In the beginning, we are told, God formed wild animals and birds out of the ground. That is, he made them out of dirt.
And then God formed one last creature out of the dirt, and he breathed his own Spirit into that creature. And this creature was especially designed to continue to bring life out of the dirt: to cultivate plants and animals until the whole earth was filled with beautiful, orderly life.
And, just to make this connection clear, God called this special creature ”Man”, which means “dirtling”: creature made out of dirt.
So the man was created to help bring life out of the dirt — to fill the earth with plant and animal life — and even his name was designed to be a reminder of his job.
But very quickly it became clear that this job was too big for him. So God created another special creature to help him. However, God did not form this creature out of dirt. Instead, he took 50% of the man and gave that living material its own independent life. And this creature was especially designed to bring life out of the man: to cultivate that man until the whole earth was filled with human life.
And when God presented this new creature to the man, the man understood at once what this creature was designed for. So he called this special creature “Woman”, which essentially means “manling”: creature made out of man.
So the woman was created to help bring life out of the man — to fill the earth with human life — and even her name was designed to be a reminder of this.
But we know what happened: the man and the woman rebelled against God their Father. Their Father had designed them to learn by experience, he had created them for the joy of experimentation, the joy of figuring out what works — but they tried to shortcut the process by just downloading and installing a software patch: they ate a fruit that promised to give them immediate wisdom.
Unfortunately, the software patch actually worked: they did learn wisdom…too quickly, too early. Like young children who are exposed to things that they do not have enough experience to process properly. And so the patch turned out to operate more like a virus.
And as a consequence, the operating system God had installed in the man and the woman was critically damaged. It still ran, but it was glitchy:
The dirtling — the man — had been created to bring life out of the dirt. He still would. But from that point on most of the joy of that labour was lost. He would have to struggle to grow plants, he would have to struggle to cultivate the wild animals.
In the same way, the manling — the woman — had been created to bring life out of the man. She still would. But from that point on most of the joy of that labour was lost. She would have to struggle to produce chilidren, she would have to struggle to maintain a relationship with her husband.
The man and the woman, both, had been poisoned at the very core of what they had been designed to do. And the rest of the story of Genesis has traced how this poison, this disappointment, this grief has been passed down through the generations, all the way down to Jacob.
And here, as we catch up to Jacob, we find this same pattern of grief and disappointment at work in his life. Jacob has sold himself into slavery to his own uncle because he has this deep drive to do what mankind was always designed to do: he wants to grow plants, he wants to cultivate animals, he wants to fill the earth with life so that he can live. And he knew he could not do this alone: he needed a wife. And so, when he saw his uncle’s daughter Rachel, he looked at her lovely figure, and he thought, “Oh, she looks like she could produce a lot of children for me!” So he took a risk: he put his freedom down as collateral, hoping the investment would pay off over the long run.
Oh, and — by the way — Jacob was also tricked into marrying his uncle’s other daughter, a young woman named Leah. But she doesn’t matter. She is not part of Jacob’s plans. Rachel is the future of Jacob’s family. Rachel is the one who is going to bring life out of Jacob. Rachel is the one Jacob loves, the one Jacob has invested in.
And now we get to see how his investment turns out…
 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.
That was not part of the plan.
But whatever: so  Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben — which means, “See? A Son!” — for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”
 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon — which means “heard”.
 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi — which means “attached”.
So Jacob traded his freedom for the chance to build a future for himself. That future depended upon Rachel’s ability to produce children. Instead, Leah is producing children, sons! Leah is producing a fantastic return on Jacob’s investment. Jacob took a huge risk! — but thanks to God and to Leah that risk is paying off.
But it is not paying off for Leah. She also has taken a big risk. She also has also given away her freedom for the chance to build a future with her husband. Instead, she is building a future for her husband…she is not really included in it. Her investment is paying off in one sense — she has the status that comes from producing three sons in a row — but success is pretty empty when you have no one to share it with.
 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah — which means “praise”.
