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The Seed of the Woman: Nana Dolce

with Nana Dolce | April 17, 2023
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Stories pointing to Jesus don't start in the New Testament. Nana Dolce, author of Seed of the Woman, opens up Old Testament women's lives with truths that shape us.

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Stories pointing to Jesus don’t start in the New Testament. Nana Dolce explores Old Testament women’s lives, unearthing truths that shape us.

The Seed of the Woman: Nana Dolce

With Nana Dolce
|
April 17, 2023
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Dave: Okay, one of the biggest learning I remember from seminary [in] first year Old Testament Survey--

Ann: Oh, look at you remembering!

Dave: I’m going way back. I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this with you! There was a lot of learning, but one of the takeaways for me anyway, was God always saves a remnant. No matter what happens historically, no matter what catastrophe is wiping out His promise of His seed coming all the way to Jesus, there will be a remnant. Today, we get to talk about not just men, but women—

Ann: Woo hoo!

Dave: —who are part of that remnant.

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.

Dave: This is FamilyLife

 

Ann: Today!

Ann: We have a guest. Her name is Nana Dolce. First of all, Nana, welcome to FamilyLife Today.

Nana: It’s a joy and a pleasure to be with you both. Thank you.

Dave: And I noticed, by the way, when I was talking about the remnant, you were just nodding your head.

Ann: Yes.

Nana: That’s right.

Dave: Because you know all about that. I mean, we’re going to talk about your book, The Seed of the Woman, and really, as I read it, that’s what I kept thinking. Here it is! Here it is again. God’s seed and His plan going through. It’s such a beautiful book about all the women who are part of that remnant.

Ann: It’s also a pretty book, too.

Dave: Oh, yes.

Ann: The subtitle is Thirty Narratives that Point to Jesus, and each one of these is talking about a woman.

Nana: Exactly! Thirty narratives, beginning with Eve, and then ending with Mary.

Dave: Now, where’d you get the idea to do that? You teach at RTS, Reformed Theological Seminary, and you’re a teacher and a lecturer. Is this part of what you did as a lecture, or is this personal study?

Nana: No. The genesis of this book—I love to tell this story! No, it wasn’t for RTS or for any kind of major ministry. It was just local church ministry. There were a few young women at my church. For two years, they came to my house and sat on my couch. We drank sweet tea. [Laughter] We ate food, and we would talk through the story of Scripture. I wanted to help them see the big narrative that the Bible is telling, and that the Old Testament is telling, and because these are young women, and we’re interested in the stories of women, we used the narratives of women as our stopping point in seeing the bigger narrative of the Old Testament.

We walked through it for two years. I saw the value of it for these young women in my local church and thought, “Maybe this is something that would be helpful for women beyond.”

Ann: What do you think impacted them the most?

Nana: I think seeing that you don’t have to wait to get into the New Testament to see Jesus.

Ann: That’s surprising, isn’t it?

Nana: Yes! So, when Jesus says—in Luke, there’s a narrative there when there are two disciples on the road to Emmaus after He resurrects and He meets them, and it says, “He opened up the Scriptures to them and showed them that, beginning from Moses and all the Prophets, everything said about Him had to be fulfilled.” So, according to Jesus Himself, all of Scripture points to Him; so, we don’t have to wait to the New Testament to find Jesus. Even the narratives of women can help us to see Jesus.

Ann: Do you think people are surprised by that? That you can see that through women?

Nana: Sometimes, I think we are. So, if you said, “I can point you to the story of David,” perhaps, points forward or David is a type of Christ or Moses is a type of Christ, I think people would say, “Yes, I can see that.” But when it comes to the women, I think sometimes we look more at the ethical and moral things that they teach us. We want o be Ruth; we want to serve.

All of those are good things. We don’t throw those out, but if Jesus says all of these stories ultimately point to Him, that means that I can find Jesus in the story of Ruth as well.

Dave: Yes, and you go deep. When I picked up your book—and you start with Eve, you know?

Nana: Yes.

Dave: I’m reading it, and I thought, “Oh, there’s going to be a couple sentences.” No! You dig, and you just bring out so much truth. Great job! I mean, it’s fascinating to read! I mean, I’ve been to seminary; I’ve been preaching for 30 years; and I’m learning stuff on every page that I missed.

Nana: Thank you for that.

Dave: Which is really beautiful! Again, we can do 100 shows or even 30 shows, so, do you want to start with Eve?

