Well, we're turning in our Bibles to 2 Kings chapter 22, this is our fifth study - and of course all of the recordings are available on CD and audio cassette of all the meetings, and you can order those tonight if you wish. We're looking this evening at Huldah, and this is where we find her, and also in 2 Chronicles 34 but we're not going to look at that portion tonight, we're just going to look at 2 Kings 22 and beginning to read at verse 1 through to verse 20:
"Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left. And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the LORD, saying, Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people: And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the LORD, to repair the breaches of the house, Unto carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully. And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD. And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
"And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king's, saying, Go ye, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.
"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 inquire 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".
We began our lessons from these lesser women of the Bible several weeks ago, looking at the character of Rahab. I hope you agree with me that that was a kind of espionage story, spies, intrigue, danger. Then the following week we looked at Abigail, and of course that was a tale of romance. Then we looked at the woman of Abel, which was a bit more like, as we said, a spaghetti western, a horror story of blood and guts. Then we came last week to what could only be classified as a tragedy, the story of Rizpah.
Well, how do we classify tonight's tale? 'Huldah The Prophetess' - well, I have put it into the category of a tale of the unexpected, the reason being that we are used to God speaking through prophets, not prophetesses. Perhaps, if you're honest, you would be more comfortable with a prophet speaking God's word than a prophetess - it fits more into our convenient and, I would have to say, sometimes contrived categorisation of male and female roles. But we are faced with a problem when our clear-cut distinctions of what men should do and women should not do appears not to square with what the Bible teaches.
We have to be honest, Huldah the prophetess - as all prophetesses - initially seems to cause us a bit of problem. So I want us to study her character under three headings. The first is: what does the ministry of a prophetess mean? Secondly: how does Huldah come onto the scene? And thirdly: why is Huldah sought out by the king?
Let's deal with the first: what does the ministry of a prophetess mean? We're really looking at this essential problem: how do we understand the role of a prophetess? Now, of course, if you're familiar with your Bible, you will know that Huldah is only one of several women who were designated prophetesses in the Bible. Of course, if we begin with the Old Testament, we find that way back as far as Exodus chapter 15 and verse 20 Miriam is classified as a prophetess. Exodus 15:20 reads like this: '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'. Then when we come to the book of Judges, in Judges chapter 4 and verse 4 we find that Deborah is also designated a prophetess: ' And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time'.
Many of you may not know that Isaiah's wife was a prophetess, Isaiah 8 and verse 3 we read, and Isaiah says: 'And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son'. When we come to Nehemiah's book and chapter 6 and verse 14, we read of another prophetess by the name of Noadiah, and Nehemiah prays unto God against Noadiah and Tobiah and Sanballat, his enemies, and he says: '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'. Now she was prophesying wrong prophesies, but the problem that Nehemiah had with her was not that she was a woman prophesying, that she was a prophetess, but rather that her prophesies were against him. So we are faced with this Old Testament phenomenon of women as prophetesses, authoritatively, agents transmitting the word of God.
Now prophetesses, believe it or not, appear to be even more common when we enter the New Testament. Right away in the Gospels we encounter Anna, a prophetess who thanked God when the Lord Jesus was brought into the temple as a baby and she recognized that He was the Messiah in Luke chapter 2 verses 36-38. Then of course Peter, on the day of Pentecost, cites Joel's prophecy that when the Holy Spirit would be poured out, we read in Acts 2 that he says: 'Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy'. Now, Acts 21 and verse 9 seems to be a fulfilment of that quoted prophecy of Joel in Peter's Pentecost sermon, for we read there that Philip had four daughters and they were all prophetesses. We don't know much more about them, but they are designated clearly as having prophetic ministry.
Then when we come into the Epistles - we're not going to delve into these passages in too much depth tonight, I'm just citing them as examples - the apostle Paul also encourages women to prophesy with proper adornment, that recognizes headship. We read of that in 1 Corinthians 11 and verse 5, where Paul says: 'But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven'. So Paul indicates that prophecy was common in the New Testament church, even among women. So right away we have to lay down a foundation, and it is that we cannot deny - whether we like it or not - we cannot deny that women in the Old Testament and in the New Testament prophesied.
