What Is the Role of Women in Jehovah’s Purpose?
“The women proclaiming the good news are a large army.”—PSALM 68:11.
1, 2. (a) What gifts did God give Adam? (b) Why did God provide a wife for Adam? (See opening picture.)
JEHOVAH had a reason for creating the earth. He “formed it to be inhabited,” to be filled with people. (Isaiah 45:18) The first human, Adam, was created perfect. Jehovah gave him the garden of Eden, a beautiful home with many trees and interesting animals. But there was something missing. Jehovah knew that, and he said: “It is not good for the man to continue to be alone. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.” Jehovah put Adam in a deep sleep and took one of his ribs and built it “into a woman.” When Adam woke up, he was very happy to see his wife! He said: “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman, because from man she was taken.”—Genesis 2:18-23.
2 The woman was a gift from God to Adam. And she was a perfect helper for him. Also, she was given the special privilege to have children. The Bible says: “Adam named his wife Eve, because she was to become the mother of everyone living.” (Genesis 3:20; footnote) Together, Adam and Eve would fill the earth with perfect humans. Our first parents and their children would have the privilege of making the whole earth into a paradise and caring for other living things.—Genesis 1:27, 28.
3. (a) To have God’s approval, what did Adam and Eve need to do, but what happened? (b) What questions will we consider?
3 To have God’s approval, Adam and Eve needed to obey Jehovah and accept his authority. (Genesis 2:15-17) Only by remaining faithful to God would they be allowed to do everything God purposed for them. Sadly, Adam and Eve did not obey Jehovah. Instead, they listened to Satan and sinned against God. (Genesis 3:1-6; Revelation 12:9) How has this act of disobedience affected women? What have some faithful women done in the past? Why can Christian women today be called “a large army”?—Psalm 68:11.
THE RESULT OF DISOBEDIENCE
4. Who was held responsible for Adam and Eve’s sin?
4 Jehovah expected Adam to explain why he disobeyed. What was his weak excuse? “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate.” (Genesis 3:12) Adam did not feel sorry about what he had done. Instead, he tried to blame Eve, and he even tried to blame Jehovah, the Creator of his wife. Even though Adam and Eve both sinned, Jehovah held Adam responsible for their decision. For this reason, the Bible says that “through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin.”—Romans 5:12.
5. What has been the result of humans’ ruling themselves?
5 Satan convinced Adam and Eve that they did not need Jehovah to be their Ruler. That raised the question about who has the right to rule humans. To answer that question, Jehovah has allowed humans to rule themselves for a period of time. What has been the result? Humans have caused one disaster after another. In the last one hundred years or so, about 100,000,000 people have died in wars. As the Bible says, “it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) That is why true Christians accept Jehovah as their Ruler.—Read Proverbs 3:5, 6.
6. In many lands, how are women and girls treated?
6 Men and women have suffered in this world that is ruled by Satan. (Ecclesiastes 8:9; 1 John 5:19) Yet, women have been victims of some of the worst crimes. For example, around the world about 1 in 3 women have been attacked by their own husbands or boyfriends. Also, in some cultures it is common to favor boys. Why? Because when they grow up, they can look after their parents and continue their family name. In certain places, girls are considered worthless, and parents abort them before they are born.
Jehovah is in no way pleased by crimes against women
7. What kind of start did God give both men and women?
7 Jehovah is in no way pleased by crimes against women. He treats women in a fair and respectful way. When Jehovah created Eve, she was not made to be a slave for Adam. She was perfect and had many qualities that made her a wonderful complement to her husband. That is one reason why the Bible says that after God finished with his creative work, he “saw everything he had made, and look! it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) Certainly, Adam and Eve had a very good start.
WOMEN WHO HAD JEHOVAH’S SUPPORT
8. (a) How do most people behave? (b) Throughout history, whom has Jehovah helped and supported?
8 After the rebellion in Eden, humans continued to disobey Jehovah. In recent years, the conduct of humans has become worse. Without a doubt, these are “critical times hard to deal with,” as the Bible foretold. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Despite the wickedness of some, there have always been men and women who have obeyed God’s laws and accepted him as their Ruler. They have trusted in Jehovah, and he has helped and supported them.—Read Psalm 71:5.
The number of women who survived the Flood was the same as the number of men
9. How many people survived the Flood, and why?
9 In Noah’s time, Jehovah destroyed wicked people by means of the Flood, and very few humans survived. If Noah’s brothers and sisters were still alive at that time, they also died in the Flood. (Genesis 5:30) But the number of women who survived the Flood was the same as the number of men. The survivors were Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their wives. They were saved because they obeyed Jehovah and did his will. All humans now living come from those eight people whom God helped and protected.—Genesis 7:7; 1 Peter 3:20.
10. Why did Jehovah help and protect the wives of faithful men?
10 Years later, the wives of faithful patriarchs also had God’s help and protection. They did not complain about their life, and Jehovah blessed them. (Jude 16) One such woman was Sarah. When she was asked to leave her comfortable home in Ur to live in tents, she did not complain. Instead, she “obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” (1 Peter 3:6) Think also of Rebekah, the wife of Isaac. She was a wonderful gift from Jehovah. The Bible says that Isaac “fell in love with her, and . . . found comfort after the loss of his mother.” (Genesis 24:67) Today, Jehovah’s people are privileged to have many faithful women like Sarah and Rebekah among them.
