The Most Powerful Partnership God Created- The Garden & Ezer Kenegdo
Recently the largest evangelical denomination in America voted to ban women from serving as pastors. At the Southern Baptist Convention in June of 2023, a passionate Rick Warren, under fire for ordaining women to serve as pastors, fought hard to keep his church in the Southern Baptist union. Rick is author of The Purpose Driven Life and lead pastor of the largest Southern Baptist Church in America, Saddleback Church which serves over 15,000 people per week. Warren lost his bid and he, along with every other woman ordaining Southern Baptist Church is now faced with a dilemma. Do they leave their fellowship to remove the title of “pastor,” from all women?
Anyone who has served in church ministry knows that women tend to be the backbone of a properly running church. Women tend to attend church more, be more regular in prayer and Bible study, and thus find themselves desirous to share their gifts.
Southern Baptists tend to see themselves as a bastion against the cultural creep away from sound Biblical principles. With the rise of the LGBT movement, along with the implementation of secular religious beliefs systems foisted upon children and society such as critical race theory, DEI- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, BLM, and other leftist leaning ideology that runs counter to the Word of God, a return to the Divine Authority of scripture should be the desire of every Christian.
However, with the rise of radical feminism, an equally diabolical belief system has risen to counter the idea that women and men are the same in all aspects. When Rosie the Riviter entered the workforce in the 1930’s-1940’s to fill those jobs left by men going overseas to fight a horrible war, many women stayed, having gained notoriety and a paycheck for the first time in their lives. While many women desired to return home to run a more traditional household, American society saw a drastic shift in work allocation and education.
With the rise of technology, many of the home life needs were outsourced to paid help or machines. Hand-scrubbed laundry like my grandmother started out cleaning on a washboard soon graduated to an electric washing machine and wringer, then dryers. Vacuums, microwaves, and cars in every home so that horses weren’t needed for transportation, leading many to move to the cities and suburbs where home farm-grown food and gardens were replaced by daily milk drops from the milkman for my grandma’s generation of city dwellers then complete separation from growing one’s own food and relying on weekly grocery store runs.
Of course, all this technology and innovation comes with a price. What used to be made frugally at home now needed paper fiat dollars to purchase. Men’s individual salaries went from being able to support a family, buy a home, and a car in the 1950’s, to barely being able to support half a household. Women were slowly forced to enter the workforce in greater numbers. Couple that with societal pressure against the ‘lazy housewife,’ who was no longer needed to grow a garden, wash clothes by hand, or put up food, and you see the recipe for traditional family disaster. America went from 65% family farms to dads working city jobs but moms staying at home to latchkey kids in less than 50 yrs.
What does this have to do with women in ministry? I thought this was an exposition on women in ministry? It is. Understanding what led up to the Southern Baptists pushing back so hard against women in pastoral positions is key to releasing both men and women to fulfill their God given callings.
3 Main Arguments Against Women in Ministry
There are three main arguments that are used to silence women in churches and ministries. Some say women can preach but not pastor. Some say women can preach but not teach, especially men. Still, some say that women should be completely silent in churches going so far as to make sure only men pray out loud, give the announcements, and lead in worship. One has to wonder if women are to be that silent if they can sing at all or have conversation with men before or after a service begins.
1. Adam & Eve– Eve Sinned First so Men Should Always Be in Leadership
Depending on how one reads into the Creation story and the subsequent redemption of Christ, some see all women as lesser than all men and more prone to sinning then men, thus making men a more proper fit for leadership in all aspects of life. There are two main passages that are used to silence women in the church with supporting text going back to the Fall in Genesis. However these texts have been grossly taken out of context and mare the very beautiful nature of God’s Design for marriage and salvation.
Entering the Garden
Genesis gives two different accounts of the creation of Adam and Eve.
6 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
However, Genesis 2 gives a very different account of the order of creation
5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a help meet for him.”
I would like to add in some alternative translations for Genesis 2:18
NKJV -helper comparable to him
CSV- helper corresponding to him.
HCSB -a helper as his complement.