Now so-called 'evangelical feminism' - and you may not have heard that phrase before, but there are those within the church who assert that women should have all the leadership roles and rights of men, i.e. they should be pastors, teachers, elders, and so on and so forth. Evangelical feminism has used examples such as Miriam, Deborah, Anna, Philip's four daughters, and even Huldah that we're looking at this evening, to prove - they think - that there should be no role distinctions in the church between male and female. We've got to face this, and try and biblically answer. Perhaps you're starting to wonder, having heard about all the prophetesses in Old and New Testament: 'Do they have a point?'. Do we have an answer from the word of God that can counteract such accusations? Now let me recommend a book to you - you will not, I'm sure, agree with everything in it, we don't agree with many things in all the books we read, but it's very helpful regarding a response to evangelical feminism - it's called 'Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood', and it's edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. Some of the details that I'm going to impart to you are deciphered from that volume.
How do we answer? Is there no difference? If women prophesy and were prophetesses, where does that leave headship and the role of men in leadership? Well, here's three things initially that I want you to consider as we ask the question: what does the ministry of a prophetess mean? Here's the first thing: Huldah did not publicly proclaim the word of God. Huldah did not publicly proclaim God's word, rather the text shows that she explained it privately when Josiah sent messengers to her. So she exercised her legitimate prophetic ministry in a way that did not obstruct male leadership. Incidentally, Jeremiah and Zephaniah were exercising their public prophetic ministry at the same time as Huldah the prophetess. So there were two very eligible prophets who could have prophesied for her, but they didn't. Yet she didn't go out of her way to usurp their public ministry, but she prophesied in private. Now for some reason Josiah the King did not send his officials to either Jeremiah or Zephaniah, he sent them to Huldah - and we can suppose why that may be. Yet we must mark the fact that she did not usurp or replace the public ministry of Jeremiah and Zephaniah.
Now, you say: 'That may be the case for Huldah, but what about the other prophetesses?'. What about Miriam? Well, the ministry of Miriam follows a similar headship principle in that she ministered only to women. Exodus 15:20 that we read, or I quoted to you, let me read it again, says: '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'. She led the women, her ministry was to them.
What about Deborah? She was a Judge, wasn't she? Well, she is not an exception to this rule, because she prophesied in private rather than in public. Turn with me to Judges 4, so that I can show you this from the text, Judges 4 verse 5 says: 'And Deborah 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'. They came to her, she dwelt in a private place, she did not go out with a public itinerant prophetic ministry. Even when she speaks to Barak, we see from verse 6 that she calls him and speaks to him individually: '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'. Though she gives Barak a command, and that is self evident if you look down at verse 14, there is implied within her ministry, and indeed her instructions to Barak, a rebuke of Barak because he was not willing - not man enough - to go into the battle without the help of Deborah. If you look at verse 8 of chapter 4: 'Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go'. Because of Barak's reluctance, God's word says that the glory that day, as the Israelites won the battle, would go to a woman and not to Barak - verse 9: 'And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honor; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh'. And incidentally, the honour that was given to a woman here was not given to Deborah - if you look down at verse 17 and the following verses, you see that Jael was the one, the woman who was given the glory, because she...well, you know the story, it's more blood and guts! She put an end to the whole problem!
The point I'm making is: Huldah, as with all the other prophetesses, it seems, in the Old Testament thus far in our study that we have looked at, operated a private ministry, not a public one of proclamation. Then secondly I want you to consider something else that helps us to understand what the ministry of a prophetess means, and that is simply that prophecy differs from teaching. Prophecy differs from teaching. Prophecy is a thing of spontaneous revelation. We know that from 1 Corinthians 14, yet teaching is an exposition of an already given and received revelation - i.e. an exposition of the Scriptures. Now, if we take the Old Testament first of all, even in the Old Testament it was the priests who gave instruction regarding what was Biblical, what was lawful. All of the priests had to be male, for they were in that teaching role. The point I want to make is that prophecy, therefore, is a different gift to teaching in the Old and indeed in the New Testament.
Though prophetesses in the Old Testament are self-evident, they only rarely spoke for God to the nation, but whenever they did we have already seen that they conducted their ministry in a way that supported male leadership, they never usurped it. Now when we come into the New Testament it appears that prophecy is not the same as teaching again, but prophecy takes on in the New Testament a different connotation to Old Testament prophecy. Let me illustrate this for you. When the prophet Jeremiah, or Zephaniah, or indeed Huldah, came and spoke the word of God it was to be unquestionably received as God's word. You weren't allowed to dissect it or to test it or prove it, you just submitted to it. Yet when we come to the New Testament, when prophecy is spoken of there it is to be tested, and the apostles encourage us to test and prove New Testament prophecies. So there's a difference right away.
