789.     The Jews observed three great festivals of Divine appointment, at which the presence of males was required, the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. We can readily see that these requirements could not be laid upon the sex which bore and nursed the children, without great hardship. But it was specially provided, Deuteronomy 16:11, that women attend the Pentecostal feasts,¾hence the Jews did not exclude them. This is very significant, in view of that Great Day of Pentecost, when women as well as men received power to bear witness to the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ Jesus (Acts 2:4).

790.     We have shown that women were Christ’s most important witnesses, in the earliest days of the Church. They were also martyrs who suffered the greatest inhumanity (pars. 321-325). Their work was soon over, for it was too costly, unless absolutely necessary, when it meant to be immured in dens of infamy as a punishment. But when the church made compromise with paganism, under Constantine¾in fact, even further back, when it organized itself into The Catholic Church, in the very beginning of its pagan corruption (see par. 362), the Church recoiled from its former esteem for women, and later taught the pagan and rabbinical doctrines of contempt for woman as the source of evil (see Lesson 11). St. Paul has been interpreted to give countenance to this pagan view, though his Epistles bristle with the names of women who “laboured with him in the Gospel, an expression which, only by forced interpretation, can be made to imply that women laboured with Paul in other ways excepting in the Gospel.

791.     But woman will emerge¾in fact, is now emerging¾from obscurity. It is amazing that certain men most insistent on the doctrine that Christ is coming soon, are blindly zealous in delaying that coming as much as possible, by hindering the emancipation of woman, and her ministry in the Gospel. They refuse to see that the express order of development in Christ’s kingdom on earth was given by Christ Himself in the two parables of the Kingdom; and by the Apostle Paul in the symbol, “Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13).

792.     When Jesus Christ preached in the synagogue in Nazareth, he read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor,” and on through the passage past the words, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19), and there He paused, for His time had not yet come to fulfill the other portion of the passage, and proclaim “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:1-2). Precisely parallel is the order laid down in Isaiah 40:9-10, for the “woman evangelist” (for that is the precise meaning of the word applied to those addressed here): “Oh thou woman that bringest good tidings to Zion . . . to Jerusalem . . . say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God” (par. 209). The women of the early church obeyed this, from Anna onward (Luke 2:38), as the good news came to them. They did not announce Christ’s first coming,¾John the Baptist did that¾but they announced His arrival,¾that He had come, and that He was God incarnate.

793.     The remaining portion of this passage is now to be proclaimed by women: “Behold , the Lord God will come as a mighty One [R. V., not in the form of a humble, suffering servant now], and His arm shall rule for Him; behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense [R. V.] before Him.” This speaks of Christ as coming to judge this world; this is His second coming, which women are commanded to proclaim. It is to this present time that the prophecy applies, “God giveth the Word: the women that publish the tidings are a great host” (Psalm 68:11), and God has now seen to it that these verses should no longer lie in the obscurity of a perverted translation (as they do in the A. V.), but should be known by women.

794.     On the days of Pentecost Peter said: “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel . . . I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your . . . daughters shall prophesy . . . and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit,” Acts 2:17-20. That prophecy has, as yet, been only partially fulfilled. It is yet to be filled out to the full. The sun has not yet been turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, nor has the great and notable day of the Lord yet come. Only a handful of women, as compared with “all flesh,” has, as yet, prophesied. The prophecy must be filled out to the full before “that great and notable day,” and those who stupidly hinder that prophesying on the part of women are placing themselves, as it were, across the path of the fulfillment of God’s Word. Instead of “hasting the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:12, margin), they are hindering the preparation for that coming.

795.     When Christ laid His hands upon the bowed back of the woman, that Sabbath (see Lesson 89), and ordained her to glorify God in the synagogue, it was not precisely to heal her of her bent back. Before that, He had told her, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” but she could not grasp the full import of His words. She was bound in spirit, as well as in body. She had had “a spirit of infirmity eighteen years,” we are told. She could not dispel that spirit of infirmity without Divine aid. After His laying hands on her, however, then she could straighten up and glorify God.

796.     “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.” Was ever anyone able to change his or her delusions short of aid from without? We doubt it. A cure of the spirit demands the aid of the Spirit. Who does not understand that the chief difficulty that God and Moses had in delivering the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt was not the Egyptians, but the spirit of slavery and the spirit of bondage to pagan gods, to which those Israelites were likewise enslaved? God easily disposed of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, but He could not, in the same easy fashion, drown the spirit of bondage in the Israelites which they had acquired under slavery. Just so with women of today. Except for a mere handful of mistaken men, who could easily be put aside, the men of Christian countries constitute no longer an obstacle to woman’s freedom and preaching of the Gospel.

797.     The vast majority of men would welcome woman’s freedom in everything worth the name. In the past such was not the case, and, as a consequence woman has acquired that spirit of infirmity of which God prophesied when He pointed out to Eve that her “turning” would be to her husband,¾in other words, she would turn away from God to him, placing herself in dependent relations to him such as she ought to hold toward God alone. This tendency Eve bequeathed to womankind and it has been fostered throughout past ages, and only Christ can cure the spirit. Pagan and godless women, as such, with all their struggles and often offensive efforts towards emancipation, will never get free. There is no freedom for women excepting escape into Christ the Emancipator; because the bondage is not really of the male’s creation, but of Satan’s; and the reason of that bondage is because Satan knows that “the seed of the woman” will yet completely destroy his seed.

798.     And when will the Church come out into the “glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21), which is its rightful inheritance? When the free Spirit of God descends upon it again as on the day of Pentecost. And when will that time come? If I read aright, when the women of the Church become free, or not at all,¾for the prophet Isaiah has said: “Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto be speech . . . Tremble, ye women that are at ease: be troubled, ye careless ones. . . Upon the land of my people shall come thorns and briars; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city. Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be dens forever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high” (32:9-15). Thus does the prophet of old call upon women to leave their careless ease, and come and wait on God with all the rest, for the outpouring of His Spirit upon them, as well as upon men, that the way may be opened for the restoration of Jerusalem, and for “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). Let us women, then, hasten to our Lord, and beseech Him to lay His hand upon us, dispel this “spirit of infirmity” with which Satan has bound us, “lo these eighteen” centuries, and then lift our voices in the synagogues and churches, and glorify our God.

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