Ann: Yes; let’s start with Eve because there were some surprising things about Eve.

Nana: Yes, yes. Eve doesn’t come in as this second inferior. She comes in as God’s answer for the “not good” pronouncement of the man being alone. She’s welcomed into the Garden, and there’s this beautiful scene of the two together, naked and not ashamed. But then, the chapter of Genesis 3 opens, and there’s this conversation between her and this snake, who puts her focus not on everything that God says she can have, but the one thing that she couldn’t have. She takes; she eats; she gives some to Adam.

What I love, though, about the story of Eve is, this woman—you know, the Scriptures even in the New Testament would say that she was deceived; so, through her, comes the deception that brings the Cosmic Fall. And yet, God inserts her into this drama of redemption. He says, “I will send a seed from the woman who will crush the head of the serpent.”

So, this is the first pronouncement of the gospel. There’s a big word, the “protoevangelion,” which is the first time we get in Scripture this hint, this hope, of a coming Savior. And this Savior would come from the woman that the serpent tried to make an ally.

Ann: Isn’t that interesting?

Nana: I love that!

Ann: Me, too! Because when I think of Eve, as I was growing up, I thought “shame.”

Nana: Yes.

Ann: On the daughters of Eve. There’s this piece of shame that I carry, and we don’t often go to, “No, the seed of Christ will come from woman!”

Nana: Yes. This protoevangelion, this first pronouncement of Good News ahead, comes in Genesis 3:15. God says it even before He gives their judgment. So, you know, she’s going to give children through pain, and there’s going to be pain as the man is working the ground. There’s all this pain! But that pain comes in the shadow of the promise of a coming Savior. So, God is incredibly merciful! Even in judgment, we see His mercy!

Eve and Adam don’t die immediately, physically. They will live to see many days, and this woman who should have died is named the mother of the living, and through her, children will come that will eventually lead to you and me sitting here. I mean, I think what it makes me remember as a woman living all the way on this side of the story is to trust the God Who keeps His Word. It’s amazing to me! So, God’s promise to send a Savior comes very early in Scripture.

Ann: Yes.

Nana: In Genesis 3! And there will be Eve, and there will be Sarah, and there will be woman after woman after woman. And it seems, “Where is this Savior!? Has God—is He faithful to His Word?” And then one day, there’s this angel who comes to this poor girl and says, “The Holy Spirit will overshadow you, and in you, this seed of the woman promised so long ago to Eve—”

God keeps His Word! I’m on this side of the cross, and in my everyday life, I just need to remember, “If God has said it, even if it takes a long time, He keeps His Word!” He is faithful!

Ann: He put the promise of Jesus first! I’ve never thought of that before. How sweet of Him!

Nana: It is.

Dave: Why do you think that’s so significant?

Nana: You know, that whole, “In pain you will bring forth children?” Women feel that in so many ways. So, I used to think that it was just the pain of contractions or the pain of being a woman and that “time of the month”—that whole thing that we blame on Eve; but women bring forth children with pain in more ways than one.

Ann: Oh, yes!

Nana: In more ways than one. So, whether it’s—you know, I am a mother both through foster are and adoption, and also a mother of biological children. So, my little boy, who I didn’t give birth to, I still pushed through a system. [Laughter]

Ann: Yes.

Dave: Yes.

Nana: With so many complexities, I pushed him out in ways that were painful.

Ann: Yes.

Nana: So, adoptive mothers feel that pain, and foster mothers feel that pain, and even women who labor to bring forth spiritual children. We feel that! So, the pain that we feel as mothers living east of Eden, in a world of thorns and thistles—all of that sits under the shadow of the promise that God has made to be a Savior.

Dave: That’s so well-said.

Ann: It’s beautifully said.

Dave: And that’s something we all need to remember; men as well.

Nana: Absolutely!

Dave: [We] need to remember the darkness is under light, the pain is under healing.

Nana: Yes, yes.

Dave: So, there’s a bigger plan in place.

Ann: Did we hit everything for Eve?

Nana: The only other thing that comes to mind is, you know, sometimes we leave Eve’s story in Genesis 3.

Ann: Yes.

Nana: But she comes up again in Genesis 4. Actually, Genesis 4 starts with Eve, because it talks about these children that she gives birth to, these sons. So, we know that she gives birth to Cain, and she—actually, there seems to be this sense of hope when Cain is born.

Ann: Yes.

