I thank God for the faith of my great-grandmother. When I think about women whose narratives point to Jesus, I think of Nana Koutou, whose story, when she tells it, points to Jesus.
And I pray that my children can say the same of me, and that we would have many generations of women whose stories point to Jesus. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.
You can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. Well, today is another exciting day. Oh yeah, why is that? Because we're talking about women of the Bible. It's not something we talk about that often. No, we need to talk about it more. Because there are so many women that are overlooked. But today, we're going to highlight some, and we've been doing that.
We did it yesterday, and we have another series that we did earlier that is pretty remarkable. Yeah, we've got Nana Dulce back with us. She is the expert, in my opinion, on women of the Bible. Welcome back. Thank you for having me. Yeah, I mean, just your smile brings joy to the room. Really, you are— There's a beauty and elegance that you carry that's pretty incredible.
I wish I could talk to you every day. We'll tell you that every day. But your book is called The Seed of the Woman, and the subtitle is 30 Narratives that Point to Jesus. And you're covering women all the way back to the beginning of Eve, and you're pointing us, and these women are pointing us to Jesus. You're a mom of three, you're a wife, you're an author, and you're now teaching a seminary class. Tell us about that. That's right. It's called the Women's Teaching Lab.
It's at RTS, Washington. Such a fun class. We get together as women, and we think through, how do I better handle God's Word? Yeah, these are women teaching in the local church, and so how do we do what we're doing better? And remind us, you shared earlier, but how did this book come about? Because it started out in your house. It did, right on my couch with a small group of women. For two years, we walked through the story of the Bible, and I wanted to just give them the sense of the grand narrative of Scripture by using the narratives of women as our stopping point, as we take that journey together.
It was a wonderful two years. And that's unusual. Not everybody takes that study, you know, and highlights the women. And these women loved it. Oh, they loved it.
Yeah, they talk about it today. I'm just going to tell you, you need to turn this into a video curriculum that people could watch in their homes and teach. And you stop with Mary, the mother of Jesus, so maybe your next book is now you take us into the lives of the New Testament women. There are women there, too.
We're already writing your next book for you. I mean, one of the things that I've been impressed with is, we haven't hit all 30 women, but we've hit more than 10, I would guess. The courage of these women in the midst of adversity and really a male-dominated culture for them to trust God. I mean, again, we've looked at so many of them, but every one of them in some way, often unseen, but yet they make a move of courage. And I just thought, as a man, I have women all around me that are courageous women, and I don't think I stop enough to say to Anne, you know, way to go, wow, you inspired me. And I would encourage men to do that. Dads, husbands, men in the church, look at women around you that are just doing remarkable things. It takes remarkable courage to do that, especially for women. Often they're unseen and their voice is not supposed to be heard, and yet they have the courage and humility to come forward.
We need to celebrate that. Well, Nana, you also said that one of your daughters commented, it feels like the Bibles, they always talk about men. So I think it'd be really fun for dads and moms to even pull your book out and say, well, let me tell you about the women of the Bible. We ended a little bit with Tamar. So let's kind of backtrack about who Tamar is and let's talk about her story. So Tamar is David's daughter. So, you know, David is king of Israel at this point. And I think her story reminds us that, oh, some of these stories in the Bible, especially those pertaining to women, can be dark. Because, you know, the Bible isn't a fairy tale where everything is just like, you know, a Disney princess movie. This is east of Eden.
This is Thorns and Thistles. This is the wilderness before home. And painful things happen, and sometimes they happen to women. And so the Bible is not prescriptive in that sense, but descriptive, describing the wilderness experience and sometimes the violence that women face as a result.
And we know that even in our world today. So Tamar is David's daughter who's actually raped by her own brother. Her brother, the crown prince, the one that was supposed to succeed David, desires this half-sister. And it says that he loved her so much that it made him sick. And he just desired this woman that he could not have. And so there's a cousin that comes to him, and the scriptures describe him as crafty. And I almost imagine the serpent.
And so he comes probing in the same way the serpent was probing. Why are you sick? You're the king's son.
You shouldn't be sick. He says, I love my sister Tamar. And he says, here's the plan. Pretend you're sick, and David will come see you and send Tamar to you to make you some cakes. And when she's here, you can do with her what you want. And he didn't say, ask for Tamar.
Yes. So she comes into his home, and she will never leave the same. When I was in seminary, I worked at a domestic violence shelter in Philadelphia. And this was a home for women and children. I was an intake counselor.
And I remember days, I worked the night shift. Women would come in with bruises, blue and purple faces, telling the stories of the abuse they had encountered in their homes by people who should have protected them. When I read Tamar's story and that description, I think of those women.
