Friday, May 27, 2011

Women In Ministry

With having the opportunity to teach women in Kenya, and in the United States, I can say that the topic of Women in Ministry is of great interest to all women who love the Lord and want to serve Him wholeheartedly. If we asked what the common factor is that prompts us, we would discover the internationally answer is, "my heart was touched". But emotionally stirred is not always Spirit lead.
When we are emotionally stirred, it becomes easy for us to insert our self wholeheartedly into the endeavor of service, believing that this is what we need to do, but is it God’s will or self-will? Both are satisfying and rewarding but only one is right, and that is God’s way.

The most difficult thing about correctly discerning God’s will for our life is first getting self-will out of the way. This means re-evaluating our emotions with Biblical understanding and direction, and committing ourselves to be lead by godly principles.  This means accepting the fact that if it’s not Biblically correct, then it’s not correct.
Knowing what is Biblically correct is not difficult, but it does require diligent study of the Word of God.

Christianity today is stronger than ever in making the ministry a unisex endeavor by giving women the same position as men in the church. Women are peaching, pastoring, leading the song service, teaching Bible doctrine to men, and leading the mixed congregation in prayers and this is not Biblically correct. Spiritual equality is not role equivalency.

Women and men are spiritually equal with God; both are sinners in need of a Saviour; both are able to pray and receive answers to their prayers; both have the ability to read and study the Word of God with discernment. But spiritual equality is not role equivalency and God is very gender specific.

Leadership is male and God has never changed His mind on this distinction. God’s place for women is a place of protection, you cannot be protected if you are in the position of leader or leadership. For an understanding of this Biblical principle (leadership is male and God has never changed His mind on this distinction), consider the Prophets and Prophetesses that are mentioned in the Bible.

Prophets and Prophetesses were not the same. Aside from the obvious, that prophets were male and prophetesses were female, there were some very significant differences between the two.  And, when we fail to understand and appreciate the differences, we also fail to understand and appreciate God, as He established these differences between the two.

The first difference is limitation in number - there are 39 named prophets (male) and hundred’s more unnamed prophets mentioned in the Bible, but there are only 7 named prophetesses (female) and four unnamed prophetesses in the entire Bible. The 7 named prophetesses are: Isaiah’s wife (because she was a prophet’s wife); Jezebel and Noadiah both false prophetesses; Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and Anna are the only godly prophetesses.

The second difference was the God-given gifts to perform miracles and healings, only prophets of God, such as Elijah, Elisha performed miracles and healings. Miriam, Deborah Huldah, and Anna never had such God-given gifts to perform miracles and healing.

The third difference was the penning of the Holy Scriptures. God used (male) Prophets to pen the Holy Scriptures, God never used (female) prophetesses to pen the Holy Scriptures. Prophets had the gift of prophecy (to predict coming events) and were allowed by God to give God-given prophetic utterances; the was revelation of scripture. This prophecy became written Scripture; "holy men of God" penned the Word of God (II Peter 1:21; Palms 45:1b). This prophecy was known as foretelling, and was inspired by God as God revealed previously unknown truth to His prophets. Now, with the complete written Word of God this prophecy gift is no longer given, there is no new revelation of scripture.

Prophetesses had the gift of wisdom and understanding (discernment) to make clear (clarify) that which had already be spoken. For example: When the lost books of the law were found by king Josiah, Huldah told him what would happen, not as a prediction or foreknowledge of future events, but as a clarification of what God had already said would happen to the Nation of Israel, if they forgot God (II Kings 22:1-20). This had already been recorded by Moses in Deuteronomy chapters 28 through 32.

The forth difference was that God never used prophetesses (females) in the role of leadership. The (male) prophets of God were God’s spokesman to His people, these Prophets were confrontational as they publically lead, directed and gave instruction, from God, to His people. For example:

a. Elijah with Ahab and the confrontation with the prophets of Baal. - I Kings chapters 17 and 18
b. God’s calling of (and instruction to) Samuel for the nation of Israel. - I Samuel chapter 3
c. Isaiah and Hezekiah, as a sign of God’s promise the sun went back ten degrees. - II Kings chapter 20

These (female) prophetesses were only used by God to clarify known scripture to a few individuals and did not lead the people. For example:

a. Deborah, while she "dwelt under the palm tree" was a judge, an arbitrator to those who "came up to her for judgment". Judges 4:5
b. Huldah spoke only to the five men sent by Josiah. - II Kings 22:14-18
c. The only group of people lead by Miriam were other women during a time of celebration of how God had saved them from the hand of Pharaoh. - Exodus 15:20, 21

These (female) prophetesses never usurped authority over a man, nor did they foolishly assume a leadership role.

a. The first time Miriam became head-strong with Moses was her last time, God plagued her with leprosy and made her to be shamed for seven days. - Numbers 12:1-16; Deuteronomy 24:9
b. The only woman to assume a leadership role, as a prophetess, was Jezebel. - Revelation 2:20; I Kings chapters 18 and 19.
c. God never held a woman accountable for the failure, or the neglect of leadership, God always holds the man accountable in his role as leader. For example:
1. Adam was accountable to God for sin entering the world, not Eve, even though Eve took the first bite. - Romans 5;12; Genesis 3:6-11
2. Abram (Abraham) was accountable to God for Hagar, not Sarai (Sarah), even though it was Sarah’s idea. - Genesis 16:1-6
3. Moses was accountable to God for neglecting to circumcise his son, not Zipporah, even though Zipporah was the one who refused to circumcise her son. - Exodus 4:24-26
4. David was accountable to God for his sexual sin and murder, not Bathsheba, even though Bathsheba submitted to the seduction. - II Samuel 11;1-57; I Kings 15:5
5. Barak was accountable to God for his neglect of duty, not Deborah, even though Deborah was a judge she was not the leader and she was not answerable to God for this role of leadership. Had Barak failed, Deborah would not have been blamed. - Judges 4:6-16; 5:1, 7, 12; Hebrews 11:32

Every godly woman of the Bible submitted to a male leader: Phebe submitted to Paul (Romans 16:1-27); Miriam submitted to Moses (Numbers 12:1-15); Deborah submitted to Barak (Judges 4:6-16; 5:1, 7, 12; Hebrews 11:32). These male leaders submitted to God.

Now the question that must be asked is, what are the ministries that God has ordained for women? That is a topic for another blog.


Jessi said...

Very interesting. I had never studied that out and had always wondered why there were a few women in the Bible who seemed to be in a leadership role. This post explains it very well.

Jess B. said...

This is great!! I am a single woman, and I am whole-heartedly involved in ministry. Your opening paragraph really resonated with me, because I sometimes tend to insert myself emotionally into ministry. I believe God uses women greatly, but too many are "ministering" in positions they have no business being in. As the previous commenter said. You explained this very well. I'm looking forward to the next blog about what ministries God has ordained for women.
Blessings :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jessi and Jess B. for your kind comments. I'm glad this post was an encouragement to you both. God bless. (Jane Coley)

Anonymous said...

hummmm... I've tried for 3 days to post the above comment to my own blog. It finally would only allow me to post as "Anonymous" so I put my name at the end of my post. I don't understand why... but that's what it did. :o/ (Jane Coley)