June 10, 2016
Stepping Out in Faith
By Skip Heitzig
I've always been fascinated by a short little passage found in Numbers 27. It's really the first women's rights movement in history. And what I love about it is that it was sanctioned by God. Just in case some of you still believe that God is a chauvinist who's not interested in women's rights and that it was all about male domination in the Old Testament, you need to read this.
"Then came the daughters of Zelophehad…and these were the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. And they stood before Moses, before Eleazar the priest, and before the leaders and all the congregation, by the doorway of the tabernacle of meeting, saying: 'Our father died in the wilderness…and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be removed from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father's brothers'" (Numbers 27:1-4).
These ladies brought up an interesting case that had not been discussed yet in the old covenant Law: their father had died, but he had no sons to give his inheritance to. The Law stipulated that when a person died, property was passed on to his eldest son. But what would you do if you didn't have a son?
Now, ancient cultures were male dominant. Women had very few rights. But that wasn't the Lord—that was the culture. Back in Genesis when God created woman out of man, remember what Adam said? He didn't say, "This is my property. I own this chick." He rightly said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man" (Genesis 2:23); they were joint heirs together (see 1 Peter 3:7). When we get to the New Testament, Paul said, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). God is not chauvinistic. People need to pay attention to what their Bibles say.
But I love that the daughters of Zelophehad didn't bring this issue to court or to a counselor's office; they boldly came and brought the case to the church: "Let's get God's wisdom on this." Read the next section: "So Moses brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'The daughters of Zelophehad speak what is right; you shall surely give them a possession of inheritance among their father's brothers, and cause the inheritance of their father to pass to them'" (vv. 5-7). This was unheard of in ancient times, but here was God saying, "You know, Moses, they're right—you ought to give them an inheritance." God stood up for the rights of women.
Now, here's something we all can take away from their example. I think that the Lord gives principles in revelation—in His Word—but He wants you to seek Him for the particulars. He wants you to find the wisdom of His Spirit for your situation. It's not that the Lord hadn't addressed this issue because He hadn't thought of it. No—the Lord knew this day was coming, and He was waiting for these women to come to the tabernacle to seek Him so He could give them more information.
I come across a lot of people who want me to tell them what God's will is for their lives, and sometimes they get angry that I won't: "Well, you're the man of God. Certainly you know some Scripture about what I ought to do in this situation." And I can give you the biblical principle, but as to the particulars, you need to seek the Lord and apply that principle to your situation.
These daughters of Zelophehad came boldly before the throne, so to speak, and it paid off (see Hebrews 4:16). You know, we wouldn't even have heard of the name Zelophehad were it not for his daughters stepping up and stepping out in faith to seek the Lord's will for their situation. I think we could all take a page out of their book.
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