Nana: She called him “gotten by God.” She said, you know, “God has given me a son.” And one wonders: was she thinking, “This is him! This is the snake crusher, the promised son?”

Dave: Yes, yes.

Nana: But what’s going to happen? This son is going to act more like a snake than a snake-crusher. He’s going to kill his brother. And Eve reminds me of—so many times, we see our children or, I’ll say this: I remember when one of my daughters started doing something that kind of reminded me of my own past, and just being broken-hearted, not just because of what was going on with her, but thinking about even how I may have contributed to that.

I think Genesis 4 gives us a chance to really mourn with Eve. Like mother, like son. She took this fruit that God had created and said, “Don’t take.” And her son took the fruit of her womb; took a life! It’s like the escalation of her sin.

Dave: Yes.

Nana: In this boy, Cain. And I can’t help but mourn—mourn with her—in that.

Dave: It also makes me think—the way you said it, Nana, was it would be easy for Eve, and for any of us, to look at our circumstances and say, “God’s promises aren’t going to happen.”

Nana: Yes.

Dave: Especially like you said, if she thought Cain was, you know, the promise, and then this happens, it’s like, “Oh, it’s not going to happen!”  I think we can do that!

Nana: Yes.

Dave: We base our faith on what we see rather than on what is truth.

Nana: Sure.

Dave: It’s like you’ve got to raise your eyes vertically and say, “No!”

Nana: Yes.

Dave: “Everything I see doesn’t mean that’s the way it is. There’s a God behind this!”

Nana: Yes.

Dave: The whole emphasis of your book is, there’s a Seed that’s going to continue!

Nana: Yes.

Dave: Even though it doesn’t look like it at this point.

Ann: I’d love to hear: what’s your story of knowing Jesus?

Nana: Oh, absolutely! So, I was born in Ghana, which is in West Africa, and I came to the US when I was nine. As a young immigrant, growing up, I think I really went to church to be with people who looked and sounded like me. I said I was a Christian, but really didn’t love God’s Word. I didn’t have any Christian friends. I was trying to be a good girl, you know, with doing my homework and getting good grades, you know?

But as a rising sophomore in college, it became really clear to me that the righteousness that God demanded and required was more than good grades and being nice. Actually, the standard He was calling me to, I couldn’t achieve on my own. If God didn’t reach down and help me and pull me out, it wouldn’t get done. “God is calling me to His own righteousness, and He has to do this thing!” So, I prayed and cried out to Him, and I really was a different person after that.

So, you know, I started doing Bible studies; joined a church eventually; and began to enjoy the Bible in a way I had never done before.

Dave: And you even started listening to FamilyLife Today. That’s what we heard! [Laughter]

Nana: I really did! I really did.

Dave: There you go! We’ve got to get a plug in.

Nana: Yes, yes. I knew that I hadn’t seen the example of what it was to live as—you know, I wanted to be married; I wanted to have children; and I wanted to know how to be a godly wife and mom. So, I did turn to FamilyLife to help disciple me.

Ann: Let’s go to another woman that you like.

Nana: Sure.

Ann: You liked--?

Nana: Rachel and Leah.

Ann: Yes; let’s talk about them.

Dave: Let’s do that!

Nana: Yes. I really love the story of those two sisters. I think, in many ways, when we think of sibling rivalry, we think of Cain and Abel.

Dave: Yes.

Nana: We may even think of Jacob and Esau, the twins that Isaac and Rebekah had. One of them stole his brother’s birthright with a stew, and his mom made him look like his brother; so, he had to run away. But there’s another set of sibling rivalry that we don’t always consider: the sisters, Rachel and Leah.

So, you know, Jacob runs away because Esau wants to kill him, and he goes to Laban, his uncle, to kind of hide out, and also to find a wife. He meets Rachel at this well, and it says that he loved her so much that he agreed to work for seven years. But when the time comes to receive his wife, Laban tricks him, and gives Leah. Within the course of a week, he really becomes a husband of two wives. One of them, the Scripture says, he loves; and the other one, it says, he “hated.”

I sympathize with Leah in so many ways!

Ann: Oh, me, too!

Nana: I can’t imagine being hated by a man who still sleeps with her, because she will give him many children, and yet, he doesn’t honor her with love. So, Rachel is the favored wife, and yet she is barren. She is desperate for children! I have known secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is when you have children, but then, for some reason (whatever reason), you can’t conceive again.

So, for ten years, I’ve been praying for a child, and the Lord has sent that child through adoption. But I can appreciate Rachel’s frustration with infertility.

