that it was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy" (2:17-18). Here was the clear evidence of the anointing of the holy spirit on both men and women alike, prophetic intimations of which are scattered throughout Scripture.
In closing, here is one such cryptic but beautiful promise of hope and comfort for all women which was penned by the Psalmist King David in the 68th Psalm, verses 11-12: "The LORD gave the word: great was the company of those [Hebrew “women"] that published it. Kings of armies did flee apace: and she that tarried at home divided the spoil. Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold."
-- Edited by John D. Keyser.