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Three weeks ago, I took my wife, Jill, to the airport to be with her parents while her mom faced some health issues. As we said our goodbyes at security, she said, “While I am gone, I want you to learn some independence.” I forlornly responded, “I don’t want to.” She said that I had to. I have tried.

I don’t know how I would make it without Jill. As I reflect on the past year, I realise just how dependant I am on her loving, persistent, and courageous care. Her bold faith in our Lord and her faithful behaviour reminds me of the daughters of Zelophehad.

These incredible women of faith are first mentioned in Numbers 27 and then, at the close of Numbers (chapter 36), we are once again reminded of their fruitful faith. Later, in Joshua 17, we read of Zelophehad’s daughters as Israel enters the Promised Land. I would venture a guess that their bold belief and faithful behaviour was a legacy, perhaps of their father but perhaps even more so from their mother. These women of faith—these worshipping women—have a lot to teach us. They have a lot to teach us men. If I can be so bold, their bold belief and their fruitful faith many Christian men to shame.

These women believed God’s promise that Israel would inherit Canaan, the land God had promised to Abraham and the nation of Israel that would come from him. It was because of their faith in God’s promise that these women broke with custom and, after their father died, came to Moses requesting their family inheritance. Until this point, there was no legal provision for a family of women to receive an inheritance. But now that their father had died, without a male heir, these daughters refused to be left out of God’s gracious provision. Moses asked the Lord about this matter and the Lord affirmed their desire and request (Numbers 27:1–6). They would have their inheritance! It is for this reason that the book of Numbers closes with the reaffirmation of their lot in the promised land. God was faithful and these women believed and behaved like it.

There are many things for us to learn from their example, including their faith despite their fathers’ failure of faith (27:3 cf. Numbers 14). But what particularly strikes me is that the church of Jesus Christ has a long history of those like the daughters of Zelophehad: strong women of faith.

I will say more about this in a few weeks when we get to Numbers 36, but for now I want to challenge the male members of Brackenhurst Baptist Church concerning our belief, our boldness, and our behaviour. Are we like the daughters of Zelophehad? That is, are we boldly clinging to and claiming the promises of God? Are we willing to break with custom, defying a cultural norm by doing the hard thing of pushing against accepting the status quo? Specifically, are we boldly taking the initiative to secure our family’s spiritual inheritance? Are we boldly praying for the salvation of our children (and grandchildren) and behaving like we believe God will save them? Or are we merely shrugging our shoulders with a passive, “Well, you do the best you can and hope for the best”? Are we willing to risk pushback and even temporary rejection as we make it clear in our actions as well as in our words that “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15)?

With reference to our church, are we doing the hard thing (as so many women in our church do) of coming alongside others in our church, including those younger, to read God’s word with them, to pray with them, to teach them? That is, is our faith robust enough to believe that the future of BBC can be so much better than our present?

Let me conclude: Thank God that BBC has many daughters of Zelophehad. May God give us more of Zelophehad’s sons. We need them now. O men of God, arise!

Doug Van Meter - 10 October 2022

Zelophehad’s Daughters

BBC Shorts

Doug addresses some lessons for discipleship arising from a consideration of Zelophahad’s daughters.

From Series: "BBC Shorts"

Occasional pastoral thoughts from the elders of Brackenhurst Baptist Church.

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