Ann: Yes.

Nana: And you see her doing everything she can! So, she goes to Jacob, and she says, “Give me children, or I shall die!” Then, she gives her maidservant to him. This is like, you know, women who are trying to conceive—

Ann: You’re desperate!

Nana: They’re just doing whatever they can! But the Scripture says, finally, she prays, and God remembered her. She got her first son, and she names him Joseph. Joseph is a name and a prayer. It means, “May He add another.” There’s a desire for more. Where Rachel’s story gets interesting to me is, when Jacob decides to leave Laban, it says that Rachel went and took her father’s household gods. So, one commentary that I read in writing this book says that these were nude figurines that guaranteed protection or fertility.

So, it makes me wonder. God had listened to her and given her this son; but “just in case He doesn’t come through again, maybe this is an added security for me to get this other child that I want.” And what’s interesting is, when Laban comes looking for his gods, Jacob says, “Whoever has them will die!”

Ann: Yes.

Nana: And Rachel isn’t found with them because she actually sits on them. And yes, she does die. She dies giving birth to the very son, Benjamin, that she wanted so much. She’s buried along the road to Bethlehem. It is such a good warning for my heart, because, oh! I’ve looked to the Lord, and I’ve prayed to Him for things; but sometimes, there’s a temptation to hold onto something else, just in case God doesn’t come through.

My prayer is that He would help my heart, and the hearts of those who would read this book, really to know that Jesus is enough. We can put our full weight on Him. The story He’s writing for us is good, and we can trust Him.

Ann: She was longing for what she couldn’t have. It could almost become our idol as women.

Nana: Yes.

Ann: And then, for Leah, her sister, she could have all these babies, but she didn’t have the love of her husband. Even to wonder and think through as a listener, “Are there other things that you’re thinking, If I just had this, I could be content or be happy?”

Nana: Yes.

Ann: Because both of those women were longing for that, and it didn’t come through a child, and it didn’t come through [a husband’s] love necessarily.

Nana: Yes. The thing with Leah also that encourages me is that it reminds me—so, Leah; Leah suffered in so many ways.

Ann: Oh!

Nana: She’s the object of her father’s deceit; she has this husband who doesn’t love her. It says, “Rachel was lovely and beautiful in form.”

Ann: Yes!

Nana: “But Leah had weak eyes.”

Ann: Right. What is that?!

Nana: Can you imagine being compared to your sister?

Ann: No!

Nana: I have two daughters. I don’t want one to feel like she’s the second-thought one.

Ann: Yes, right!

Nana: But then, even as you read Genesis, Leah suffers in other ways. So, it’s her daughter, Dinah, that’s raped by the prince of Shechem.

Ann: Yes!

Nana: And then, one of her sons will have an illicit affair with Jacob’s concubine. And then, she watches her sister die. So, she suffers in so many ways. But I love the ways that God remembers Leah.

Ann: Me, too.

Nana: So, He—it literally says: “When God knew that she was hated, He opened her womb.” And then, of all the children, it’s her son Judah that will lead the line to Jesus.

Dave: There’s the remnant.

Nana: Yes.

Dave: Yes.

Nana: And then, when she dies, actually, Leah is buried with Jacob in the burial plot that has Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah. She’s laid to rest next to the husband who had actually preferred someone else.

Leah reminds me that God remembers us and sympathizes with us. She reminds me of the passage in Isaiah that calls Jesus the “man of Sorrows.”

Ann: Yes.

Nana: “Who was rejected, and who was despised, and who was not esteemed.” That is Leah’s greater Son. In Christianity, we have a God who knows what we go through and can sympathize with us. In Jesus, He literally comes and He suffers the same kind of rejection! God knows when I go through that.

You know, Hebrews 2:17 says that He was “made like us in every way,” so He’s a high priest who can sympathize with us. I can go to Jesus in those moments when I feel like Leah, and He is a God who can sympathize with me. I can go boldly to Him in prayer!

Ann: I thought it was interesting, too, how she named her first three sons.

Nana: Yes.

Ann: Let’s—I want to—

Nana: Absolutely! I have it here. It’s actually really sad when you read the names that she gives to these boys.

Ann: Yes!

Nana: So, Reuben—the Hebrew word is “look,” saying, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction, my husband will love me.”

Ann: That’s her hope: that her husband—

Nana: That he’ll love her now.

Ann: Yes!

