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Women Who Win


Atleast on two occasions in the Bible we read about women and their involvement in the Tabernacle. The first is in the genesis of the Tabernacle mentioned at Exodus 35, where women helped build the Tabernacle. The second occurrence is in 1 Samuel 2, almost at the end of its existence where women helped to break it. In the first instance, it was service at the tabernacle and in the second it was sin at the tabernacle. A Tamil proverb says that it is the woman who builds and it is the woman who breaks 

(Aavathum pennalay, azhivathum pennalay).

Building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness is analogous to building the Kingdom of God in this wilderness world. I would like to draw your attention to what motivated women to involve themselves in the building and the lessons we learn from them in the first part of the article, namely, The Woman builds.

“ Then everyone came whose heart was stirred and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold... All the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple and scarlet, and fine linen. And all the women whose hearts stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats hair... The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the Lord, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to
bring material for all kinds of work which the Lord, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done” (Ex 35:21-29).

1. The Scriptures (v 29)

“The Lord, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done.”

The task looked preposterously huge in the wilderness. If God had asked them to build a Tent while at Egypt they could have done it at the blink of the eye. Or if after reaching Canaan, at the speed of lightening. But His demand seemed an impossible command in the wilderness. But, for the people of Israel God’s Word decided the finality.

Can we go into ALL the world? Yes, because God said it. Can we make disciples of ALL nations? Yes, because God commanded it. Can we teach them to observe ALL things? Certainly. Will He be with us ALWAYS? Most certainly. Is missions possible? Absolutely; because God said it. If in a wilderness a tabernacle could be built, the Kingdom of God can be built in this evil world. When Moses gave the call, the women were captivated by the lure of the challenge.

Anyone reading the Bible with deep reverence cannot but understand that the axis revolves around getting the goodnews to the entire world and women played a vital role. God’s call is clear to any woman who has a heart that obeys the Scriptures. If you believe that Bible is the voice of God then you must believe that God is calling you for His Kingdom work. There is no greater impetus to serve God than His Word. Say, ‘Yes’ to the Scriptures.

2. The Stir (vv 21,26)

Who would put their neck to this backbreaking job? All were invited. “Moses spoke to ALL the congregation WHOEVER is of a willing heart... ALL who are gifted artisans” (vv 4,5,10).

Moses did not point out who should come nor pick out his choice. He threw the challenge at the entire congre- gation.

“And ALL the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. Then EVERYONE came whose heart was STIRRED and everyone whose spirit was willing...” (vv 20,21,22).

What was this stir? It was just a mild disturbance, a thought, a feeling, a desire, a question, ‘Can I do some- thing for God?’ God doesn’t use the megaphone. He speaks gently, softly, quietly by just stirring your heart. I felt it at the age of thirteen. The question was tossed my way, “Am I called?” I didn’t know. I only said Yes to God’s leading every step of the way and ended up serving the Most High God. Giving heed to the stir was probably one of the most pivotal actions of my adolescent life. There are many who keep on asking, “Am I called?” If you have that question, the answer is, “Yes, you are called.” The question comes out of the stir in your heart. Do not shove it away as your own impulse. ignoring the stir leads to a catalogue of ailments. It is God who puts desires in a godly heart.

“It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). Say, ‘Yes’ to the stir in your heart.

3. The Step (vv 21,22,26)

“They came, both men and women as many as had a WILLING heart.”

The stirred came back in response. It is the ‘willingness.’ When God stirs us we should take the first step boldly. We should not expect God to push and pull us. When He stirs us He expects us to stir ourselves. The prophet’s complaint is, “There is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You” (Isa 64:7). Paul writes to Timothy to stir himself up (2 Tim
1:6). That means a willing heart or will power to put the desire into action.

The Israelite women did not stop with a desire to do something. They translated their desire into action. They came, they brought, they made, they spun. The passage is packed with action. When God puts a desire in our hearts we should swing into action.