Let me show you this, if you turn with me to 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 20, we read that the apostle says: 'Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good'. Do not despise prophesying, prove all things that are prophesied is the implication. So this is different than Old Testament prophecy, Old Testament prophecy was not to be tested, it was to be accepted and submitted to - but here we see Paul telling them to test what people said were prophecies. Now when we turn to 1 Corinthians, if you would, and verse 29 of chapter 14, we see this principle emphasised again that New Testament prophecy is to be weighed in the balance: 'Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge'. So there is an element of judgement and criticism that comes into an assessment of New Testament prophecy. So we are seeing that it appears at least that New Testament prophecy is not as authoritative as Old Testament prophecy, and indeed New Testament teaching. So have you got it? There's a difference between Old Testament prophesying that we see in Huldah, in Jeremiah, in Isaiah and all the other major and minor prophets, and what prophecies took place in the New Testament - but we go a step further to say that teaching in the New Testament is more authoritative than New Testament prophecy. Now even if you don't accept that, the fact of the matter is that 1 Corinthians 11 that we've already quoted from, the whole passage makes clear that New Testament women who prophesy were to do it in such a way that recognized male headship in the church. That is clear.
So we've established, as we look at what the ministry of a prophetess means, that Huldah did not publicly proclaim God's word. Secondly, prophecy differs from teaching in the Old Testament, but especially in the New Testament. Thirdly, women are equal to men in Christ under grace. Galatians tells us that, there is no more any bond or free, Jew or Gentile, male or female. In grace we are all equal as sinners saved by grace. We are all given the same spiritual gifts in Christ, given by the Holy Spirit - but that does not mean that male and female are to exercise those gifts in the same role or in the same manner. Now I've come to be able to read you over the years, and I know that some of you have a problem with what I've just said, but if you turn with me to Titus chapter 2 you will see that women are clearly given a measure of a teaching gift. Now, that seems to contradict, does it, with what I've just said? Well, it doesn't, as I'll make clear as I go on. Titus chapter 2 and verses 3 and 4 says that: 'The older women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things' - teachers of good things - 'That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children'.
So these older women are to teach, it implies that there is a gift to teach, but they are to teach the younger women. Lest these roles should be obscured, Paul tells us in 1 Timothy chapter 2, if you would turn to it, verses 11 and 12 - that though women may have a gift, and exercise that gift to teach, teaching younger women, they are not allowed to teach men - 1 Timothy chapter 2:11: 'Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor', and this is the classic statement that defines this teaching, 'nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence'. The point is that they are not to teach in the assembly, in a mixed gathering, because it usurps the teaching leadership place of the male.
Paul did speak of women in his epistles as 'fellow workers', and we ought not to dilute that, they worked with him in the gospel. He also called some of them 'fellow labourers', and if you want a list of several women who come under that category, read Romans chapter 16. But any of these designations, whether they are 'prophetesses', whether they are 'workers' or 'fellow labourers', does not mean that any of these females usurped the principle of male headship that is found both in the Old and New Testament Scriptures. Now here's an interpretive principle for you which is fundamental to how we understand the word of God: the clear passages of the Bible must interpret the unclear passages. There are some obscure passages of Scripture, even in the New Testament, but we know clearly from 1 Corinthians 11, 1 Corinthians 14, 1 Timothy 2, that leadership in the church - that is pastors, teachers, elders - is not a position that is open to women, even women who have gifts of teaching and gifts of leadership. Those passages are clear on headship and leadership in the local assembly.
Though there are women prophets, they cannot claim that there are no distinctions in the role and use of New Testament gifts. Add to that fact that it's interesting that there is no book named after a prophetess in the Bible, though there are many books named after prophets. There is no record of an ongoing prophetic ministry of a woman in the Bible, though there are of several male prophets. There were no women heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, there were no women apostles, there were no women inspired to write the 66 books in the Bible. So, yes, there is a ministry of a prophetess, but we must understand it in the context of biblical headship. However Old Testament, or for that matter New Testament, prophetesses operated their ministry, it never usurped the position of male headship in the assembly.
Now, that being clear, let me also say that some men have gone further than Scripture and have suppressed the valuable ministry contributions that women can give. We see that clearly from the example of these Scriptures. We see how wrong men are on that very count when we observe the significant part that Huldah and other prophetesses had in the story of the Bible.
So now that we have established what the ministry of a prophetess means and doesn't mean, let's look at: how does Huldah come onto the scene? We're going back again to 2 Kings 22, look at verses 1 and 2. The scene begins as the assassination of Amon brought Josiah to the throne of Israel at eight years of age, and the Bible says that he remained there for 31 years. But we find out that at the age of 16 he began to seek the Lord, that was his conversion experience if you like. No doubt Hilkiah, the high priest, taught this lad the word of God. It's also interesting to note the name of his mother in this passage, Jedidah, which was also the pet name that God gave to Solomon the King, and this pet name means 'Beloved of the Lord' - that could imply that his mother was a godly woman, and had a godly influence in his life. So though his father was a very ungodly man, he had the influence of the high priest, Hilkiah, and his godly mother, Jedidah.
