December 3, 2017

Be A Builder

A little-known, free-spirited woman in the Bible can inspire us to do something special in 2018.

Delbert W. Baker

The new year is almost here. You may be in the habit of making New Year’s Resolutions, Personal Resolve Lists, or simply deciding to turn a new chapter. Whatever your practice, be challenged to start 2018 with a determination to be and do better. In fact, be challenged be a builder in the new year.

Be Reflective

There is merit, at any point in the year, to resolve to make a difference, to do good. For our purposes, we’ll call that resolve, being a builder. Hence the Scripture: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain aheart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).

A little known, free-spirited woman in the Bible named Sheerah can inspire us to do something special in 2018. Her life suggests not 10 resolutions, just one: be a builder. Plan to do something significant for God and humanity. Build something, accomplish something in 2018.

Be Remodeled

A word about Sheerah (your own research may reveal more about this extraordinary woman): Only one Bible passage refers specifically to her: “His [Beriah, son of Ephraim] daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon as well as Uzzen Sheerah” (1 Chron. 7:24).

Sheerah was the great-granddaughter of Joseph and his Egyptian wife, Asenath (Gen. 41:50-52). Her name means “kinswoman” or “remnant.” Reading into the symbolism of her name, one can think back to the legacy of Joseph (Gen. 39-50) and the blessing of Jacob on Ephraim, her grandfather (Gen. 48:8-20). Sheerah was in a blessed lineage, Joseph preceded her and Joshua succeeded her (Josh. 33:11).

Sheerah cooperated with the principle of the Abrahamic blessing (Gen. 12:3) by stepping out of the traditional role for women to creatively make the world a better place to live. She was the builder of three cities mentioned in Joshua (16:3, ff.), one of her cities was the site where the sun stood still (Josh. 10:9-14), and Lower and Upper Beth Horon became Levitical cities (Josh. 21:22) and were fortified, strategic cities by King Solomon (2 Chron. 8:5). The name of her third city, Uzzen Sheerah, means “listen to Sheerah,” and may be interpreted as a prayer for God’s providence.

Be Resolved

After a domestic calamity experienced by Ephraim, when an entire generation of his sons were killed (1 Chron. 7:20, 21), God gave him this creative daughter, Sheerah, who would go down in the biblical record as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Christian businesswoman and blogger, Jennifer Leonard, noted about Sheerah: “Creativity is neither traditionally male or traditionally female, but a characteristic of what it means to be human, made in the image of our Creator.” Though there is no record of physical descendants, Sheerah was the mother of strategic cities referred to by extra-biblical writers that can be visited today.

Sheerah, the builder, creatively broke out of the mold, and did something no woman in the Bible had done before or since. Notable. Remarkable. Extraordinary.

Be like Sheerah in 2018.

Delbert W. Baker is vice chancellor of the Adventist University of Africa, near Nairobi, Kenya.