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Rightly challenging the status quo

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Pr Isaiah White

The story of Zelophad in Numbers 27:1-8 helps us understand what it means for a Christian to challenge the status quo.

“Then came the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, from the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph; and these were the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

“And they stood before Moses, before Eleazar the priest, and before the leaders and all the congregation, by the doorway of the tabernacle of meeting, saying:

“Our father died in the wilderness; but he was not in the company of those who gathered together against the Lord, in company with Korah, but he died in his own sin, and he had no sons.”

“Why should the name of our father be removed from his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father’s brothers.’ So Moses brought their case before the Lord.

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘The daughters of Zelophehad speak what is right; you shall surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brothers, and cause the inheritance of their father to pass to them.

“And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying:`If a man dies and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter.”

With the right attitude, efforts and focus, we can always change our status quo. (Illustration/Inc Magazine)

Without a father, these five daughters found themselves in a male chauvinistic community.

They lived amidst people that believed boys were better than girls, and society presented this social class strata not just as cultural but divine as well.

For women to be inferior to men was something ordained by God Himself, not just by cultural elders.

Courageous Girls
In such a world, these girls took courage and stood before Moses the supreme leader of the community and stated their point.

To challenge the status quo, one needs courage. It was unheard of in their community that women would seek audience with the prophet over public matters.

The courage these girls exhibited is reflected in the act of the woman with an issue of blood in Mark 5.

This woman too was a victim, not just of the disease she suffered, but also of the patriarchal culture in which she lived. Being sick and in the public was a crime enough that could lead her to being stoned.

On top of that, she touched the Rabbi. But because she had a need, she defied all these traditions and touched Jesus for healing.

The five girls in the book of Numbers were about to be homeless. Before that happened, they took courage and argued their case before the leaders.

To challenge the status quo, one needs courage to begin. (Illustration/The Entrepreneur)

Challenging status quo
When the girls stood before Moses, they presented the historical fact about their father. First, they pointed out he was not a rebellious or righteous man because he died in his sin.

In other words, they had not come to claim what their family deserved to receive from God, but they sought grace. Their kind of language is one that affects change.

They did not present their case with entitlement, but in a polite manner.

The girls politely asked: “Why should the name of our father be removed from among his family because he had no son?

Give us a possession among our father’s brothers.” The name of their father was about to be forgotten not because he did not have children, but because he had no sons.

And the daughters challenged the cultural perspective on the matter and their question was; is it about a child or gender?

This kind of reasoning sent Moses before the Lord and God ordained that from henceforth, if a man has only girls they too can be heirs just like boys.

These girls did not settle for the status quo bias (cognitive bias that involves people preferring that things stay as they are or that the current state of affairs remains the same).

They wanted things to change and they rightly changed not their situation, but also the situation of all girls in their culture with the same challenge.

This change in the Jewish cultural perspective of women happened because of the courage and challenge of these girls.

Situations change when we take deliberate actions amidst challenges. (Source/Tailored Wisdom)

Courage is not the absence of fear, it is doing what ought to be done, even when you are fearful.
These girls teach us that nothing will change if we do not gather the courage to change it.

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