December 6, 2010

Biblical Femininity IV: The Perfect Tool For The Job

I can here the echoing repeat of this question spreading all over the world, " Who is Huldah?" Huldah, her message and the way in which it is delivered and used are unique and move the history of Israel forward. We see her biography in the Bible in one verse. The genealogy is a means to identify her and locate her in the lineage of Judah (i.e. Jesus' lineage).

"Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter" 2 Kings 22:14

She is a Old Testament prophet(ess) and she is the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas keeper of the wardrobe. Who's wardrobe? Well, let us go back and put this verse in context. This is 2 Kings 22. The book of the Law had been rediscovered or found during repairs to the Temple. King Josiah (the last good ruler) heard the words and...

"When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” 2 Kings 22:11-13

Huldah must have had a formidable reputation because not only is she female in this society which is predominately male oriented, she is also consulted on an insanely important issue like rediscovering the Law and hat to do about it.

She said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me [Josiah], "This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched. Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’” 2 Kings 22:15-20

So they took her answer back to the king. So why did they go to Huldah? We must remember this is a time concurrent to the ministries of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1) and Zephaniah (Zephaniah 1) under Josiah's reign also. I believe it is because she was (1) a prophet, the correct type of person to know and interpret God's truth...and (2) she was available. She was approached, she had the answer, she answered and the task was completed. Josiah being a righteous king was probably led of God to do so.

So what do we learn from her. Huldah's is a lesson to the Church to recognize the gifts in the body of the church. To do our jobs properly we must recognize what our spiritual gifts are and what other's spiritual gifts are. In the flip side we must realize what they are not and try not to force square pegs in round holes. It is not accident that Huldah earned this reputation that even a king of Judah would've recognized and reacted to. God must have been moving in this woman in power to have been visible at such high levels of government and society. A real gift practiced in a righteous manner evident to all.

What kind of reputation do you have. A godly one? Prayerful? Ungodly? Ill-tempered? Calm? Loyal? Backstabbing and backbiting? Do people come to you because they want to or do they run in the other direction when they see you coming? "Uuugggghh, here comes Christian So-and-so, she's/he's probably just gonna bludgeon us over the head about how we're such reprobates and about how great she/he is, ruuuunnnnn!" People will not come to you if they expect a flogging from you. The Word of God is to be delivered with love, not always the blunt end of a ball-peen hammer.

We also see Huldah functioning within the realm she has been appointed to by God. She is in cooperation with others functioning within their rolls appointed to the by God also, king, priest, wardrobe keeper, etc. She does not compete with them but works in a synergistic manner to fulfill God's will and move the narrative of the Bible forward during the time of the Kings. She (and the others) are the perfect tools at the perfect time to complete a job custom made for them. Coincidence? Irony? Hardly. Just like all the other custom-made tools made perfectly for the job that helps move the entire narrative of the Bible forward and brings to fruition all the prophecies in the form of Jesus Christ. All coincidence huh? 40+ authors over a millennium and a half. Coincidental mythical stories written by know-nothing, misogynistic, homophobic, nomadic goat herders? Uh, okay, yeah sure, whatever you say. Do people that think this even read the Bible?

In a single appearance in the Bible in one chapter we see a woman tell Judah that because their response to God was improper they will not be spared God's wrath. The king of that nation (Josiah), because his response to God IS proper will be spared seeing his beloved people driven into punishment and exile. It will not occur until after is death. As a prophet she most likely only repeated what she was told by God and acted as a conduit and vessel for the Lord. As was the case with Abigail we see the Lord mentioned in Huldah's speech profusely 6 six times in 4 verse. She clearly has her focus where it should be, on God, on the Lord.

I imagine Josiah was hoping for good news or at least neutral news from her. He got a little good news for himself but overall the news was pretty dismal. We must remember that when we call on the Lord the response may not always be what we expect...or want. Sometimes the response might be negative. "Not my will but yours be done".

In the end we also see the Josiah called on all those needed according to their gifts and he is recognized has having been one of the greatest and most righteous since David. His efforts to turn Judah back to God are admirable but only a stop-gap measure until his death as they will continue their backsliding after his death.

Because God chose a virtual unknown to carry out this task gives faithful servants such as us hope the He will indeed use us as He sees fit if we are righteous and clean vessels ready for use. If we are continuing to dwell and sink into our sin the chances of that happening a greatly diminished. Wouldn't you much rather be used by God knowing you are holy enough to be used rather than ignored or discarded do to the filthiness that is still tainting the heart of His vessel?

"In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21

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