I have seen the Lord!

Rejoicing Women - Seventh and final in a series

Many women lined the Via Dolorosa as Christ went to Calvary. They wept loudly and expressed their grief in words. Christ comforted them:

Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? (Luke 23:28-30)

Jesus was about to be crucified, yet it was a time of green trees, a time in the world for fulness of joy, when the flowers appear on the earth… the vines with tender grape give a good smell. (Song 2:12, 13)

But the evil was palpable. Christ understood that the hour belonged to Satan so the loyalty of these women was precious to him. Some had also accompanied and supported him and his disciples as they traveled throughout every city and village, sharing the good news (Luke 8:1-3).

A passage in Daniel is interpreted by some to mean that the antichrist will not have any Christian sympathies: Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god (Dan 11:37). They translate this verse as "the God desired by women," who would be Jesus. The basis for this rendering is the use of the same word for "desire" in Haggai 2, And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come… (Hag 2:7)

Jesus was and is the desired God of women. His gracious kindness to all of us is made clear in the Word, highlighted by his special care for certain ones, such as Mary Magdalene who was delivered of seven demons. No wonder they followed him to Golgotha (John 19:17, 18) and then to his tomb.

Those specially called out in various Gospels as faithful in his final hour are: his mother; Mary, the wife of Cleophas who perhaps was the mother of James ("the less"); Salome, the mother of James and John; Joanna; and Mary Magdalene who was most prominent for persistence and devotion. Some have confused her with the sinful woman of Luke 7 who anointed the feet of Jesus with ointment and washed them with her tears and hair. (Luke 7:37-39) However, that was a different woman.

Mary's seven demons were not described; whatever sins they locked into her, she had been freed and held to that freedom by wholehearted devotion to the Lord. That seven were numbered may indicate she had been earnest to seek deliverance from a satanic stronghold; but the evil spirit that departed once then found reinforcements and regained her mind and soul, as explained in Matthew 12. From such embattlement and despair there is no deliverance but by Christ himself. (Mat 12:43-45)

Mary Magdalene was at the crucifixion (Mat 27:55, 56), went to his tomb after his death (Mark 15:47), returned there on the first day of the week with spices to anoint him (Mar 16:1), and is celebrated as the one to whom Christ first appeared. (Mark 16:9)

As she alone sat by his tomb weeping, he came to her and she recognized him when he said her name. (John 20:11-18) She then ran to tell the disciples, "I have seen the Lord!"

In all of Scripture, she probably is our best example of a rejoicing woman.

Perhaps Christ appeared specially to her because he understood the depth of her former agony. Now, there is never any evil that can overcome us if we trust in Christ and cling to him, for he has led captivity captive (Eph 4:8; John 20:17). Rejoice!

Magnify the Lord with Mary

Rejoicing Women - Sixth in a Series

Luke, the beloved physician (Col 4:14), who wrote more pages of the New Testament than any other of its authors, found out just what Mary said or sang about her pregnancy.

A gentile who accompanied Paul on journeys, he was a literary type who used his special gifts — inquisitiveness, empathy, wisdom, and writing, to garner and present a beautiful, behind-the-scenes account of the Christ's nativity.

As a doctor, perhaps he had heard expectant mothers cry out with great joy and agony. Mary's words, however, were inspired. They did not simply reflect a woman's heart, but expressed the hope of nations, the sure deliverance of Israel, and the nature and character of God. As well, we see she was knowledgeable of Scripture in that her words echo those of Hannah:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,

And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him

From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;

He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,

And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,

And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,

In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,

To Abraham and to his seed forever.
Luke 1:46-55

Mary rejoiced because

  1. She knew her God as her Savior
  2. He chose her, an unimportant person
  3. She would forever be known as blessed!
  4. God is holy and he is merciful to those who fear Him
  5. He is faithful across the centuries and generations
  6. His judgments overturn the proud of heart and lift up the lowly
  7. He remembers his promises to Abraham and to his seed forever.

Her reasons for rejoicing can be ours too!

A wonderful deliverance

Rejoicing Women - Fifth in a Series

continued from previous post

After Hannah fulfilled her vow to dedicate Samuel to God's service, her heart was filled with praise and rejoicing, Mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. (1 Sam 2:1)

An interesting footnote is found in Robert Jamieson's commentary regarding the horn:

mine horn is exalted in the Lord — Allusion is here made to a peculiarity in the dress of Eastern women about Lebanon, which seems to have obtained anciently among the Israelite women, that of wearing a tin or silver horn on the forehead, on which their veil is suspended. Wives, who have no children, wear it projecting in an oblique direction, while those who become mothers forthwith raise it a few inches higher, inclining towards the perpendicular, and by this slight but observable change in their headdress, make known, wherever they go, the maternal character which they now bear.

To Hannah, her deliverance from infertility was salvation.

Have you ever desired a treasure so keenly that you exalted it above any other good? If you could not have it, you would die or never be at peace. Then, the Lord fulfilled your heart's desire and you knew only he could have answered your prayer. Exalting him in prayer and song, especially acknowledging his incomparable holiness and strength, would be a right response, There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. (1 Sam 2:2)

Such deliverances are performed today as they were in Bible times, but the mature know better than to set any desire above devotion to Christ. If another desire should take precedence, it is time to reorder priorities.

But was Hannah's desire for a child an affront to God, or outside of his will? No, it would honor him for she was created to be a mother, though the second wife somewhat deflated that mission.

In our deepest desires and prayers for these, if we know God approves of our request, we can trust he will be glorified in its attainment. Even more, if he does not answer in the affirmative, his "No" has greater blessing in store than we can ever imagine, if we will trust in his goodness.

It is in waiting that discouragements and confusion arise in the human heart. However, in waiting, good outcomes are fashioned, even as we blindly reach for help and at times consider ourselves forgotten or unreachable because of our own faults. God is at work. Events must be set in order. In Hannah's case, it was necessary for Eli to be instrumental in the answer to her prayer.

If we do not have human enemies to endure as we seek deliverance, the Adversary is pleased to provoke us to tears and cause us loss of appetite. Indeed, as you press into the Lord for help and answers, you will be opposed by seen and unseen foes. However, as Hannah's song celebrates:

  • Their attacks are well known by God and will be stopped (1 Sam 2:3, 4).
  • The Lord is a righteous judge who abases the proud and exalts the humbled soul (1 Sam 2:5).
  • His power to revive or desolate, to establish or destroy cannot be successfully challenged (1 Sam 2:6-8).
  • Those who belong to him will be guided carefully to eternal life, and in the contest of wills with those who despise him, he will win (1 Sam 2:9-10).

Hannah's song celebrates the Lord as a mighty deliverer who helps his children. The Lord is mindful of his own.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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