Sermons

Summary: Women as well as men were credible witnesses to the gospel and were commissioned to preach it to all with whom they came into contact.

Women who followed Jesus

Mary Magdalene.

The Roman occupation of Israel (63 BCE.) was part of a long line of invasions beginning with the Babylonians (539 BC), then the Persians and the Greeks and later on others. The Jewish identity rested on stories of the Patriarchs--Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--as well as the founding story of the Moses led liberation from the Egyptians at the Exodus. There were yet other stories that recounted successful self-rule under the Hebrew kings Saul, David and Solomon. How-ever, history records that the Jewish people were more often the victims than the victors in their fight for national sovereignty.. Of further historical interest is the fact that the temple - the center of their worship was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

Hebrew identity was maintained--as it is with most oppressed peoples--through a deep spiritual conviction. This conviction was expressed in terms of a Covenant Theology - the belief that God had chosen them to play a unique role in the history of the world. In particular, the Jewish people had come to expect a Messiah who, they believed, would enable them to fulfill this divine mission. There were different understandings of the mission and role of the Messiah ranging from the establishment of a Jewish political kingdom here on earth to the notion of a heavenly kingdom at the end of the world. It goes without saying that religion and politics were deeply intertwined in the Hebrew faith

By the time of Jesus' birth, the Romans had established a two-tiered system of government consisting of Roman overseers and Jewish leaders who exercised control in the name of Rome. This was the system of power in which the family of Herod the Great grew to prominence. Although half-Jews, (Herod the Great 's father was an Idumean and his mother Arabian.) the Herodian family was detested by the Jewish people for its tyrannical rule and also because of its key role in selling out the Jewish heritage to a foreign power. One of Herod's sons, Archelaus, was so brutal in his exercise of power in Jerusalem, that Rome replaced him with one of its own governors, Pontius Pilate, who was to play a significant role in the crucifixion of Jesus. Another of the sons, Herod Antipas, was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist. It was the same Antipas who is accredited with the mocking of Jesus at his pre-crucifixion trial - Luke 23:11

The bible is a book that has been found relevant and meaningful to generation after generation. No matter what the ebbs and flows of the culture - the stories, poetry, and historical accounts found in the Bible have spoken to people of all backgrounds. Among many areas in which the Bible is revolutionary is it’s high regard for women and it is a document truly ahead of its time.

In ancient Israel, women participated in every aspect of community life except in the Temple priesthood. Women freely engaged in commerce and real estate (Proverbs 31), as well as in manual labor (Exodus 35:25; Ruth 2:7; 1 Samuel 8:13). They were not excluded from Temple worship -women played music in the sanctuary (Psalm 68:25), prayed there (1 Samuel 1:12), sang and danced with men in religious processions (2 Samuel 6:19, 22), and participated in music and festivities at weddings (Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:11).

Women were included when God instituted the Mosaic covenant (Deuteronomy 29:10-13) and were present when Joshua read the Scriptures to Israel. Their presence was not just an option; they were required to be present for the public reading of the Scriptures on the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:12).

Women were not limited to private roles during those centuries. Several exercised leadership roles over Israel. Miriam, the sister of Moses, led the women of Israel in worship (Exodus 15:20–21); Deborah was a judge and a prophetess (Judges 4:4), and the scriptures specifically mention that she was a wife and mother as well. Huldah was also a prophetess whom King Josiah consulted instead of Jeremiah, her contemporary (2 Kings 22:14–20).

In Genesis 21:12, we read that God told Abraham to listen to his wife, Sarah. Proverbs 18:22 tells us that he who finds a wife finds a good thing, and Proverbs 19:14 says that an intelligent wife is a gift from God. Abigail is recognized for her ability to navigate a politically tense conflict between King David and her husband, Nabal. Her wisdom and valor so touched King David that she became his wife after Nabal’s death (1 Samuel 25:23–42). The wise woman of Tekoa was sent to persuade David to lift the ban on his son Absalom (2 Samuel 14). Many more sharp and gifted women found their ways into the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures and are still honored today.

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