And in the story, David does not punish his son. And it's interesting too, Nana, because it says that son, after it occurred, hated her. Yes. Hated Tamar. Absolutely. Yeah. So the Mosaic law said that if you raped a woman, you actually had to care for her because she had no hope of marriage after that. So you had to take responsibility for her care. And he takes her and literally pushes her out of his home. And she says, this ladder thing of pushing me away is worse than the first.
Yeah. And she rips her clothes and throws ashes and lives desolate in her brother Absalom's house. And when David heard about it, he did not do anything. Not only was he a father, but he was also the king.
The king should bring justice. And we don't see David doing any of that. I wonder if the shame of his own sin made him think, well, if I did that, how can I punish my son?
With Bathsheba, you mean. Exactly. But I love that the gospel is for mothers and for their children. It's for fathers and it's for their children. I can say something to my children, even if I have struggled with that, because my hope is their hope. I need Jesus as much as they need Jesus, which encourages me to speak to my kids about their sins because I'm not hiding my sins.
We're all before the Lord. But David is quiet. What do you wish David would have come and done? Oh, he should have brought justice for Tamar.
Amnam should have been punished according to the law of God and Tamar should have been cared for in a way that we don't see that happening. You know, I just got to say, as a husband and a dad, a man, we can do this. We can be passive.
It's almost the sin of Adam in the garden just being passive, even with Eve, when the snake came and he knew the truth and he just watched. As a dad, as a husband, it takes courage to say, no, I need to step in. I need to confront my son.
I need to have a conversation. I need to protect the women in my home. I need to protect the women in every home in our culture.
Again, I'm just stopping just for a second because I know men are listening and saying, guys, it's up to us to step up. That should have never happened ever. And then once it did, it should have been dealt with quickly by a man who was called by God to protect that woman and discipline that son.
Anyway. It'd be so interesting, too. These are things you don't really think about. But David married a lot of women and he had a lot of kids from these other women. Don't you think they all talked about it? Oh, I'm sure they knew. I'm sure they did, too. And I'm sure the mothers and the moms were distraught and angry.
Sure. I'm reminded of a father who never fails to do that. And that's the father that I pointed these women to in the domestic violence shelter where I worked.
I had a chance to help them to see a father and a protector who doesn't fail. It's amazing to me that even in this kind of violation that Jesus can sympathize with us. I mean, just imagine how they stripped him and hung him naked on that cross. That kind of violation that God would send his son to redeem a woman like Tamar and the ones that I minister to in this shelter. That this is the extent to which God will go in redeeming these women.
Tamar would probably never marry because she wouldn't be a virgin. And yet there is a king who welcomes women into his court, not because of their purity or virginity, but because of the righteous, the purity he gives them through his righteousness. That makes us beautiful. The darkness of these stories in the Old Testament and these women shout for the seed of the woman.
Like when it gets so dark, we want light. And they shout for God to keep his promise for him to come again and to make all things new. And for us to see the foretaste of that coming through stories of redemption, through her healing, right? Through the compassion the Christians show that the church would be a light that says, yes, he keeps his word and there is another second. There is a coming when there will be no more death and pain and violation of children.
We want to see that day. Let's go now to a woman that had a negative impact. So let's talk about Jezebel. Jezebel. So in my book, I actually have Jezebel with Athaliah. I think Jezebel's name is known. A lot of people know Jezebel, but I don't know how, I don't know that we know the details of her.
I don't like we do either. Yeah. So she was married to King Ahab and so she was actually a queen in Israel. By the time we get to Jezebel in the book, we know that Israel is two nations. There's a northern kingdom and then there's a southern kingdom.
The southern kingdom was the line of David. But in the north, it was just random kings, one after the other, and all of them were wicked. And Ahab was one of the worst. Horrible.
Horrible. And he had his wife to help him in that. When I read this story of Jezebel, she must have been powerful.
Oh, yeah. Because she's influencing Ahab and all kinds of people in such a negative way. And I usually will say that as women, we can carry a lot of power and influence. Absolutely.
We need to be careful how we wield it. Because this girl, she was negative. And she really was the one who was behind the scenes in a lot of ways. So she was the daughter of the king of Phoenicia and her father worshiped Baal. And he must have been a good discipler of his daughter because she took her father's god into Israel and would kill the prophets of the Lord and would, you know, really. But the one story of Jezebel that we don't often know is the story of Naboth. He had this vineyard that Ahab wanted. And he did not want to give it to the king because the law said that you should not sell your land. When Jezebel heard that, she wasn't going to applaud him for keeping the law, but came up with this whole scheme to kill him and to take his vineyard.
