Friday, January 6, 2012

Noted Women Of The Bible - 9 Good Prophetesses (And Two NOT!)

There are many religions out there. Some make no differential treatment between men and women, and some do. In one women may be treated as chattle, property, far from equal with men, and even as dirty through no fault of their own. Today I would like to say that while Christianity and the bible do not hold that women should be pastors (e.g., Gen. 3:16), it does not make them so demoted from humanity that they are property of men, but rather men's help meet "And the LORD God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.'" (Gen. 2:18) They are our mates, not our property! Herein I want to cover that just as God blessed men to be prophets, so also He blessed women to be prophetesses! Let's see what 9 women I found in the bible who were good prophetesses, and we'll note the false ones, too!
The first prophetess spoken of is the sister of Aaron, Miriam "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, 'Sing ye to the LORD, for He hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea.'" (Exod. 15:20 - 21) Here she speaks rightly, and leads the women in dancing and praising God; but just as prophets can make mistakes, so can prophetesses; "And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, 'Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, 'Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation.' And they three came out. And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And He said, 'Hear now My words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make Myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all Mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?' And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and He departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous." (Num. 12:1 - 10) Aaron asked Moses for mercy on Miriam from the Lord, and Moses talked with the Lord. But for flouting God's authority placed on Moses, she was to suffer 7 leprous days of public punishment for her public sinfulness. Rebuke from God!

The next prophetess was Deborah. "And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, 'Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, "Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand."" (Judg. 4:4 - 7) This is the only woman to judge Israel before the days of kings and queens. Upon Barak's success against Israel's enemies, she and Barack sang praises to God! "Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, 'Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.'" (Judg. 5:1 - 2) This women did better than most of Israel's kings, for unlike them, she did no evil in the sight of the Lord. No Scripture is there to be found saying otherwise that I know of.

The next prophetess lived in the days of king Josiah, and she was named Huldah. "So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her. And she said unto them, 'Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, "Tell the man that sent you to Me, Thus saith the LORD, 'Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: Because they have forsaken Me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore My wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched. But to the king of Judah which sent you to enquire of the LORD, thus shall ye say to him, "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard; because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before Me; I also have heard thee," saith the LORD. "Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place." And they brought the king word again." (2 Kings 22:14 - 20),(2 Chron. 34:22 - 28) Blessed was she that God should speak to a nation and a king through a woman! In a man's world, this woman commanded respect in that the Lord used her as His mouthpeace!

There was a man named Noadiah in Ezra before the prophetess with the same name, and like her, little is written of Noadiah, and well; because Nehemiah counted her among the wicked attempting to ruin his testimony! "And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me. My God, think Thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear." (Neh. 6:12 - 14)

The next prophetess goes unnamed, but bears a child of more reknown than she, since at least his name is made known; "And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, 'Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz. For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, 'My father, and my mother', the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria." (Isa. 8:2 - 4) As you can read from this Scripture, is it any wonder why the prophetess is unnamed? Her husband is one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, Isaiah!

Anna was the name of the only prophetess to look on the face of the Child Jesus. "And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." (Luke 2:36 - 38) What a servant of the Lord Anna was, a widow for 84 years, and God's kindness to her was that she was blessed with looking on the face of the salvation of every believer among all of mankind! What excitement for her to see her Savior face to face before her death!

Now Philip the evangelist had 4 prophetess daughters, but no more than saying so is written of them. "And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." (Acts 21:8 - 9) By this point it would be thought that most people have come to realize, that when a woman is a prophetess, and of good report, they are also given a position of respect among men in a man's world. But like Noadiah, false prophetesses fare no better than false prophets; such is the last one in Revelation.

There is mention of a false prophetess in Revelation by Jesus Himself, and He calls her by a name Jezebel, but it is debated whether He means that is actually her name, or that she is a counterpart of the infamous Jezebel of 1 Kings 16, 21, and 2 Kings 9. "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works." (Rev. 2:20 - 23). It is easy to understand from His speech that Jesus is NOT happy with this prophetess, and He speaks of her wickedness that displeases Him.

So for women believers in Christ, and those who are looking out of a woman-hating religion for hope in another religion, here is plenty of Scripture for the Christian woman, and those women looking at the Christian faith, that God had positions of note for women, one such as a prophetess, one of respect, and even for the average, lowest woman, one of a help meet for her husband. The true God meant not for women to be property, or a beast of burden, or something to be maltreated and abused, but rather on something of an equal keel with men, and in these 9 cases, He gave God-fearing women the respectable position of - prophetess!

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