by Autumn Rose
Bible study on what Jesus and of some women in the bible teach us about being godly women
|(Some weeks include discussion questions that you can assign as homework before-hand. A (*) indicates a place where you can involve the group)
Week #1 -
A Daughter in the Image of Our Heavenly Father
1) What does it mean to be a woman of God? When you think of a “woman of God”, what do you think of?
2) Have you ever seen a daughter who visibly looks like her dad? What about a daughter who follows in her father’s footsteps with her job, or one who takes on a hobby or characteristic of her father? Can you think of examples of this?
3) Why would God wants us to be like Him?
4) How do we, as flawed human being, become more like God?
1) What it means to be women of God
Because the topic of our study is what it means to be “women of God”, I think we need to start by looking at what we each already assume about women of God and what they look like. As we go through this study, you may have those views reaffirmed by what we learn, or you may have them challenged or changed.
* What does it mean to be a woman of God? When you think of a “woman of God”, what do you think of?
2) Like children, we are called to be conformed to the image of our Heavenly Father.
When I think of something being “of God,” I think of it as belonging to Him, as being part of Him or being like Him.
* Have you ever seen a daughter who visibly looks like her dad? (I wish I could show you the pictures of my older sister and my dad when they were both about ten – they looked exactly alike except for the hair; there’s no doubt who her dad is!)? What about a daughter who follows in her father’s footsteps with her job, or one who takes on a hobby or characteristic of her father? Can you think of examples of this?
Both Adam and Eve were created in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:37 – we will be looking at this more next week when we study Eve). As women of God, as daughters of God, we are called to look like our Heavenly Dad, to learn His habits and to make our lives look more like His. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells us to be imitators of God, as His children (there are many more verses about being God’s children):
(* have someone read this)
“So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” – Ephesians 5:1-2
Earlier in the letter, Paul writes:
(* have someone read this)
“Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.” – Colossians 3:9-14
Notice that he says that we are being renewed in the image of our creator and then lists some of the traits that this image includes. * So what are some of those traits that he includes? (compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and above all: love) * How did Jesus live out these characteristics in His life (pick one) . Which means that these are all traits of a woman of God.
In other parts of scripture, we’re told to be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 19:1), to be merciful as God is merciful (Luke 6:36), and to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). As we go through the rest of this study, we’re going to be looking at these and other traits of God that we are called to imitate and how the women we study did – or did not – imitate those.
3) We are called to be imitators of God for His glory.
* Why do you think God wants us to be like Him?
(* have someone read this)
“Everyone who is named as mine,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” – Isaiah 43:7
As women of God, named as His, we were created for God’s glory. Those of you who did Beth Moore’s “Breaking Free” study this summer may remember that she defined God’s glory as “the way He makes Himself recognizable” (Week 2, Day 2).
So when we are conformed to the image of our Heavenly Father, people can recognize God in us, and He is glorified.
“No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us and his love is brought to perfection in us.” – 1 John 4:12
(1 John talks a lot about how being “of God” means following His commands and loving those around us as God loves us)
4) God sent us His holy Spirit to dwell with us and transform us into the image of Christ.
So we know that we are called to be conformed to the image of God, as His daughters, for His glory. * How do we do this as flawed human beings?
It’s not something we can do on our own, but only through the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
Romans 8:1-27 talks a lot about how the Holy Spirit works in us. We’re not going to read the whole thing tonight (though I suggest that you do read it on your own), but it does tell us a few things:
- that the Spirit gives us the desires of the Spirit (the desires of God) rather than the desires of the flesh (verses 5-13). And if we have the desires of God, we become more like Him and live more like Jesus lived.
- that the Spirit is a spirit of adoption that allows us to cry “Abba, Father” like Jesus did (verses 14-15)
The gospel of John also talks about this during the last supper discourses:
“He [the Spirit] will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” – John 16:14
So here it again talks about God being glorified by the Spirit giving us what is Christ’s; in other words, making us like Him by giving us what He has.
So ultimately, to be a woman of God means to live as a daughter of God, conformed to the image of our Father, for His glory, through His holy Spirit.
