It was 1952 when 5 women knocked on a California door and asked Audrey Wetherell Johnson to teach them a portion of the Bible. She wrote:
These were all earnest Christian women, well versed in Bible content. My heart fell! What had I come to? There in San Bernardino was such an abundance of churches where people could hear God’s Word, while by contrast in China were millions who had not even heard His name. Am I to give more to those who already have so much? I wondered. In reply I promised to pray about their request, and when they had gone I poured out to God my longing to teach pagans. He reminded me of Jeremiah 45:5, “Seekest thou great things for thyself?” (such as seeking to train teachers for China’s millions), “Seek them not!” Again He gave me His message to Zechariah (4:10) “For who hath despised the day of small things?” It seemed He had meant this for me. “You are here, not yet recovered in health; cannot you do this small thing for Me with these dear ladies who desire teaching?”
A few days later, when these ladies returned for my answer, I said, “I will not spoon-feed you. Are you willing for me to dictate a few questions which will help you in your study of each passage? I would then like you to first share with all of us what God has given you, after which I will share with you what He has given me.” – A. Wetherell Johnson, Created for Commitment p. 200
Thank God for Miss Johnson’s method of teaching. Her willingness to teach those five women gave birth to an international, non-denominational Bible study, which is still going strong today. Bible Study Fellowship: More than 1,000 classes on six continents in 39 nations, including China. I’m forever amazed by what God will do with a little yes.
Miss Johnson taught me to take a good look at the Scriptures for myself, under the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Katherine Bushnell inspired me to take it one step further. Dr. Bushnell was an amazing woman – physician, missionary, Bible scholar and social activist. While in China as a medical missionary, she discovered that the Chinese Bible was mistranslated to support cultural prejudice against the ministry of women. She wondered whether the same male bias might have prejudiced English translations as well. On the long sea voyage home, she renewed her study of Hebrew and Greek in order to investigate for herself. In 1911 she published Women’s Correspondence Bible Class, later titled, God’s Word to Women. It is reported that she died believing that her work had made little impact.
It made an impact on me.
It caused my discerning ears to perk up yesterday, for example, when I heard a pastor on a video promulgate the identity theft I wrote about here.
This morning when I was reading my BSF notes on Revelation 12, I came upon this sentence:
“Finally, he was called a serpent because he is that ancient serpent who appeared in the Garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve (and who was cursed to ongoing enmity with them.)”
“Not them, her,” I wrote in the margin. Her. The enmity was with the woman and her offspring. Not with Adam’s offspring. I explained why here.
One of the BSF questions asked who we think the three main players in this chapter are. The identities of the dragon and the son are pretty obvious. The identity of the pregnant woman, however, is not as clear. To most. It’s pretty clear to me.
The BSF notes give several possibilities as to who the pregnant woman might be:
- The Jewish people, who gave birth to the Messiah
- The Church
- Both believing Israel and the Church, giving birth to many people of God
The problem I have with possibilities 3 and 4 is verse 17. If the woman is the church (or all Jewish and Gentile believers), then who are “the rest of her offspring”?
No one in the leaders’ meeting Saturday morning, and no one in the notes, mentioned Eve as a possibility.
And I think she might be Eve.
Because Eve is “the mother of all the living.” The mother of all who humbly confess their sins. (You did click on the link and read Winning the War on Women, right?)
It’s interesting that Eve is fashioned in Genesis 2, but she isn’t named until the end of chapter 3. It wasn’t until after she sinned and confessed that she was named “the mother of all the living.” (Do you get what I’m saying or do I need to publish the book that lays it all out?)
It makes sense that the players at the very beginning of the epic battle (Genesis 3:15) – Eve, her offspring and the serpent – would be the same players at the end of the epic battle. (Revelation 12).
I realize that most ordinary people don’t care all that much about Revelation, but I’m not talking to ordinary people here.
And I’m hoping to hear from your extraordinary brains.