Let’s be honest, when we think of key Bible figures we usually think of the men – Moses, Joshua, Abraham, Daniel, Paul or David maybe?
As it’s International Women’s Day I spent some time today looking at some exceptional women in the Bible. There are the obvious ones… Esther, Ruth, Mary, Hannah and of course Sarah. But today someone else jumped out at me – Rebekah.
I have to admit, any time I’ve read Genesis 24 in the past I’ve always found it a little sexist. Abraham sends his servants to find a wife for his son, Issac. They head off to find a woman that is ‘good enough’ for Issac. You can just imagine it, can’t you? They’d be watching for someone good looking, someone who stands out from the crowd but we know from the scripture they also knew to look for someone kind. They find Rebekah and her family were willing to let her go.
But here’s the bit that caught me by surprise today…
“So they called Rebekah. “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her. And she replied, “Yes, I will go.””
Genesis 24:58 NLT
Rebekah was asked her opinion!? I’d never noticed that she was given a choice. I think I’d always pictured this young women being taken away from her family to become the wife of a man she’d never met, possibly with a little reluctance. But no, she was willing! She knew that there was a calling on her life – God had a plan and a mission for her to fulfill and she trusted in him.
So many people think the Bible is all about men being favoured and in charge. But there are some major leading lady roles in the Bible and the ultimate plan of God was heavily reliant on women playing their part. Esther was called for ‘a time such as this’, Ruth stood by Naomi declaring “where you go I go” and Hannah gave the son she longed for so badly back to God just as she had promised she would.
I wouldn’t call myself a feminist – I’m not burning any bras and I don’t subscribe to any women only groups that promote equality in the workplace by driving to empower women but I do believe it’s important we are all treated fairly and that we build each other up regardless of our gender.
I believe we should ALL be celebrated for our achievements, our hard work should be acknowledged and promotion should be based on merit. I am so thankful that I have had amazing female role models who have encouraged me, developed me and supported me throughout my life. I am also thankful for the men who have encouraged, developed and supported me – they are of course important too. But strangely, I’m also grateful for the men and women who have challenged me, who have fought me and knocked me down – because they have been the ones who have taught me important lessons, they have stoked fires in me, they have given me opportunities to get back up again and fight for what I believe in and what I know I can achieve.
Working in a very male environment can be frustrating at times but rather than fight to be treated equally I’d rather they didn’t even notice I was a woman. I would love to see Christians stand together regardless of gender and fight the status quo armed with faith – to offer a new hope and a new approach in the workplace. Instead of criticising how things are done or being deflated when things don’t go the way you’d like, wouldn’t it be great to make a change? Wouldn’t it be great to create a atmosphere where everyone feels equal, where everyone feels important and appreciated?
So today let’s continue to celebrate all the awesome women who have inspired and paved the way in so many ways – those who have proudly stood up to say “Yes, I will go”.
But let’s also remember to look for the opportunities for us all to do the same, with one purpose – to glorify God and see his will be done!
Rebekah went on to have twins with Issac, Esau and Jacob – making her the grandmother of Joseph who forgave his brothers after they sold him into slavery. Her choice set the ball rolling on a series of events that not only made a massive impression in their day but continues to impact hearts and lives today.