In Matthew chapter 21:28-31, Jesus told a story. A man had two sons. He told the first son, “Son, go out and work in my vineyard.” The son answered, “I don’t want to.” Later on he thought better of it and went. The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, “Sure, glad to.” But he never went. Which of the two did what the father asked? We know the answer.

Mark 16:15-20 is very interesting. Jesus told the disciples to go into the world, everywhere and announce the message of God’s goodnews to one and all. Then Jesus sat down beside God in the place of honour. And the disciples went everywhere preaching.

There is no inbetween. He said, they obeyed. Amazing. No questions asked; no doubts voiced; no problems pro- jected. He said it and that’s it. They went; they kept going; they never came back.

Why do you allow doubts and fears to sway you? When you want to serve God, serve. Be proactive. When you want to go to US you go to the American consulate and stand in the queue for hours. Did you pray to find out if God was calling you to go to America? 

You desired and you put your desire into action. Then when there is a desire to serve God why do you ask umpteen number of questions? Trust God and take the first step. Then God will show you the next step. Don’t wait for a future. Do it today. This is no time for nonchalance. Call upon every bit of will power you possess and start serving God in a small way right now.

4. The Scene

It was a wilderness with a need. Barrenness all aound. The need was the call, and the women promptly responded. God did not tell Nehemiah to go and build the walls of Jerusalem. It was the scene that shattered him. God did not appear to Esther in a dream
and command her to go and speak to the king. Her people were perishing and that was the propelling force to drive her to kneel down before the king and put her faith in action.

Look around. From everywhere you receive SOS calls (Save our Souls). May be people do not voice it but it’s written on their foreheads. They grope to find God. “Get out of bed... wake up... The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness” (Isa 60:1-3).

Let the sight of any temple wring your heart. Let the scene of gambling hit your belly. Let the scent of a sinner bring tears to your eyes. When Jesus SAW the people as lost sheep, He was moved with compassion. What special call do we need except the sight of the plight of the perishing.

Most of us have developed the habit of ignoring what we see. Our brain automatically shuts down. But God speaks through visions (I mean our real vision, what we see) too! If you do not respond to the vision that God gives you through your two eyes, don’t expect God to give you any other vision. Paul’s “spirit was provoked within him when he SAW that the city was given over to idols” (Acts 17:16). Lift up your eyes and SEE!

Read the newspaper regularly. It is a prayer circular. Watch the news everyday in TV and lift up your hands to God. Read missionary magazines, visit mission fields and expand your vision. You will not fail to hear the plaintive call of God!

5. The Skill (vv 25,26)

“All the women who were GIFTED artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple and scarlet, and fine linen... spun yarn of goats’ hair.”

Skills are more than good genes. They are God given abilities for Kingdom cause. When Moses gave the call, the women must have certainly wondered of what use they would be. They could pound olives and take out the oil; they were adept in making yarn.

Would that be useful? Oh yes! Most of the walls were just veils, curtains, tapestry and their skills were used the most.

Even giving is a spiritual gift (Rom 12:8). Hospitality, cleaning, Bible study, prayer, writing, visiting, singing, personal soulwinning, helping —there is no end to the list.

God calls you as you are and trains you to use your gifts for His Kingdom. He called fisher folk and made them fishers of men. “He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds;... To shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands” (Psa  78:70-72). We wouldn’t consider sheph- erding as a gift. But when he gave himself up for God, He could use him tremendously.

The Message (Bible in contemporary language) brings out the attitude of the lazy servant vividly. “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound to the last cent!’ The master was furious.
‘That’s a terible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where atleast I would have  gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness’ ” he said (Mt 25:26-
28). We are afraid to use our God-given  skill because we are over cautious for fear of failure. The only people who don’t fail very much are those who don’t attempt very much.

Are you a teacher, lab techinician, doctor, nurse, engineer or accountant? These women invested their house- wife skills for God’s work and we are giving lame excuses.

