2 Chonicles 34: 20 Then (King Josiah) commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, the secretary Shaphan, and the king’s servant Asaiah: 21 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found (the book of Moses containing the law…22 So Hilkiah and those whom the king had sent went to the prophet Huldah, the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe (who lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter) and spoke to her to that effect.
If you’ve been reading along with me in 2 Chronicles you know God’s people have not done well in their relationship with God for a LONG time. They’ve had poor leadership, as king after king failed to follow God’s law, the specifics of which are contained in the book of the law first given to Moses. This passage indicates one important reason why God’s people had gone so far astray. Not only had they failed to follow God’s law, they had lost the book that contained the law to follow! Wow!
But that’s not really what struck me this morning. King Josiah was a good king – a reforming king – trying to right the ship. When the book of the law was found, he sent some of his key people to talk to a prophet, one who would hear the voice of God on behalf of God’s people. There were likely many prophets to choose from, hundreds, but the king understood this was a crucial moment in the life of God’s people. He had to be 100% confident in the word of the prophet he chose to inquire of God for him. You wouldn’t ask a second stringer at this moment. You would go to your ace – your #1 prophet. Period. And of whom did the king inquire?
Huldah – a prophetess. A woman.
Now, in today’s church this might not seem like a big deal, particularly not in the ELCA Lutheran church of which I am a part. In the ELCA Lutheran church, women serve in any and all capacities, including leadership, including pastors and bishops. And now, including the presiding bishop of our entire denomination – Bishop Liz Eaton. That said, there remain many churches in the US and beyond in which women remain excluded from primary leadership roles.
There are reasons why churches maintain such policies, and I’m not qualified to speak on their behalf. I simply want to point out that women have held key leadership positions among God’s people from the very beginning – Old Testament and New Testament.
Lord God, thank you for the amazing people we know as women. They are a treasure, many of whom are profoundly gifted leaders. This morning we recognize the gift they are to the church and to all humanity. We offer thanks and praise to you for all woman-kind, in Jesus’ name. Amen.