Friday, March 27, 2009

BELIEVING FOR CHANGE: THE DAUGHTERS OF ZELOPHEHAD

In the 27th Chapter of the book of Numbers, there is the story of five sisters who made a difference in the lives of women. Their names are Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. It was all about the economics. It appears that most real change or systematic change relates to justice and the distribution of a fair share. These women went before Moses to protest the law that only men could have access to property upon the death of a father. These women are movers and shakers. They are life changers.

Do you remember how in the book of Exodus, the 18th chapter, Moses’ father-in-law, Jehtro, helped Moses to put into place what I will call “District Courts”? These sisters moved from “Family Court”, to community court or “Circuit Court”, to “District Court”. Following this train of thought, one may then conclude that when they came before Moses they were before the “Supreme Court”. Change is a process.

I believe these women went through what every life changer goes through. They probably experienced ridicule. More than likely, someone told them to leave the established laws alone. Someone may have told them that they were asking for too much. I am pretty sure that someone suggested they ought to stay in their place. And, those who remain true to what “is” probably uttered words like, “It ain’t goin’ to happen”.

Take our newly elected president, President Barak Obama, the first African American to hold the office in the United States of American as an example. Every thought that he presented was challenged. He was too much pie in the sky. He was too inexperienced. He wasn’t politically savvy enough. Some people said, “It’s just not time for a Black president; just wait”. Change only comes by changing our thoughts and discovering a way to pursue the change.

Change only comes when someone is willing to fight for it. For systematic change to happen, somebody has to have enough faith to keeping moving. Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah had to form an Association of Determination. They would not accept “NO”! I could suggest that these five women were the first Women’s Suffrage Group. And, you know what the first of anything has to go through, don’t you? Making change requires almost everything about us to be tested. Whether it is changing one’s self or a system, the change will only come when we are willing to go beyond the normal.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the meaning of the names of these five progressive women. I thought it might give us a clue as to why they dared to move forward to change the conditions of women and ultimately a nation. The following Hebrew meanings are found in Strong’s Analytical Concordance: Mahlah means disease; Noah means motion; Hoglah means partridge; Milcah means counsel; Tirzah means favorable.

Might I suggest that, like Fannie Lou Hammer, Mahlah was sick and tired of being sick and tired of the established injustices? Noah understood that faith without action is dead. Hoglah looked at her small size and realized that with God it is always bigger than us. Milcah brings her gifts of wisdom and knowledge to the table. He is a mighty good counselor. Tirzah reminds us that one day of favor is better than a hundred years of labor


To accomplish change, we need five graces: (1) We’ve got to be sick and tired of how it is. Using Les Brown’s words, “we’ve got to be hungry,” for change. (2) Change requires action. Put a move on it. (3) According to scripture, we must not despise small beginnings. One step is many steps. Do it today. Today is the future. (4) Seek out counsel. Find mentors and supporters. (5) Trust that, in spite of the criticisms, somebody needs the change(s) you are seeking. Favorable conditions will soon emerge.

These five sisters offer us an opportunity to believe in the power of unity. Unity is not the same as uniformity. Unity might suggest that each of them were different, but their desire for the change was focused in unison. They went before Moses with one agenda that would bless each of them individually. They went together. They stood together. They knew they were right. And, God said to Moses, “The daughters speak right.”

Righteous causes require much, but in the end they are right! Change for change’s sake is nothing, but change for justice is God.


QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
What five women have made changes that you are benefiting from?
What woman are you criticizing because she is not the status quo?
What five sisters are you consulting with to make a change?

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