It seems that Leah has given up hope of ever winning her husband’s affection. Her first three sons are named after that hope. But her fourth son here is named after the reality of her situation: God has not blessed her with her husband’s love, but at least he has blessed her with sons.
But then the blessing stops: suddenly, at this point Leah stopped having children.
Well, probably because Jacob stops sleeping with her.
Now, why would a man stop sleeping with his wife, especially when she is providing such a good return on investment?
Well, probably because his other wife — Rachel — makes his life miserable every time he does sleep with Leah. And a man can only take so much pressure before he says, “Fine! I give up!”
And we know that Rachel is very capable of putting pressure on her husband because of what she says here in Chapter 30, verse 1:
 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
 Jacob became angry with her and said, “What, do you think I am God now? I’m doing my part, what happens after that is not my problem!”
 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”
Mmmmmm, this sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Didn’t Sarah do something similar with her husband? And we all remember how badly that turned out!
Well, apparently Jacob has forgotten.
So he accepts Rachel’s proposal, and Bilhah produces a son.  Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan — which means “vindication”.
 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.  Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali — which means “struggle”.
So Rachel now has two adopted sons, and — bonus points — she has also stopped Jacob from giving any more children to Leah. She has finally won! And we can see her attitude reflected in the names she gives to her adopted sons: she thinks of this contest as a war with her sister, a battle for who will produce more children and earn Jacob’s love.
But  When Leah figured out what game Rachel was playing, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife.
“I see your maid-servant, and I raise you my maid-servant!”
And Leah wins this hand:  her servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son.  Then Leah said, “What good fortune!” So she named him Gad — which means “fortune”.
 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son.  Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher — which means “happy”.
But happy about what?
Well, Leah can see clearly that Rachel has won the war for Jacob’s love. But at least Leah is winning the war of who can produce more sons, and she can see that this drives Rachel crazy. Leah is not going to get what she wants, but at least she can make Rachel miserable for having what Leah wants by boasting about how she has what Rachel wants…
…complicated, yes! But you know what I mean. We have all done this.
So anyway, Leah is no longer trying to win her husband’s love, she is simply trying to make Rachel as jealous as possible — and we can see this attitude reflected in the names she gives to her adopted sons.
And at this point the war changes. Until now it has been a cold war. It has been an unspoken contest, fought with sarcastically triumphant baby names.
Now the war turns hot:  During wheat harvest, Reuben — the oldest, who would have been 4 or 5 years old — went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah.
Now, the mandrake plant was very rare in that part of the world, and its fruit has narcotic qualities — it makes you a little bit high. And in those days, people used the mandrake as an aphrodisiac, a love potion. They believed that eating this fruit helped make a woman fertile.
So Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
She asks nicely! but suddenly, out of nowhere, Leah’s suppressed bitterness and resentment boils over, and she shouts at her sister, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”
And now it all comes out into the open: this is where we learn that Rachel has somehow persuaded Jacob to stop sleeping with Leah. And this is where we learn that, even though Rachel already has her husband’s love, even though she already has two adopted sons, this is not enough for her: she really wants to produce a biological child.
And this desire is strong enough that Rachel makes Leah an offer:
“Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”
And this proposal shows us just how desperately each sister wants what the other has: Leah is willing to trade this one-of-a-kind plant for just one night with Jacob, and Rachel is willing to risk Leah getting pregnant again in exchange for just one chance to get pregnant herself.
And there are also echoes here of the conflict between Jacob and Esau: in each case, someone gives away something precious in exchange for something to eat. Which shows us that this war between the sisters is really the same war that took place between the brothers. Jacob and Esau fought over who would win their father’s blessing and love; Rachel and Leah are fighting over who will win their husband’s blessing and love — but these human conflicts are really just symptoms of a more profound conflict that exists within every human heart: the fear of failing to win the love and blessing of God. And the belief that, if we do not reach out and take for ourselves, we will lose.
And so, by this point in the conflict, both sisters are proving to be just like Jacob and Esau: both sisters are willing to use manipulation and aggression to get what they want.
 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.
Then  God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son.