Today, there are many faithful women like Sarah and Rebekah among Jehovah’s people
11. How did two Israelite midwives display courage?
11 While the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, they grew and became a large nation. Pharaoh commanded that all Israelite baby boys be killed at birth. There were two Israelite women who seemed to be responsible for the midwives. Their names were Shiphrah and Puah. Because they feared Jehovah more than they feared Pharaoh, these midwives were courageous and refused to follow Pharaoh’s command to kill the baby boys. And Jehovah later rewarded them with their own families.—Exodus 1:15-21.
12. What was remarkable about Deborah and Jael?
12 During the time that Israel had judges, God appointed a woman named Deborah as a prophetess. Deborah encouraged Judge Barak and helped the Israelites to get free from their enemies. She foretold that a woman, not Barak, would receive the glory for defeating the Canaanites. These enemies were defeated when Jael, a woman who was not an Israelite, killed Sisera, the chief of the Canaanite army.—Judges 4:4-9, 17-22.
13. What does the Bible tell us about Abigail?
13 Consider also the faithful woman Abigail who lived about 1,100 years before Christ. The Bible says that she had good sense but that her husband, Nabal, was mean, worthless, and senseless. (1 Samuel 25:2, 3, 25) Because David had protected Nabal’s men, David eventually sent his men to ask him for food and other supplies. But Nabal “screamed insults at them” and gave them nothing. David became so angry that he planned to punish Nabal and his men. However, after being told what Nabal had done, Abigail took food and other gifts to David. Because of her wise actions, David did not kill Nabal. (1 Samuel 25:8-18) David later said to her: “Praise Jehovah the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!” (1 Samuel 25:32) After the death of Nabal, David married Abigail.—1 Samuel 25:37-42.
Many Christian women work on building projects around the world
14. The daughters of Shallum were involved in what project, and how are Christian women doing something similar today?
14 When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and its temple in the year 607 before Christ, many men, women, and children died. In 455 before Christ, the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt under the direction of Nehemiah. Among the many workers who helped with the building project were the daughters of Shallum. Their father was “a prince of half the district of Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 3:12) Yet, the daughters of Shallum were glad to do humble work. This reminds us of the many Christian women who work on building projects around the world today!
WOMEN WHO FEARED GOD IN JESUS’ TIME
15. What privilege did Jehovah give to Mary?
15 Jehovah has given women special privileges in his service. One such woman was a virgin named Mary. While she was engaged to Joseph, Mary became pregnant by means of Jehovah’s holy spirit. Why did God choose Mary to become the mother of Jesus? No doubt because she had valuable qualities that were needed to raise her perfect son. It was a great privilege to become the mother of the greatest man ever to live on earth!—Matthew 1:18-25.
16. How did Jesus treat women? Give an example.
16 Jesus was very kind to women. For example, think about the woman who “had a flow of blood for 12 years.” She touched Jesus’ garment so that she would get healed. Did Jesus become angry with her? No. He was kind and said: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed from your grievous sickness.”—Mark 5:25-34.
17. What happened on the day of Pentecost in the year 33?
17 While Jesus and his apostles were traveling, there were some women who cared for their needs. (Luke 8:1-3) And on the day of Pentecost in the year 33, about 120 men and women received God’s spirit in a special way. (Read Acts 2:1-4.) Many years before that, Jehovah had said: “I will pour out my spirit on every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy . . . And even on my male slaves and female slaves I will pour out my spirit.” (Joel 2:28, 29) This miracle on the day of Pentecost was proof that Jehovah favored these men and women who became “the Israel of God.” (Galatians 3:28; 6:15, 16) The four daughters of Philip the evangelizer were some of the women who preached in the first century.—Acts 21:8, 9.
“A LARGE ARMY” OF WOMEN
18, 19. (a) What privilege has God given to both men and women? (b) How does the psalmist refer to women who declare the good news?
18 Near the end of the 1800’s, a few men and women were very interested in Bible truth. They were the ones who opened the way by preaching Jesus’ message and were part of the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy: “This good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:14.
The majority of those in the full-time service are women
19 The small group of Bible Students has grown to become some 8,000,000 Witnesses of Jehovah today. In addition to them, more than 11,000,000 others attended the Memorial of Jesus’ death. Most of them were women. Also, there are more than 1,000,000 Witnesses in the full-time service. In most lands, the majority of these are women. Jehovah has given women the privilege to represent him. Thus, the words of the psalmist have certainly been fulfilled: “Jehovah gives the command; the women proclaiming the good news are a large army.”—Psalm 68:11.
GRAND REWARDS AHEAD FOR WOMEN WHO FEAR GOD
20. What are good subjects for family worship or personal study?
20 It is not possible to discuss here all the faithful women described in the Bible. But we can read about them in God’s Word and in articles found in our publications. We can meditate on the example of Ruth and her loyalty. (Ruth 1:16, 17) Also, we can benefit by considering the example of Queen Esther. We can study about these women and others during our family worship. Or if we live alone, we can study about these women and others during our personal study.
21. How have faithful women proved their loyalty to Jehovah?
21 It is very clear that Jehovah has blessed the preaching work of faithful women, even during difficult trials. For example, during the times of Nazi oppression and Communist rule, Jehovah helped faithful women to remain loyal to him. Many suffered, and some were even killed because of their obedience to God. (Acts 5:29) Like those faithful women, Christian women and others today have chosen God as their Ruler. Jehovah has said to them, just as he said to the ancient Israelites: “Do not be afraid. I will help you.”—Isaiah 41:10-13.
22. We can look forward to what future privileges?
22 In the future, men and women who fear God will be used to help millions of resurrected ones to learn about Jehovah and his wonderful purposes for humankind. In addition, they will participate in restoring the entire earth to a paradise. Until then, may all of us value the privilege we have to serve Jehovah “shoulder to shoulder.”—Zephaniah 3:9.