The Headless Woman

Personal Matters

This teaching springs from a story told at a leaders meeting about a church (x) where the pastor turned aggressively against his fellow leaders most of whom then died in quick succession.

One person prophesied x had become “Ichabod”, which means ““The glory has departed”, referring to Israel’s defeat by the Philistines and the capture of the ark of God’s presence (1 Sam 4:21). In Israel’s history the loss of God’s glory always led to enemy triumph (Ezek 11:22-25).

Did church x really come under, as the speaker put it, “a demonic curse”, and why (Prov 26:2)?

Listening to this story I sensed the Lord saying that when the pastor of x inverted godly order (becoming an abuser rather than a shepherd) the congregation was stripped of the presence of their Protector.

When the shepherd becomes a wolf the sheep scatter (Acts 20:17, 29).

I discerned too I was at a table surrounded by good Christian people many who had little or no sense of the protecting presence of the Spirit of God at that time.

Whatever the precise case with x, the absence of the protecting glory of the Lord is manifestly true of the vast majority of Australian churches.

For a church that feels safe will take great risks for Christ in an uncertain world.

The Woman/Church is acting as though she has no Protector-Head/Christ.

A-Head of it All

 “[T]he head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” describes a spiritual arrangement that by “nourishing and cherishing” imparts safety and security to W/woman (1 Cor 11:3; Eph 5:29).

As a wife in a mature Christian marriage senses the glorious protecting presence of her husband Christ as Head is the Protector of his Bride the Church (1 Cor 11:7). This perfect godly design was however abandoned in Eden. Adam is primarily responsible for the breakdown of God’s protective arrangements in a fallen world (1 Tim 2:13-14).

Whilst Eve’s “husband…was with her” when she was tempted he failed to protect her (Gen 3:6 cf. 2 Cor 11:2-3).

We now live in a world of mutual mistrust where the protection of God’s glory has been replaced by a cover-up (Gen 3:7; Rom 3:23).

Fig leaves, titles, positions, possessions and achievements substitute for divine glory;  but cannot restore basic relational trust between broken human beings. A foundational conflict over control began in Eden; the LORD “said to the woman, “And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”” (Gen 3:16 NLT)1)https://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/01-genesis/text/articles-books/foh-womansdesire-wtj.pdf. This struggle spread to every human marriage and more seriously to God’s marriage with Israel.

Despite the protective covering of his glorious presence God’s Wife constantly sought the security of other powers (Deut 32:11; Ps 105:39; Jer 2:11-13).

Jesus stands at the end of a long list of prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord to this rebellious Woman; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem….How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Behold, your house is forsaken.” (Luke 13:34-35).

Destruction by evil powers always befalls the Bride of the Lord whenever she refuses his protection.

We must turn to the crucified and risen Christ.

The Lord of Glory

On those repeated occasions when evil powers and persons sought to murder Jesus the Lord showed no fear (Mark 4:39 cf. 1:25; John 10:31 ff.). In every situation he knew the glory which protected him was the presence of the Father (John 1:14; 16:32).

Jesus rested atmosphere of indestructibility evaporates as he approaches the cross. The sweaty fear of Gethsemane comes from knowing that the cup of God’s wrath he must drunk means the loss of the protection of all Fatherly presence (Luke 22:41-44; Heb 5:7-8).

The forsakenness of Calvary means facing the powers of evil alone and unguarded. Jesus’ cry is a cry of sheer terror; ““My God…why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34).

In this experience Jesus can identify fully with the broken and afraid, but his resurrection means translation to a place of protection beyond every evil presence (Heb 4:15).

Whoever knows resurrection power cannot fear,whatever man may do”, because they are fully assured their Protector will never forsake them (Phil 3:10; Heb 13:5-6).

The resurrection from the dead fills the Bride of the Lamb with holy boldness (Acts 5:40-41). By the Spirit we know that the One who risked all for his Woman will protect her in every circumstance of life (Matt 10:16ff.).Why then is Christ’s Church so timid, cautious and conservative; what has gone wrong?  

Trust in Him

The marginalisation of the power of the gospel in preaching leaves the Bride spiritually unprotected from evil powers.

They laugh at Her self-defensive strategies of big buildings, charismatic speakers and feel good teaching.

We must be clothed with Christ alone if we are share in his supernatural protection (Gal 3:27).

In the realm of spiritual warfare Ephesians 6 counsels us as a community (all the verbs are plural) to use the gifts of God to protect one another.

Of these “the shield of faith” has particular significance (v.16). Every ancient army knew that if their shields did not lock tightly the whole protective structure would crumble in the heat of battle.

For a formation to hold together under the rain of enemy fire every soldier needed to have complete trust in the man to his right and to his left for his protection.

In the spiritual realm believers standing together in the front line of the intensity of spiritual conflict must stand “as one”.

Where we do not protect one another, wherever there is mistrust or self-protection, “the flaming darts of the evil one” will pierce our hearts again and again with condemnatory fear.

This is the current crisis of the Church. Only a Body free from all self-centred defensiveness can “withstand in the evil day” (v.13).

This requires the miracle Christ alone an offer; “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us….forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Eph 5:2; Col 3:13-14).

This is humanly impossible but in Christ it is fruitful beyond measure (John 15).

Conclusion

A Body that no longer needs to put energy into self-protection will find in herself a powerful urge to nurture their own people; this will bring a revolution in pastoral care.

Suddenly those many single, divorced and widowed women who feel exposed and unprotected will find enclosure in a community where men reach out in strength to guard their spirits.

Men who feel “bossed out” of their masculinity shall also sense the call of Christ to a holy headship to protect their women.

A corporately protected Church will spontaneously mature; “holding fast to the Headthe whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Col 2:19).

The message of this teaching is not an option.

The Christian Church is no longer part of the Establishment in Western society; we can no longer assume the protection of the state and its laws.

The time is near when if we are to remain faithful to Jesus we will be forced to live with him as our sole Protector; the time to fully entrust ourselves to him and to one another in love is now. May the Lord graciously surprise us all.

References   [ + ]

1. https://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/01-genesis/text/articles-books/foh-womansdesire-wtj.pdf

John Yates

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