In chapter two of Genesis is the account of God creating Adam and placing him in the garden. The story goes on to describe how, out of all of God’s creation, there was nothing comparable to Adam. He stood distinct from every other thing God had made and, because of this, was alone. So God says this:
“It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
— Genesis 2:18
And thus woman was created, like man, to be his helper.
Sadly, because of people’s desire for power, and because of sin, the history of womanhood is not one of powerfully helpful women standing next to men through every achievement mankind has made. We both know they were there, but it wouldn’t have been “proper” for them to share the spotlight — for their own good, of course. (Insert sarcastic tone here, please.) Women become the weaker flesh, subservient to men, uneducated sandwich makers. For centuries, the true meaning of the creation of women was lost, despite stories of powerhouse women recorded in the Bible, like Rebakah, Rahab and the ladies we learned about this past Sunday, Deborah and Jael.
To understand these women, and all women, we need to travel back in time and sit with Moses as he writes Genesis 2:18. We could ask, “Hey Moses, what exactly did you mean when you said ‘suitable helper’?” However, I have four kids learning virtually and don’t have time for that, so I did the next best thing. I looked at all the other places in the Bible that use the same Hebrew word for helper. I am happy to have done this research for you, but if you find yourself curious, I used the concordance in the Blue Letter Bible app. I looked at the phrase him a helper — the Hebrew word `ezer — and every other occurrence of it in the Old Testament. Guess what I found: all but three uses of this phrase are used to describe God as our helper. Check these out:
Our `ezer is in the name of the Lord…
— Psalm 124:8
There is none like God, O [Israel],
who rides the heavens to your ´ezer,
through the skies in his majesty.
— Deuteronomy 33:26
How blessed is he whose ´ezer is the God of Jacob…
— Psalm 146:5
Did Moses make a mistake when describing women by using this word would also go on to describe God throughout the Old Testament? (And spoiler alert: the Greek New Testament also uses this word in to describe the Holy Spirit.) Of course he didn’t. God knew exactly what he was up to when he created women and then proceeded to describe them the way he would describe himself!
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.”
— Genesis 1:26–27
Men and women were both created in the likeness and image of God with different roles to play so that, when we work together, we display a more complete picture of God. Is it any surprise then that, in the book of Judges, God appointed Deborah to judge and lead his people? Not at all. What about bringing victory through Jael? She was a woman with the spiritual fortitude and iron stomach who both conceived the plan and followed it through.
And what about you? Have you ever had a woman in your life who has given you wise counsel, called you out in your sin, stood beside you in the midst of your storm, or spoken louder than you when it was time to make a move or do the right thing? Each of them was doing exactly what God created them to do, looking more and more like him when they step into their role as helpers.
We should never be surprised by powerful women. Instead, we should seek them out, encourage them, and create platforms for them to do their best work. After all, as Glenn Kreider from Dallas Theological Seminary says, “Who do you call when your computer is broken? The janitor? No, you call I.T., because they were hired exactly for that. That’s the role of women in the world, specifically created to do what man was not created to.”