* Does anyone have any questions or anything they want to add?
1) Read Genesis 1:26-31 and Genesis 2:18-25. ---- Who did God create Eve to be? What was the purpose He had in mind for her (and for all women)?
2) Read Genesis 3 --- How did Eve change after the fall?
3) Read Matthew 4:1-11 and Matthew 16:21-23 --- How was Jesus’ temptation similar to Eve’s? How did Jesus respond to that temptation? How was His response different than Eve’s?
1) Who Eve Was Created to Be
- Read Genesis 1:26-31 and Genesis 2:18-25 (* have someone read these)
- Who did God create Eve to be? What purpose did He have in mind for her?
- We find two main roles for women from these verses:
a) Bearer of God’s image
- The very first thing the Bible tells us about Eve is that God created both her and Adam in His image. We talked about this quite a bit last week, so we won’t go into it in too much detail this week.
- Psalm 8:4-8 (* have someone read this)
- “God is the king, but he called Eve (along with Adam) to be his vice regents – next in rank to God himself in creation. As his vice regent, as his image bearer, Eve’s goal was to align herself with God at every possible level – to share his heart, imitate his ways, love what he loved, and join him in his work. It is the rarest of privileges, the highest of honors, the most daunting challenge imaginable. A simple list of attributes barely scratches the surface of all it means to bear God’s image.” (Carolyn Custis James, “Lost Women of the Bible,” 33)
- How does this change how we view ourselves and others?
- This calling as image-bearer follows the first and greatest commandment, to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
b) An “ezer”
- The word “ezer” is usually translated as “helper” or “partner”. * Look up what word each person’s translation uses for this (Genesis 2:18).
- * How would you define a woman’s role as “helper” reading this verse?
- This same word, “ezer” is used sixteen times in the Old Testament to describe God as Israel’s helper in times of trouble. It is also a Hebrew military term. I means a “strong helper”, a warrior.
- * How does this change how we look at the role of women as “helpers”?
- Our role as “ezers” goes beyond our role as men’s helpers in marriage (though it certainly includes that) and includes our role in all the relationships in our lives.
“Eve and all her daughters are ezers – strong warriors who stand alongside their brothers in the battle for God’s kingdom.” (36)
- “Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God.” – 1 Corinthians 11:11-12
- “A wife is her husband’s richest treasure,
a helpmate, a steadying column.” – Sirach 36:24
- This calling as “ezer” follows the second greatest commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves.
2) Eve’s Fall (what people usually remember of her)
- Although God created Eve for this good and beautiful purpose, what is she usually remembered for? The fall. And the consequences of that fall.
- * What were the consequences of Eve’s fall from who God created her to be? How did she change after the fall? (sin, banishment from the garden, pain, hard work, deception, finding shame in the way God created her – her nakedness)
- * What were the consequences for Adam? How do our sins affect those around us, especially friends and family?
3) How Eve fell to temptation, how we fall to the same temptation, and how Jesus teaches us (by example) to stand up to temptation like that.
a) How Satan tempted Eve (and tempts us)
- * How did the devil tempt Eve? He tempted her with more than just a piece of fruit. What did he offer that she really wanted? What does he say that is true and what is a lie?
- The serpent tempted Eve with what she would get out of disobedience: knowledge, apparently something that Eve desired very much.
- “With an innocent question the serpent awakens the woman’s desire for the forbidden tree and arouses in her a feeling of rebellion at being denied its fruit. God’s prohibition has been a trial to her. Her exaggerated answer to the serpent is a step towards her further temptation.” (Interpreter’s Concise Commentary, “The Pentateuch; a Commentary on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy,”14)
- “The serpent uses the occasion to deny that death is the penalty for disobedience. It implies that God has ulterior, selfish motives. It insinuates that God has deceived the woman about the tree. Eating the fruit will bring not death but knowledge.” (14)
- The serpent twists the truth to make it appear that God does not have Eve’s best interests in mind, that His plan is not for her good. He does the same thing with us.