Nana: Then Simeon means “to hear,” saying, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, He has given me this son also.” And then, third, she named her son Levi, meaning “to join.” She says, “Now, this time, my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”

Ann: And yet, then she has Judah.

Nana: Yes.

Ann: And she says what?

Nana: “This time I’ll just praise. I’ll just praise Him.” [Laughter] Like, “It’s not working! Let me just praise the Lord.”

Ann: [Laughing] Yes!

Nana: “With this fourth one.”

Dave: Do you gals feel a little bit of that Leah sense: “I’m not seen. I’m discarded. Men are more important?” I don’t know; I’m just putting words out there. But have you felt that as a woman? Because she felt that, and yet, she was the one carrying the promise. So, the Truth was different than her reality, but I think women can’t often feel that. Even—I don’t know of any other book that’s walked through thirty women in the Bible. [Laughter] Do you know what I mean? Seriously! It’s like nobody’s writing those!

Nana: Sure.

Dave: Yes, it’s extremely important! Do you feel that sometimes as a woman?

Ann: I mean, I do. I would guess almost every woman has felt at a point like, “No one sees me. I’m not good enough. I’m not loved enough. I’m not beautiful enough. I feel rejected.” I don’t know if there are any women who feel like, “I’m amazing!” You know? They could, but most of us have some wounds in the past that create that gap of need for like, “Does anyone--?”

And the whole time, God is like, “I do. I see you; I know you; I love you. I knew you in your mother’s womb. I have knit you together, and I see you. And I have a plan for you.”

Shelby: Hi, I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Nana Dolce on FamilyLife Today. Listen, we’re going to hear more incredibly important and poignant truth from Nana Dolce in just a second, but first, after listening to this conversation, I think it’s really important that we know that Jesus sees you. He cares about you. From all the big stuff in your life, to the little, tiny stuff, too; He values and He knows you. So, if you’re ever wondering, “Does anyone get me?” The answer is, “Yes!” Jesus gets you! He knows you to the depths, and He loves you to the stars.

Nana Dolce has been pointing that out today by highlighting biblical narratives of women that point to Jesus. She has written a book called The Seed of the Woman: Thirty Narratives that Point to Jesus. This is obviously an incredibly rare and important book, and we want to give you a copy when you partner with us. It’s our thanks to you when you help more families hear more conversations like the one you heard today.

You can partner with us online at FamiyLifeToday.com, or you can give us a call at 1-800-358-6329. Now, when you partner with us, that can be a one-time gift or a recurring monthly gift. Again, you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com or give us a call at 1-800-F as in “family,” L as in “life,” and then the word, “TODAY.” And feel free to snail mail us and drop us something in the mail to FamilyLife, 100 Lake Hart Drive, Orlando, FL 32832.

Now, let’s hear more from Nana Dolce.

Nana: I think we all have moments, whether it’s because of your age, or your ethnicity, or your gender, or your family, or your bank account—there are times when you’re just going to feel passed over. I mean, we can all tell stories about that.

Ann: Yes.

Nana: [There was] a podcast I was listening to about a school shooting and how people in the town were sympathizing with these parents who had lost children, but other parents in the country who have lost children literally flew to be with those mothers and fathers.

Ann: Yes.

Nana: Sitting across from someone who has been through what you’re going through—there’s an encouragement you get from that. What I love about Jesus is that, in Him, we have a God who has been through whatever you can go through!

Ann: Yes.

Nana: That’s Who we literally sit across from when we go to Him in prayer. So, He gets it, and Scripture says that He’s a faithful High Priest. I can come boldly to Him in those moments. That’s our God!

Ann: That’s our God!

Shelby: This has been a great conversation today with Nana Dolce, and I’m super excited, because she’s coming back tomorrow to talk about a number of different women in the Bible. In fact, have you ever thought about how Moses’s mother points to Jesus? Actually, admittedly, I have not thought about that. Well, Nana is going to go over that tomorrow, so make sure that you join us!

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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Episodes in this Series

FamilyLife Today
The Bible through the Stories of Women: Nana Dolce
with Nana Dolce May 12, 2023
God's laced the Bible with stories of women strong or vulnerable, evil or deeply good. Author Nana Dolce examines a handful of these prominent females.
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FamilyLife Today
Unexpected Saviors: Nana Dolce
with Nana Dolce April 18, 2023
Throughout the Bible, God employs unexpected saviors. Author Nana Dolce peers into the lives of Old Testament women who intervened for His people.
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