There's a lesson there right away for us all. We should never underrate the influence of a godly mother. Sad to say, these days this is a ministry of women that is sadly underrated and felt, on the part of many women, to be very underwhelming. I can appreciate why, and yet you've got to realise that this is a ministry that God has given, and it's a very precious one. It can have very long, far reaching effects as we will see from this story. Never underestimate the power of a godly influence on children, whether it is a father, a mother, a grandmother, a grandfather. You only need to look at Susanna Wesley, how she poured her life and her prayers into all those many children, and look what John and Charles did in our own nation for God, across the world indeed.
Now when we come to verse 3 we see that Manasseh rebuilt everything that his father, Hezekiah, tore down; but at 20 years of age Josiah tore down what Manasseh, his grandfather, had built up. So young Josiah started purifying the city of Jerusalem and the land of Judah from idolatry, the idolatry of Manasseh his grandfather, and Amon his father. Young King Josiah's ultimate goal was to restore the Temple, to bring the nation back to worship of the true and living God. After purging all the idols out of the land, in his eighteenth year of reign when he was 26, Josiah instituted a program to rebuild the Temple of God. Verse 8 tells us that while the repairs were going on, Hilkiah the high priest found a copy of the book of the law. We don't know how much was in it, whether it was the whole Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible - the likelihood is that it was probably the book of Deuteronomy, with many of the curses that were given at the covenant in it. It had long since been discarded by the idolatrous people of God.
Now imagine this for a moment: imagine losing the word of God in the house of God. That's what happened! It teaches us that you can lose the word of God in the church, you can lose the word of God in a denomination, you can lose the word of God in a religious place, living a religious life, doing very religious things! That's what happened to Judah, it can happen to us! In verse 10 the book was taken to King Josiah and read before him, and verse 11 tells us that when King Josiah heard the word of God, he realised how far the nation had wandered, and he tore his clothes in repentance and remorse. Verses 12 and 13 tell us that, realising that the nation must be under the condemnation of these covenant curses, he sent five of his officials to enquire of the Lord. Would these things come to pass? Would the people be judged for their idolatry and unfaithfulness?
In verse 14 we read that the officials went to Huldah the prophetess, who dwelt in Jerusalem - some versions say 'in the second quarter', which was a district or a suburb of the city, the Authorised Version says correctly 'a college'. The Hebrew word for 'college' is 'mishnah', and it simply means 'a place of repetition' - and education in those days was done by repetition, repeating things over and over again like you learnt your tables. It may well have been that Huldah ministered in that college, it may also be that Huldah was the aunt of Jeremiah, but it's interesting that King Josiah didn't send these men, Hilkiah and his officials, to Jeremiah or to Zephaniah. Now I can't give you a reason for that, but he didn't. I came across, in my studies, a poem by a Jewish poet by the name of Mrs R Hyneman, she captures the unexpected nature of this tale of the unexpected when she wrote these words in one verse:
''Go ask', he said' - that is, King Josiah - ''of the good and the wise,
If this doom may pass away;
If lowly prayer and sacrifice
Of our penitent hearts may yet arise
To avert the evil day'
And whom shall they seek in that trying hour
What bearded sage or deep-learned seer,
Whose prophetic words have a magical power
To point the right path when dark tempests lower,
And the strong man shrinks with fear?
Oh, how can a woman’s soft voice foretell
The heavy doom they dread to know?
Or how can she pierce through the mystic veil
Of the shadowy future, and breathe a spell
Like that which her lips breathe now?'.
'What bearded sage', she said, 'or deep-learned seer' would these officials go to? Not one with a beard, but a prophetess. I'm sure that Huldah, when she received these men into her home, must have taken the scroll, the leather-covered scroll of the law from their hands like a mother pressing a long lost child to her bosom, like the woman in Luke 15 that Jesus told of who lost that one silver coin. The law of God that was lost from the nation had now been found! She could say, like the Psalmist in Psalm 119:72, 'The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver'. The high priest, Hilkiah, and several of these other men stood before her. King Josiah wanted to know: would the words of the book of the Law come to pass? If you look down at verses 16 to 18, she confirmed Josiah's fears that God was going to punish Judah soon, but she also added that it would not happen during Josiah's lifetime or reign because he had humbled himself before the Lord, and his heart was tender. Look at verse 19 - can I ask you this evening: is your heart tender before the word of the Living God?