And isn’t it interesting that Moses says God listened to Leah at this point? Because there is actually no mention of Leah praying at all! Instead, what we have seen is Leah using very human tactics to win points against her sister. This battle is turning nasty! — and yet, we are told, God listened to Leah.
What does this mean?
This means that our God is the wisest and most gracious of Fathers. He sees through Leah’s sinful behaviour to the heart cry that lies beneath. Leah is not loved by her husband. But she should be! — and God hears her cries for justice. He does not descend in judgement upon her. He sees the truth of her situation, he hears her unspoken cries, and he fixes the injustice that her sister and her husband have perpetrated on her by keeping her from sleeping with her husband.
Of course, just like we often do, Leah completely misunderstands God’s kindness:  Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar — which means “wages”, “salary”.
Poor Leah. She thinks that, by sharing her husband with her maid-servant — which must have been a painful sacrifice — she thinks she has earned God’s blessing. She does not know that God simply loves her, that he simply heard her cry and answered.
Though, to be fair, how can Leah know that God simply loves her when her own husband does not? She was just forced to pay for a night with Jacob, so of course she believes that she has to pay for God’s blessings!
But even though Leah’s theology is very bad — even though she really does not understand God — God continues to love her:  Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son.
And this time, finally, God’s grace breaks through to Leah’s heart:  Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift.”
Leah understands at last that she does not need to pay for her Heavenly Father’s love. These sons are gifts from God, nothing more, nothing less.
But Leah also understands that her earthly husband is not like God. He is a sinful man, who does not yet fully understand that God’s love is a gift. And if Jacob does understand that God’s love is a gift, then how can he understand that a husband’s love is also supposed to be a gift?
So Leah now understands that she does not need to earn God’s love…but she also understands that she still needs to earn Jacob’s love. And it is clear from what she says next that she is still hoping, still hoping, that this could happen:
“This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun — which means “gift”.
 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah — which is the feminine form of the name Dan, which means “vindication”.
So here, with her last child — a daughter — Leah is saying what her sister Rachel said back in verse 4: “God has vindicated me; he has listened to me.” The main difference is that, for Rachel, naming her son Dan was a battle cry, a promise that she was just now beginning to fight. But for Leah, here, naming her daughter Dinah is a declaration that she is finished: she is putting down her weapons and stepping away from the conflict so that God can vindicate her.
 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.  She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.”  She named him Joseph — which means “add” — and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”
So it seems, here, in the end, that Rachel has also discovered that God’s blessings and love cannot be earned.
Earlier on she put her faith in having adopted sons, but she found that unfulfilling. Then she put her faith in a fruit, but that also failed. And now, suddenly — after everything else has failed? — she has a son!
And so, instead of giving her son a name that would mock Leah and continue the conflict, Rachel gives her son a name that is really a prayer to God for continued blessing.
So…what are we supposed to learn from this?
Well, this episode is dominated by the conflict between the sisters, their efforts to win their husband’s love and blessing, their efforts to win God’s love and blessing. And all the way through Genesis, Moses has made it clear that this conflict is centered around the fact that our definition of success is different from God’s definition, our understanding of value is different from God’s.
And so, time and again in Genesis we have seen people invest in the wrong system, the wrong city, the wrong kingdom, usually guided by the belief that it is better to reach out and take what they want. And we have seen that — even though God allows people to do this, and sometimes even allows them to achieve some measure of earthly success — ultimately God pours out his blessings upon the weak, the helpless, the despised.
Moses has deliberately structured this episode to make this point again:
Last week, we were told, Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful, so Jacob thought she was valuable, and he invested his future in her. But instead, the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive.
And then, when Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she thought adopted children would be valuable, so she invested her future in her maidservant. But instead God listened to Rachel and enabled her to conceive.
And when Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she also thought adopted children would be valuable, so she invested her future in her maidservant. But instead God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant again.
Moses’ point is obvious: people see things in a certain way, we define success in a certain way, and we value the things we think will bring us success — but what actually matters in life is how God sees things, how God defines success and value.
