Sunday, July 18, 2010

Daughters of Zelophehad

I preached this morning on the Daughters of Zelophehad, in Numbers 27, 36 and also in Joshua 17.

What a passage! I love these women, not least of all for the way they conducted themselves in the light of unfairness/inequality. As the law stood, they would receive nothing in the Promised Land - with no brothers or husbands; their deceased father's inheritance would not pass to them. They brought their case to Moses who asked the Lord, who said: "What Zelophehad's daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father's relatives and turn their father's inheritance over to them".

Think of the reactions the Daughters could have displayed. I’ve thought of three:

1. They had challenged injustice - there was something that was so inherently unfair in a time where land and property was everything. Without it, they were persons without status. They could have meekly accepted that this was to be their lot and simply given up.

2. They could have – and here follows a heavy theological term - thrown a huge strop.

3. Or, a third option – they could have been very aggressive about their rights.

The daughters did none of these three things. This is such an important story as it demonstrates what I'm calling “gentle assertiveness”. I think this comes out of knowing the one to whom the appeal will be made.

The daughters understood that God cared about them.
This is the true mark of a son and and not an orphan.

Their timing was spot on – they had asked at the right time (Numbers 27), then waited (into the final part of the Wilderness journey from Moab into Canaan), then assertively issued a “reminder” to Joshua (ch 17:4-5) – and then received that which was promised to them - and this followed obedience – marrying right. (Nu 36).

They came before God with their request. They wanted a favourable outcome, but they didn’t want it against God’s will; against his best. Oh that our churches and communities become full of people with this same heart. We might be saying: I want this, I need this, there's unfairness at play fair (real or imagined; it matters not!) BUT ....your will be done O Lord.

I want to be like the Daughters of Zelophehad!

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