It was a dark time. The land was extremely wicked. God’s people went their own way and did not honor God. So God raised up judges to protect his people and defend them from their captors, but even the judges were corrupt. Ehud was an assassin, Gideon tore down false idols only to build them back again and Sampson had a weakness for women of pagan religions.
This is the world in which the women of the Old Testament lived. The darkest days in Israel’s history were after Moses and before David. The pagans of this time oppressed women, treating wives as slaves and offering their daughters on the altar of Chemosh. These depraved people were Israel’s neighbor. But even in that dark world, God established laws to protect women in the midst of the raw reality of a fallen creation.
“If a man seduces a virgin…he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife.” (Exodus 22:16) In pagan cultures, women who are violated are accused of tempting their attackers beyond reason. Innocent women are blamed for the lust of evil men. In ancient society, marriage was every woman’s desire, and she had to be a virgin to be married; God’s law fulfilled the desires of women while holding man accountable for his actions.
“You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do and they cry out to me… your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.” (Exodus 22:22-23) All throughout Scripture God sets a president for His people; He personally protects and provides for widows and orphans, primarily through His Church. God even refers to Himself as Father to the fatherless and Husband to the widow. He will vindicate them.
Numbers 5:14-30 “If the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife, then the man shall bring his wife to the priest.” This passage gives direction for a test for adultery. While it seems strange to women in 2009, God’s protection of women is clear. A wife may or may not be guilty of adultery – there is no proof. In pagan cultures a jealous or suspicious husband had the right to kill or beat his wife with no evidence. God removes the disciplinary action from the husband and gave judicial authority to an impartial priest. If a woman had sinned, she answered for her sin, but if she was innocent, her husband could no longer accuse her of wrongdoing. She was free from accusation and condemnation.
[Summary] “When you go out to war…and you see a beautiful captive woman. You may bring her home to your house…she shall mourn her father and her mother a full month then you may be her husband….you shall not sell her for money or treat her as a slave.” (Deuteronomy 21:10-14) The women of the defeated lands were no better than spoils to the conquering armies; but God commanded his people to protect captive women. In this passage God not only looks out for the captive woman’s future and physical needs, but also for her emotional well-being – time to mourn her family.
“If out in the country a man happens to meet a girl pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die.” (Deuteronomy 22:25-29) The Bible is the only religious book that exonerates a rape victim from all guilt. God is revealing His great justice and compassion, in both providing legal justice and alleviating any self-condemnation that a woman might experience.
Women around the world still live in dark, evil times. In America, women have an easier life, with opportunities to own cars/houses, get an education, pick who we marry, and protection from abuse. Through Jesus, God has improved our lives as women. But the greatest gift, for both men and women, is the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection on the 3rd day. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
In reading these Scriptures I am overwhelmed with the tenderness and love that God shows for all women, then and now. This is no fairytale, it is the truth – God loves women. God loves you with an infinite, incomprehensible love. Not because you love him, not because you seek to please Him, not because you are good or bad. His love is not connected to your performance in life. Neither you nor I deserve His love or could ever earn it. God loves women because He is love. He loved you in eternity past; He will love you for all of eternity future. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you any less or any more. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)