And she does that. And the story of Naboth really reminds us of the same kind of betrayal of an innocent man and killing him that we even see with the story of Jesus. But one of the things I wanted to point out with Jezebel is she had a daughter. And her daughter's name was Athaliah.
And if her father trained her well, she must have trained her daughter well. Because Athaliah in a lot of ways was even worse than her mother Jezebel. She married into the southern kingdom. King Jehoshaphat, who actually is one of the good kings.
He's a good guy. He made this wrong move of marrying his son to Jezebel's daughter. He married his son to Athaliah and she became queen mother in Judah. When her husband died and then her son died, she saw it as a chance to take over. So she killed her own grandchildren. She murdered the entire line of David except for one little boy, Joash, who was hidden in the temple and she didn't know Joash was alive.
And so she reigned in Judah until Joash was six years old. And they brought him out and they killed Athaliah. When I think of Athaliah's story, it reminds me how all throughout the Bible, it's like the serpent, the seed of the serpent is rising up to try to swallow God's people. We see that with Pharaoh. We'll see that even later on in the story of Esther.
But it never works. We talked about the remnant. God always preserves someone and the enemy might think that he has it under control, that he's kind of covered the bases. But God always, always keeps a remnant. You can't overcome God's purposes. And so Joash comes and Athaliah is killed.
Jezebel is thrown out of a window. This story reminds me actually of places where Christians are persecuted. And it can be very hard to be a believer in some places right now. It's hard to understand why God and where are you, God? Our family, actually, my little family of five, we pray for the persecuted church every night. We have a calendar that kind of tells us who we can pray for from a different part of the world.
And some of those stories are so hard. But God preserves a remnant. And his power shows up strong when the enemy thinks that he has it, that he has God's people. And so may he prove that even today in places where Christians are persecuted. We see that in the story of Jezebel and Athaliah. And may we see that even today. Now we have to get to the scene of the woman is Elizabeth and Mary.
The last two. So yeah, take us there. So we come into the New Testament with the last few chapters of this book. And when we come, there is darkness and there is silence. There's been 400 years of prophetic silence, right? No new revelation from God.
Israel, because of her idolatry, went into exile and remnant, came back to the land. And they are praying to God and there is silence. And God answers in a remarkable way. And so this promised Savior, all the way in Genesis that he makes to Eve, there's a day when he comes to an old woman named Elizabeth. It says that her and her husband, they were Levites, they were righteous. And you would think that being righteous means God answers all your prayers.
And there's no issue in your life. But they are barren and they've prayed for years and no children. How old was Elizabeth? Oh, it says they were old.
It doesn't give an age. But it says that they were an old couple and they were righteous and they were faithful. It reminds me even when I'm hoping for something and that prayer hasn't come, may God help me to persevere in living right before him and not charging him of wrongdoing, but living right before him.
There's a day when her husband goes into the temple and there's an angel and he says, not only am I sending you a son, but this is the son that will prepare the way for the son. I mean, no wonder. We kind of blame Zechariah for not believing it, but it was big news. And he can't speak. He's made mute because he doesn't believe.
He doubts it. And he goes home and Elizabeth conceives and she goes into hiding for the first two trimesters of her pregnancy for those first six months. She, to me, is a little picture of Israel. She literally sits in silence. Her husband isn't speaking, remember?
Her husband is completely silent. She's in hiding. And so it's just silence.
This was Israel. 400 years of silence. But then one day in the courtyard of her husband walks in Mary and the prophetic silence breaks with singing. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, starts to prophesy and says, blessed are you among women. And Mary picks up this magnificat.
Just imagine that scene of these two pregnant women, an old woman six months along, and this young girl who probably just has an embryo, right, developing in her womb. And the prophetic silence breaks with singing of these two women. Mary singing a song that sounds like Hannah's that says, the lowly, the despised God lifts up. Because you'll remember, Mary was a nobody. She was from Nazareth. Nazareth was a nobody town.
Nobody was thinking anything of Nazareth. But this is where God chose to send his son. He uses the despised, the ones we don't think of. And he shows that he's the one that's the glorious one, ultimately. And so these two women sing, and within months, the seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, who will crush the head of the serpent and reverse the curse, will be born.
Because God keeps his promise, no matter how long it takes. And let's just talk about for a second. This was no easy thing for Mary. First of all, I mean, she conceives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
But she's living in a little village. Can you imagine? The scandal. The scandal that would just go along with her name forever. I mean, it's not like, oh, look, there's Mary, who's the mother of the Messiah.
What do you think they would have said? Yeah, and even the threat of death. Not even just scandal. The scandal followed her, where there was even the threat of, she could have been killed for this. God comes to Joseph, her betrothed, and says, this is of me.
I've done this. And he decides to marry her. But her life really could have been in danger. Which reminds me that sometimes the things God is asking us to do isn't always easy.
No. But we live not for the dot of today, but for the line of eternity. Again, it takes me back to, I've said it a couple times, the courage of women. I have to admit, you gals are so much more courageous than us men. But it's more than courage, Dave. It's the faith. Well, it's faith.
No question. It's belief. But for her to step forward, all these women you've talked about, every single one of them, there's an amount of courage that a lot of us men do not have.
I marvel at it because it's inspiring to me. And I just want to say, way to go again to the women. And we just talked about a few in the Bible, but wow, I want to have the courage of my wife.
I want to have the belief of my wife. You totally do. You're amazing. It's been inspiring to listen and hear, Nana, the way you talk about these women. I'm inspired. I want to go back and read every passage again. And you mentioned earlier that you have women in your life that you, as you think through, have inspired you. Can you end with one?
Absolutely. I want to talk about my great grandmother. Her name was Nana as well. Her name was Nana Akoto was her name. And so this was a woman who lived in Ghana, a poor woman. She married a man who unfortunately was not faithful to her. He had other wives and had children with her that he did not care for. And so she had, I think they had like 11 children. She had a lot of children and some of them went hungry because she just didn't have the means to care for all of them. But she lived in a place at a time where she did not know about Jesus. And so her trust was in these idols, these ancestral idols is who she was looking to. And she suffered so much. Her daughters, she had, obviously she had about six daughters and most of them, five of them died giving birth to children.
So one after another, her children would die in childbirth and neighbors started to kind of gossip and say, well, what are you doing for your children to be dying in childbirth? And there was a day when a neighbor came to her and said, Nana Akoto, these idols are not helping you. And they told her about Jesus. They told her about a God who was able to help. And my mother tells me this story that my great grandmother went and just put herself before she, there was a church that she eventually found and she went and she lay at the altar and said, Jesus, if you will have me, then take me, I'm yours. And she never turned back. So as a very little girl in Ghana, I have a memory of my great grandmother. I remember she was really wrinkled and I would be looking at her hands and they were so wrinkled.
I was like, oh, I don't want my hands to look like that. But she always had her Bible and she would sit in this little chair and she would rock reading her Bible. Her Bible was in tree, which is the dialect of the Ashanti people. And she had her little Bible in tree and she would always read her Bible. And that's the image I have of my great grandmother. Her children, my mother's generation and my generation, everybody stopped dying in childbirth when she came to Jesus.
And so the ones that had their children in Africa, no one died of childbirth. We that have had children here, we can thank the medical system, but ultimately God heard her and helped her. And so I thank God for the faith of my great grandmother. When I think about women whose narratives point to Jesus, I think of Nana Koutou, whose story, when she tells it, points to Jesus. And I pray that my children can say the same of me and that we would have many generations of women whose stories point to Jesus. So I thought our time with Nana Dulce was pretty remarkable. Fantastic.
Because she highlighted women that we just read and pass over. But it really was amazing to see the redemption of Jesus and Jesus at the very beginning of Genesis to Mary. I hope that as you listen, you are inspired and know that God is using you. There's so much good.
There's so many things that he's gifted you in. We just want to say personally thank you for being a supporter of family life today, for listening, for passing things on, and for even discipling others around you. Yeah, we appreciate you and we hope you are inspired as well. And we love you. Thanks.
Yeah. I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Nana Dulce on Family Life Today. And let me just say yes, thank you so much for your partnership. It's such a blessing to have you with us as a partner. And now's such a great time to actually become a new partner with Family Life because of how the Lord has specifically provided for us. All this month, any gift that you give to Family Life is going to be matched dollar for dollar for the next 12 months to help families strengthen their relationship with God and with each other. Your recurring donation, doubled through the matching gift, will help guide people to God's plan for marriage and family through things like our radio broadcasts, through our podcasts, through events like the Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway, small group resources, website tools, and additional life-changing resources.
So you can go online to become a partner right now at familylifetoday.com, or you could give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. And Nana has ushered in such a great conversation over the last couple of days here on Family Life Today. She's written a book called The Seed of the Woman, 30 Narratives That Point to Jesus.
This book traces the gospel storyline through the narratives of women, and you can pick up a copy at familylifetoday.com, or you could give us a call at 800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word Today. Now, coming up next week, Dave and Anne Wilson are going to be joined in the studio with the Philip Yancy, and he's going to be talking about disappointment with God. Have you been there?
I definitely have. He's going to talk about the three questions no one really asks aloud. Is God hidden? Is he silent and unfair?
Why do bad things happen? And it's going to be hidden close to home for many of us, myself included. So we hope you'll join us next week. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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