Arameic- a helper for him like himself
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no help meet was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
It is beyond the scope of this blog to grapple with the day/order sequence of creation but I want to focus on two words- Help meet. Some translations render this as “suitable helper,” yet this does not fit with the original Hebrew and the KJV actually is closest to the Biblical meaning. Let’s look at these two words
Ezer- Help, Aid, rescuer, warrior
Neged – Equal, opposite, in front of, in the presence of, alongside,
Together Ezer Kenegdo-
1. Ezer used for the woman.
2. Ezer used for nations to whom Israel appealed for military aid.
3. Ezer used for God as Israel’s helper.
What these Bible verses have in common is that Ezer is used consistently in military context. The Ezer is a warrior. You are a warrior.
The Hebrew word Kenegdo means opposite as to him or corresponding as to him. A woman is no better or less than the man. Man and woman are equally and uniquely created, a perfect fit.
Our soul waits for YHWH. He is our help [ezre’nu] and our shield.
O Israel, trust in YHWH; He is their help [ezram] and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in YHWH; He is their help [ezram] and their shield.
You who fear YHWH, trust in YHWH; He is their help [ezram] and their shield.
The other [son] was named Eliezer [My God is Helper], for he [Moses] said, “The God of my father was my helper [b’ezri], and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.”
King David also called on YHWH as the divine Helper:
Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation [Yeshua-teka] say continually, “Let God be magnified.”
But I am afflicted and needy; Hasten to me, O God! You are my help [ezri] and my deliverer; O YHWH, do not delay.
Even YHWH called Himself Israel’s help:
YHWH: You have destroyed yourself O Israel, for in Me is your help [b’ezre’ka]. Where now is your king that he may save you in all your cities, and your judges of whom you requested, “Give me a king and princes”? I gave you a king in My anger and took him away in My wrath.
YHWH has always been our help, our rescuer and deliverer,
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help [ezri] come?
My help comes from YHWH, who made heaven and earth.
YHWH: “I will scatter to every wind all who are around him [the prince of Jerusalem], his helpers [ezr’ow] and all his troops;
Taken together, the word kenegdo literally translates “as opposite him” or “like against him.” Eve is a suitable helper because she is both “like” Adam and “opposite” Adam. She is “like” Adam because she is a human being, not an animal (cf. Gen. 2:20). But she is “opposite” Adam because she is female, not male
*The transJordan tribes cross to help their brothers in battle (Joshua 1:14).
*Gibeon appeals to Joshua, “Come, save, help” (Joshua 10:6).
*Arameans help or ally with Hadadezer against David (2 Samuel 8:5).
*Abishai helps David when he’s threatened (2 Samuel 21:17).
*Joab and Abiathar help Adonijah advance his coup (1 Kings 1:7).
*Ben-Hadad enlists thirty-two kings to help him (1 Kings 20:16).
*1 Chronicles 12 uses the verb seven times, mostly of David’s mighty men (vv. 1, 17-22).
*Isaiah warns Judah not to rely on Egypt for help (Isaiah 30:7).
Adam’s ‘ezer will be similar, but across the table, face-to-face.
Yahweh promises to make another powerful, glorious being, also made in His own image. Adam’s ‘ezer won’t provide additional Adamic power; her power will be complementary – just as powerful, but a different power. And a necessary power
In Genesis 1 we see that Adam and Eve are to rule together in harmony. Co-rulers but something happens when the serpent enters the scene. Eve is deceived by satan and eats the fruit forbidden to Adam of the knowledge of good and evil. Let us look at the Gensis 3 account
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was [a]pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves [b]coverings.
9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
16 To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be [e]for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall [f]bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”
20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve,[g] because she was the mother of all living.
21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
1. Man’s Fall Caused by Adam-
Eve ate the fruit but it was Adam’s eating of the fruit that caused the Fall of mankind.
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
2. With Eve’s Sin, Christ Redeems the Curse and Turns it on Satan for Ultimate Salvation
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
3 Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.
4 And He shall stand and feed[b] His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;
5 And this One shall be peace.
– Matthew 2:6
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
The Lord has sworn to David
A truth from which He will not turn back:
“Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.
“How long will you go here and there,
O faithless daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth—
A woman will encompass a man.”
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
3. 1 Timothy 2, which we will get into later, promises to reverse this curse 15 But women[c] will be saved in childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
4. Is the desire for her husband a life long curse? Didn’t Jesus come to save us from the curse? If the curse was issued as a punishedment and Jesus came to overcome this punishment, is Eve’s punishment reversed. Yes. What we see in 1 Corinthians 7 is that husband and wife have equal access to each other 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Married men and women both have a desire towards one another
An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.
