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Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study
by Ann Spangler
Learn More | Meet Ann Spangler | Meet Jean Syswerda
HER NAME MEANS: “Life-Giving” or “Mother of All Who Have Life”
HER CHARACTER: She came into the world perfectly at peace with her God and with her husband, the only other person on the planet. She lived in Paradise, possessing every pleasure imaginable. She never knew the meaning of embarrassment, misunderstanding, hurt, estrangement, envy, bitterness, grief, or guilt until she listened to her enemy and began to doubt God.
HER SORROW: That she and her husband were banished from Paradise and the presence of God, and that her first son was a murderer and her second son his victim.
HER JOY: That she had once tasted Paradise, and that God had promised that her offspring would eventually destroy her enemy.
KEY SCRIPTURES: Genesis 1:26–31; 2–4
The woman stirred and stretched, her skin soft and supple as a newborn 's. One finger, then another moved in gentle exploration of the ground that cradled her. She could feel a warmth filling her, tickling her throat as it tried to escape, spilling out in the strong, glad noise of laughter. She felt surrounded, as though by a thousand joys, and then a touch calmed her without diminishing her joy.
Her eyes opened to a Brightness, her ears to a Voice. And then a smaller voice, echoing an elated response: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, ' for she was taken out of man.” Adam took hold of her, and their laughter met like streams converging.
The man and the woman walked naked and unashamed in Paradise. No shadows filled Eden—no disorder, discord, or fear.
Then one day a serpent spoke to the woman. “Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden '? ... You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The woman listened. She remembered the Brightness, the Voice of God that had filled her with joy. Could she really be like God? Pressed hard by desire, she took the fruit and then shared it with her husband. Suddenly darkness spread across Eden. It came, not from the outside but from within, filling the man and the woman with shadows, cravings, and misery. Order gave way to disorder, harmony to discord, trust to fear.
Soon Adam and Eve heard the sound of their Creator walking in the garden, and they hid. “Where are you, Adam?” God called.
“I heard you in the garden,” Adam replied, “and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Sin had driven its wedge inside their hearts, and God banished them from Eden, pronouncing judgment first on the wily serpent that had tempted the woman and then on her and on her husband. To the serpent 's curse he added this promise: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” To the woman, God said: “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
Then God warned Adam that after a lifetime of hard labor, his strength would decrease until his body would finally be wrapped in the dust from which God had formed him. The curse of death fell suddenly upon the new world.So Adam and his wife were forced to flee Paradise, and Adam named her Eve, because she would be the mother of all the living. But her firstborn, Cain, became a murderer, and her second son, Abel, his victim.
As the years passed, sorrow chased sorrow in the heart of the first woman, and the last we see of her we imagine her not as a creature springing fresh from the hand of God, but as a woman in anguish, giving birth to another child. Her skin now stretches like worn canvas across her limbs, her hands claw the stony ground, grasping for something to hold on to, for anything to ease her pain. She can feel the child inside, filling her, his body pressing for a way of escape. The cries of mother and child meet like streams converging. And Seth is born.
Finally, with her child cradled against her breast, relief begins to spread across Eve 's face. With rest her hope returns; a smile forms, and then, finally, laughter rushes from her lips. Try as she might, she cannot stifle her joy. For she remembers the Brightness and the Voice and the promise God gave: Sooner or later, despite many griefs, her seed would crush the serpent. In the end, the woman would win.
HER LIFE AND TIMES
Eve was the first woman to conceive a child, the first to harbor a fertilized egg in her womb. Did she understand the miracle taking place within her as her belly swelled and her child began to move? Did she know the wonder of love for a child yet unborn? The Bible doesn 't give us those answers. But it does tell us that Eve recognized that life was in God 's control. At Cain 's birth she exclaimed, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man” (Genesis 4:1).
God 's judgment on Eve—“with pain you will give birth to children”—was no doubt exactly what Eve experienced in birthing this first child. It 's the process we appropriately term labor. Eve likely bore the pain and went through the entire birth with only Adam 's help.
Later, Hebrew women had the help of experienced midwives, who knew remedies for common delivery difficulties. Midwives ' responsibilities after the birth included cutting the umbilical cord, washing the newborn, rubbing it with salt for cleansing, and then wrapping it in swaddling cloths.
The birth stool referred to in Exodus 1:16 was probably a low stool on which the mother-to-be squatted, allowing the force of gravity to aid in the birth process. The midwife and possibly other close relatives held the mother 's hands to give comfort as well as stability as she bore down.
Women throughout the centuries have borne the results of Eve 's sin. Their pain in childbearing unites them in a common bond of an experience shared. The experience is an unusual combination of the earthly and at the same time the unearthly. The pains, the panting, the mess and disorder connected with the birth of a child are of the earth, of Eve herself. But what is brought forth, and the bond experienced between the mother and the child, is unearthly, something only the Creator of life could forge.
Read Genesis 2:18–25.
- What needs does Adam have that only a woman can fulfill?
- What does being “one flesh” in a marriage mean, both physically and spiritually?
- As the serpent tries to tempt Eve, what desires and fears in her does he appeal to?
- What desires and fears make you vulnerable to temptation?
- When caught after her sin, how does Eve experience each of the following?
Read Genesis 3:1–24.
Embedded in the very curse put on Eve for her sin is a wonderful promise. God promises her, and succeeding generations: You “will give birth to children” (Genesis 3:16). God 's grace and mercy are marvelously evident, even when he 's pronouncing his judgment. He promises that the human race will continue even as he announces that death will now be inevitable.
Throughout Scripture, God 's grace is often most beautifully evident within his judgments. When the world was so full of sin that he had to destroy it, God 's grace saved Noah and his family. When the Israelites rebelled so thoroughly that captivity was inevitable, God 's grace promised restoration. While judgment fell on David for his sin with Bathsheba, God 's grace gave them Solomon as a son and successor.
When you are at your lowest, on your knees before God 's judgment, never forget that his grace is still at work. And that is truly amazing.
Promises in Scripture
- From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
- —JOHN 1:16
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- —ROMANS 5:20–21
HER LEGACY OF PRAYER
So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
- —GENESIS 1:27
REFLECT ON: Genesis 2:15–25: 3
PRAISE GOD: Because he created you in his own image, making you a woman capable of reflecting his love, truth, strength, goodness, wisdom, and beauty.
OFFER THANKS: That imbedded in God 's judgment of Adam and Eve is the promise of a Redeemer who will crush the head of our enemy, the devil.
CONFESS: Your own tendency to mar God 's image in you by preferring your will to his.
ASK GOD: To help you surrender your life, so that he can fulfill his purpose for creating you.
Lift Your Heart
Find a peaceful setting, surrounded by the beauty of creation, to meditate on what life must have been like in the garden of Eden. Think about what your life would be like if you experienced peace in all your relationships, if you never suffered physical or emotional pain, if you were never confused or ashamed or guilty, if you always experienced God 's love and friendship. Let your imagination run riot as it fills in the details of God 's original intention for your life and for those you love.
Then consider this: You were made for paradise. The joys you taste now are infinitesimal compared to those that await you in heaven, for “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
- Father, give me a greater understanding of your original plan for our world. Help me to envision its beauty so I might live with a constant awareness that you intend to restore paradise to all who belong to you. May I surrender every sin and every sorrow to you, trusting that you will fulfill your purpose for my life. In Jesus ' name I pray. Amen.
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