Now look with me at the result of Huldah the prophetess's faithfulness: immediately Josiah shared the word of the Lord from Huldah with the elders of the land, and he began again to lead the way in a great service of dedication, reaffirming the covenant of God on behalf of the people. He continued these purges of the state, he went down to the Valley of Hinnon which had been defiled with idolatry - there the people of Judah had offered up her children to fires in sacrifice, atonements to placate the god Molech. Josiah went down and defiled that sacred place of idolatry, he made it a rubbish dump it became known as the Gehennon Valley, and in the New Testament of course was known as 'Gehenna'. The Lord Jesus used it as a vivid illustration of hell, the place where the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched! Why? Because it was a rubbish dump, and the fire was continually raging. Josiah did it, he defiled the idolatrous holy places.
Not only did he do that, but he uncovered the altar of the wicked King Jeroboam. He also uncovered the tomb of the young prophet who warned Jeroboam that the prophets of Baal would be sacrificed on the altar, and that is exactly what King Josiah did - fulfilling 1 Kings 13. He not only restored the Temple, he not only found the law of God from the Temple, but we know that he restored the celebration of the feast of the Passover that had been long neglected by the nation. Now many have called this 'Josiah's revival', but we know with hindsight that it was a surface thing, and the people of Judah remained idolaters in their heart. Yet this was a great Reformation, and any reform that took place was effected directly by the prophet, the prophetess Huldah.
Do you see the significance of her faithfulness? We have answered: what does the ministry of a prophetess mean? How does Huldah come on the scene? Thirdly: why is Huldah sought out by the King? Now, I freely admit we don't know all there is to know about Huldah, but one thing we do know is that Josiah chose to send his officials to her, and God chose to use her to speak this word of prophecy to the king and bring a great Reformation in Judah. She was mightily used of God. Now that implies a number of things: she was obviously highly respected, well-known, for the King to send his officials to her. She had to be wise, for we cannot conceive of the King sending his officials to one who was foolish. She must have been holy to have been a vessel used for the Master's use. She must have, therefore, also been spiritual and prayerful. She was filled with the word of God, not just because she knew that these curses of the covenant in the law of God must come to pass, but she experientially - and, we might say, charismatically - experienced the prophetic ministry of the word of God through her in her own use. She was a courageous woman - but what I do want you to see this evening is ultimately that, though she was respected, wise, holy, spiritual, prayerful, filled with the word of God and courageous, she was available - available to be used by God.
Now, Huldah does many things, but certainly she being dead still challenges the perception of men and women in the church regarding the role of men and women in ministry. Now we have established, and we are on safe ground tonight, that though women are certainly not permitted to do some things that are offices and operations only for men, there is a lot more that women can do that women are not doing in this New Testament church. I believe churches have a responsibility to recognize this, and indeed to help women use their gifts biblically. I think at times often we extol the virtues of dynamic women on the mission field, but we stifle their gifts in the church. That ought not to be so.
I'm asking you women here this evening: are you respected? Are you holy? Are you wise? Spiritual? Prayerful? Are you courageous? Filled with the word of God? But perhaps most importantly: are you available for the Lord to use how He sees fit? Are you willing, that's what I'm asking, willing to do what God would have you do in the bounds that He has set in the New Testament Church? Are you spiritually qualified to do it? If not, why not? Because the Bible teaches us, Old Testament and New Testament and church history, that great things have been done by holy, courageous, Spirit-filled, word-filled, wise, respected women for God - great things have been accomplished because they made themselves available! Mothers like Susanna Wesley; hymn writers like Fanny Crosby, Francis Ridley Havergal, Mrs Alexander of Londonderry; authors like Elisabeth Elliott, Helen Roseveare; evangelists like Miriam Booth of the Salvation Army; missionaries like Gladys Aylward, Amy Carmichael; even the fervent prayers of two bed-ridden old women could be instrumental in bringing Duncan Campbell to the Isle of Lewis in 1949, which ultimately brought revival, an influx of thousands of souls into the kingdom of God.
These women knew what they could not do, but they knew what they could do. No woman should say: 'There's nothing for me to do' - nor, for that matter, no man should say that. What I'm exhorting you to do in the light of Huldah the prophet, the tale of the unexpected, is to make your life a tale of the unexpected for God. May God bless His word to our hearts.
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This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fifth recording in his 'Little Women' series, entitled "Huldah The Prophetess" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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