However, this particular episode is also unique. Most of the episodes in Genesis have focused on how men have wrestled with God, because men are the most generic form of humanity: when the bible talks about men’s problems, it is really talking about problems that every human being struggles with. But a few episodes in Genesis have focused on how women wrestle with God — and this episode is the most detailed of those episodes so far.
Which means that this episode is not merely focused on how men define success, what men find valuable, it is focused on how women define success, on what women find valuable — and, as a result, this episode is also designed to point us to how God defines success and value for women.
And so, one particular thing this episode shows us is that God does not just care about redeeming men, he also cares about redeeming women. Both men and women were crafted by the hands of God, they are equally important in God’s sight: two halves of one necessary whole.
And this is a point that Moses has already made several times:
Even as early as Chapter 4, Moses made it clear that God hates it when men dominate and degrade women.
And then, when God called Abraham out of the east, and set to work testing him and refining him, Moses made it clear that God was equally at work in Sarah’s life.
And then, when it was time for Isaac to get married, Moses made it clear that God arranged his marriage to Rebekah right down to the smallest detail — and that by doing this, God was not just saving Isaac’s future, he was saving Rebekah’s.
In the same way, here, Moses has made it clear that God does not just care about fixing Jacob’s character. Over the last couple of weeks we have seen how God has been chipping away at Jacob’s ambitious heart, trying to lead him into repentance and a life of faith. So far, there has been very little evidence that Jacob is ready to give up and adopt God’s values.
However, in this episode, we have seen both of Jacob’s wives come to some measure of repentance and faith. God has allowed them to fight a terrible war with each other, just as he allowed Jacob to sell himself into slavery. And the reason God allowed this is because he loves these women just as much as he loves Jacob. And because he loves them, he is not going to let them continue to live in slavery to their own corrupted natures, he is committed to transforming them.
And so, what we are seeing here is that Jacob’s wives are actually the first in the family to repent and begin to adopt God’s values and God’s definition of success. This story of these women marks the turning point of Jacob’s story. More than that, actually, this story of these women marks the turning point in the history of Abraham’s household —
Actually, more than that, this story of these women marks a major turning point in the history of all mankind.
Now, how do we know this?
Because, right here at the end, in verse 22, Moses uses a very special key phrase: Then God remembered Rachel, and enabled her to conceive.
Moses has only used this phrase two times before this, and he will use it only one more time in his writings.
He first used this phrase during the story of Noah’s life: when the flood was at its peak, when the storm was at its worst, then God remembered Noah, and he began to draw the waters back. He redeemed Noah from his life of waiting in the ark, and set him free to go out and claim the earth for God.
The second time was during the story of Abraham’s life: when Abraham was looking down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and all he could see was dense smoke rising from the land — just when God’s judgement was at its worst! — then God remembered Abraham. He redeemed Abraham from his life of waiting in the mountains, and set him free to go out and claim the land for God.
Well, until now in the story of Jacob, his life has been a steady descent into the valley of the shadow of slavery and disappointment and death. God has been with him every step of the way, but still: most of the bad things that have happened to Jacob have been the consequences of his own sins. But now God has remembered Rachel, and from this point onward, we are going to see God lead Jacob steadily back up out of the darkness, we are going to see him set Jacob free to go out and claim the land for God.
This is the turning point in Jacob’s life, and it begins with God’s mercy upon Rachel.
More than that, this is also the turning point for Abraham’s household.
Until now the women of Abraham’s family have struggled to produce children. Until now, God’s promise that Abraham will produce a great nation has looked a lot like nonsense.
But now everything has changed. Now Abraham’s household has produced 11 sons and one daughter — 12 children in all. Now God’s promise of a nation looks like it is actually beginning to come true!
— and it is all thanks to these two wives and their stubborn desire to win their husband’s affection.
But most importantly of all, this episode marks a major turning point in the history of the world. This episode shows us, yet again, that women are at the very center of God’s plan to pour out his blessings upon all nations.
This is a point that Moses made very clearly at the very beginning of Genesis:
Right at the beginning, just as the man and the woman were discovering what damage they had done to their own operating systems, God made sure to give them some Good News. He told them that one day, the woman would produce a son who would perform a factory restore on the human heart and undo the damage.
