Different women, different backgrounds, one common thread—courage.
For one, it's the courage to move forward and forget the past, for the other women we are studying this week, it's the courage to go against tradition and stand up for what they believe is right.
For the next week we will be focusing on the 5 Daughters of Zelophehad and Ruth. Very different women from completely different backgrounds, but they all had to find their inner strength to accomplish what they set out to.
Now, most of us have heard of Ruth and I will get to her a little later, but no many talk about the 5 sisters. There is a reason for that...If you don't pay attention, you will miss their story entirely. They are only talked about 5 places in the bible; Numbers 26:33, Number 27:1, Number 36:11, Joshua 17:3, & 1 Chronicles 7:15.
These 5 women lived in a time where an inheritance was only guaranteed to the sons of the family, so when their father died, they were left with nothing.
Tradition didn't stop them from asking for what they thought was right.
"They approached the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly, and said, 'Our father died in the desert. He was not among Korah's followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father's name disappear form his can because he had no sons? Give us property among our father's relatives.'" [Numbers 27:2-4]
Back in that time son's were the ones that received an inheritance, not daughters. It must have taken an enormous amount of courage to walk up to the leaders of the tribes and ask for their father's land. But in a time where women were meek and mild, the daughters dared to step outside tradition and ask for what they felt was rightfully their.
"The bible does not paint Zelophehad's daughters as rebels. They did not come to Moses with a vindictive spirit or an angry tone. They were not burning bras, carrying protest signs or screaming obscenities." J. Lee Grady
I think the spirit and motives behind the daughter's request is what causes God to respond to Moses in this way; "What Zelophehad's daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father's relatives and turn their father's inheritance over to them." [Numbers 27:7]
The daughters knew the law and they came to Moses and the elders with an open heart and humble, simply asking for land to make a life upon. But, the laws of those times said otherwise. These 5 sister's courage, in essence, rewrote the laws, because God went on and gave a laid out plan for the path of an inheritance if their are no sons.
Thanks to the courage these 5 women possessed, they paved the road for future women to be recognized after the passing of a beloved father or husband.
Now Ruth, the other woman we are studying this week, didn't re-write the law, but she needed just as much courage to fulfill her God-given path. She was required to give up everything she new, everything she was, to move forward and find a life with her mother-in-law.
Ruth was a Moabite. Israelites HATED Moabites. They didn't follow the God of Israel and lived a much different life. She was also a widow and childless, which in those times, was an abomination. She had no value.
But Ruth faced a decision. She could return home and go back to the life she lived before, or she could cast aside all that she was, stay with Naomi, and start from scratch. Ruth found the courage to go walk the road less traveled.
What took the most courage is what Grady says right here, "Many people choose to follow Christ, but not everyone is willing to take up his or her cross and forsake all." Ruth gave up EVERYTHING to follow God. This must have been the hardest decision in her life considering she was not the most qualified candidate to receive God's grace, but she, in fact, did, and was rewarded greatly for her courage.
What I loved about these women that we are studying this week, is that none of them were guaranteed a positive outcome. They took the amazing leap of faith, dug deep, and required more of their lives. They would not settle for less.
There will be times where we might need to go against the "norm" or step outside of our comfort zones and these women will be great reminders of when we put our faith in God, find our strength and courage through His power, we can accomplish amazing things...even re-write laws.
If you want to chat more, please feel free to join our private Facebook group where we post discussion questions beyond hat is listed below.
1. The 5 Daughters of Zelophehad went against their societal norms and asked for their rightful inheritance. What current day women has done the same and been an inspiration for you?
2. Women are sometimes discouraged from taking initiative. Has there ever been a time in your life where this has happened to you?
3. Have you ever faced a time in your life where you had to let go of everything, like Ruth, to receive God's blessings?
4. Share one thing that stood out to you in our reading for this week.
[Written by Bethany]