International Women's Day celebrates women from all over the world, of all ages and races, for their historical, cultural, and political achievements. It's a day in which the world unites to appreciate and admire the honorable women in their life and an opportunity to strengthen and uplift each other.
On the official International Women's Day website, their slogan stands proud:
In Israel and many other countries, women enjoy the benefits of equality and use their God-given skills and giftings to better the world. But there are also many countries where women's rights are still trampled, and unfortunately, they are seen as 'less than'.
What does the Bible say about the worth of a woman? What is God's view of women compared to the world's view?
Let's start from the beginning, with the first woman God created - Eve.
God created man and placed him in the garden, with all types of greenery and animals to have dominion over. Yet still, the man was alone. God determined that man needed a companion in Genesis 2:20-23:
The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he slept, He took one of the man's ribs and closed up the area with flesh. And from the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man, He made a woman and brought her to him. And the man said:
"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,'
for out of man she was taken.“
Throughout time, many have taken scriptures out of context and believe that God created Eve as a slave to be dominated for her disobedience and ruled over as punishment.
But those were not God's intentions for Eve's destiny at all; in fact, quite the opposite. Eve was created in the image of God, taken from Adam's rib so that he could have a partner and a companion.
Perhaps Matthew Henry, a minister of the 16th-17th century, describes God's intentions for women best when he said:
“The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”
God's loving character always has been and always will be central to the object of His creation - Eve, and every woman after her is no exception. It should be through the lens of His truth that we see ourselves and the women around us.
Many would automatically remove Eve from the list of honorable women since she fell into temptation, but God does not 'cancel' a woman for her mistakes. A woman's worth is not based on her achievements or actions; if so, not one woman would be worthy.
Instead, her worth is as a cherished daughter of God who shines His character, as Proverbs 31:10 says:
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies."
Throughout the bible, God chose many women to be beacons of light in their generation and be an example for their peers - the judge and prophetess Deborah was one of them.
We are first introduced to Deborah in the book of Judges, the only recorded female judge, and prophetess in the bible:
"Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided." - Judges 4:4-5
At that time, Israel did not yet request to be ruled over by a king like the rest of the nations, so they relied on judges and prophets to know the will of God. In all of Israel, no one could be found as wise or powerful as Deborah, and the people sought her to hear the will of God.
Receiving a word from the Lord, Deborah sent Barak, leader of the Israelite armies, to battle against Sisera, promising that God will give them into his hands. Knowing God's favor was with Deborah, Barak refused to go without her, as he replies in Judged 4:8-10:
Barak said to her, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go."
"Certainly, I will go with you," said Deborah. "But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him."
Deborah's authority was so commanding that even a powerful man such as Barak knew that Deborah accompanying him meant God would be with him as well.
God's favor was with Deborah, and He gave the Israelites victory and delivered their enemies into Deborah's hands. Another courageous woman crucial to Israel's victory was Jael, a tent-dwelling woman whose shrewdness sealed their victory.
As Barak scattered Sisera and his army, Sisera sought to hide in Jael's tent. She gave him food and drink and covered him with a blanket as he fell asleep exhausted. While he slept, she took matters into her own hands (literally) and ended his life with a tent peg.
It took a strong woman to lead an army and another strong woman to end the war. As written in the song of Deborah in Judges chapter 5, Deborah and Jael will go down in history as brave leaders whom God trusted with the destiny of His people. They are not just examples of bravery but, more than anything, an example of favor with God and man.
There are many more great examples of strong women in the Bible, some whose history-changing actions are recorded and many who are not.
Women have had more opportunities to carry out their God-given talents as the world progresses and have shown great strength in the face of adversity.
At Vision for Israel, we meet such women every day. Whether they are single mothers, sacrificing all for their children, survivors of terror attacks, or holocaust survivors - their strength is acknowledged.
It takes much to remain strong and base your worth on God's truth in a world full of societal pressure. The world's truth is objective, ever-changing, and sometimes completely unattainable.
God's truth is unbiased, never changing, and based on grace and not one's strength or merit.
His love and appreciation are not given or taken based on a woman's achievements or accolades, which come and go — neither on her mistakes, past shame, or current struggles.
A woman's worth is based entirely on never-changing truth - the Father's eternal love for His daughters.