In this season when every Presbyterian Woman is encouraged to be ‘Strong and Courageous,’ it is important to note that this is not the type of encouragement that one gives to women at leisure. The instruction also is not an end to itself. It is the type of encouragement that one gives to women who are travailing to give birth both spiritually and physically; leaders and administrators who are embarking on tough assignments; women who desire to do exploits; women who are on the verge of entering God’s promises for their lives; and women who are steadfastly pursuing eternity in Christ Jesus.
Note that Joshua (Josh 1:6,7&9) was given the instruction to “be strong and courageous” three times (for emphasis) when the children of Israel were about to enter the promised land. It was to strengthen him because of the battles that they must fight to possess God’s promises. God may make us promises, but battles must be fought to gain possession. This also implies that God may make one a promise and the person may not eventually get it. In Hebrews 3:4ff, we see that the first generation of the Israelites that left Egypt did not enter the promise because of some errors which the Bible summed up as unbelief.
In Gen:35, we see a woman who did not enter God’s promise – Rachael. The Lord had appeared again to Jacob and blessed him; affirmed his change of name; poured the blessings of fruitfulness and multiplication upon him; and reaffirmed His determination to give him the Promised Land to possess. After this, Jacob and his family moved to settle in Ephrath, i.e. Bethlehem. To one’s amazement, Rachael, the beloved of Jacob, died and was buried on the way to Ephrath! She did not enter the Promised Land! Why? What were her errors?
- She accepted to be a second wife (Gen 29:28)
- Envy (Gen 30:1)
- Negative spoken words (Gen 30:1)
- Gave God’s place to man (she looked to man rather than God for her blessings); Gen 30:1-2
- Unhealthy rivalry (Gen 30:3-8)
- She stole (Gen 31:19)
- Lying (to cover her sins (Gen 31:34-35)
- Dishonoured her father (Gen 31:34-35)
- Sat on idols thereby polluting the gateway of reproduction (Gen 31:34)
- Bitterness even at the point of death (Gen 35:18)
Beloved, God has shown us the grave danger in pursuing a life of errors as seen in Rachael. Dear Sisters and brothers, God is bringing this message to us as a strong warning against errors that will always stop us from entering rest, both here on earth and in eternity. 1 Cor. 10:1-12.