RSS

Category Archives: Women of the Bible

A Woman of Wavering Faith-Rebekah

Image result for images for rebekah deceiving her husband for jacobs blessing

Rebekah was certainly one of the most appealing young women in Scripture. She is portrayed as chaste and beautiful, courteous and helpful, hard-working, hospitable, as well as responsive and trusting. She was chosen as the intended bride for Isaac – Genesis 24:15-20 “And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.” I recommend reading the whole chapter 24 to see the story unfold, and how God accomplished His plan for His choice of wife for Isaac.

Verse 28 hints that her family ties were very close, as her first response when she returned from the well was to share with the women in her household all about her encounter with Abraham’s servant. For a girl to be chosen for marriage to a wealthy relative was indeed considered a blessing from God. Her father and brother also knew that this was from God – Verse 50 “Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.” But, the choice to leave home was Rebekah’s to make. This tells us how the young women in her culture enjoyed autonomy. (Verses 57, 58)

Rebekah volunteered a lowly service giving the camels water in verse 19. This was not a quick nor an easy chore for a young woman to accomplish. “And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.” This opened a lofty destiny to her as God worked His plan for her life through her mundane daily responsibilities. Her courage and faith at that time motivated her to venture from the familiarity of her family and friends to the unknown new life in a strange land.

God rewarded Rebekah’s faithfulness with a monogamous marriage that began with romance and loving affection (verse 67; Genesis 26:8). Also, in answer to Isaac’s prayer for his wife’s fertility, God removed her barrenness with the birth of twins, Esau and Jacob – Genesis 25:20, 21 “And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.”

It was in her later years that Rebekah’s unwavering faith of her youth faltered. Of course, I am sure it did not happen suddenly but over time as our falling out of close fellowship with God always comes about gradually. Her taking things into her own hands which direction her sons’ futures would take, instead of trusting God, showed a lack of reverence and respect for her husband and his leadership.

The thing I find so very sad about this whole situation is how both parents showed such strong favoritism to their sons. Naturally, this brought rivalry, deceit, and contention into their home – Genesis 25:28 “And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.” Proverbs 28:21 gives us some wisdom about favoring one person over another – “To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.” And that definitely took place in this instance!

A few thoughts here may help us to understand Rebekah’s motivation for her deceit: perhaps her discernment of her sons–that is, recognizing Esau as worldly and adventuresome and Jacob as having potential for spiritual sensitivity, or her own close connection to one son over the other, or maybe even a strong faith in God’s revealed plan in Genesis 24:23.

In any case, the deceiving of her husband was without excuse and her poor example to her sons was a far-reaching tragedy. Even if her motives was pure, her action was wrong. Sadly, she paid a bitter price in living out her final years in separation from the son whose presence she desired, in alienation from the son who would ever remember his mother’s deception toward him, and in broken fellowship from a husband who had loved her devotedly. You see, there is no way of escaping the consequences of our actions. Those consequences very often extend out to future generations as well.

As always when we take things into our own hands to bring about our best laid plans, God turns things around and uses it all for His purpose. But we sure can save ourselves some pain and heartache if we just leave things in His all-knowing and caring hands. Try not to let your faith waver.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 12, 2018 in Women of the Bible

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Bernice – An Unrepentant Sinner

(Berenice depicted with her brother Agrippa II during the trial of St. Paul. From a stained glass window in St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne.)

Bernice (Berenice) was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I, and the older sister of Drusilla. She was born about 28 A.D. into a racially mixed family. At age 13 she was married to Marcus, the son of Tiberius Julius Alexander. Marcus died, and she then married her uncle, Herod of Chalcis. They had 2 sons, Berniceanus and Hyrancus. She was widowed again in about 48 A.D, and was the subject of incestuous scandal when she became a consort to her own brother, Agrippa II. Years later, she married a third time to Ptolemy, king of Cicilia. The marriage, however, did not last, and she returned to her brother. She was later the mistress of the Roman emperors Vespasian and his son Titus. She was well known for her sexual promiscuity.

A woman of strong opinions, Bernice was once a dauntless defender of the Jewish people. Some sources report that she even risked her own life to intercede on behalf of the Jews. So strong was her faith that at one time, that she shaved her head and walked barefoot in keeping a vow to God. But her lifestyle pulled her away, and Bernice evidently abandoned her Jewish faith.