- * Have you ever felt denied of something by God, something that you really wanted? How does that make us respond to God? How does that make us respond to temptation? Do we give in to temptation easier because we feel God is holding back something that we believe is rightfully ours or should be ours? If Eve is any example, those are the places that we are weakest and most susceptible to temptation.
An example that comes to mind right away (probably because most of us have struggled with it at one time or another) is relationships. There are so many girls/women who don’t have a boyfriend or husband but really want one. Sometimes they get angry at God for not bringing one when they want it. This might lead them to disregard His hand in her relationships, rushing into a relationship that is not of God and perhaps suffering harsh consequences.
b) How Jesus responded to similar temptation
- Satan tries to deceive Jesus in the same way
- Read Matthew 4:1-11 (* have someone read this)
- Satan also tempts Jesus by offering to give Him something for disobedience: bread (when Jesus was fasting for forty days, denying Himself for God, and incredibly hungry) and all the kingdoms of the earth.
- Here, like with Eve in the garden, the devil tempts Jesus by offering to give him something that seems very good, very valuable, if Jesus will disobey the command of God. But Jesus rebukes him by repeating God’s word, His command, His truth to counteract the devil’s lies.
- Read Matthew 16:21-23 (* have someone read this)
- Here Satan – through Peter – tries to turn Jesus away from the whole purpose for why He was sent to earth. But Jesus responds by rebuking him and reminding him of the whole plan of God, both the death and the resurrection.
- Possibly show clip from “The Passion”?
c) How we should respond to temptation
- * Looking at how Jesus stood up to temptation, how can we face similar temptation and stand strong rather than falling like Eve?
- Ephesians 6:10-18 (the armor of God)
- Let’s pray that God will reveal areas in our life that we feel deprived, like God has withheld something that we think we should have, and ask him to remind us of the truth of His plan for us, a plan that involves the withholding of that thing for our good, and pray for the strength to stand up to the temptation to disobey to gain what we want.
(Hagar’s story continues in Genesis 21:9-21, but today we’re just going to focus on the part of her story in Genesis 16)
1) Who was Hagar?
- Read Genesis 16:1-6 (*have someone read this)
- *How often do Abraham or Sarah call Hagar by name? (none)
- She was a slave. She was valued only as an object, something to be used. Sarah saw her merely as a means to get what she wanted and did not see her as a person or consider how it might affect Hagar. She was valued only because of her usefulness.
- *Have you ever felt used or dehumanized like that? Have you ever felt valued only for what you can do for someone? Have you ever used someone else this way?
2) How did Hagar respond to being devalued like that?
- She responded with pride and arrogant triumph, exulting in the fact that she could do what Sarah couldn’t.
- *How did this response make the problem worse? It made Sarah’s hurt worse. It also resulted in harsher oppression for Hagar herself and she found herself wandering in the desert, worse off than before.
- *Do we respond with similar pride when people put us down? Do we ever respond by trying to emphasize the ways that we are better than someone to try to make ourselves feel better? (I find myself doing this – share).
3) How does Jesus teach us to respond when people attack us or put us down?
- The world tells us that we’re supposed to stand up for ourselves and fight back when someone puts us down. *What does Jesus say about that attitude?
- Read Matthew 5:38-48 (*have someone read this)
- Let’s look at how Jesus responded when He was demeaned and stripped of His dignity on the cross:
- Read Luke 23:34 (*have someone read this):
“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’”
- Read Isaiah 53:7 (*have someone read this):
“Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
Like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.”
- *So from this, how are we supposed to respond when people put us down? Let’s talk about this.
4) How did God respond to Hagar’s situation?
- Read Genesis 16:7-16 (*have someone read this)
- Hagar was not looking for God, but He sought her out.
- God gives Hagar her dignity back. He calls her by name (something that Abraham and Sarah never did).
- God reminds her that He has heard her:
“For the Lord has heard you,
God has answered you.” – Genesis 16:11
- But God also sends Hagar back to Sarah and Abraham, back to where she was abused. He gave her dignity, but not necessarily her freedom. But He sent her back with the opportunity to be part of His plan and with a promise that He would make her descendants great. My book (“Lost Women of the Bible” by Carolyn Custis James) also pointed out that He sent her back to the two people most equipped to teach her about God, despite their failings and shortcomings.
