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Why many Christians don’t have the Spirit

R.A. Mathews Special to The Star

Rabble-rousing women.

That’s what they were. Social deviants making signs, marching about, causing all kinds of trouble.

“Women have no business in politics!”—that’s a quote from Pew Research, reflecting one person’s sentiment of the day, exactly 100 years ago.

But they prevailed.

In 1920, women finally gained the right to vote.

It was a disappointing victory. A researcher claimed that only about one in three women came. Men showed up by nearly twice that number.

Nevertheless, the cat was out of the bag—Pew Research now says more women voted in the last election than men: 55% to 51%.

In the past century, women in Congress have gone from a measly handful to over 200.

Rabble-rousing women are everywhere!

The Bible was a different time. Moses and the Israelite elders were all men. Except for the occasional prophetess, the weaker sex knew its place in the wilderness.

Then Zelophehad up and died.

It’s pronounced the way it looks (Zeh-LO-phee-had).

Zelophehad marched out of Egypt, walked on dry land through the Red Sea, and remained loyal during the elders’ rebellion against Moses. Zelophehad had a family and eventually died in the wilderness.

We know nothing more about him. Except that his death changes the course of history.

It seems Zelophehad’s first child is a girl. Same with the second and third babies. Zelophehad probably dyed his tent blue awaiting baby number four. Oops, also a girl.

But there’s another chance. Baby five is soon on the way.

Surely God loves Zelophehad and will now give him a son. In fact, there’s a bit of evidence that Zelophehad decided in advance to name him “Noah,” perhaps thinking the boy was like the Ark, rescuing Zelophehad from the flood of females. Numbers 36:11

But Noah is a girl.

Not just any girl and not living at just any time. God has a plan.

The 40 years of wandering are now over, and the Hebrews prepare to invade the Promised Land. God orders a head count of all the males who can fight. It’s a BIG deal—those numbers will determine how much land each of the 12 tribes of Israel will get in the Promised Land.

Like the women of 1920 suffrage, that’s when Zelophehad’s daughters brazenly start a fuss. They come to the tent of meeting, asking for a word with Moses, Joshua, and the elders. Brazen, I say.

Oh, it gets better.

The social deviants want their father’s inheritance. Brash, shameless, rabble-rousers, every one of them.

They say, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among [the elders] who banded together against the Lord…why should our father’s name disappear from the clan because he had no son? Give us property…” Numbers 27:3-4

Moses takes it to God, and here’s the answer, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right…give their father’s inheritance to them.” Numbers 27:7

Just like that, the law changes. If a man has no sons, his daughters inherit!

Did God choose Zelophehad’s daughters? Of course, He did. It had to happen right then; the girls’ share had to be counted as the tribes divide the land.

Pastor Duane Birth asked an important question in his Bible study this week, “Why isn’t the Holy Spirit given to ordinary people?” His answer: “Because sin separates man from God.”

“Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2

I often forbear Christian voices belittling women. But, more and more, like the brazen women of 1920 and Zelophehad’s daughters, I speak the truth: Discrimination against women in the church is heresy.

Peter’s first verse of his first sermon says in the Hebrew, “Your daughters will be Navi”—they will speak the very words of God. Acts 2:17, Joel 2:28

Could our Lord be any more clear?

Read about Deborah and Huldah, given authority over all men. What God decides has no gender. Paul said that clearly: “There is no longer…male nor female…you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

Scripture is a light to see God’s way. But countless believers use it as a hammer, striking away at their point of view. They never ask: What do these passages mean?

It’s why Christians don’t have the Spirit. They stand obstinate.

Seek repentance and believe Christ’s sacrifice, what we call the “blood of Jesus.” You need both to be restored to God. Only then will you have His beautiful Spirit. 1 John 1

It’s pretty simple: “The Holy Spirit…God gives to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:32

Copyright © 2020 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved. The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at or on Twitter @RA_Mathews.