5. God provided a way around the curses even in the Old Testament- how much more in the new.
We see women in leadership in the Old Testament, dispelling the notion that God set up an eternal patriarchal rule with all women in subordination to all men. Women who walked with God would not be subject to this curse just as men would not be subject to hard labor but blessings if they followed God.
Women in the Old Testament
4 and 5 tell of the great leader Deborah. She was not only a judge, but also a prophet, and psalmstress. Deborah held court before this male military leader came on the scene (Judges 4:5). Some say that Deborah was chosen because there weren’t any good males. That is no where in the text. In fact Barak and Deborah go to battle together and indeed the victory is given to a woman, Jael, who puts a tent stake in the opposing king’s head.
Miriam was a leader in Isreal. She led in worship and in other ways
Micah 6 I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you,
also Aaron and Miriam.
In 2 Kings 22, King Josiah finds the long-lost Book of the Law. Knowing the kingdom was in need of revival, he gathered some of the most trusted prophets. Although there were more prominent prophets on the scene at the time, like Jeremiah and Zephaniah, it’s interesting that Huldah the prophetess had a leading role in the restoration.
A whole book of the Bible tells the story of this fearless leader. Esther risked her own life to save the lives of the Jewish people. And each year at Purim, Jews everywhere still reflect on Esther’s story.
More could be said of Isaiah’s prophetess wife, David listening to Abagail who feeds his armies, the spies listening to Rahab, Namomi sending Ruth to Boaz, God instructs Abraham to “heed” Sarah’s voice (21:12).
5. Redemption of the land under Christ and OT promises. More at length on this another time but God made a covenant with Abraham to bless the fruit of his field which we see in Deuteronomy 8 & 28. We see promises of restoration all through the prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea. When Christ comes we are to work with him in the reversing of this curse and living out the kingdom of God. All creation groans to the manifestation of the sons of God. We are reconciled to him and are to bring Heaven back to earth
Hosea 3:5 Afterward, the Israelites will turn and seek the Lord their God and their Davidic king. Then they will submit to the Lord in fear and receive his blessings in future days.
Isaiah 55 “For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Isaiah 57:13 But he who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land,
And shall inherit My holy mountain.
Isaiah 58:11 The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of [g]Streets to Dwell In.
Joel 2 Fear not, O land;
Be glad and rejoice,
For the Lord has done [i]marvelous things!
22 Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field;
For the open pastures are springing up,
And the tree bears its fruit;
The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
23 Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the [j]former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you—
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first month.
24 The threshing floors shall be full of wheat,
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.
And it will come to pass in that day
That the mountains shall drip with new wine,
The hills shall flow with milk,
And all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water;
A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord
And water the Valley of [h]Acacias.
19 “Egypt shall be a desolation,
And Edom a desolate wilderness,
Because of violence against the people of Judah,
For they have shed innocent blood in their land.
20 But Judah shall abide forever,
On that day I will raise up
The [i]tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
And [j]repair its damages;
I will raise up its ruins,
And rebuild it as in the days of old;
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom,[k]
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
Says the Lord who does this thing.
13 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it.
14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
15 I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.
15 ‘And now, carefully consider from this day forward: from before stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the Lord— 16 since those days, when one came to a heap of twenty ephahs, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty baths from the press, there were but twenty. 17 I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,’ says the Lord. 18 ‘Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid—consider it: 19 Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.’ ”
Zerubbabel Chosen as a Signet
20 And again the word of the Lord came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, 21 “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying:
‘I will shake heaven and earth.
22 I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms;
I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms.
I will overthrow the chariots
And those who ride in them;
The horses and their riders shall come down,
Every one by the sword of his brother.
23 ‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord, ‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
6. Finally, we all get to eat of the tree of life
Prov 3:18 wisdom She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Not only that but we are to be that tree of life. By one man Adam, sin entered, and death, was connected to the Tree of life. Death has no power over us and we can’t die. Jesus said that anyone who comes to him would eat and never be hungry, they would have eternal life, and never be thirsty. He is the redemption of the fall, complete and whole
In Part 2 of this series we will discuss what it meant to co rule in the garden of eden and how Jesus has again made men and women/ husbands and wives co rulers, a nation of kings and priests with equally powerful spiritual gifts to spread the kindgom of God throughout the earth. You won’t want to miss out on this one as we delve into unlocking the unique callings in each individual and how men and women can work together in harmony to advance the Gospel.