5) How did Hagar respond to God?
- She freely chose to return to her slavery and submit to Sarah’s harsh treatment.
- She also gave God a name: “El-Roi” meaning “the God of vision” (my version) or “the God who sees me.”
- Read Psalm 139 (*have someone read this)
- *Let’s take some time to think about the things that have happened to us and the parts of us that it seems like no one sees and remember that God sees those and responds (you can journal about this is you want).
Week #4 -
Rachel and Leah
1) The comparison between Rachel and Leah
- Read Genesis 29:14-20 (*have someone read this)
- *How does the Bible describe Leah? How do you imagine Leah?
- Weak eyes (my version says “lovely eyes” – the original word means “tender, soft, delicate”)
- *How does the Bible describe Rachel? How do you imagine Rachel?
- Apparently the favorite
- *Have you ever been compared to someone like this? How did it make you feel? (share experience being compared to Sara).
- *Who do you identify with more, Rachel or Leah? How many of us would like to be like Rachel, loved so much by Jacob that he was willing to work fourteen years just to gain her?
2) The two marriages
- Read Genesis 29:21-30 (*have someone read this)
- “Jacob then consummated his marriage with Rachel also, and he loved her more than Leah.” – Genesis 29:30
3) Leah’s response to the situation
- Read Genesis 29:31-35 (*have someone read this)
- *List names on the dry erase board:
- Rueben – “The Lord saw my misery; now my husband will love me” (verse 32).
- Simeon – “The Lord heard that I was unloved and therefore he has given me this one also” (verse 33).
- Levi – “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, since I have now borne him three sons” (verse 35).
- Judah – “This time I will give grateful praise to the Lord” (verse 35).
4) Rachel’s response to the situation
- Read Genesis 30:1-8 (*have someone read this)
- Dan – (through her servant Bilhah) “God has vindicated me; indeed he has heeded my plea and given me a son” (verse 6).
- Naphtali – (through her servant Bilhah) “I engaged in a fateful struggle with my sister, and I prevailed” (verse 8).
5) Leah’s second response
- Read Genesis 30:9-21 (*have someone read this).
- Gad – (through her servant Zilpah) “What good luck!” (verse 11).
- Asher – (through her servant Zilpah) “What good fortune! Women call me fortunate” (verse 13)
- Isaachar – “God has given me my reward for having let my husband have my maidservant” (verse 18).
- Zebulun – “God has brought me a precious gift. This time my husband will offer me presents, now that I have borne him six sons” (verse 20).
6) Rachel’s second response:
- Read Genesis 30:22-24 (*have someone read this).
- Joseph – “God has removed my disgrace…May the Lord add another son to this one for me!” (verse 23-24).
7) God’s view of this kind of competition
- We may not compete over who has the most kids, but women still compete with one another for social status – who has the latest styles; who has the cutest boyfriend; who has the best car, the best job, the latest technology. *Where have you seen examples of this competition? Have you seen it in your own life?
- When Rachel and Leah received what they wanted (another child), they seemed to see that child as proof that God approved of their action, that He was on their side. *How do you think God viewed their competition with each other ?
- Read Luke 9:46-48 (*have someone read this):
“An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his said and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”
- Read Luke 22:24-26 (*have someone read this):
“Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest. He said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’; but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.’”
- *Have you ever assumed that God is on your side, that He approves of what you’ve done in a situation, because you got what you wanted? Is this right? How do we know if God approves of our actions?
- *How should we respond in a situation where we are tempted to compare ourselves with someone else?
8) What this account says about God
- What does this account say about how God viewed Rachel and Leah? God intervened on the side of the disadvantaged (Leah, because she was unloved, and Rachel, because she was barren). Like Hagar and Sarah, Rachel and Leah’s story illustrates how God sees the unseen, the forgotten and unloved, even when they have responded badly.
- “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he made her fruitful, while Rachel remained barren.” – Genesis 29:31
- “Then God remembered Rachel; he heard her prayer and made her fruitful.” – Genesis 30:22