WOMEN PROPHETS OF THE O. T.
715. When Jeremiah uttered those words, “Send for
the wise women [literal rendering] that they may
come” (see par. 620), he probably recalled how his
father Hilkiah the priest had gone with others to Huldah,
the prophetess, to learn whether the roll they had found in
the Temple, when cleaning it up, was really the law of God;
and how her wisdom and the revelation God gave her for the
benefit of the nation, had led to national reform and
revival of religion. We read of women prophets in the O. T.,
Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 1 Chronicles 25:8 (compare verse
4); Nehemiah 6:14; Isaiah 8:3; and Ezekiel 13:17, besides
the instance of Huldah recorded in 2 Chronicles 34:22.
716. There is no reason to assume, as the average
commentator does, that the wife of a prophet is called a
“prophetess” Even of Isaiah’s wife, Nägelsbach, remarks,
“Isaiah’s wife is hardly called ‘prophetess’ because she was
the wife of a prophet.” Nor is there any reason to assume
that women were usually false prophets because such are
spoken of or reproved. The fact that they are mentioned and
rebuked because false, and never because they
prophesied, goes a long
way towards proving that women prophets were recognized as a
course. On the passage in Ezekiel, Schroeder remarks in his
commentary, “Prophecy in Israel was a gift of the Spirit,
and already, as being so, had no restriction as to
sex. But when it came to be upheld by the Spirit of Christ,
in whom there is neither male nor female, this overlooking
of all sexual distinctions of necessity still more
717. We have already (pars. 206-215) treated of the prophesying of women, as predicted in Psalm 68, Isaiah 40, and Joel 2. Now let us turn our attention to a lesson taught in Isaiah 31, 32.
This was a time when Assyria, the first great world power,
threatened Palestine. The ten tribes of Israel had been
already carried away into captivity (2 Kings 17:6). Isaiah,
36 and 37 describe the political situation:¾
31:1-3 show Judah as warned against appealing to Egypt.
31:4. God is represented, in figure, as a lion and a young
lion, holding His prey, Jerusalem, under His paw for
judgment (Hosea 5:14), and the “multitude of shepherds,”
Assyria and other nations, cannot take the prey from the
fearless Lion. But at a future time, it is promised, “the
Lord of hosts shall come down to deliver.” The immediate
and partial realization of this promise is related in
718. 31:5. But here the prophet’s eye is centered, in
wonder, upon a deliverance which relates to the far future.
This promise had only a partial fulfillment in that age.
“Like as flying-birds so will the Lord of hosts cover
[protect] Jerusalem; defending also He will deliver it.
Passing over, He will preserve it.” This seems to be the
Never but once in the history of Jerusalem, Dec. 9, 1917,
has this promise been completely fulfilled. Think for a
moment of the tremendous efforts that were put forth to
deliver Jerusalem from the Mohammedan. The crusades lasted
for 177 years, and involved nearly all Europe in the effort.
Hundreds of thousands of lives, of men, women and children,
were lost in the task, and then it had to be abandoned.
719. But why has the Mohammedan had such tremendous
power? He has not had it. We think that God, the Lion, has
kept Jerusalem under His own power, through all these
centuries; and mainly because He would not allow Jerusalem
to pass under the rule of any people given to idolatry, He
has allowed Mohammedans to rule there. One had only to go to
Jerusalem and watch the genuflections to images of so-called
“Christian” sects, to see that idols would have filled the
place, had the crusades succeeded. God has caused a people
who did not make idols to rule there.
But when the Lion lifted His paw, how easily deliverance
came! “General Allenby’s report shows that the flying men
took a prominent part in delivering Jerusalem, and its
deliverance came largely from the air. The promise
‘passing over He will preserve it’ accounts for such a
strong position being taken without any injury to any of the
sacred places in the city.” (The London Christian,
Jan. 10, 1918).
720. Judging from the connection, soon after this
event, the reign of Christ in righteousness begins. See the
opening verses of chapter 32. (Yet we must not be too
certain on this point.)
32:8. But note the abrupt breaking off, at the end of this
verse, in the description of that blessed reign, and that it
is resumed at verse 16.
32:9-16. We have introduced these chapters because of the
great importance to women of this passage. It was necessary
to get its historical setting, to show that the admonition
and the warning relate to our time. Will we women cast aside
our careless indifference to responsibility, clothe
ourselves in the sackcloth of deep repentance, and seek God
with all our hearts? This is what the prophet Isaiah demands
of us. And the fearful judgments which are impending, he
makes it clear, will descend upon those women who do not.
721. There is an obstruction to Christ’s coming. Joel
had before this declared that God’s Spirit was to be poured
out upon “all flesh,” bond and free, young and old, women as
well as men; and Peter has made it perfectly clear that his
prophecy belongs to the present age (Acts 2:16-18). But the
Church has contrived, in its sex prejudice, to find reasons
why this prophesying is to be done by men alone, and that
the world is “to be saved by the foolishness of preaching”
by men only.
Such is not the case. The difficulty with the teachings of
Paul exists in the minds of men, not in the Word of God. It
is a difficulty, largely, of prejudice and egotism; and
women must not fear to brook the displeasure of men by an
attempt to open their eyes to the fact that their difficulty
is with God, rather than with women,¾though
few men are willing to admit this, or even to perceive it.
They are not so candid as the Rev. James B. Finley, who, in
his Autobiography says, concerning
the offense of a woman
speaking in church, “I . . . quoted the language of St. Paul
in regard to women teaching in the Church, and expressed a
hope that the Spirit (!) would not move any more to speak on
such occasions.” But the Spirit will move women, in
spite of the hopes to the contrary.
722. 32:15. The prophet calls upon the women to get
ready, “so that [as it might be rendered, in place of
“until”] the Spirit may be poured upon us from on high,”
and the way made ready
for the return of the Lord. That Spirit will not be
poured out in fullness until women are ready.
Women had their share of the “former rain” at Pentecost, but
influence within the Church wrested Paul’s word (2 Peter
3:16), and excluded women from their portion of this
witnessing, within the Church. Women have too readily taken
advantage of this excusing of women from such service,¾too
often because they “loved the praise of men more than the
praise of God” (John 12:43).
This prophecy of Isaiah shows that God has not excused where
man has, but rather, that a fearful judgment awaits those
women who do not hasten to bring about that FULL-fillment of
Joel’s prophecy regarding “daughters” and “handmaidens,” and
thus make way for that “latter rain” which opens the door
for the Lord’s second coming. May God’s own Spirit convict
women of their negligence!