When Agrippa and Bernice went to Caesarea with Festus on state business, Agrippa agreed to hear the case of a prisoner, the apostle Paul. Bernice heard Paul argue his case for Christ in one of the most eloquent presentations of the Gospel ever givien, along with his own personal testimony; yet she ignored his message. Maintaining her wicked ways, Bernice died in Rome after the fall of Jerusalem. She seems to have simply disappeared from recorded history. So, we do not know how her demise came about.

Acts 25:13-23 “And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix: About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him. Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth. Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar. Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him. And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth.”

Paul’s defense and testimony before Agrippa and Bernice:

Acts 26:

1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers:
7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

Bernice represents all those women throughout history who have heard the gospel, yet they have chosen to reject Christ. She embraced a sinful life that caused the deterioration of her character–a character that could have been changed by Jesus Christ, making her useful in His Kingdom. Instead, she chose to live as a friend of this world (which is at enmity with God). Her life was of such little consequence that very little was recorded of her after this oratory from Paul. I imagine that her thoughts in her later years surely wandered back to that opportunity afforded to her to come to Christ, and how she, in her self-consuming mindset, rejected Him. I would like to believe that perhaps she came back to Him before she died. But I cannot help but believe that she suffered much sorrow at the regret of so many wasted years of her life that could have been spent furthering the purpose of God’s Kingdom.

As I look around at the world today, I see many young women doing the same as Bernice in rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ for the temporal pleasures that this world offers. Perhaps they find it easier to go the way of the world and accept the devil’s lies, therefore finding their self-worth in self-love. Perhaps they are even born again children of God who have found the world’s enticements too exciting and fun. Whatever the reason, it is my prayer that they will seek the joys of following Jesus. The joy that I experience in my walk and submission to my God Jehovah totally outweigh any high I have experienced from the world.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Women of the Bible

 

Tags: , , , ,

Drusilla – A Shameful Beauty

Drusilla, daughter of Herod Agrippa, younger sister of Bernice, claimed to be a Jewess. She may have been named for Emperor Caligula’s sister. Her great-grandfather, Herod the Great, was the monster who murdered all the Jewish baby boys in an effort to destroy the newborn Jesus, our promised Messiah.

This Drusilla was a woman of rare beauty which she let corrupt her and lead to her moral decadence (The state of being degenerate in mental or moral qualities – Indulgence in sensual pleasures; excessive or immoral activities involving sex, alcohol, food, or drugs, i.e. things of this world). When she was only 14 years old, she married King Azizus of Emessa. A year or so after her marriage, Felix, the Roman governor of Judea, persuaded Drusilla to leave Azizus and to marry him illegally.

She was only mentioned once in Scripture – her presence at apostle Paul’s defense of the Gospel of Jesus before Felix:

Acts 24:24, 25 – “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”

We read there that Paul reasoned or spoke logically of God’s righteousness, temperance and judgment to come. So, we see and understand that Drusilla heard, firsthand, the Good News of Jesus Christ and the outcome of accepting or rejecting Him. She chose to reject Jesus by not responding to Paul’s message. We all face that same choice. Evidently the world’s temporary pleasures that Drusilla received because of her rare beauty meant more to her than spending eternity with our God and Saviour. That was her choice.

The apostle’s words so frightened Felix that, to please the Jews, the governor returned Paul to his confinement under house arrest rather than to prison.

Drusilla, however, chose to live a shameful, wasted life. Before her 41st birthday, she died a horrible, violent death. While she and her only child, Agrippa, were in Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying under burning lava Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as Drusilla and her son.

When I see young beauties today caught up in what are fleeting pleasures and flatterings of this world, I stop and lift them up to the Lord for divine intervention and Salvation. I remember being so young once and the immaturity that comes with youth. Many of us at such young age are incapable of understanding how fleeting life, beauty, and the things of this world truly are. We think we are invincible, and before we know it many years have passed (if we are not taken from this world). We are left with unmendable (my own word) regrets. I guess what I am trying to convey is this, “All you young ladies out there, please open your minds and hearts to the Word of God. Let Him lead you down the path He had planned before you were in your mother’s womb, and you will experience a much more joyful life with much less regret about wasted years that could have been spent serving your precious Lord Jesus.”

I am so very thankful that my Heavenly Father, in His infinite mercy, has turned all my bad choices around and uses them for the good of His purpose. Even though I did not follow His leading several times in my life, by His Grace I am allowed to do my best to faithfully serve Him and follow the path He had to mend and change for me. Thank you my LORD, I love you so.

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Godly Women, Women of the Bible

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: