The 8 Most Powerful Women in the Bible: Part Two

What makes a woman powerful? Is it money, fame, a political position, or is it an Oscar-winning actress? Any of these attributes may be true in today’s society, but not in biblical days. Many excellent examples of strong, influential women grace the pages of the Bible. Everyone today, now two thousand years later, may find much wisdom in the biblical females. Use them as a guiding tool in your personal lives and to develop a relationship with God.

The last point I want to express is “behind every successful man is a strong and wise woman.” So true of these most powerful women in the Bible! I hope you enjoy my review of this week’s next two women.


Did you miss Part One? Click HERE.


ESTHER

This biblical story begins in the time of King Xerexes, who ruled from India to Ethiopia in 486 BC to 465 BC. In the third year of his reign, he gave a luxurious banquet for all his officials and ministers in the garden courtyard. His wife, Queen Vashti, threw a separate party for women in the royal palace. As he became drunk, he ordered his personal servants to bring his wife to him. She was gorgeous, and he wanted to show her off to his proteges. Queen Vashti refused to show off her beauty, and the king lost his temper at her disrespect of his orders. He wanted to avoid his embarrassment, so he ruled her to leave his premises. “Every man is master of his own house; whatever he says, goes.”

King Xerexes’ young royal attendants suggested he search the kingdom for beautiful young virgins to replace Vashti. Soon, a woman named Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther, was brought to the palace and given over to the overseer of the women in the harem. She stayed twelve months for beauty treatments and for visits with the king in the evenings. Esther soon won the admiration of everyone, including the king. He placed a crown on her head and proclaimed a holiday for all the provinces. But she had a dark secret…

Her older cousin, Mordecai, raised Esther after her parent’s death. He was a member of the Jewish community who had an ancestor captured and taken away from Jerusalem. Her rearing was in exile, and Mordecai begged her never to tell a soul.

Mordecai often walked in front of the palace, hoping to glimpse Esther. He still felt responsible for her welfare. One afternoon, he made his usual trek to the palace gates. He overheard two guards plotting the death of King Xerexes, so he quickly sent word to Esther, who told her husband. In the king’s investigation of the incident, she told her husband that Mordecai, “her cousin,” heard the conversation, but this was all the details she gave him.

Sometime later, King Xerexes promoted a man named Haman to the highest-ranking official in the government. He required everyone at the palace gates to kneel before Haman, but Mordecai refused repeatedly. Haman learned Esther’s cousin was a Jew, so he devised a plan to kill all Jews throughout the kingdom.

Esther’s maids told her of Haman’s plan, and she was shocked and scared for her relatives. So she sent a servant to find Mordecai and find out the whole story. She also handed the servant clothes for her cousin to wear, which would hide his Jewish roots. But, Mordecai refused to wear it and relayed a message to her, “Do not imagine that because you are in the king’s palace you alone will escape the fate of all the Jews.…” He encouraged her to talk to her husband.

Esther sent a strong message back to Mordecai.

“Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you. If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.” Mordecai followed her instructions.

Three days later, Esther dressed in her royal robe, visited the king on his throne. She asked him to arrange a dinner with Haman, of which he obliged her request. Meanwhile, Haman was building seventy-five foot high gallows. He would soon hang Mordecai.

The day of the dinner party arrived, and King Xerexes, Esther, and Haman gathered for the feast. The king asked Esther, “What would you like? Half of my kingdom? Just ask and it’s yours.” Her charm beguiled him. She broke into tears and revealed the horror of her people’s fate at the hands of their dinner guest. Haman was now terror-stricken. The king raged with fury and stalked out into the palace garden. He saw the gallows structure and came storming back into the banquet room when he noticed Haman on the floor in front of his wife. Haman was pleading for his life at Esther’s feet, and the king exploded with anger. King Xerexes ordered him hanged at the very gallows meant for Mordecai… and so it was done.

Later in the day, the king presented Queen Esther the estate of Haman, archenemy of the Jews. She admitted her background to him and the story of her cousin. Mordecai came before the king who took off his signet ring and handed it to him in a loving gesture. Esther appointed Mordecai over Haman’s estate. Then, she pleaded with her husband to please revoke the plan plotted against the Jews. “How can I stand to see this catastrophe wipe out my people? How can I bear to stand by and watch the massacre of my relatives?”

King Xerexes allowed Esther and Mordecai to write whatever she deemed necessary to stop the massacre on an order, and he signed it. Their city exploded with joy for Esther saved their lives. Celebration, cheering, and feasting took to the streets. Many non-Jews became Jews on this day. Mordecai also became a mighty name in the palace. The king, with love on his face, turned to Esther and said, “What else would you like? Name it and it’s yours. Your wish is my command.”

Mordecai soon released a notice calling for an annual celebration of the Jew’s freedom, and it became a tradition. He soon ranked second in command to King Xerexes for the peace and prosperity he brought to his race.


I found it interesting God is not mentioned in the Book of Esther, however, the protection of His chosen people is implied. The Jewish religion was an ethnic choice rather than a religious practice in the era of Esther. When the Bible was interpreted, many rabbis were troubled by Esther’s failure to live as a Jew, so her story suffered in its religious connotation.

Why was Esther a powerful woman?

Esther was a female hero, for women in Persia were a low species in society. Whatever power she did have was earned through manipulation of higher forces (such as her husband). Esther used her beauty, charm, and political intelligence to save the Jews. She fought for her objectives.

Queen Esther was a positive role model for Jewish women during her lifetime. She was courageous to approach the king about the death plot of her race. Her life was on the line and it was risky but Esther stood up for what she believed in, even though it was dangerous.

Though God was not mentioned in the Book of Esther, Esther used fasting and prayer for clarity. It placed her in the path of humility.

Esther is a powerful example that our background does not determine God’s plan for us, only faith. She was an orphan and lived in exile, but God brought her to redemption and freedom.

Not many details are known about Esther after the story written in the Bible. However, Jewish scholars claim she had a son named Darius who became a king. He lifted the ban against the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, which led to the building of the Second Temple.

According to Wikipedia, Esther is commemorated as a matriarch in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. She is also recognized as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox Churches. It is believed Esther’s son buried her, with Mordecai, in a mausoleum in Hamadan, Iran. In 2009, Iran added it as a Jewish holy site on their National Heritage List.


ABIGAIL

Image of Abigail courtesy of Pinterest

Abigail’s short, but compelling story, is in 1 Samuel 25, and written about 960 BC. It occurs in the town of Maon, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

Nabal was a very wealthy, yet obstinate and harsh man, who owned three thousand sheep and one thousand goats. His wife, Abigail, was an intelligent and beautiful woman. One afternoon, Nabal was shearing his sheep in the wilderness. A young warrior named David was hiding in a nearby town, and he heard of Nabal’s huge undertaking. He sent ten of his men to visit Nabal; after all, he guarded Nabal’s sheep on more than one occasion.

“Go and approach Nabal. Greet him in my name, ‘Peace! Life and peace to you! When your shepherds were camped near us we didn’t take advantage of them. I’m asking you to be generous with my men – share the feast! Give whatever your heart tells you to your servants and to David, your son.”

Nabal was furious and began insulting the men while demanding to know the identity of David. He yelled, “Who is this David? The country is full of runaway servants these days. Do you think I’m going to take good bread and wine and meat freshly butchered for my sheepshearers and give it to men I’ve never laid eyes on? Who knows where they’ve come from?”

David’s men ran back to tell him of Napal’s arrogance. “Strap on your swords!” he called out to four hundred of his men. “What a slap in the face! May God do his worst to me if Nabal and every cur in his misbegotten brood isn’t dead by morning!”

Meanwhile, a young shepherd ran back to Abigail and told her of the confrontation in the fields. He begged Abigail to do something before they killed everyone. She immediately took action by gathering two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep ready for cooking, a bushel of roasted grain, a hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred fig cakes. She loaded all the food on the donkeys and had her servants lead the way to David. No one could say a word to her husband.

Image courtesy of timothylutheranbiblestudy.com

As Abigail was riding her donkey into a large ravine, David and his men were descending from the other end. They all met in the middle where Abigail quickly climbed off the donkey and fell on her knees before David. With humility, honor, and respect, she humbly spoke to him of her husband’s faults.

“My lord should not pay attention to this wicked man Nabal. He simply lives up to his name! His name means ‘fool,’ and he is indeed foolish!” David immediately recognized Abigail was sent by God. He apologized and thanked her for stopping him from murdering all of them. He accepted the food she brought him and said, “Return home in peace.”

Abigail arrived home, and Nabal was eating a huge spread of food and was very drunk. She left him be… until the next morning when she told him what she gave David. Nabal’s raging face turned red, and he grabbed his heart and fell onto the ground. For ten days, he laid in a coma until God took his life.

When David heard Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be God who has stood up for me against Nabal’s insults, kept me from an evil act, and let his evil boomerang back on him.” He sent for Abigail to propose marriage to her, and she didn’t linger. She climbed onto her donkey and rode to David.

Abigail was David’s second wife, as he was also married to Ahinoam of Jezreel. Both women accompanied him while they sought refuge in a Philistine territory, and their life wasn’t easy. But, soon after settling in Hebron, Abigail gave birth to their only child, who was named Chileab (also called Daniel).


In case you did not make the connection in Abigail’s story, the man who she married was none other than a young King David, one of the most well-known figures in Jewish history. He was promised by God that his children would rule Israel forever. If we delve into Bible scriptures, Abigail was one of eight wives to David.

She suffered the consequences of an arranged marriage to Nabal. She could not blame or fight their choice. But, her story reveals why women should follow God’s guidelines for a partner. Though he was an abusive husband, she remained dedicated to him until God’s perfect timing played out.


Why was Abigail a powerful woman?

Abigail was a very humble woman. Though she was wealthy, she did not let her riches interfere with the welfare of her family. Not only did she save her family, but she saved David from committing murders.

She was fearless as she rode to find David and give him her offerings. It was perilous for her to face a man with an army of four hundred men.

Abigail had an attitude of humility, honor, and respect as she approached the man who would one day rule Israel. I think David knew Abigail was the kind of comrade he needed to be a successful king.

She always acted in wisdom, for God was building character in her heart. Living with an abusive man, she still grew into a respectful woman, even amid adversity.

Please join us again next Sunday for two more powerful women in the Bible. God bless!



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The Hardest Thing To Do Is… Listen

We found our way around the yachts parked in their cradles. An empty spot was right next to the dock. We quietly got ready to embark, and the cloudless skies made us wonder how far off heaven was from the pier. The snoozing seagulls perched on the post tops. As we set sail, the gentle breeze bellowed the fabric, and God became our propulsion. The shores of the water looked so endless. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and no place would I’d rather be than with my love and God at the helm. He created this perfect world of pristine water, and all we had to do was sit and watch Him work.

Sometimes it is difficult to accept God is with us day in and day out. Just as sailing into the open blue, we do not realize we are always at His mercy. Many times our sails luff and we pray as though we ran aground. As hard as life is, even doctors can do little to relieve discomfort. In the distress of my wife’s health, I’m left standing in a vacuum for everywhere I look, I see the remnants of the doctor’s aura.

So, I turn to God and ask Him if He has a minute. The hardest thing to do is… listen and wait for His messages. Our faith is only part of the process. Listening for His answers and reacting accordingly is the trick, so we must have a seeking heart. We should talk to Him as though he is a brother and reveal our frustrations, fears, and doubts. God will teach us how to recognize the difference between His voice and just our thoughts.

Find a location to be with Christ and His great mercy. The Lord always has a place open to sit with me, especially on this endless journey my wife and I have encountered today. I wish I could run away and take her sailing to the place called heaven, but it’s not time yet. God gave us responsibilities we must partake and fulfill. Instead,  I will sit with God and try to understand what advice I need to listen to and praise His great gifts. He united the two of us for some much-needed healing in our difficult road of life. So, I will carry her in every way I can possible. In His strength, we will travel as far as the Lord’s work will need us to go for He isn’t done with either of us yet.

The hardest thing to do is listen for God’s words, but if you acknowledge His involvement in your life, you will always recognize His heaven sent voice. Praise God! It’s our intimate relationship with Him that counts.

www.danabicksauthor.com

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Greatness from humility

It is humility that gives greatness;
Greatness comes from humility;
The humble best recognize the awesomness
Of the Almighty Creator;
And give him the glory he is due,
Reaping, therefrom, abundant rewards;
The haughty believe in their power alone
To achieve the success they desire;
The humble know
There is a God so mighty they are insignificant
In relation to him; 
The humble do not boast of their possessions,
They know everything they have 
Comes from an awesome Lord;
"What have you that you did  not receive?
If then you received it, why do you boast
As if it were not a gift?" (Cor. 4:7)
You were humble Mother Mary, the hand maid
Of the Lord,
And you were raised to become the mother
Of the Saviour of the World;
You were humble O Saint Joseph,
And you were made great,
Becoming the custodian of the Son of the Almighty;
Moses, the humble one was honoured
To be given the Ten Commandments;
Jesus Christ, God himself was humble
And came down on earth
Passing through the womb of a mere woman. 
Heed ye the words of Saint James,
"Humble yourself before the Lord 
And he will exalt you" ( James 4.10).

Go to Humility College

Do you know Humility College?
If you want to go to
Humility college;
But don’t know where
It is located;
I can tell you where
To find it.
I can equally give you
The conditions
Of admission into
This college?
If you want to learn
About humility;
To be humble;
And enjoy the benefits
Of humility;
That is the place for you.
Ask if there are benefits;
And tell me you really want
To be humble;
Yes, to be humble;
As Jesus Christ taught;
I will tell you truly the school of humility exists;
The school of St. Joseph
Is the school of humility;
The school of St. Joseph;
Is where you will be taught
All that you need to know
About humility;
You will see humility;
Learn about humility;
Talk about humility;
And practice humility.
All that
In the school of St. Joseph;
Humility College;

Go to Humility College.

6 reasons humility is better than pride

Which goes before the other?
Pride or a fall?
Which comes after the other?
Pride or a fall?

When does pride go before  a fall?

Saint Augustine says, “It was pride that changed angels into devils.” Whaty does this say about pride?

Humility is the opposite of pride. Hear St. Augustine: “…it is humility that makes men as angels.”

Pride specializes in causing harm; If you opt for pride in your relationship, you are more or less saying you want an end to the relationship. In marriage, if pride comes in through the door, love will escape through the window. If pride slips in through the window, love will escape through the door. 

Don’t give room to pride in your life. If you do, before you know it, it has pulled you down.

If ever pride and humility clash, humility will BV beat pride. Pride will lose. Pop

6 reasons you need to be humble

  1.  I is honourable to be humble.
  2.  God commands us to be humble.
  3. Truly great people are humble.
  4. You have no reason to be proud.
  5. Pride goes before a fall.
  6. God usually lifts up the humble.

 




















Slow Down and Light the Candles

Slow Down and Light the Candles cover

My childhood and young adult years were informative times in the Lutheran church. But, as strong as my family’s practice was in this religious conviction, I cannot remember a time we celebrated Advent. Christmas always revolved around being good for Santa or decorating a tree and our home, or other festive activities. Never once did we slow down and light the candles of an Advent wreath. Perhaps this concept is foreign to you, too, but the German Lutherans started the holy season of Advent in the 4th century. This was my family’s background! I cannot understand why my early years at church did not create a celebration for this special time of the year.

As I researched for this blog, I discovered Advent traditions are usually a personal choice for each church to decide, if or when it is celebrated at all. Well, now I understand why I didn’t learn about it as a child. This serious time of fasting, reading of scriptures and hearing a sermon related to Jesus’s birth just wasn’t critical enough to exploit to a listening parish. Gulp! As a non-Lutheran, Christian informative, I want to impart upon you today, the meaning of Advent because it is so essential to our beliefs.

Let’s listen to this beautiful Advent tune, “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” sung by Enya:

Christians should embrace the four Sundays, or four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. It’s a time to prepare our hearts; the second coming of Christ and Jesus’s birth. The beginning of this liturgical year includes Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. When candles are lit, and twinkling lights appear this time of the year, it reminds us Jesus overcame darkness for our salvation. He is the reason for the season!

Slow Down and Light the Candles pic 1

 

Hundreds of years ago, the Advent evergreen wreath became a tradition in many churches and homes. Each week, one of five candles is lit to symbolize our preparation of the coming of the Lord. Today, in fact, marks the first Sunday of Advent. A burning purple candle (other colors may be used too) is representing the expectation of God’s return as He so promised us. Next Sunday, a second candle will symbolize hope; the third Sunday’s candle is for the joy of our Savior’s impending birth and God’s love; and the fourth Sunday’s candle, burning on Christmas Day, signifies the purity of Jesus’s birth. The large Christ candle in the middle of the wreath will be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day reminding us Jesus is the light of the world.

Many symbols of Advent exist today, but the most common are:
• The Chrismon tree decorated in white and gold ornaments, indicative of Christ’s majesty and purity, is used in many churches at Christmas.

Slow Down and Light the Candles pic 2

Chrismon tree

• The Jesse tree or Advent tree is decorated each week with handmade ornaments or objects representing Old Testament events from creation to the Birth of Jesus. It was named after the bible scripture Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots.”

Slow Down and Light the Candles pic 3

Advent Calendars which typically begin on December 1st and go through December 24th. Most calendars have little paper doors over each date. When opened, there may be an image, Bible verse, or even a piece of chocolate. This custom dates back to the mid-19th century when German Protestants made chalk marks on doors to count the days leading up to Christmas.

Slow Down and Light the Candles pic 4

Trumpets were used by God throughout the Bible. They symbolize the truths God would have us learn and were used in biblical days to indicate to Israel the advent of seasons of worship.

• A six-pointed star, known as the Star of David, is hung on the second Saturday of Advent. Though a Jewish symbol, many churches use it during Christmas because it serves as a reminder Jesus was born Jewish and is a descendant of King David, whose kingdom was to be eternal.

Slow Down and Light the Candles pic 5

The Star of David

• The fleur-de-lis represents purity as in the Virgin Mary. Its three points, also symbolize the Trinity and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Slow Down and Light the Candles pic 6

 

My Christian friends, if you have not introduced Advent into your home, it’s a great time to do so. Christmas isn’t just about Santa Claus and gifts. Slow down and light the candles for Jesus! Remember the reason for the season – Jesus Christ taking on human flesh. God bless each and every one of you!   www.danabicksauthor.com

Slow Down and Light the Candles verse

Next week will be a SPECIAL EDITION of Everything Christmas Blogs! You will not want to miss these incredible stories! We will see you on Tuesday!


Give the gift which keeps on giving!

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Breaking Bread

Breaking Bread cover

It was early morning, and I smelled the aroma of pumpkin and turkey as I walked into the kitchen. Loaves of bread were cooling on the counter. The beginning of the holy season was here. It was a time to give thanks to all those who made the year a little easier for us; dear friends and family, and most of all, for the multitude of blessings from our Lord.

Enjoy this beautiful Thanksgiving rendition of “What I’m Thankful For”:

Shorts and T-shirts changed to football and wrapping gifts. Trees lost their summer foliage, and the wet, black bark stood somberly, against shades of gray. Embers in the fireplace were still aglow from the prior night. The house shifted into a winter wonderland.

We started the day off right – sipping coffee in bed along with the morning news, and then the Thanksgiving parades. Later, my wife scurried about the kitchen donning an old-fashioned apron. The family will be here soon – my favorite time of the year!
The bread rose, moist and golden brown; perfect for a holiday tradition. I lovingly watched her focus on perfection. Cradling the loaves onto an empty shelf, she closed the refrigerator door and spun to her right. A smile flashed across her face. “Jesus is in our kitchen!”

Gasping in His glory, my wife turned to the counter and reached for the last loaf. She handed it to Him gently and then pulled out a chair. He smiled and reclined, gesturing me to do the same. Breaking bread and sipping the wine from our crystal goblets, we spoke of our blessings for this communion of three!

Breaking Bread verse

Jesus appeared on this holiday with never a word. He was the brightest of bright shining at our table – the sacrament of life. And as He arrived, so He left; only a broken twig laid upon the dinner table where we broke bread. Tears streamed down my wife’s face as she took His napkin and wiped her cheek. I’m sure He is in heaven smiling and preparing a special place for her.

Breaking Bread pic 2

We set the table in silver and gold and plugged in the charger plates. A centerpiece of memories – holly, and pinecones adorned the table. I lit the candles as the doorbell rang; the holidays were in full swing! My wife, smiling ear to ear, carried out an extra chair for us from the bedroom. She greeted the kids with a great big smile and a huge hug as well! We celebrated that joyous Thanksgiving with love in hearts for each other and our wondrous Father, Jesus Christ.

Will you invite Him to your Thanksgiving meal this year? May you and your family have a blessed holiday and spread the cheer!

Please join us again on Sunday, November 25th for another “Everything Christmas Blog”!


Give a gift which keeps on giving!

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