And when the man heard this Good News, he responded by changing the woman’s name. When he first met her he had named her “Woman” because she was made out of man, she was his other half. But when he heard God’s promise, he changed her name to “Eve”, which means Life.
Adam understood very well that, because of his failure, he had damaged his wife’s ability to produce life. So he did not change his own name: he is still known as Adam, the dirtling, the creature made from earth.
But because he understood God’s promise that his wife would someday give birth to the Messiah, the Saviour of all mankind — because he understood that without his wife, without women, there would be no salvation, Adam gave his wife a much more glorious name: the Mother of all the Living.
In essence, when Adam named her “Woman” in the beginning, he was naming her after himself. But when he changed her name to “Eve”, he was naming her after God, who is the true source of all life.
Well, Moses has just reinforced this concept by telling us that Rachel has just given birth to a messiah.
And we know this — again — because of this key phrase that Moses used in verse 22: God remembered Rachel.
Moses has used this phrase two times before this, and each time it signaled a turning point when God called a messiah out of the darkness and set him free to save God’s people.
And Moses will use this phrase only one more time in his writings, in Exodus, Chapter 2: when after 400 years of slavery in Egypt, God’s people cry out for help, then God remembered his covenant with Abraham — and immediately afterward God calls Moses out of his life of waiting in the desert, and sets him free to go and become a messiah for his people, to save them from slavery.
But it does not end there: this phrase is actually used one more time in the Old Testament, in the book of 1 Samuel, where a woman named Hannah has no children, even though her husband’s other wife does. Hannah cries out to God, and then the Lord remembered her, and she gave birth to a boy named Samuel — who grew up to be a messiah for God’s people.
In the Old Testament, this phrase always signals a turning point God’s plan of redemption — it always signals the calling of a messiah. And in the case of Rachel and Hannah, it signals the birth of a messiah: Joseph and Samuel, who each play a key role in redeeming Abraham’s household, Abraham’s nation, from disaster.
So this story of these women really does mark a major turning point in the history of all mankind — and it points forward to the major turning point in the history of all mankind. Joseph’s birth as a messiah, sent to redeem Abraham’s nation, is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ birth as the Messiah, sent to redeem people from every nation.
And it all depends upon these women: these two wives and these two maidservants.
Okay. So Moses is showing us that these women were essential elements of God’s plan, because they produced the nation that produced the Messiah that redeemed people from every other nation on earth.
But how are we supposed to apply this to our lives?
Is the bible teaching us that, since God created women to marry and produce children — and since these women got married and produced children — therefore the true value of a woman lies in her ability to get married and produce children?
No. Not at all. That is not what the bible teaches. That is not how God sees women. That is not how God defines a woman’s success or value.
But if this idea does not come from God, where does it come from?
And, if this is not what the bible teaches about the value of women, then what does the bible teach?
…sisters, obviously I cannot speak from within the experience of what it is like to live as a woman in this world. So in answering these two questions — where does this wrong idea come from, and what does the bible say about it — it is my intention to answer carefully out of what scripture says, and out of what I have learned from my wife over the last 30 years or so…
So, where do we get this idea that a woman’s value lies in her ability to get married and have children?
Well, God did design the woman to fill the earth with human life, and so he designed her with a profound biological connection to life that the man did not possess. And this was all meant to be a central source of joy for her, a joy that the man could not completely participate in.
Now, that joy was critically damaged when death entered the process — and yet that profound biological connection remains. And this is why the pain of infertility, the pain of miscarriage, the pain of losing a child is something women experience that men really cannot completely participate in. When my own wife experienced these things in our marriage, I also felt grief, I also felt loss — but it was clear to me that she was experiencing a level of grief that I could not begin to comprehend.
And so, because that pain is so profound, and so tightly bound to what was meant to bring joy, it has taught women from every generation that their value must come from the ability to avoid that pain and produce life successfully. And because women contribute at least 50% to every human culture, this idea has been woven into the fabric of every human culture in history.