What is in your hand, Moses? A rod. That’s enough. Give it to God and He’ll  split the Red Sea, defeat the Ama- lekites, bring water out of the rock. What’s in your hand, little boy? Five loaves and two fish. Fine. Make the five thousand and more to sit down. That’s enough for God to feed the multitude. What’s in your hand, dear  lady? Will you give it to God, so He can use it?

6. The Sense (v 26)

“And all the women whose hearts stirred with WISDOM spun yarn of goats’ hair.”

That’s godly commonsense, the logic. Stirring points to the heart and wisdom points to the head. We don’t go just by emotions; we think. We use our sound mind (2 Tim 1:7). Many many women heard the call of Moses, but only a certain number returned back  to invest their time, talent and tendons for God’s work. What made them go? The power of reasoning. They certainly thought that nothing could be wiser than investing in God’s work.

When Paul testified before king Agrippa, Festus said, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you MAD!” To which Paul replied, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the Words of truth and REASON” (Acts 26:24-25). May be the world  accuses those who pour themselves out for God as crazy. But they are the sanest people on earth. “I am the greatest tennis player who ever lived, why am I so empty inside?” voiced John McEnroe. The smallest of God’s servants will confess how “full”   “filled” he is inside. It’s the only career with a guaranteed future.

When a man wanted Jesus to order his brother to give a fair share of the property, Jesus warned the people of  covetousness. Then He told them the story of a greedy farmer. When his farm produced a terrific crop he wanted to store the entire lot, retire, take it easy and enjoy life. God called him a FOOL and added: So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and  is not rich toward God (Lk 12:13-21).

Think. “He who wins souls is WISE (Prov 11:30). Jesus’ enigmatic logic was always, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Mt 10:39). Losers are gainers. Will you build your house in a Gulf country? You  will keep sending money to your own country to build a mansion. We are pilgrims here on earth. Life on earth is but a bubble. Weigh this temporary life against eternal life. The devil befools you by incarcerating you in this false para- dise. But the  Bible teaches us to look beyond. Think and think again. Are you building God’s Kingdom or your own kingdom?

If you are building God’s kingdom, where? Where there are hundred builders or where there is none? Here again commonsense has a word to say.

7. The Sacrifice and Surrender

The women brought their ornaments, oil, yarn. Once they gave it there was no buying it back from shops in the wilderness. They had lost their orna- ments forever. That’s real sacrifice. Precious jewels turned to candlesticks and lampstands. Did Moses  promise to write their names on it? Where will the names of those who brought oil be written? They didn’t care for recog- nition. I was most touched when I read that the bronze washbasin and its bronze stand were made from the mirrors of the women’s work  group who were assigned to serve at the entrance to the Tent of meeting (Ex 38:8). Those days women used polished bronze for
mirrors. If they gave it up then they went without a mirror. Think of it. They gave up their most treasured possessions—jewels and mirror! They made themselves nothing for God! Being a disciple of Christ means hating your own self. And that’s what these  women did. Hats off to them.

Building the kingdom of God is no easy task. It means a lot of giving and giving up — may be your very life. Are you ready? God does not call us for an easy chair religion. It’s an uneasy chair life. God sacrificed His very Son and Jesus sacrificed His  everything when He died on the cross for us. What have you given up for Him?

It was total surrender and unstinted effort till the job was complete. Battling against daunting odds, they created minor history. They brought everything to Moses for inspection. What was the certificate he gave them? “According to all that the Lord had  commanded Moses so the children of Israel did all the work. Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it ( Hurray!); as the Lord had com- manded, just so they had done it. And Moses blessed them” (Ex 39:42-43 paranthesis mine).

The applause they got was the cherry on top. No shoddy work. They had committed themselves to the task and stood indefatigable in the cruel wilderness. No turning back, no turning back (Lk 9:57-10:3). I wonder if the Lk 9:61 fellow was one among the 70.  

What did they get in return for all their sacrifice? Moses blessed them. What a climax ! How many missed the blessing. The coro- nation ceremony is just round the corner.

Will you sing grandly— When the Saints go marching by; When the Saints go marching by;

Lord I want to be among the numbers; When the Saints go marching by!  

   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com

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