|Volume 24 Number 9 September 2022
Influential Mothers in Scripture
The history of the holiday we know as Mother’s Day is interesting. Anna Jarvis originally pushed for the public recognition of mothers after the death of her mother in 1905. She received some financial backing and then celebrated the first Mother’s Day at her church in West Virginia in May 1908. She later wanted to see the holiday added to the national calendar, claiming that male achievements dominated the holiday calendar. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Anna Jarvis originally thought of the day for personal celebration between mothers and families. She envisioned visiting the church with one’s mom and wearing a pink or red carnation flower if one’s mother were living and white if she were deceased.
However, once the holiday became a national observance, the commercial market took over. The florist and card companies turned Mother’s Day into a new source of income. Jarvis was angry. She spent the rest of her life childless and never married. She was arrested once for attempting to disturb a Mother’s Day observance. It didn’t turn out as she hoped, and she used all her time and wealth for the remainder of her life trying to get the holiday removed from the American calendar. I’m not sure the way she behaved would have pleased the mother she sought to honor.
The Bible introduces us to the role of the mother in the home and the honor the position deserves long before Anna Jarvis thought it should be nationally recognized. Here are a few influential mothers from God’s book and a few important things to keep in mind about them.
Eve, the Mother of All Living
Eve is famous for being the first woman on earth, the first human being to speak with the devil, the first to be enticed and deceived by him, and the first to give in to sin (Genesis 3:1-6). However, the Bible also lets us know that she is the first mother in the Bible. All of humanity goes back to Adam and Eve. After God pronounced punishment on Adam and Eve for their disobedience, Moses wrote that “…Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). Eve was the first to experience childbirth and the pain that accompanies that experience (Genesis 3:16). She was the first mother to know the excitement of bringing children into the world (Genesis 4:1-2). She was the first mother to know heartache at the loss of a child (Genesis 4:3-8). She is the mother of all living as she is the matriarch of humanity. A study of her life, failings and experiences would be beneficial to all Bible students.
Jochebed, a Mother of Courage
Moses grew up to be a faithful man of God. He knew the Lord in a special way. However, he may have never known the Lord at all if it had not been for his mother (Jochebed) and the courage she demonstrated in the dark days of the Egyptian empire. Pharaoh had ordered the slaughter of all newborn male children of Israel (Exodus 1:22). Moses’ mother saw his life as valuable, and she decided to hide him and preserve his life (Exodus 2:3-4).
She eventually sent him in an ark or basket down the Nile River, where he was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter and taken into her house (Exodus 2:4-7). Providentially, Moses’ mother was able to reenter his life and play a valuable role in raising him (Exodus 2:8-10). The book of Hebrews describes Jochebed and her husband Amram (Exodus 6:20) as acting on faith and being unafraid of the king’s commandment (Hebrews 11:23). She is an example of courage, faith and determination to do what was right. Her desire to step out front and save her son eventually led to him leading God’s people through the Red Sea and the saving of the entire nation of Israel (Hebrews 11:24-29).
Hannah, a Prayerful Mother
Hannah, like several women in the Old Testament, was unable to conceive and bear children. She prayed to the Lord in the bitterness of her soul, requesting a child and vowing to devote him to the Lord, if allowed to have a child (1 Samuel 1:10-11). The Lord remembered her prayer, and she brought forth a son and named him Samuel (1 Samuel 1:19-20). After her request was granted, she kept her word, and Samuel became a faithful and devout Israelite. He served as a prophet, judge and priest for decades (1 Samuel 12:1-3). Hannah offered a prayer of praise and thanksgiving after the Lord heard her and blessed her with a son (1 Samuel 2:1-10). She demonstrates the need for mothers to be prayerful both in requests and in rejoicing. She knew she needed to ask the Lord for the things she desired but also to thank Him for what He graciously provided (Philippians 4:6-7). She gave her son back to the Lord, who had given him to her in the first place. That is what all faithful mothers intend to do (Psalm127:3).
A Sacrificial Mother
Her name is unknown, but her story is unforgettable. Shortly after Solomon became King in Israel, two women approached him. Both women had a child, but one child had died, and now they were both claiming the remaining child. Solomon, in his wisdom, offered to cut the child in half and split him between the women (1 Kings 3:16-25). The true mother was willing to let the other woman have her child to preserve his life (1 Kings 3:26-28). This story illustrates more than the wisdom of Solomon. It shows that there is nothing that a mother would not do for her child. Moms sacrifice, go without and deprive themselves of many conveniences for the sake of their children. This unknown mother is known for her willingness to sacrifice for her child, and godly mothers have been known for the same ever since.
Elizabeth and Mary, Mothers in Tandem
Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25). Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God (Luke 1:26-45; Matthew 1:18-25). These two women were relatives, and they also were to give birth to two individuals about whom the Old Testament prophesied (Isaiah 40:1-3; Malachi 4:5; Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2). God communicated His will for both their sons and the ministry that their sons would do for Him. They even enjoyed each other’s company on one occasion, as Elizabeth rejoiced for the Messiah in Mary’s womb (Luke 1:39-45). Elizabeth and Mary were mothers at the same time. Both were first-time mothers in very different circumstances. Elizabeth was older, and Mary was a virgin. They both had a unique situation before them. Mothers are different. Mothers should communicate with each other and help each other as best they can. Instead of motherhood competition, there should be the spirit of cooperation and congratulations (Romans 12:15).
Mothers mean a lot to God, and, therefore, they should mean a lot to us. We should honor our mothers and all mothers (Proverbs 23:22). We should look to mothers in Scripture and learn from their lives of faith, courage, prayerfulness and cooperation. The Mother’s Day holiday comes once a year, but every day is a day to honor mothers in the way they deserve to be honored.