And so this is why, even today, to the immense frustration of many of you, it seems as if the only thing human societies ask is, “So, are you married yet? Do you have children yet?” And many of you protest, because you’re thinking, “Surely I have an intrinsic value as a human being that is not related to what I can produce with my body?”
And you are right to protest! Because the bible itself protests. The bible itself teaches that women have an intrinsic value as human beings that is not related to what they can produce with their bodies.
Which leads us to our second question: what exactly does the bible teach?
The bible teaches us that we live in a biologically driven world, and for as long as we continue to be biological creatures, the majority of women will continue to link their own value to their ability to marry and have children, and because women contribute so much to human culture, human cultures will continue to do the same.
But the bible also teaches us that there is another world, a spiritual world, a world that draws its life from the original Tree of Life in the garden: a world that is still connected to a time when the woman’s value did not come from whether she was a wife or a mother, it came from the fact that she was the daughter of God.
And the bible teaches that the only way for a woman to enter this spiritual world is by joining herself to Jesus the Messiah through baptism. A woman who is baptized is a beloved daughter of God, and she has been set free, truly free, from the false values of the world.
Ah, but at this point many of you ladies are thinking, “Hmmm, yes, easy for you to say. But here’s the thing: I am baptized and yet I am still captive to the false values of this world, I am still captive to the false values of my own heart. I still care about whether I have a husband or not. I still care about whether I have children or not. And even when I do not want a husband or children, I still care about how everyone else seems to think I should want a husband or children!
“So, seriously now: how does coming to Jesus set me free in any real sense?”
This is how: when a woman is baptized into Christ, her relationship with God is restored. He becomes her Father again, and she becomes like a small child again.
Now, I have daughters of my own, and I can assure you that when they were small I never once looked at them and said, “Why aren’t you married yet? Why haven’t you had babies of your own?” And God is infinitely wiser and more gracious than I am as a father. Which means that he will never look at you and say, “Hey, why aren’t you married yet? Why don’t you have any children?”
When you become God’s little girl, you are quite literally removed from the world that assigns value based on the life you can produce, and you are brought into the world where you are valued because of the life you are.
That freedom is real. In Christ it does not matter if you are married or unmarried, if you are a mother or not. All that matters is that you belong to him.
But still: what about this life? What difference does it make in this world to be a daughter of God?
This can be the difficult part.
Because, like Rachel, you sisters have already received God’s love as a gift…and yet you still live in this world with a profound longing to produce something. And like Leah, you sisters live in a family here full of brothers who do not yet fully understand that God’s love is a gift…which means that, like Jacob, we often get in the way of helping you hear our Father’s voice.
But here is the Good News about all that: just like Leah, just like Rachel, you sisters are destined to hear our Father’s voice. You are destined for joy in this world and the next. Because, whether you are married or unmarried…in Christ, you are married; whether you ever become a mother or not…in Christ, you are a mother of all the the living. That is our Father’s promise to every one of you, his beloved daughters.
We actually read that promise together in our worship today, you can find it on page 4 of our worship guide, under our Promise of Forgiveness. From Isaiah, chapter 54: “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.”
What this means is that God values spiritual birth over biological birth. And this means that, in Christ, every single daughter of God gets to participate in producing the greatest of all families, the greatest of all nations.
And this happens completely by God’s grace. When my oldest daughter was small, she longed for more life: she wanted brothers and sisters. And my wife and I listened to her. We saw how helpless she was to accomplish her desires. And so we did not expect her to make more children for herself — we made more children for her. We made a family for her.
God the Father is infinitely wiser and more gracious than that. He is the source of Life, and he has designed you sisters to enjoy a profound connection to that source. Because you are women you have insights that men do not have access to. Which means that you are still absolutely essential elements of God’s plan to redeem the nations. Without you, without your participation with us in worship, we would have no Church, no Christ, and no salvation.
So please, don’t give up on us, your brothers. Forgive us, not because we are good men (yet), not because we deserve it, but simply because we are your brothers.
Let us, together, entrust our future to the Lord who bought us, who feeds us, who is making us all new.